Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Advent: Day 17

Yesterday we started looking at the covenants of the OT to see how they increasing waves of revelation about God's covenant of grace and ultimately point to Jesus (the one who fulfilled the covenant of grace). The next covenant and today's reading comes from Ge. 9:8-17:
8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9 "Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth." 17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."
This covenant is sometimes called the "covenant of preservation," for in this covenant God provides the preservative structure necessary to "all future generations" for His work of redemption in history to continue to Jesus. God's sign of this "everlasting covenant between [Him] and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth" is the rainbow, which one can still see today when the sun breaks through the clouds after a rain. It is generally a sign that God is maintaining this world for all people, but it is particularly a sign of the framework He provided in which the His covenant of grace would be accomplished. For, in order for the Messiah (Jesus) to come, there had to be a stable universal order in which He could be born, live a perfect life, die for His people, and be raised from the dead. God commits Himself to maintain this order in this covenant of preservation.

You might wonder, "Where is the covenantal refrain?" Well, this covenant breaks the pattern of all the others but for a very good reason. The other covenants of the OT are all redemptive covenants--they mark an increase of God's fellowship with man, reveal more about His covenant of grace, and they are made with man (God's creatures that are liable for sin and in need of redemption). This covenant is not redemptive but preservative, and it is made with "every living creature," i.e. the world itself. God does not increase His fellowship here or reveal anything else about the covenant of grace, but He does put in place the preservative framework necessary for the covenant of grace to be wrought in history. So, this covenant is still incredibly important for the advent of Christ. Without it, there may not have been a world to which He could come and redeem God's people.

By His Grace,

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