RPM, Volume 18, Number 19, May 1 to May 7, 2016

Old Testament Biblical Theology

By Dr. O. Palmer Robertson

The following notes were taken from Dr. O. Palmer Robertson's Seminary class on Old Testament Biblical Theology.

I. Introduction to Biblical Theology. Study of the Procedure, Methodology and Essential presuppositions of Old Testament Biblical Theology.

II. Introduction to the Covenants. The nature, extent and unity of the covenants.

III. The Covenant of Creation. A brief look as several of the creation ordinances.

IV. The Covenant of Redemption. An extensive tracing of Redemption as it is revealed throughout the Old Testament. A number of charts are included.

For further study, please read Dr. Robertson's classic book: Christ and the Covenants.



The basis of all of the teaching of Jesus, Paul and all of the other apostles was the Old Testament Scriptures. The reason that a great deal of the church is immature in its development is because of a weak understanding of the Old Testament.


1. The Use of the Context.

a. The example of Isaac.

Isaac is seen digging wells. This does not seem very significant. But then you look at the larger context and see Abraham digging wells. The still larger context takes in the curse that was put upon man so that wells are necessary. And further still, we see that there is coming a day when the curse will be overthrown in a new heaven and a new earth.

b. The example of Jonah.

Most people see the book of Jonah as a big fish story and the "one that got away." When we read the entire book of Jonah and not how it ends, we see that it is a book about evangelism and how God views the pagan.

2. Use of the Hebrew Text.

3. Check Historical Background.

4. See Biblical Context.

If you are reading from Isaiah, be sure to check the other prophets who wrote during the 8th century.

5. Correlate with the New Testament.

a. Literary connection.

There are as many as 4000 allusions in the New Testament to the Old Testament. See the historical references in the New Testament. Note how the language of the Old Testament is used in the New Testament. The Septuagint is valuable because it tells us how the Jews of the 2nd century understood the Hebrew text.

b. Theological connection.

The words may be totally different, but many of the concepts of the Old and New Testaments may be connected.

6. Systematic Theology.

Ask how this passage impacts with the realm of Systematic Theology.

7. A Final Question.

At the end of your study, always be sure to ask how Christ is being presented in the passage. Remember that Christ is ALWAYS being presented in the Old Testament.


The first recognized Biblical Theology in modern times was introduced in 1787 by Dr. J.P. Gaebler. The basic question in Biblical Theology is the relation of the two Testaments.

Old Testament passage — 2 — New Testament fulfillment.

Example: Cain kills his brother. Why? 1 John 3:12 says that is because he was of the evil one. Thus, the story of Cain and Abel is seen theologically as a Satanic attack upon the seed of the woman.

Walter Kaiser teaches that we should not go beyond that which had been revealed up to that point.

Old Testament passage — Go no further than what has been revealed — New Testament explanation is ignored.

1. It is a Historical Discipline.

Systematic Theology deals with the sum total of the Biblical teaching.

Biblical Theology deals with the stages of manifestation of the Biblical revelation.

Biblical Theology without Systematics often leads to heresy.

2. The place of Exegesis in Biblical Theology.

Exegesis — 2 — Biblical Theology — 2 — Systematic Theology

3. The Distinctiveness of Biblical History.

By not seeing Biblical History as distinctive, people have thought that they ought to see God doing exactly the same actions which He was doing in the Old Testament.

For example, if Joshua went into Canaan and killed the Canaanites to take the land, why should not modern-day Israel go into the land and kill all of the Palestinians?

The Crusades were fought along the same lines of thinking.

a. Biblical History is Redemptive.

God in a unique sense acts in history to redeem men. For example, when Israel was being delivered out of Egypt, the passover lamb was a redemption from sin as well as a deliverance from the Egyptians. All of the firstborn were under the sentence of death. The reason for this is because of SIN.

When God set up the Kingship in Israel under David, there was a merger of David's Throne with God's Throne. I Chronicles says that Solomon sat on the seat of Yahweh. This passage could be taken to prove the Divine Right of Kings. Instead, we ought to see it fulfilled in Christ who sits today at the right hand of the Father and reigns from heaven.

One writer described the British evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II as a modern day Exodus event. But such a view puts Winston Churchill in the place of God as savior. There is no forgiveness of sin and no sacrifice.

b. Biblical history is Revelational.

History involves revelation about the way that man is to be redeemed from his sins. History today does not show men how they are to be redeemed. I cannot look at the Battle of the Alamo and see a picture of redemption.

But I CAN look at the Passover and see redemption pictured. This revelational history has a prophetic dimension to it. It is not only what happened historically in Egypt that is important.

It was not the lamb that was slain on Passover night that had the power to deliver men from sins. It was the Lamb of God who is Christ, our Passover, who is central to the Passover event.

The same principle is seen in the story of Tamar. She commits adultery with her father-in-law, Judah. How is this redemptive history? It is the picture of God's determination to provide a saving seed despite the sinful plans of men. Tamar is later seen in the genealogy of Christ.

There is a principle of redemptive history at work here. It is that God will overcome all opposition to His Son.

When David brings the ark to Jerusalem, this is not merely an act of religious desire, but a desire to join God's throne to David's throne. This predicts and anticipates the time when Christ, the son of David, will sit at the right hand of God.

4. Biblical Theology is Organic in Nature.

a. Germination.

In the early stages of revelation, you have in seed form all of the elements which will eventually follow. For example, in Genesis 3:15 you have in seed form all of the essential elements of the victory of Christ over Satan.

— Genesis 14 introduces Melchizedek as a priest-king who both rules and represents God.

— In Psalm 110 these is an enactment of this principle in the person of King David.

— Zechariah 6 pictures a priest being crowned.

— Hebrews 7 presents Jesus as the final fulfillment of the Melchizedek principle.

b. Growth. This organic principle includes the idea of a GROWTH factor.

Genesis 3:15 includes:
— Joshua vs. the Canaanites.
— David vs. Goliath.
— Jesus vs. Satan.

c. Coherence.

There is no contradiction inherent in the work of God across the ages. You must always look for how the Old Testament principle carries over to its consummation in the New Testament.

How does the command to Joshua to kill all of the Canaanites carry over to the New Testament? It is a picture of God's eventual judgment against sin.

The dietary laws are no longer in effect today, but the principle of holiness which they teach continues.

5. Biblical Theology is Consummative in Character.

There is no one point that can be completely understood apart from its final fulfillment and eventual germination. As you see the truth in seed form, it is sometimes difficult to determine what kind of "tree" is going to grow into. The further along you get in its development, the clearer its final form becomes.

Seedling — 2 — Sappling — 2 — Tree

It is for this reason that when you read the work of a Jewish Rabbi, you will come away with a limited (and sometimes erroneous) understanding of the Scriptures.

When you look at Abraham offering up Isaac on the altar, it is good to look at that event through the eyes of Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. But you should not stop there. You need to also see it through the eyes of Isaiah 53 and through the eyes of the New Testament so that you see the cross.


The study of the progressive unfolding of the redemptive revelation of God in terms of its consummation in the New Covenant.


1. Mark out the Epochs.

How do you choose among these epochs? We should not divide Scripture arbitrarily or according to our own mindset. We should let the divisions arise out of Scripture itself. What is the most basic division that you find in Scripture?

Old Testament.

New Testament.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 makes an obvious reference to the promise of a New Covenant as opposed to the Old Covenant which was in effect in that day (II Corinthians 3 speaks of a veiled and an unveiled covenant; Hebrews describes it as the good and the better).

There can be further divisions made by noting how God had formed covenants with men at various times.

" Noah.

" Abrahamic.

" Mosaic.

" Davidic.

Although there is only one New Covenant, there are also divisions within the epoch of the New Covenant.

" Period of John the Baptist.

" Period of Jesus.

" Apostolic age.

" Post-apostolic age.

" The age to come.

Dispensationalism (as presently taught by Dallas Theological Seminary) teaches a system of Dispensations which are "not to be intermingled or confused as they are chronologically successive."

2. Do Exegesis of the Period.

At this point, you must ask the question, "What would this have meant to the writer and also to the original reader?"

3. Let the Scripture's own Emphasis Predominate.

Let the progression of the revelation itself be the controlling factor in determining the nature of the epoch. As you read the Patriarchal Period, what is Moses emphasizing?

" A strict supernaturalism. The Lord insists on bringing the promised seed, not through Abraham's servant or handmaiden, but by God's own supernatural miracle of opening Sarah's womb.

" The Kingdom does not begin to be an emphasis until the Davidic Covenant.

4. Characterize the Ages.

— The Noahaic covenant is characterized by PRESERVATION.

— The Abrahamic Covenant is characterized by PROMISE.

Abraham is given a threefold promise.

It involves a promise of:
- A seed.
- A land.
- A blessing.

Everything that you see in the life of Abraham can be interpreted in the light of one of these three promises.

The Davidic Covenant is characterized by KINGDOM.


1. Infallible Revelation.

This is in contradiction to Karl Barth and his view of the Scriptures (He writes his theology and entitles it, "The Christian Faith." He does not think of it as Biblical reality).

2. Objective Reality of the Revelation.

People have affirmed the Bible as true in matters of "faith and practice." What they are saying is that it is not based upon objective reality.

3. Inspired Inscripturation of the Revelation.

God could have revealed Himself to Abraham, but if that revelation was not accurately recorded, then it is useless to us.

4. Consummation for the Revelation.

The revelation of the New Covenant has a consummation which focuses upon Christ.


1. Because They Structure Scripture.

The Bible is clearly divided into Old and New Covenant. The Covenants set the conditions within which the world continues. As people and nations respond to the covenants, they and their lands are either blessed or cursed.

2. Because They Unify Scripture.

There is the same essence throughout in the covenants. There is a formula which is found in every covenant. This formula is seen in the phrase:

"I shall be your God and you shall be My people."

a. Illustrated in Abraham.

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, TO BE GOD TO YOU AND TO YOUR DESCENDANTS after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I WILL BE THEIR GOD. (Genesis 17:7-8).

Abraham and those who followed after him would have a special relationship with God. It is described as God being THEIR GOD.

b. Quoted by Paul.

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God' just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE." (II Corinthians 6:16).

This is given in the very practical application that we are not to be unequally yoked together. The reason that such an unequal yoking is not to take place is rooted in this idea of the covenant.

c. The Goal of God's Plan.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and HE SHALL DWELL AMONG THEM, AND THEY SHALL BE HIS PEOPLE, and God Himself shall be among them." (Revelation 21:3).

The summation of all things will be seen as God dwells with His people and is their God.

d. An everlasting covenant.

When the writer of the book of Hebrews speaks of an "everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13:20) it describes an unbroken covenant that runs continually throughout the ages.

3. Because they Interrelate All of Life.

The covenants provide an interrelation with all of life, both its work and its worship. From a covenantal perspective, work is just as spiritual as worship because it is sanctioned by God. The covenant of creation included both man's relation with man and with the work which he was to accomplish on earth. The covenant of redemption does the same thing.

Noah's covenant dealt with family units.

God's kingdom was to extend to every part of the earth.


We know that the covenants are significant because they are mentioned throughout the Scriptures (300 times in the Old Testament, not as many times in the New Testament where the term "Kingdom" comes to the forefront).

1. Definition: A covenant is a bond in blood; a bond of life and death which is solemnly administered.

a. It is a bond.

It is in its essence that which binds people together.

(1) The word Diatheke.

Secular Greek uses diatheke to refer to a last will and testament. But the Septuagint does not have this usage when in translates berith.

It is perhaps significant that the Septuagint translators used diatheke instead of suntheke which would have carried the idea of a mutual contract or agreement.

(2) Etymology of Berith.

Some have suggested that it comes from the words for "eating" and "binding."

Noth suggests that it derives from the Akkadian birit, which relates to the Hebrew 0*" "between."

A third suggestion points to the Akkadian root baru, "to bind or fetter."

(3) Biblical usage.

It is used in the Bible as that which binds two people together.

It involves a verbalized commitment.

One of the amazing this in Scripture is that the Almighty God would choose to bind Himself to men. What would cause Him to do such a thing? There is nothing in man that would attract God to him.

(4) Prominence of oaths and signs.

These oaths come in various forms:

— Moses has a sprinkling ceremony in the establishing of the Mosaic Covenant.

— Through the offering of a sacrifice (Psalm 50:4-5).

— Passing under the rod of the Lord (Ezekiel 20:37).

— A verbal oath (Genesis 21:23-31; 31:53; Exodus 6:8).

— The eating of a meal (Genesis 26:28-30; 31:54; Exodus 24:11).

— The granting of a gift (Genesis 21:28-32).

— The setting up of a memorial (Genesis 31:44-ff; Joshua 24:27).

The covenants had a number of signs:
" The sign of the Noahic Covenant was the rainbow.
" The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant was circumcision.
" The sign of the Mosaic Covenant was the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13).

It is unclear that a formal ceremony of oath-taking absolutely was essential for the establishment of a covenant relationship. Neither the Noahic nor the Davidic covenant explicitly mentions the taking of an oath at the point of inauguration.

b. It is in Blood.

(1) Terminology.

You would cut a covenant (Jeremiah 34). This terminology can be used in all three kinds of covenants.

" Man with man.
" God with man.
" Man with God.

There are times when the word for cutting substitutes the word for covenant (II Chronicles 7:18 - the word which NAS translates "covenanted" is the Hebrew karav, to cut). Haggai 2:5 says literally, "as for the word which I cut with you..." Psalm 105:9 ("...that which He cut with Abraham"). I Kings 8:9 is literally, "where the Lord cut with the sons of Israel..."

(2) Ritual.

Jeremiah 34:18-20 shows that the cutting of a covenant was a commitment of life and death. At the time of the making of the covenant, there was a symbolic death of the covenant maker. When the animals were cut, they represented the covenant-maker himself being cut and put to death.

Hebrews 9:22 says there is no remission of sins without the shedding of blood. Why is this? Because the people have taken part into a covenant of death which demands that all covenant-breakers be put to death.

(3) Relation to Last Will & Testament.

Because the ideas of both a "covenant" and a "last will and testament" both relate to death, there has been some confusion is separating the two ideas.

There is no relation between the ideas of Covenant with a Last Will and Testament.

Testament / Covenant:

Death activates a Last Will and Testament. / The death of an animal inaugurates the covenant.

There is no way to violate a last will and Testament. / There is death in the case of a violation of the covenant.

There is no possibility of substitution. / The covenant may allow for one death to substitute for another.

Death stands at the end of the will. / Death stands at the beginning of the relationship.

Death is seen as inevitable. / There is the option of either death of life.

2. The Covenant and Death.

There are three areas of death within the realm of the covenant.

a. At Inauguration.

There was a covenant ceremony in which animals were killed to establish the covenant. The covenant was not considered to be established until this ceremony had taken place.

b. In the case of Violation.

The covenant participants placed a curse upon themselves which was to be carried out in the case of a violation of that covenant.

c. By substitution.

The Lord provided the possibility of a substitute to die instead of the covenant-breaker. Thus, under the Mosaic Covenant, a man could make a sin offering when he had transgressed the covenant.

When David experiences the curse of the covenant in the death of the people because of his sin, he offers a sacrifice and the judgment ceases. The same principle is seen in Abraham when he is permitted to slay a ram in the place of his son Isaac.

3. The Covenant and Blood.

Covenants were sealed in blood. This was not because blood was so bloody, but because life in a body cannot exist without blood.

— You can lose a hand or a foot.

— You can lose your hair.

— You can even lose large amounts of skin.

But losing your blood means losing your life. Perhaps this is why American Indians made such a show of sealing a covenant in blood (the idea of "blood brothers" was such a bond).


Light is a very important thing because it permeates everything. The first thing on earth that God created was light. Because light is so all-pervasive, it is significant. Gravity is another important thing which permeates. We live with the expectation that gravity will continue. Oxygen is a third all pervasive principle. If there is no oxygen then we would be dead.

The significance of a principle is directly in proportion to the extent of its application. How far do covenants extend? From Genesis to Revelation. They are all-pervasive.

The first use of the Hebrew word beryth is in Genesis 6:18. Does this mean that there were no covenants before Noah? John Murray was reluctant to refer to the relationships prior to the Noahic Covenant as covenants.

1. Evidences for Pre-Noahic Covenants.

a. A relationship need not be called a covenant to be covenantal.

An example of this is seen in common law marriages. There are people who have not partaken of the ceremony of marriage, but who have the substance of marriage as they are together.

The first reference to the Messiah if first used in the days of Moses. This does not mean that this is the first Messianic prophecy. The actual prophecies precede the use of the term "Messiah."

A further illustration is in II Samuel 7 where we read of God's establishing His relationship with David. Not once in that chapter is the word "covenant" used. Was it a covenant? Psalm 89:3-4 says that it was, even thought the terminology was not there.

b. There are passages that seem to use the word "covenant" with reference to the period before Noah.

— Hosea 6:4-7.

The word Adam can refer to mankind or to the person of Adam. Some have suggested that the "K" (,) preposition should be a "B" (") and therefore refers to something that happened "at Adam," a place on the Jordan River. However there is no textual evidence for this.

Thus, covenant terminology is used to speak of pre-Noahic time.

— Isaiah 24:4-6 speaks of the earth having broken the everlasting covenant. While the term "Ha-aretz" can refer to "the Land," the context of the previous chapters has been focusing upon the surrounding nations.

— Jeremiah 33:19-22 speaks of God's covenant for the day and His covenant for the night. John Murray equates this with the Noahic covenant. However, the phrase is explained in Jeremiah 31:35-36 as the fixed order of the sun and the moon and the stars. This language uses the exact terminology as that which is found in Genesis 1.

c. All of the elements which make up a covenant are present in creation.

" An interpersonal bond between God and man.
" The bond between life and death.
" It is a relationship which is sovereignly administered.

2. Consequences of the Covenant Relationship.

What are the consequences of this universal covenantal relationship?

a. All men are in covenant relationship with God.

There was in a sense a termination of the original relationship when man sinned in the Garden. But there is another sense in which all men are still under obligation to keep the terms of the covenant. Men are still covenant creatures. This should have an impact on how we share the gospel. Men have a relationship with their Creator.

b. All men are covenant breakers.

Romans 1 says that men inherently know that they are violators of a bond that has been established from creation.

3. The Corporate Extent of the Covenant.

Although all men are a part of the Covenant of Creation, not all men have come into the Covenant of Redemption. However, the invitation is for all men to enter into the Covenant of Redemption.

4. Internal and External Administrations.

Not all people who are among the Redeemed are partaking of the signs of the covenant administration (Romans 9:6-9). What does this mean to us? It means that there are people in our churches who are members and have their names on the church roles and perhaps even partake of the sacraments, but who are not saved.

By the same token, there are some who are saved who are not members of a local church and who are not partaking of the sacraments.

An understanding of this principle will help us greatly when we come to such passages as Hebrews 6 which seem to imply that a person could lose his salvation. There is no loss of salvation, but there is an expulsion from the covenant community. Indeed, there are times which the church is mandated to expel some from the covenant community (church discipline).

God has not given the administration of His church over to angels (there will be a time when He does this and when angels will make a perfect division). But in the meantime, we are charged with trying to determine who is a covenant member. We do this on the basis of word and deed. By the mouth one confesses Jesus as Savior and Lord. He also does this through his actions.


1. Introduction.

There is freshness and newness in each covenant that comes. The question is whether each new covenant supplements or supplants each previous covenant.

2. The Dispensational Alternative to Covenantal Unity.

a. Temporal disunity.

— Abrahamic versus the Mosaic Covenant.

— New Covenant versus the Church Age. How does the Dispensationalist deal with the Old Testament promise of the New Covenant with the Houses of Judah and Israel when they are so obviously fulfilled in the Church (Hebrews 7)?

b. Metaphysical disunity.

Dispensationalism says that God has two:
— Two purposes.
— Two plans.
— Two people.

One purpose is material, the other is spiritual. One is Israel, the other is the church.

3. Evidence for the Unity within the Covenants.

Although there are a number of covenants described in the Bible, they are linked - each one further developing the previous one.

a. Structural unity.

(1) There is a unity in the historical experience of the people of God.

(a) At points of covenantal transition.

If there was a disunity, then you ought to see a major change at each of the points of transition.

Exodus 2:24; 6:4-8. The Mosaic Covenant was established on the basis of God remembering His promise with Abraham. This is not just for the Exodus, but also the inheriting of the land. This expresses a continuity with these two covenants. It might be argued that these two passages are given BEFORE the actual inauguration of the Mosaic Covenant. However, the covenant relationship is often established before the formal covenant inauguration. When did God enter into a covenant relationship with:

" Abraham?
" David?
" New Covenant (Note WHEN the Lord's Supper was given).

You have experience under the covenant relationship long before you have the actual formal inauguration of the covenant.

Exodus 20-24. In the preface to the 10 commandments, they are told that they were "brought out" - this is a reference to the Abrahamic Covenant.

In 24:4 there are 12 pillars set up. These point back to the sons of Israel who was established under the Abrahamic Covenant.

Look at the transition from the Mosaic Covenant to the Davidic Covenant.

I Kings 2:3-4 shows that there was a relationship between the Davidic Covenant with the Mosaic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant was rooted in the Mosaic Covenant.

(b) Throughout the flow of Israel's history.

" Possession of the land is by:
- The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15:18).
- The Mosaic Covenant (Joshua 1:3).
- Permanently localized sanctuary.
- According to the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 12:5,11,14,18). Once you pass Deut 12, you have multiple references to "the place" which God will choose for worship.
- This is a fulfilling of the Abrahamic Covenant (I Chro 16:15-18).
- However, it is a promise which is fulfilled in the Davidic Covenant.
- Under what circumstances was Israel exiled?
- According to the laws of the Mosaic Covenant.
- The Davidic Covenant was in effect.
- The spiritual significance of circumcision looked back to the Abrahamic Covenant.

(2) Unity is seen in the genealogical principle. God makes His commitments across the generations. If this is true, then how extensive is this principle?

(a) Significant Scriptures.

Genesis 6:18 is first mention of covenant. From the very first, it was a covenant which was directed to the FAMILY of Noah. In Genesis 7:1 Noah is told that He is righteous (the Hebrew indicates that God is speaking to Noah in the singular). The family of Noah is blessed because of Noah's righteousness.

In the Noahic Covenant it is "you and your house."

In the Abrahamic Covenant "you and your seed."

Deuteronomy 5:1-3 Moses speaks to the new generation of Israel. He says that the covenant was made with THEM (Verse 3 repeats the word "US" three times in the Hebrew). Were all of those whom Moses was speaking to present at Sinai? No! Many had been born in the wilderness during the last 40 years of wandering.

Deuteronomy 29:9-15. Notice in verse 15 that the covenant is established, not only with those who were present, but with the generations which are to come (verse 22).

How far do these generations go?

Psalm 105:8-10.

The covenant lasts to a thousand generations (Dispensationalists would have a problem in making this literal).

Deuteronomy 7:9 speaks of the covenant being kept to the thousandth generation.

Isaiah 59:21 indicates that this is not a mere external relationship. The Lord speaks of His Spirit and His words which are put within His people. Notice that it is an ETERNAL covenant.

(b) Ingrafting and pruning.

Under the Old Covenant, a Gentile could become a part of the covenant community by professing faith in the God of Abraham and by taking upon himself the covenant sign of circumcision. Thus, Gentiles could be grafted into the family of Abraham through faith. This means that there is not a racial exclusiveness taught in the Scriptures.

At the same time, there is a pruning principle in which it was possible for certain members of the covenant community to be cut off because of sin and apostasy.

Davidic Covenant — "My servant David will be king over them"

Mosaic Covenant — "They will walk in my ordinances, and keep My statutes, and observe them."

Abrahamic Covenant — "They shall live on the land that I gave Jacob..."

Ezekiel 37:24-26 is a passage which speaks about the coming New Covenant. But it makes references to three covenants of the past.

b. Thematic unity.

Which single theme unites all of the covenants?

(1) The Kingdom of God.

This is the proposal of Meredith Kline. But Kingdom does not come into full form until the Davidic Covenant. Furthermore, this does not describe the relationship which God has when He walks with Adam in the cool of the Garden.

(2) Covenant.

This deals more with the form than the uniting of the various covenants.

(3) Immanu-el.

The principle of "God with us" is the uniting form of the covenant. The form of this ("I shall be your God and you shall be My people") is found in four different covenants.

(a) The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:7).

(b) The Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:12-13 links this relationship in the covenant with the one made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).

(c) Jehoida leads the people in making a covenant (II Chronicles 23:16).

(d) Paul says that the reason believers are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers is because God is our God and we are His people (II Corinthians 6:16).

c. Unity of manifestations.

There are certain manifestations of God being with His people in the Bible.

— In the formation of the camp of Israel as they traveled through the wilderness, the Israelites camped around the tabernacle so that it could be said that God dwelt in their midst.

— The church is said to be the Temple of God both individually (I Corinthians 6:19-20) as well as corporately (I Corinthians 3:16).

d. The Person of the Covenant.

Isaiah 49:8 the Lord speaks to His Servant and says, "I will keep you and give YOU FOR A COVENANT." The point here is that Jesus did not merely establish a new covenant - He BECAME the covenant. How did He do this? It was by becoming that which was the sign of all of the other covenants. Instead of an animal being slain, Jesus Himself took the part of the animal and it was He who was broken.


1. Pre-Creation Versus Post-Creation.

Some have suggested that the members of the Godhead made a covenant among themselves prior to the Creation. While it is proper to refer to the Decrees of God, this is not a covenant because there is no...

" Blood shed.
" Cursings & blessings.
" Sovereign administration.

Such a decree would not be a framework for fellowship among the parties of the Trinity, but rather it would be a plan in eternity for man's redemption.

2. Covenant of Works Versus Covenant of Grace.

Covenant of Works / Covenant of Grace

Made with Adam in innocence. / Made with Fallen Man.

No provision for blessing in the event of disobedience. / Blessing despite disobedience.

Obedience assumed. / Disobedience presumed.

Christ was under a covenant of works. / Because of His perfect work, we enjoy a covenant of grace,

There is a sense in which all men who have rejected Christ are under a covenant of works. / When we come to Christ, we enter into a covenant of grace.

This should not be taken to mean that there was no grace before the fall or that there are not works after the fall.

Because of the use of these terms, there is a tendency to focus upon the terms of the probation which man had in the Garden. Therefore, it is suggested that we put aside the old terms of works and grace and substitute it with the terms "COVENANT OF CREATION" and "COVENANT OF REDEMPTION."

3. Old Covenant Versus New Covenant.

Both are with fallen man. Both are under the "Covenant of Grace" or to use the terms that we have just suggested, the "Covenant of Redemption."

a. The book of Hebrews.

The book of Hebrews speaks of Covenants which are "good" and "better."

b. Paul's Use.

The Apostle Paul uses these two terms in a way which sounds as though he is saying that the Mosaic Covenant is really a covenant of works.

(1) His primary contrast.

When Paul speaks of the Law, he sometimes reflects the thinking of the Judaizers.

(2) His secondary contrast.

— When Paul says "before faith came" in Galatians 3:23, he is not saying that there was a time when faith did not save or when men were not required to believe for salvation.

— In Galatians 3:15-18 Paul shows that the Law does not interrupt the Promise.

Why was the Law given? It was never intended as a way of salvation, although it has a tendency to bring out man's natural and sinful inclination to self-trust. The Law in itself had limitations of form in its externalism.


Each of the covenants leads into the one which follows and is based on the one which proceeds.

1. Commencement - Covenant of Creation.

2. Preservation - Noahic Covenant.

3. Promise - Abrahamic Covenant.

4. Law - Mosaic Covenant.

5. Kingdom - Davidic Covenant.

6. New Covenant.

The New Covenant looks back to each one of the previous covenants, drawing from each one. Each one of the covenants looks forward to the New Covenant realities.



The Substance of the Covenant is Present.

This is not actually called a covenant in the book of Genesis. But the substance is there. There is a relationship. There is a bond made in blood.

Two Aspects of Creation Ordinances.

a. General ordinances.

By creation ordinances, we are speaking of inviable laws which cannot be broken. Like the law of gravity, you do not break those laws, although by ignoring them they may break you.

(1) The Sabbath.

(2) Labor.

(3) Marriage.

b. The special ordinance.

The focus of this covenant was centered upon the eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But there seems to have been other means in which Adam could have violated the covenant.

— He could have refused to be married.
— He could have violated the sabbath.
— He could have become a sluggard.


1. A Deliverance.

The Sabbath (Genesis 2:2-3) is a blessing to man. It is a deliverance from slavery to work. It guarantees the results of seven days of labor for six days worth of work. This is a grace ordinance (Exodus 31:16-17).

The Sabbath was to be a time of refreshing, both for God and for man (Exodus 23:12). This blessing also involves the setting aside of a time of worship. This comes because of the fact that God sanctified the day and made it holy unto Himself.

2. Various Manifestations of the Sabbath.

a. Multiple repetitions.

There is a multiple repetition of the Sabbath principle throughout the Scriptures.

(1) Weekly sabbaths.

(2) The Sabbatical year (Leviticus 25).

(3) The Jubilee year.

This was a time for glum bankers as all debts were considered to be canceled and family lands would be returned to ancestral owners.

(4) Christ as Jubilee.

In Luke 4:18-21 Jesus announced the coming of the Messianic Jubilee.

b. Linear Pattern.

There is also a linear pattern of the Sabbath as there was movement toward a goal.

— When Israel came into the land, the first city which was attacked was Jericho. The people were told to march around it SEVEN days and then to march around it SEVEN times on the SEVENTH day.

— The 70 years of Israel's captivity were based upon her neglect of the Sabbath (Chronicles 36:21; Daniel 9).

3. Purpose for the Sabbath.

There are two reasons given in the Decalogue for the Sabbath.

a. A creation ordinance.

Exodus 20:8-11 links the keeping of the Sabbath with the fact that God first kept the Sabbath.

b. A redemptive ordinance.

Deuteronomy 5:15 links the observance of the Sabbath to the Exodus.

4. Sunday Sabbath.

Jesus rose upon the first day of the week. This was the completion of His work. It was His rest and it has provided a rest for us. This altered the pattern for rest. The resurrection is the greatest event in history - greater even than creation. A new world was created. Therefore it should not surprise us that the church has seen fit to observe the First Day of the Week as the Sabbath.

— In the Old Covenant, the people looked ahead to the end of the week to see a day of rest.

— In the New Covenant, the people begin their week with the day of rest.

5. Evidences for a First-Day Sabbath.

Christ rose on the first day of the week, entering into His rest on that day (Luke 24:1).

Christ first appeared to His assembled disciples on the first day of the week.

Christ waited for a week before appearing again to His assembled disciples (John 20:26).

The Old Testament imagery of the waving of the first fruits come on the first day after the Sabbath (Leviticus 23:9-11; I Corinthians 15:23).

Leviticus 23:4-14.

There were actually three sabbaths associated with the Passover week.

The Passover week both began and ended with a Sabbath day. In addition to this, there may have been a regular Sabbath (although the fact that Israel was on a 28 day cycle might have made it possible that the Sabbath was always the same in relation to the Sabbath).

The wave offering was taking place on the first day of the week when Jesus arose from the dead.

— The Feast of Pentecost was to take place on the first day of the week, a full 50 days following the Passover. This time, they were not to wave sheaves of grain, but two fully baked loaves of bread. Thus, the day on which the Holy Spirit was poured out and the New Testament church was born was the first day of the week.

Thus, the whole structure of the Jewish feasts were designed to give an anticipation of a New Covenant fulfillment upon the first day of the week.

— The church assembled to break bread on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

— Paul gave instructions that offerings be taken on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). This patter was given, not only to the Corinthian believers, but also to the churches of Galatia.

— John was in the spirit on "the Lord's day" (Revelation 1:10). It is noteworthy that the structure of the text is slightly different from the "Day of the Lord" spoken of both by Peter and Paul.

At the same time, we ought to recognize that Paul often used the seventh day of the week for the purposes of Jewish evangelism (Acts 18:4).


Marriage is a creation ordinance. It is not a matter of convenience of or society. It is not a human invention. Marriage finds its origins in God.

1. Interpersonal Fusion.

Because the woman was first taken from man, marriage becomes a fusion of the two becoming one. Genesis 2:22-24 suggests that the reason that the two become one flesh is because the woman was taken out of man.

Notice that this is an abiding condition. It is not limited to cohabitation, but continues even though the two might be physically separated.

There are two and only two who are to be joined in this interpersonal relationship.

In Mark 10:6-8 Jesus quotes the Old Testament but takes the liberty to slightly alter the text by mentioning "the two" instead of "they." By doing so, He underscores the fact that it is two and only two who are to be made one flesh.

2. Internal Structuring.

Genesis 2:18 says that the woman is to be a helper corresponding to the man. Paul says that the woman was made for the man and not the man for the woman (I Corinthians 11:9).

The Hebrew word negedh has the idea of "face to face with someone." This is the word used here. The woman is face to face with the man.

This does not mean that she is any less than the man. Genesis 1:27 clearly states that she is also created in the image of God.

Genesis 2:18 — It is not good for a man to be alone.

I Corinthians 7:1 — It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

3. Sexual Aberrations.

Polygamy, divorce and homosexuality all conflict with the pattern of creation. God says that He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).


The principle of labor is related to the Sabbath. Labor implies the cultural mandate - that man is to subdue the earth for the glory of God. There is New Covenant legislation given which mandates the continuation of this ordinance of labor (II Thessalonians 3:10).


The question which was put forth to Adam is whether he would hear the word of God and accept the command which was given, not because the Tea was poisonous, but because God had commanded it.


There is a connection of this covenant with the covenant of Creation.

Covenant of Creation:
Dealt with man in his innocent condition
Obedience is required of man in the Garden
Man broke the covenant by rebelling against God

Covenant of Redemption:
Deals with man in his fallen condition
Christ provides the obedience which man is lacking
Christ is the covenant-keeper

On the one hand, we can say that a sense of the Covenant of Creation came to an end with the Fall in that man is now a sinner and never stands in the place that Adam stood.

On the other hand, there is a continuity as the Covenant of Redemption seeks to bring about a return to conditions as they were prior to the fall.

" There are words of cursing and blessing.
" There are continuing responsibilities of marriage, work and the Sabbath.
" There is a movement toward restoration.


And the Lord said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life:

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel." (Genesis 3:14-15).

The seed of this prophecy contains all that will follow. The Curse follows the order of the sin.

- First Satan.
- Then the woman.
- Finally man.

1. The Statement to the Serpent.

Cursing: To be bruised on the head.
Blessing: None.

Cursing: Multiplied pain in childbirth; to be ruled by husband.
Blessing: The promise of salvation by the crushing of the head of Satan is the basis for the provision of the coats of skin.

Cursing: Forced labor culminating in death.
Blessing: The promise of salvation by the crushing of the head of Satan is the basis for the provision of the coats of skin.

The words of Genesis 3:14 are spoken to the serpent. It is fitting that the serpent be cursed as the tool of Satan. Some theologians have sought to explain this away as an Aetiological Tale (A story which explains the cause). Really it was Satan who is behind the scenes. And he is the one who is addressed.

"And enmity I shall set" - notice that the normal word order is changed as the noun appears first and is followed by the verb.

By sinning, man had aligned himself on Satan's side.

Satan & Man — (Enmity) — God

However, God sets an enmity between Satan and the woman so that she is brought back to God's side.

Satan — (Enmity) — God & the Woman

This enmity is found on three fronts:

Between you [Satan] — And the woman = Singular conflict.

Between your [Satan's] seed (multiple conflict) — And her [the Woman's] seed = Multiple conflict.

You [Satan] shall crush is heel — And He shall crush your head = Singular conflict.

a. The First Front: Satan versus the Woman.

Why doesn't God say that He will establish conflict between the Satan and the man?

Because she was the first to be seduced.

— To establish the woman's role in redemption. The pride of man might lead him to disparage his wife since she was the first to fall. This is overturned by her being mentioned first in redemption.

— To emphasize the role of the woman as the bearer of the Child that will ultimately deliver man from the forces of Satan.

Who is the woman? At first glance it seems to be Eve. But it may also refer to womankind in general.

b. The Second Front: Two seeds.

The second level of enmity is "Between your seed and between her seed." Who is the woman's seed? It cannot be all mankind because Cain is seen to be of the evil one (I John 3:12). The woman's seed is the descendants of the woman in whom God sets this promised enmity. All men by nature are born on Satan's side. But then God comes and puts within the hearts of some an enmity against Satan and his kingdom.

Who is Satan's seed? It would include, not only fallen men, but also fallen angels who are set against God and His purposes.

c. The Third Front: Satan versus Christ.

The third level of enmity is seen in the words "He... and You..."

(1) This could be a singular form for a plurality of numbers. Romans 16:20 the pronoun is a plural - God will crush the head of Satan under the feet of all of you. It is interesting that the God of PEACE is described in the terms of a conqueror.

(2) It could refer to a singular hero, conflicting not with Satan's seed, but with Satan himself.

The Hebrew can be translated either masculine or neuter; but the Septuagint translators translated this with autos (he) rather than auto (it). By so doing, they gave a Messianic interpretation to it.

(3) If the pointing were different, it would read "She shall crush."

The Latin Vulgate follows this tradition and the Roman Catholic church interprets it as Mary being the one who shall crush. The problem with this is that the verb which accompanies it ("shall crush") can only be a masculine or a neuter and cannot possibly be a feminine.

Thus, we have a history of God-originated enmity which culminates in the conflict between Satan and the Singular Seed. This theme is seen in Joshua 10 where Joshua has his men place their feet on the neck of the five kings. David & Goliath shows one man representing Satan and his forces while one man also represents God and His forces. Psalm 110:6 pictures the Lord shattering "the chief men" (the Hebrew reads :!9 6(/, "He will shatter [the] head").

Colossians 2:14 - Christ triumphed over principalities and powers on the cross.
This perspective explains...

(a) Cherem warfare when Israelites were told to go in and leave nothing alive.

(b) Imprecatory Psalms when the Psalmist cries out to God for the destruction of his enemies.

2. The Statement to the Woman.

a. Cursing & blessing.

(1) Cursing.

God pronounces a curse over the woman because of a situation which arose originally from her usurpation of her husband's prerogative. Now it is indicated that she shall habitually display this tendency in her "desire" toward her husband. But he, in reaction, shall "rule" over her.

What is this desire?

Several suggestions have been offered.

" An excessive dependence upon the husband.

" A desire to dominate the husband. Similar phrasing is used in Genesis 4:7 when Cain is warned by God that sin desires to dominate him and possess him.

(2) Blessing.

The blessing is that life will continue through the bearing of children (I Timothy 2:15).

b. "I Shall multiply..."

Literally "I will multiply your sorrow AND your conception." But Gesenius suggests that this ' is one of explanation, allowing us to translate it: "I will multiply your sorrow IN your conception" (Genesis 22:17 uses a similar phrasing in the promise of multiplied children to Abraham.

3. The Statement to the Man.

a. Blessing & Cursing.

(1) Blessing.

There is a statement of blessing to the man in that he shall eat bread, albeit by the sweat of his brow.

(2) Cursing.

The curse is the excessive labor for the fruit produced. This is the message of Ecclesiastes - that there will be continual frustration in work.

Ultimately, the curse is that there is a return to dust in death.

4. Conclusion.

a. Notice the presence of common grace.

(1) Bread is provided.

(2) Pain is able to be relieved.

(3) Labor will produce fruit.

(4) Bearing children.

b. Method of redemption's accomplishment.

c. Mystery of redemption's application.

How is a man saved? What causes some to come and believe and be saved while others do not? The Lord sets enmity in the hearts of some.

d. Promise of consummation.

We are moving from a garden to a city. We do not yet see the fulfillment of all things. But we do see Jesus.


In Genesis 4-11 we see a development between the two seeds which are promised in Genesis 3:15.

1. Degeneracy in the Seed of Satan.

a. Cain (Genesis 4:1-17).

Cain shows the warfare between the two seeds as he murders his brother. This shows that the seed was NOT physical in nature, but spiritual.

b. Lamech (Genesis 4:19-24).

You can see the cultural mandate being fulfilled in the descendants of Lamech, even though they are in rebellion against God.

c. Contemporaries of Noah (Genesis 6:1-6).

Every imagination (the first impulse behind a thought) of men was evil continually.

d. Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod was an empire builder. His name seems to come from the root word for "rebel."

e. The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).

God had told men to spread out and fill the earth. They rebelled by seeking to stay unified against the explicit command of the Lord.

2. The Seed of the Woman.

a. Seth (Genesis 4:25-26).

His name means "to set." Eve rejoices because God has set one in the place of Abel.

b. Enoch (Genesis 5:22-24).

In the same way that God walked with Adam in the cool of the garden, now a certain regenerated man is seen walking with God.

As a result, Enoch does not die. Instead, God takes him home BODILY. This is perhaps the first instance of resurrection hope.

c. Lamech (Genesis 5:28-29).

Lamech names his son Noah which means "rest." Where did Lamech get the idea that there would be a rest and that the curse was going to be relieved? It was from the promise of God in the garden. Rest becomes an image of redemption (Hebrews 3-4).

d. Noah (Genesis 6:8-9,22).

Noah fulfilled his name by becoming the instrument who God used to preserve the human race.


In the midst of the two lines being manifested, God establishes a covenant with Noah. Genesis 6:17-22; 8:20-22; 9:1-17 are the passages which outline the Noahic Covenant. There are several things emphasized in this covenant.

1. Interrelationship between Creation and Redemption.

a. Marriage & procreation.

This is seen in Genesis 9 where the command to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth is repeated from Genesis 1:28.

b. Labor.

Just as the pre-flood people were to exercise dominion over the animal kingdom, now because of man's disobedience the animals will have a fear and a dread of man (Genesis 9:2).

c. Sabbath.

Noah's very name means rest and pointed to a Sabbath principle.

2. Emphasizes Particularity.

Genesis 6:5-7 tells that man's condition was only evil continually. But Noah found grace (6:8). Perhaps through the grace of God, the inclinations which were in Noah were restrained by the Lord. Why did God choose Noah? There is nothing in Noah that caused God to choose him. Although Genesis 6:9 says that Noah was a righteous man, this comes immediately after the phrase "these are the generations" which serves as a major divider throughout the book of Genesis. Therefore, Genesis 6:9 does not provide a reason for the grace which is described in Genesis 6:8.

3. God deals with families.

The first mention of the word covenant is in Genesis 6:18 - But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee.

Notice that the covenant is both with Noah and with his family. And yet, Noah was the ONLY one among his family who was found to be righteous (Genesis 7:1).

4. Emphasis on preservation.

God promises to preserve life on the earth "so long as the earth remains" (Genesis 8:20-22). This is seen in the ordinance of capital punishment. One of the key reasons for capital punishment is to preserve the Messianic Line.

The ordinance of capital punishment is found in Genesis 9:5-6. It is given in chiastic form:

1. He who sheds
2. the blood
3. of man;
3. by man 2. his blood 1. shall be shed.

— The reason for this is because man is created in the image of God.
— The murderer is put to death because he has attacked the image of God.
— Only a man may be entrusted with this solemn responsibility.

You might think that God would curse the ground repeatedly because of man's continued sinfulness, but the Lord says that the sin problem will never be cured by judgment and curse.

5. A universalistic aspect.

The cosmic dimension of the covenant is seen when God makes the covenant with every living creature (Genesis 9:10). Romans 8:22 teaches that redemption comes, not just to men, but to the entire world. Psalm 19:1-3 pictures all of creation worshipping the Lord "day unto day" and "night unto night." This relates to the terms of this covenant that day and night would never cease.

Note: The rest of Psalm 19 bears a testimony to God's Law.

6. A gracious Aspect.

The seal of the covenant with Noah emphasizes the gracious character of this covenant. The bloated rain clouds threaten a repetition of judgment, but it is accompanied by the beauty of the rainbow. There is also a rainbow before the throne. Revelation 4:3.

The Dispensationalist scheme teaches this covenant as purely secular in nature. It is presented as the time when God was seeing if man could rule himself through human government.

7. The Noahic Covenant as a Bond in Blood.

It is very obvious that the Noahic Covenant is a BOND and that is SOVEREIGNLY ADMINISTERED; but in what sense can it be seen as a "bond-in-blood"?

a. It is given in a life-or-death motif.

The Lord had already decreed to destroy all life upon the earth except that which came under the terms of this covenant.

b. The provision of capital punishment.

Life and death are obviously involved. When the covenant-breaker takes the life of man, his life is taken.


This is one of the earliest prophetic texts. It is written in large, sweeping statements. There is a lesson to be learned from these kinds of broad, sweeping outlines. Prophecy is often obscure, especially in its initial revelation.

1. The Sin of Ham.

a. The nature of the punishment.

It was a grievous sin because a terrible curse is pronounced over him.

b. He saw his father's nakedness.

(1) His disrespect for his father as evidenced by his telling his brothers outside..

(2) A circumlocution (a round about way of saying it) for a sexual sin.

— This might have been merely looking upon his father in a lustful manner (Exodus 20:26 indicates the importance of modesty). This would be evidenced by the way that the two other brothers were careful not to let their eyes even see the condition of their father.

— When we read that Noah "knew what his son had done to him" might indicate homosexual activity (Leviticus 20:17 uses the term "to see nakedness" as a reference for sexual activity. Leviticus 20:18-19 uses the term "uncover nakedness" to refer to similar sexual activity).

c. The actions of Shem and Japheth.

Genesis 9:23 reads "Shem and Japheth, HE took a garment and laid it upon BOTH THEIR shoulders..." Because of the use of the singular pronoun, Shem seems to be taking the leadership in this action.

2. Why Is Canaan Cursed?

It was Ham who committed the sin; it is the son, Canaan who is cursed (Ezekiel 18 speaks to children who were suffering for the sins of their fathers).

a. The truth of imputation.

Descendants do suffer for the sins of their parents. Exodus 20:5 indicates that it is not just the punishment, but the sin that is also passed from father to son. Thus, Canaan is cursed in anticipation for sin that he will commit as he follows in his father's footsteps.

We know from archaeology that the Canaanites were noteworthy for their sexual sins. They were fertility worshippers.

b. Ham had been blessed by God.

In Genesis 9:1 God had blessed Ham. You do not curse someone whom God has cursed.

c. An act of grace.

Ham had more than one son. Because only one of his sons is cursed, God graciously refrains from cursing the other sons.

Political-Ethnic — Versus — Redemptive-historical

Must you trace the lines back to the races of Ham and Shem and Japheth to determine who is cursed and who is blessed? Or should you look for spiritual equivalents?

Political-Ethnic: Semitic peoples including the Israelites.
Redemptive-Historical: That line which receives the blessing having God be their God.

Political-Ethnic: Hamitic group which inhabited Palestine.
Redemptive-Historical: Those cursed by God for their sinful depravity.

Political-Ethnic: Indo-European groups.
Redemptive-Historical: Those Non-Shemites who became "Shemites" by embracing the God of Shem.

People have used this passage in the past to justify the enslavement of the black race. But this passage does not do that, no matter which view you take, for it is not the Hamitic races which are cursed, but only those of Canaan.

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