Why Does Covenant Theology Matter?

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR

The air is thick with fear.

Every time you step out of your house you see those worried glances flicking from face to face taking inventory of those wearing masks and those who do not. Social media is flooded with opinions and anecdotes regarding the decision to vaccinate or not. News coverage saturates our vision with death and violence and unrest.

The world writhes under the pain of pollution, needless destruction, wanton waste, and never-ending selfishness. Comfort is the ultimate commodity, whereas life is easily disposable. There are no guarantees for tomorrow.

The air is thick with fear.

A broken beginning

Adam crouches in the shadows. He unsuccessfully wills his frame to shrink smaller to avoid detection from the Holy God moving towards him in the garden. Adam’s heart pounds with the beat of trepidation while he hides in shame. Everything is wrong.

“I heard the sound of you in the garden,” Adam admits to God, “and I was afraid” (Gen. 3:10). Adam has a right to be afraid. He has disobeyed and broken the one commandment the Lord God had given him: do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

With the forbidden bite, comes a flood of consequences: shame, embarrassment, damaged relationships, hardships, and pain. The relationship with his creator is severed, and Adam is now destined to die.

The air is thick with fear.

Stepping into the destruction with the Covenant of Commencement

Although Adam fully deserves to be dismissed and abandoned to his fate of judgement and death, God refuses to walk away. Instead, the Creator takes a step closer. Though this journey will cost the Creator His very son, God sets in motion a plan to hold onto the people He loves. God extends the promise of a Savior to destroy the snares of sin, fear, and death (Gen. 3:14-15). There is hope for God’s people in the Covenant of Commencement.

Covenant of Preservation

In the Covenant of Preservation, God keeps Noah and his family safe even though the earth gives way, the mountains move into the heart of the sea, and its waters roar and foam (Ps. 46: 2-3). God promises to never destroy the earth with a flood again. Noah and his family offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving under a rainbow of promise.

Covenant of Promise

God promises Abraham a land, a nation, and a great name in the Covenant of Promise. Though Abraham and his descendants prove to be undeserving time and again, God never lets them go. Abraham’s descendants multiply under the blessing of God until the Lord is ready to lead the people to the land He has promised them.

Covenant of Law

With an “outstretched arm,” God rescues His people from slavery in the land of Egypt (Ex. 6:6). After Pharaoh’s chariots are shattered at the bottom of the Red Sea, the Israelites are brought to God’s holy mountain in the wilderness. There God claims fear-driven slaves as His personal treasure and makes a Covenant of Law with this new nation of Israel.

Covenant of the Kingdom

The nation of Israel now inhabits the land promised to Abraham generations before. God makes a promise to King David sitting on Israel’s throne. One day a son of David will sit on an eternal throne. God promises eternal peace and rest to a perfect Son of David in the Covenant of the Kingdom.

The Promised One arrives in the Covenant of Consummation

After centuries of waiting, Jesus arrives. He is the Savior and King promised to Adam, Abraham, and David. He fulfills every part of God’s law given to Moses. Then the Son of David submits to a crown of thorns to fulfill the Father’s plan to preserve God’s people from eternal death and destruction like Noah’s ark did centuries before.

Gasping for breath, Jesus painfully shares victorious words to those weeping at the foot of his blood-spattered cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Those knowledgeable of the ancient scriptures agree with Jesus’s choice of words from Psalm 22. Jesus pours out a lament of pain. God seems far away and refuses to answer His dying son. Jesus has been reduced to someone despised and the punchline of every cruel joke. He is crushed under the weight of fear and terror by those in power around him. He is stripped of all dignity and has no strength left to fight.

All God’s covenant promises are left to gasp and bleed on a brutal Roman cross. If the Promised One is destroyed, all God’s covenant promises will be null and void.

The air is thick with fear.

Why does covenant theology matter?

Just as Psalm 22 doesn’t stop at verse 24, God’s covenant promise doesn’t end with Jesus’s final breath. The Psalm continues:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations…it shall be told of the lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that HE HAS DONE IT.

Jesus is victorious! He has done it!

Covenant theology teaches us that no matter what we do, God will never abandon His promises. God has chosen to bind Himself to His people. He commits Himself to His people forever and always with no excuses or exceptions. God is a covenant keeping God. As the promise-initiator, He will never falter or disappoint.

God is greater than all our fears.

About the Author:

Heather Molendyk

Heather Molendyk holds a degree in elementary education from the University of Miami and is the author of Building Little Pillars and Lead Me to Zion. Although she loves working with children in classroom and summer camp settings, her greatest joy is introducing young children to God’s loving promises found in Scripture. Heather currently worships and serves with her husband and four children at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, NC. You can connect with Heather @heathermolendyk on Instagram.

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