“I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
(Leviticus 26:11–12 ESV)
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel
(which means, God with us).”
(Matthew 1:23 ESV)
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”
(Revelation 21:3 ESV)
In the morning sermon series (and the concept will come up in our evening series of 2 Samuel) we’ve been introduced to the idea of a covenant. I’ve tried to explain this Scripture-imposed structure for reading the entire Bible and how the author of Hebrews sees God’s covenant of grace with Christ as the heart of the gospel. Perhaps the best definition I know of a covenant is supplied by O. Palmer Robertson: “A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered.” J.I. Packer explains the covenant of grace under its old and new covenant administrations in his book “Concise Theology” (which you would do well to have on your shelf at home!)…
“God’s covenant rests on his promise, as is clear from his covenant with Abraham. He called Abraham to go to the land that he would give him, and he promised to bless him and to bless all the families of the earth through him (Gen. 12:1-3). Abraham heeded God’s call because he believed God’s promise; it was his faith in the promise that was credited to him for righteousness (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:18-22). God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai took the form of a Near Eastern suzerainty treaty, that is, a royal covenant imposed unilaterally on a vassal king and a servant people. Although that covenant required obedience to God’s laws under the threat of his curse, it was a continuation of his covenant of grace (Exod. 3:15; Deut. 7:7-8; 9:5-6). God gave his commandments to a people he had already redeemed and claimed (Exod. 19:4; 20:2). The promise of God’s covenant was made stronger through the types and shadows of the law given to Moses… God’s covenant with Israel was preparation for the coming of God himself, in the person of His Son, to fulfill all his promises and to give substance to the shadows cast by the types (Isa. 40:10; Mal. 3:1; John 1:14; Heb. 7-10). Jesus Christ, the mediator of the new covenant, offered himself as the true and final sacrifice for sin. He obeyed the law perfectly… As Hebrews 7-10 explains, God brought in an enhanced version of his one eternal covenant with sinners (13:20) — a better covenant with better promises (8:6) based on a better sacrifice (9:23) offered by a better high priest in a better sanctuary (7:26-8:6; 8:11, 13-14), and guaranteeing a better hope than the former version of the covenant ever made explicit, that is, endless glory with God in a “better country — a heavenly one” (11:16; cf. v.40)…
“The goal of God’s covenantal dealings is, as it always was, the gathering and sanctifying of the covenant people ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language’ (Rev. 7:9), who will one day inhabit new Jerusalem in a renewed world order (21:1-2). Here the covenant relationship will find its fullest expression — ‘they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God’ (21:3). Toward this goal God’s shaping of world events still moves.
“The covenant framework embraces the entire economy of God’s sovereign grace. Christ’s heavenly ministry continues to be that of the ‘mediator of a new covenant’ (Heb. 12:24). Salvation is covenant salvation: justification, adoption, regeneration and sanctification are covenant mercies; election was God’s choice of future members of his covenant community, the church; baptism and the Lord’s Supper, corresponding to circumcision and Passover, are covenant ordinances; God’s law is covenant law, and keeping it is the truest expression of gratitude for covenant grace and of loyalty to our covenant God. Covenanting with God in response to his covenanting with us should a regular devotional exercise for all believers, both in private and at the Lord’s Table. An understanding of the covenant of grace guides us through, and helps us to appreciate all the wonders of God’s redeeming love.”
Soli Deo Gloria!