Thursday, July 10, 2008

Different Words for the Same Covenant

The Lesson quotes 1 Corinthians 9:22 which reads,

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The author interprets this verse to say that Paul modified the message specifically for his audience. This is nothing new. God, for example, reworded His covenant, to fit the circumstance of the person He was speaking to. Something Paul, as an avid reader of the Old Testament, should have known.

God worded the covenant to his servants in different times in different ways. But, it has been in principle the same covenant. It is always something that God promises that the person cannot do for themselves, at least the way God can do it. And, it is always tied up with the promise of salvation and the promise of rewards through salvation.

We have several examples of this.

  1. The promise to Adam and Eve is found in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Her child would provide the salvation against the serpent.
  2. The promise to Noah is found in Genesis 9: 8 – 13,

Genesis 9:8 - 13 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you … neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

The rainbow was to be a sign of the covenant. So every time we see a covenant we should remember God’s covenant to Noah.

  1. In the case of Abraham the promise is found in Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” The Lord repeats and expands the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17. The sign of this covenant was to be circumcision. Again, God making promises that Abraham could not fulfill himself.
  2. This covenant to Abraham was to be established with Isaac and also Jacob.
  3. It was this covenant that God remembered to save the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 2:24). So He called on Moses to establish the covenant with the people of Israel. This was something Moses could not do by himself.
  4. Years after God establish the same covenant with Naomi and Ruth in the form of a spouse for Ruth, who would as a kinsman redeem the land for Naomi and Ruth. God did for them through Boaz what they could not do on their own.
  5. God then spoke to David, Boaz and Ruth’s great grandson, and promised him a kingly lineage (2 Samuel 7:13; 1Kings 2:4), a dynasty of sorts, from which the King of Kings would be born. The Lord kept the promise to David: Jesus was born out of David’s lineage.

Paul adjusted the message to his audience by following the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Jesus had said that when we are submitted to the Holy Spirit, He would give us the words to say. Perhaps that is why Paul was able to so aptly modify his preaching. In other words, this gift can be ours too, if we are submitted to the Holy Spirit.


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