H Clay Trumbull
has discovered elements of covenant throughout history in all cultures. He
There are historic traces of it, from
time immemorial, in every quarter of the globe.... This close and sacred
covenant relation, this rite of blood-friendship, this inter-oneness of
life by an inter-oneness of blood, shows itself in the primitive East and
in the wild and prehistoric West, in the frozen North as in the torrid
South. Its traces are everywhere. It is of old, and it is of today; as
universal and as full of meaning as life itself. (See top of page 5
The Blood Covenant A Primitive Rite And Its Bearings
On Scripture - 1893 - This book is
as fascinating reading if you would like more insight into the profound
concept of covenant -
Click here for Table of Contents to Online Version)
The question we will seek to answer in this
discussion is this...
We will do a review of the basic
principles of covenant and then examine whether the Biblical evidence
supports or refutes the premise that "covenant is serious business". We will
look at several specific covenants - the covenant between Jonathan and
David, the Abrahamic Covenant (and it's relation to Moses), the covenant
Joshua cut with the Gibeonites, the Old Covenant (and how it related to
Judah just prior to their defeat by Babylon), and finally the New Covenant
(and it's relation to the celebration of the Lord's Supper).
is the most solemn, binding, intimate contract known in the Bible.
The Hebrew phrase for "make
a covenant" is the idiom "Karath
which more literally is translated "cut a covenant". The
Berit/berith/beriyth (word study)
is a contract or
agreement, one made by passing between pieces of cut flesh. The verb
means to divide or cut in two or to make
Covenant was considered a binding agreement among the ancients,
and so was not entered into lightly. After pieces of the
sacrificial animal were laid opposite one another, the individuals
who were cutting covenant would walk between the flesh. This walk
represented the so-called "walk into death" indicating their
commitment to die to independent living and to ever after live for
their covenant partner and to fulfill the stipulations of their
covenant. Furthermore, this "walk into death" was a testimony by
each covenant partner that if either broke the covenant God would
take their life, even as had been done to the sacrificial animal.
In short, we see the gravity of entering into and then breaking
Covenant is a pledge unto death. Covenant
represents a pledge cut in
In covenant the shedding of
demonstrates as nothing else could the intensity and solemn nature of the
commitment (cp Lev 17:11). By cutting covenant the two parties were bound for
life. Thus the shedding of
in the cutting of covenant symbolized the solemn, binding nature of
this transaction. And discussed in more detail later, both the Old
and the New Covenants were inaugurated with
As Trumbull notes in the opening quote above, the practice of cutting covenant is found throughout history with traces or
remnants of covenant truth in every quarter of the globe, and in those
remnants we can see that even the pagan world understood the gravity and
binding nature of entering into covenant with another party.
truth about covenant did
(heir to the throne)
demonstrate when he cut
covenant with David and
gave him his royal robe(1Sa18:1,
2, 3, 4, 5)?
on" the covenant partner's robe symbolizes putting on the partner's
identity. In so doing the two parties become as one. When one is
seen, then the
other is in a sense seen, because the two have become intimately, integrally
identified with each other in covenant. In addition, each partner is
saying to the other in essence that "I am dying
to independent living and to my rights". There is a yielding or
surrendering of one's rights. Each partner would swear an oath saying in essence "God,
do so to me as to the slain animal we have walked between if I break our
covenant!" (see Jonathan's declaration 1Sa 20:13)
Can you see the profound, practical
implications for a man and woman entering into the immutable covenant of
Covenant As It Relates to Marriage) For
more in depth discussion see
Covenant - The Exchange of Robes.
When do the New
put on Christ's robe?
When we received Jesus as our Lord and
with Christ (Gal 3:26, 27, 28, 29). Prior to entering the New
Covenant, "all our righteous deeds (were)...like
filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6), but when we entered the New Covenant cut by
Christ on Calvary, God replaced our filthy rags with Christ's "garments of salvation",
His "robe of
righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10).
At that moment we received Christ by grace through faith (Ep 2:8, 9), we
were made eternally, positionally righteous before God (2Cor 5:21, Is
45:24, 53:11, Ro 1:17, Ro 5:19). In other words, from the moment we were
saved and throughout eternity when the Father looks at us, He sees us as
perfectly righteous, because He sees us in Christ, in union with the Son of
His love (1Co 1:30, Php 3:9). Absolutely nothing can ever reverse or alter
or cancel that supernatural spiritual transaction because of the solemn,
binding, indissoluble nature of covenant, especially the covenant cut by the
ever faithful (Ps 100:5), unchangeable (Mal 3:6), non-lying God (Nu 23:19).
Those who have entered the New Covenant now have a responsibility to live in
a manner that reflects their new position in Christ. In other words, now when the lost world sees us, it should see His robe of righteous
attitudes and actions (synonymous with growth in Christlikeness,
practical righteousness, progressive sanctification, growth in
holiness), not possible naturally but only supernaturally, by His ever
sufficient grace and His indwelling Spirit (Ro 8:9, Ro 8:13, Ep 5:18, Gal
5:16). Supernaturally enabled, our responsibility now is to daily
(even moment by moment) put off the old attitudes and actions associated with darkness
and put on the deeds associated with a walk in the light.
Who did people see this
when they met you? How would your spouse describe your attitudes, your words
and your actions this past week...like Christ ("clothes by Christ") or like
the "old man" in Adam ("clothes by Adam")?
What did the exchange
of armor symbolize
The exchange of armor symbolized
that one covenant partner would be the defender of the other partner. The covenant partner was responsible to defend the partner and take on the
partner's enemies. In covenant the enemies of your partner become your
enemies. In David's case, his enemy was Jonathan's father King Saul. The
fact that Jonathan came to the defense of his covenant partner demonstrates
the solemn, binding, indissoluble power of covenant in ancient times -- in
this instance it was more important than even paternal ties (see 1Sa 19:1,
2, 3, 4, 20:1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 13, 32, 33, 34, 42). Cutting covenant produced a
binding relationship that took precedence over one's own blood relatives!
Earlier we saw that the exchange of robes demonstrated that
Jonathan's covenant with David superseded even his own personal ambitions
(Jonathan was first in line to be the next king, but he yielded his rights
when he cut covenant with David - as an aside the Scripture does not state
when Jonathan knew about Samuel's prior anointing of David as the next king
- 1Sa 16:12, 13, 14).
Who is our Covenant Defender from Acts 9:1-7?
Jesus Christ is now obligated to be our Defender and Protector.
What is the
liberating truth of understanding God is now your Covenant Defender?
Persecution, affliction and suffering will come upon believers (cf 2Th
1:3-10) when the lost world sees us clothed in Jesus' robe ("putting of and
putting on"), but because we have a Covenant Defender we do not need
to seek revenge. God is committed to be our Avenger and He will repay. We
are called to love our enemies, pray for them, bless those who persecute us,
curse not and to overcome evil with good (cf Ro 12:14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19;
Ro 12:14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21,
Paul teaches that "all who desire to live
godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (see 2Ti 3:12-note) and that to them "it
has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to
suffer for His sake" (see Php 1:29-
What does Jesus say will be true
of those in covenant
(Jn 15:18, 19, 20)?
God's enemies are our enemies. God's Enemy
is this present evil
The world hates Jesus (Notice how you can casually use the name "God" in
conversations, but when you mention "Jesus" you can "hear the proverbial pin
The world hates believers (Corollary question - what does it say about the
authenticity of our faith if the world does not hate us?).
The world will persecute us (cp 2Ti 3:12-note).
The world hates us because we are in covenant with Christ, because He
is now our life and as we learn to yield and surrender to His Spirit with
us, His life in us is lived out in "real life" before the lost world,
shining forth even as lights in the darkness (Jn 1:4, 1:5ESV, Mt 5:14,15,16-note,
But the world hates this "divine light" (2Pe 1:4-note)
because it exposes the darkness of their evil deeds, and thus it is should
not shock us (it always seems to catch me "off guard") that the world hates
us most when we are most like the Light of the World, Christ
Jesus! (Jn 8:12, Jn 3:19, 20, 21).
"World" is not the people per se (God so loved that world
- Jn 3:16, Ro 5:8-note) and
not the physical earth or universe but the spiritual reality of the
man-centered, Satan-directed kingdom of darkness of this present evil
age (1Jn 5:19),
which is alienated from and hostile toward God and God’s people, is
opposed to the kingdom of light ruled by Christ and manifests
itself in self-centered, godless values and mores. The goal of the
world system is self-glory, self-fulfillment, self-indulgence,
self-satisfaction, and every other form of self-serving.
addition to the world (kosmos), God's enemies (and thus our enemies)
The "flesh" (in
this context not a reference to the
physical body) describes what remains of the "Old
Man (Old self)” after
a person is saved or redeemed. The "flesh" will remain with
the believer until we receive our glorified body.
The flesh is that part of a believer that functions apart from and
is continually opposed to the Spirit (Gal 5:17-note).
Paul teaches us that the "old self" was crucified with Christ (sustauroo)
and as a result is no longer has absolute authority over us (Ro 6:6-note).
Yes, it is still present in our mortal, physical bodies, but it is
present even as a defeated enemy is in under a new, victorious regime.
And as such the flesh ever seeks to regain control. Paul explains that
the way we can now live "victoriously" over the defeated enemy, the
flesh, is to "Walk by the Spirit" (Gal 5:16-note).
What is the "promise"? We will not fulfill the desires of the flesh!
Note two truths in this statement -- (1) The flesh will still
have strong, evil desires, ever seeking to seduce us to gratify
ourselves in a way that may be "pleasurable" but which is sinful and
which is a evanescent pleasure, in contrast to the fulness of joy and
pleasures forever in the presence of the Lord (Ps 16:11) and (2)
The way to "suppress" or "defeat" the flesh is not by trying in your
power to "not" fulfill the desires of the flesh.
Beloved, now that you are in covenant
with Christ, you must know and continually be mindful that you now have
three mortal enemies for the remainder of your days on earth. And make
no mistake --- they all want to kill you and cut you off from
communion with your Creator and Covenant Partner...something they can do
temporarily when they entice us to commit sins...but they can never cut
us off eternally from our Savior - We cannot lose our salvation! But
we do not have to fear nor cave in to the attacks of our mortal foes,
for when Christ the Covenant Messenger, cut covenant on Calvary, at that
very moment in time and eternity, He defeated forever all three of our
adversaries. Hallelujah! Now we must stand in that truth. We must learn
the secret of living in that truth. We must continually practice that
truth. And we do so only by His provision of all sufficient grace and
His indwelling Spirit. May our Teacher the Spirit frequently bring to
each of our minds the truth about out enemies...all three were
defeated at the Cross when Christ consummated the cutting of the New
Covenant in His blood...
But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, through which the
has been crucified to
me, and I to the
- (Continually know) that our
was crucified with Him (sustauroo),
that our body of sin might be done away with (katargeo),
that we should no longer be slaves (douleuo)
to sin...Even so consider
continually reckon this to be true) yourselves to be dead to
(separated from) (the power, the tyranny, the rule, the enslavement of)
Sin (repeatedly personified in Romans
6 as an evil king, a harsh slavemaster),
but alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Ro 6:6-note,
The Devil - Since
then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also
partook of the same (Php 2:6, 7-note,
that through death (when He cut the New Covenant in His blood on the
Cross) He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that
is, the devil (Heb 2:14-note)
How do believers
"defend or protect"
God Who is their Covenant
Do not love the world.
Do not love things of the world.
Refuse to be friends with the world.
Separate ourselves from the world (see 1Jn 2:15, 15, 16, 17-note , Jas 4:4-note,
2Cor 6:14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
2Co 7:1-note) Remember that if we are in covenant with
Jesus Christ, we are in covenant with God and He must have preeminence in
every area of our life.
What did the exchange
of belt symbolize (1Sa18:1, 2, 3, 4, 5)?
The belt probably symbolized an exchange
of strength. How does
(or should) the exchange of strength impact believers? We exchange our weakness for His strength
- as we wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31).
Christ's power is made perfect in our weakness, so that we can even "boast"
about our weaknesses (2Cor 12:9-note,
We learn the secret (not something mystical but this implies it is a process
of daily walking with Christ, learning to rely on His Spirit in the "highs"
and "lows" and everything in between) that we can do all things in Christ Who continually
strengthens us within (Phil 4:13-note;
be sure to study the context [Php 4:11-note,
Phil 4:12 -note]
to help understand how Paul came to the point that he could testify to Php
4:13 ). For more in depth discussion see
Covenant - The Exchange of Armor and
believers "in some sense" give God our strength?
Jesus taught we can love God with
all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30)
My Hope Is Built
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay.
HOW SERIOUS WAS THE
BETWEEN JONATHAN AND DAVID?
Do we see evidence of Jonathan taking a "walk
Here is the NLT version...
But if he (King Saul) is angry and
wants you killed, may the LORD kill me if I don't warn you so you
can escape and live. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my
father. (1Sa 20:13NLT)
In covenant, David's enemies became Jonathan's
enemies and he was obligated to protect David from his father King Saul.
Jonathan's declaration of loyalty demonstrates how serious he took
his cutting of covenant. Jonathan in essence calls down a "curse" upon
himself if he were to fail to fulfill his covenant commitment, which
supports the premise that the "walk into death"
(passing between the halves of dead flesh) symbolized that if either covenant partner broke the covenant, God
was to take their life, even as had been done to the sacrificial animal.
In 1Samuel 20:16 (discussed in part
in following entry) notice the second half of the passage...
So Jonathan made a covenant with the
house of David, saying, "May the LORD require it at the hands of
Comment: Now compare the
following popular translations - 1Sa 20:16GW, 1Sa 20:16ASV 1Sa 20:16NIV
1Sa 20:16NKJV 1Sa 20:16HCSB 1Sa 20:16NCV - Note that in these versions
the sense of the last half of the passage allows for the interpretation
that if David does not keep his part of the covenant bond, his enemies
are held accountable to punish David for breaking covenant. This is in
keeping with the idea that when two parties cut covenant they are bound
on fear of death to defend and protect their covenant partner. And if
they do not keep their oath, they are subject to just retribution (in
this case meted out by David's enemies). Now read 1Sa 20:16ESV noting
that the ESV is one of the more popular new versions and is highly
acclaimed by Bible scholars and expositors. How would you interpret the
passage from the ESV? It gives the text a completely different meaning,
one that I think the context does not as readily support. Note also that
there is no Hebrew word for "vengeance" in the original text so
that the ESV translators have chosen to add this word which leads to a
different interpretation (Note: This is another reason you should
seek to become conversant with the original languages of Scripture -
Hebrew and Greek. Remember that every translation (even my favorite
the NAS) is in some sense a "commentary" (The "Acts 17:11 Berean
student" does well to know how "literal" or how close their favorite
translation is to the original Greek or Hebrew text - for help see the
All that to say (in my humble opinion) this passage appears to support
the fact that both parties, Jonathan and David are bound to this
covenant and that the penalty for breaking it is punishment including
death (which is consistent with the idea of the "walk of death" when two
cut a blood covenant recalling that the "life...is in the blood" Lev
The UBS Handbook on First Book of
Samuel adds that the...
Revised English Bible follows the
Septuagint in reading “him” instead of “the enemies of David,” that is,
may the Lord take vengeance on David himself. The Revised English
Bible basically follows the Greek in the following translation of this
verse: “may the Lord call him [David] to account if he and his
house are no longer my friends.”
In summary, even this man to man
covenant shows us the gravity and binding nature of entering into
and then breaking covenant.
What additional truths do
we learn from the
covenant Jonathan and David cut (1Sa
Note that in this passage, Jonathan
cuts another covenant but in contrast to the first covenant which was
specifically with David, this "addendum" covenant was between their
houses (families) and their descendants. It was forever (1Sa 20:23)
which underscores that covenant is binding and that covenant partners
are obligated to one another unto death do them part.
Does this sound like your marriage
vows beloved? I wonder what would happen to the divorce rate among born
again believers, if they truly comprehended the Biblical significance of
covenant? (See short study
Covenant As It Relates to Marriage).
HOW SERIOUS WAS THE
BETWEEN JOSHUA AND THE GIBEONITES?
Whereas Jonathan cut a solemn and
binding covenant with David because he loved him as himself (1Sa 18:3),
Joshua was tricked by the inhabitants of Gibeon to cut covenant with
them. One might think that a covenant cut with such a deceitful party
might be annulled, but subsequent events proved otherwise.
In Joshua 9 we see the principle of covenant and
how covenant binds one to take on the other covenant partner's enemies.
Joshua had entered Canaan which by virtue of God's promise in the
Abrahamic Covenant was to be Israel's permanent possession. Joshua
strategizes to defeat the enemies occupying the land with a three‑pronged attack. The people in
Canaan are trembling
because they have heard about the defeat of Jericho by Joshua's army
(Joshua's God). The iniquity of the Amorites is full and the
children of Israel are going in to take the land. It is right that they
do so because God is judging the land of Canaan for their sins (Genesis 15:16). After
Israel invades the promised land under the leadership of Joshua, they
Gibeonites, who are very much afraid. Joshua 9:3-27 records this
fascinating but sad interlude in Israel's history...
When the inhabitants of Gibeon
(located in the heart of Canaan about 6 miles north of Jerusalem) heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, (4) they also acted
craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their
donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, (5) and worn-out
and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves;
and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled.
(6) And they went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and
to the men of Israel, "We have come from a far country; now therefore,
(7) And the men of Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you are living
within our land; how then shall we
with you?" (8) But they said to Joshua, "We are your servants." Then
Joshua said to them, "Who are you, and where do you come from?" (9) And
they said to him, "Your servants have come from a very far country (Note:
they are lying)
because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report
of Him and all that He did in Egypt, (10) and all that He did to the two
kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og
king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. (11) So our elders and all the
inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, 'Take provisions in your
hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, "We are your
servants; now then,
with us. (12) "This our bread was warm when we took it for our
provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but
now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. (Note:
they are deceptive) (13) And
these wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and
these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long
journey." (14) So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did
not ask for the counsel of the LORD. (Note:
The leaders acted independent of God which is the very essence of all
sin. How many times would this verse be appended to our words and
actions?! Not only that, but God had clearly commanded Israel not to
with any pf the inhabitants of Canaan (cf
"and when the LORD your God shall
deliver them before you, and you shall defeat them, then you shall
utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and
show no favor to them.").
Instead, they were to drive them out lest their corrupting influences cause them to stumble and
worship their idolatrous gods.)
(15) And Joshua made peace with them and
with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation
swore an oath to them (Note:
the common elements of covenant - peace, swearing of an oath).
(16) And it came about at the end of three days after they had
with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were
living within their land.
(17) Then the sons of Israel set out and
came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and
Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. (18) And the sons of Israel did
not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to
them by the LORD the God of Israel (Note:
the solemn, binding nature of covenant, even cut under such questionable
circumstances.) (18) And the
whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. (19) But all the leaders
said to the whole congregation, "We have sworn to them by the LORD,
the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. (Note: in fact
Israel was now the "covenant defender" of the Gibeonites!) (20) "This we
will do to them, even let them live, lest wrath be upon us for the oath
which we swore to them." (Note:
The leaders understood the binding nature of their covenant and knew
that they dare not break it lest God bring retribution against them.)
(21) And the leaders said to them,
"Let them live." So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for
the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them. (22)
Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, "Why have you
deceived us, saying, 'We are very far from you,' when you are living
within our land? (23) "Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall
never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for
the house of my God." (24) So they answered Joshua and said, "Because it
was certainly told your servants that the LORD your God had commanded
His servant Moses to give you all the land (Note:
this is "remnant" of covenant, for the unconditional promise of the land
of Canaan was given initially to Abraham not Moses),
and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we
feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.
(25) "And now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and
right in your sight to do to us." (26) Thus he did to them, and
delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not
kill them. (Note:
because of the covenant)
(27) But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water
for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the
place which He would choose.
As we have noted, remnants of truth about covenant
were known throughout the peoples of the
earth. The Gibeonites clearly knew about covenant though they did not know
the Covenant Keeping God.
And yet even though they were pagans, they knew enough about the cutting
of covenant to understand that it a serious, solemn, binding
agreement. They knew that if they duped the leaders of Israel into
cutting a covenant that
Israel would be bound to protect them as their covenant partner and
would would not be able to destroy
them as God had decreed.
Did Joshua fulfill his promise
be the covenant defender of Gibeon?
When the Gibeonites were
attacked by Adoni-zedek the Amorite king of Jerusalem along with 9 other
kings, the men of Gibeon appealed to the solemn covenant with Israel,
"the five kings of the Amorites, the
king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of
Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with
all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it. Then the
men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, "Do not
abandon your servants (Note:
here they appeal to the binding covenant with Israel that she would be
their covenant defender - their enemy would be Israel's enemy);
come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the
Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us."
Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and
all the valiant warriors. And the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not fear
them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand
before you." So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night
from Gilgal. And the LORD confounded them before Israel (Remember
that Israel is in covenant with God, and thus He is their "Defender" a
truth David recognized in his battle with Goliath - 1Sa 17:45, 46, 47 or
as the prophet told King Jehoshaphat when faced with sure defeat - "the
battle is not yours but God's" 2Chr 20:15-25), and He slew
them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of
the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.
And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while they were at
the descent of Beth-horon, that the LORD threw large stones from heaven
on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from
the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.
Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the
Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
"O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon."
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged
themselves of their enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the
middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
And there was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD
listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel (Why?
Because He was her "Covenant Defender")."
Joshua remained true to his covenant
vow and experienced a supernatural victory (brought about by Jehovah
Israel's Covenant Defender!), relieving the besieged city, pursuing the
attackers down the ascent of Beth-horon and winning decisively.
How serious and long-lasting
Israel's covenant with Gibeon?
God is serious about keeping
covenant. Note that the following vignette occurs 400-500 years
after Joshua had cut covenant with the Gibeonites. In 2 Samuel 21:1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6 where we read as follows...
Now there was a famine in the
days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the
presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, "It is for Saul and his bloody
house, because he put the Gibeonites to death." (Note:
God used the famine to bring Saul's disobedience the attention of David.
Note carefully that Saul's sin was "personal" but it was not "private"
in the sense that the consequences had broad ranging effects. The same
principle applies to our personal sins. Saul must have known that Joshua
had promised the Gibeonites immunity from the extermination decreed for
the other inhabitants of Canaan but in his unbiblical "zeal" he broke
the covenant) So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the
Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the
Amorites, and the sons of Israel
with them, but Saul had
sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah). Thus David said to the Gibeonites, "What should I do for you? And how
can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the LORD?"
(David asked the Gibeonites
what they would accept as settlement for Saul's breaking of the covenant
peace agreement. He was hoping to pay them off in money) Then the Gibeonites said to him, "We have no concern of silver or gold
with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in
Israel." And he said, "I will do for you whatever you say." So they said to the king, "The man who consumed us, and who planned to
exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel, let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them
before the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD." And the king
said, "I will give them."
When David tried to arrange matters
with them they stood upon their ancient covenant rights, claiming
life for life, which is in keeping with the solemn nature of covenant
when it is broken by one of the parties. The Gibeonites would accept no
"blood money" but instead demanded blood from the family of the slayer
of their people. And so seven men of Saul’s descendants were given over to the
Gibeonites, who hung them “before Jehovah”—as a kind of sacrifice—in
Gibeah, Saul’s own town! God is serious about keeping covenant!
For the background of this
Israelite-Gibeonite covenant, read Joshua 9:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15). Subsequent to cutting covenant with the
Gibeonites, Israel discovered they were actually inhabitants of the
promised land whom God had said should be destroyed (Joshua 9:16), but
because of the covenant they had cut Israel refrained from striking the
Gibeonites (Joshua 9:17, 18), declaring...
"We have sworn to them by the LORD,
the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to
them, even let them live, lest wrath be upon us for the oath which we
swore to them." (Joshua 9:19, 20)
Note how Israel felt absolutely bound
because of the cutting of covenant despite the fact that they had been
deceived by the Gibeonites! In the ancient world covenant was a solemn,
binding agreement, which the parties did not dare to break lest they
invoke serious consequences.
Gibeon the so-called "great city"
with "mighty" warriors (Joshua 10:2) out of fear tricked Israel (lied
saying they were from a far country)
As an aside (an important one!) what where did Israel
make a mistake in cutting this covenant?
Joshua 9:14 states that they
failed to consult God! (See
below for more detailed
discussion of this covenant).
How serious was Joshua
Israel fulfilled their covenant obligation to defend Gibeon when attacked.
Joshua understood the binding nature of covenant (Note: once the covenant was cut even their lie didn't
How faithful was Saul some
400 years later to keep the covenant
with Gibeon? (2Sa
21:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) (See
Saul failed to keep covenant with
Gibeon. And what were the
note) There was a 3 year famine in Israel
7 of Saul's descendants were killed by Gibeonites in "payment" for Saul
not keeping covenant. Here is the point. In the OT, the penalty for breaking
covenant was death.
Saul must have known that Joshua had promised the Gibeonites
immunity from the extermination decreed for the other inhabitants
of Canaan but in his unbiblical "zeal" he broke the covenant. God
used the famine to bring Saul's disobedience to light. The men of
Gibeon refused David's offer of money and instead sought a blood
payment. Note Saul's sin was "personal" but not "private" for the
consequences affected the entire nation. This principle applies to our
HOW SERIOUS WAS
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT?
What do we learn about the gravity of
entering into covenant from
Ge 15:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18?
God instructed Abram to kill the animals, shedding
their life blood (Lev 17:11) and cutting them in halves that lay opposite one
another, in so doing producing a pathway for the so called walk of
death. It is interesting to note that the only instruction God gave
Abram was to secure the animals. The text does not state that God either
told him to kill the animals nor to place their slain bodies opposite
one another. While we must be cautious in interpreting a text that is
silent, Abram's actions at least suggest that he fully understood the
concept and symbolic ritual associated with the cutting of covenant.
Who walked between
the pieces of cut flesh
Ge 15:12, 17, 18?
Abram was in a "deep sleep" and
clearly did not walk between the lifeless carcasses. It was God Himself,
and He alone, who walked through the path of death, as symbolized by the
smoking oven and the flaming torch. And so the covenant with Abraham was
an unconditional covenant in that it was God alone who would fulfill the
stipulations. It was indeed a covenant of grace, for Abram had done
nothing to merit God cutting this covenant. It was a solemn event which
God obviously took very seriously as indicated by His command in Genesis
give Abraham that was to be the sign of the covenant He had cut in
Genesis 15:18? (Ge 17:10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
Every male older
than 8 days was to be circumcised (Ge 17:10 -
see note below on the meaning of
is important that one not confuse the "sign of the covenant" with the
covenant itself. A sign points to something, but is not the end in
itself. In this case, the carrying out of this sign is a call for
obedience, which in turn is a reflection of one's faith.
In other words, in Genesis 15:6 Abram believed God and in Ge
17:23 Abraham obeyed God. From Genesis to Revelation, the
principle holds true that faith that truly believes in
Christ will show itself to be genuine by obeying. And remember,
since none of us is capable (yet) of perfect obedience, this principle
of faith that obeys speaks of the general direction of one's life
("heavenward") and not of perfection of one's conduct.
What was the "penalty" for
the male who is not circumcised? (Ge 17:14)
In short, "cut off" foreskin
or be "cut off"!
male shall be cut off from his people. There is a clear "wordplay"
because "cut off" (karath
= see note on "Cut Off"))
is the same verb used of cutting the animals and in the phrase "cut a
covenant" (Ge 15:18). In this context the verb signifies that the guilty
party must be "ex-communicated" or killed (See several
What did God
seek to do to Moses in Ex 4:24, 25, 26? Why?
God sought to kill his servant (Ex
4:10, 14:31, Nu 12:7, cp "friend" Ex 33:11, Jas 2:23) Moses (Note:
Beloved, if any of us [yours truly included] think we are not expendable
in God's divine economy, we need to think again!). Zipporah’s circumcision of the child averted Moses' death. This event
implies that Moses had disobeyed the command of Genesis 17:14 and had failed to circumcise his son and
covenant" (see Ge 17:14). Remember that we are not talking about
the Old Covenant, the Law, a clearly conditional covenant, but the
Abrahamic Covenant, an unconditional covenant, a covenant based on God's
grace (like the New Covenant).
As an interesting aside, the Greek
translation (the Septuagint) of the Hebrew text renders "the LORD" with
the Greek phrase the "angel of the Lord" (See
Angel of the LORD
where this phrase is explained as most likely one of many pre-incarnate
appearances of Jesus)
In conclusion, we again see the seriousness of failing to
keep covenant. God was teaching Moses (on his way to address
Pharaoh) that He was serious about covenant.
Expositor's Bible Commentary
for one small neglect (Ed comment:
Clearly this was not "small" in God's eyes. It was a clear command with
clear consequences stated in Ge 17. I would say it was a "huge neglect"
on Moses part!), apparently out of deference to his wife's wishes, or
perhaps to keep peace in the home (Ed: This could be the reason
circumcision was not performed but is speculation), Moses
almost forfeited his opportunity to serve God and wasted eighty years of
preparation and training! (Ed: Beloved, can we not apply this
to the ministry with which He has graced each of us? One misstep, one
area of neglect representing overt disobedience might be sufficient to
disqualify us from His holy work! If this does not put a reverential
fear of the Lord in you, then you may already be vulnerable for a fall!
May God give us eyes to see these potential pitfalls and the grace to
traverse them unscathed in Christ. Amen.)
Regarding the enigmatic phrase "bridegroom
of blood", the NET Bible note has this quote...
U. Cassuto explains that she was
saying, "I have delivered you from death, and your return to life makes
you my bridegroom a second time, this time my blood bridegroom, a
bridegroom acquired through blood" (Exodus, 60–61).
Barnes explains it
Literally, “a husband of blood,” or
“bloods.” The meaning is: The marriage bond between us is now sealed by
blood. By performing the rite, Zipporah had recovered her husband; his
life was purchased for her by the blood of her child.
Warren Wiersbe notes that...
God had to discipline Moses (perhaps
by sickness) to remind him of his obligation. How could he lead Israel
if he was failing to lead his own household in things spiritual? Moses
later sent his family back to Midian (see Ex 18:2).
W. W. Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, Ill.:
Pfeiffer has a practical
comment noting that...
This passage, which is dismissed by
many modern commentators (Ed: Modern and liberal!) as a curious
relic of folklore and superstition, is in fact an illustration of a
spiritual law that runs throughout Scripture and history:
He who would proclaim God's will
must himself be obedient to the express will of God.
The sign of circumcision, decreed by
God (Gen 17:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) had been neglected by Moses until God
forcibly reminded him of the obligation by this stroke.
C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody
HOW SERIOUS WAS GOD'S
The first giving of the Law, the Old Covenant, is recorded in Exodus
How did the
people respond in Ex 24:3 when Moses recounted all the words of the LORD
and all the ordinances?
The agreed they
would do all of these words. In other words they were saying they would
What did Moses
do next (Ex 24:4, 5)?
He wrote down all
the words of Jehovah, built an altar with 12 pillars and had the young
men sacrifice animals.
What did Moses
do with the blood from these sacrifices?
He put half in
basins and half on the altar. The writer of Hebrews says he "sprinkled
both the book itself and all the people" (Heb 9:18).
What does this
division of the blood into two parts remind you of?
The dividing of
the animals by Abram into halves to make a path for the "walk of death".
What did Moses
repeat in Ex 24:7? How did the people respond?
He took the "book
of the covenant" and read it so all Israel could hear. They make in
essence an oath that "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we
will be obedient!"
How did Moses
respond in Ex 24:8?
He sprinkled the
blood on the people and declared "Behold the blood of the covenant,
which the LORD has made (karath - cut) with you in accordance
with all these words."
blood bound both parties (God and Israel) to keep the terms of the
BLESSING AND CURSING
LIFE AND DEATH
30 what promises did God give to Israel if the obeyed or disobeyed the
Old Covenant? Does this help you understand the seriousness of covenant?
Deuteronomy is the "second" giving of the Law or Old Covenant ordinances
to the children of Israel camped on the plains of Moab preparing to
enter the promised land led by Joshua.
Deut 30:15 "See, I have set before
you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity;
16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His
ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments,
that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you
in the land where you are entering to possess it.
17 "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn
away and worship other gods and serve them,
18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You shall not
prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter
and possess it.
19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have
set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose
life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding
fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you
may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."
God had set before
them, life and prosperity, death and adversity, life and death, the
blessing and the curse. He clearly stated that obedience would yield
life and blessing and disobedience would bring death and
Who was called
as witness to this covenant?
heaven and earth.
Why did God
warn them they would die?
Because of their
failure to keep covenant.
Israel choose life? (Dt
By loving the
LORD, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him.
THE SERIOUSNESS OF COVENANT
Jehovah say would happen to the king's palace in Jerusalem if His people
persisted in disobedience?
(Je 22:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
It would be a
desolation, like a wilderness.
What would even
pagan nations recognize when they saw the desolation?
recognize and acknowledge that Israel had forsaken the covenant of the
LORD, bowed to other gods and served them ("Spiritual adultery" cf James
4:4) Even the pagans understood the binding nature of covenant and also
the penalty for breaking covenant.
Who cut covenant and what were the
9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)?
King Zedekiah and Israel agreed to
set their Hebrew slaves free. At first they all obeyed but then they
reneged and reinstated slavery.
Why did they renege on their covenant
promise to free their slaves?
Possibly because the Babylonian army
withdrew (see Jer 34:21NLT) as result of the approaching Egyptian army
(Jer 37:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). When the pressure was off, they broke
covenant by taking back the slaves.
This begs the question, do I just
obey when the pressure is on me?
What does the LORD appeal to in
(Jer 34:13, 14)?
Release the Hebrew slaves every 7
How was covenant ritual
described? (Jer 34:18, 19)
They cut a calf in half, passed
between its parts thus taking the "Walk of death". They were saying in
essence “May my life (represented by the blood) be poured out if I fail
to honor my part.”
What did the Lord say Israel had
they done to His Name by failing to keep their covenant agreement?
(Jer 34:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22)
They profaned God's Name.
What was Jehovah's sentence for
breaking this covenant?
(Jer 34:17, 18)
Release from His protection to
pestilence, famine and terror. He gave them into hands of enemies, the
resulting penalty for breaking covenant being death. Is there any doubt
that God takes covenant quite seriously!
HOW SERIOUS IS THE
The question we
will answer is how does the
OT truth about covenant parallel the truth about the New Covenant?
How did Isaiah
describe Messiah in Isaiah
Messiah is the Covenant.
What role did Malachi
ascribe to Messiah in regard to the covenant (Malachi
Messiah is the Messenger
of the Covenant. The Hebrew word for
which describes one who carries a
message, who performs a specific commission or who officially
represents the sender. Messiah functioned in all of these
How did Jesus, Himself the Covenant
and the Messenger of the Covenant, convey the message of the New
26:26, 27, 28)
At the Passover Meal He took common
elements, the Bread symbolizing His body and the Wine His blood, and
explained it as "the blood of the covenant". In essence these elements
depicted Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself.
MacArthur writes that
The bread that had represented
the Exodus (in the Passover supper) now came to represent the body
of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. To the Jewish mind the body
represented the whole person, not just his physical body. Jesus’
body represents the great mystery of His whole incarnate life, His
whole teaching, ministry, and work—all He was and all He did...The
cup (3rd of 4 cups of wine that made up the Passover celebration)
that had represented the lamb’s blood smeared on the doorposts and
lintels now came to represent the blood of the Lamb of God, shed
for the salvation of the world. The Old Covenant was ratified
repeatedly by the blood of animals offered by men; but the New
Covenant has been ratified once and for all by the blood of Jesus
Christ (Heb. 9:28), which God Himself has offered. The old
deliverance was merely from Egypt to Canaan. So Jesus took the cup
and said it is the "new covenant in My blood". It is important to
realize that this was not new in the sense that it was a covenant
of grace replacing one of works. It is new in that it is the
saving covenant to which all the Old Testament shadows pointed.
The new deliverance is from sin to salvation, from death to life,
from Satan’s realm to God’s heaven. Passover was transformed into
the Lord’s Supper. We now eat the bread and drink the cup not to
remember the Red Sea and the Exodus but to remember the cross and
the Savior. (MacArthur,
J: 1Corinthians. Chicago: Moody Press)
What does Paul record that Jesus
commanded concerning the New Covenant?
And when He had given thanks, He
broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you;
this in remembrance of Me." In the same way He took the cup also, after
supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood;
this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (1Co 11:24, 25)
in remembrance of Me. Note that the verb "do" is in the
which is a command to do this continually. Sharing in the Lord's Supper
is not optional. As an aside, what might be a possible effect of
celebrating the Lord's Supper more frequently than we do in many modern
churches? One effect is that it might become "ritualistic". We do it
every week and it soon become a "ho-hum" activity with little substance.
But if we did it with the full realization of the potential divine
disciplinary consequences (weak...sick...sleep - 1Cor 11:30, 32),
perhaps there might be some weeks when we opt to sit out for fear of
God's hand of discipline. Of course, we would never have to sit out the
Lord's Supper if we were willing to confess our sins (1Jn 1:9). I know
that personally when I know that there will be communion on a given
Sunday, I am strongly motivated during that week to resist the devil and
temptations from the world and the flesh, because I know that I will be
participating in a holy activity that carries serious consequences if I
partake in an unworthy manner.
What are we to remember?
Considering the fact that the meal
symbolizes covenant, some of the things we are to remember include the
fact that covenant is serious, that cutting covenant is costly (Cross),
that His death was for our sin, that Jesus in fact took the "walk of
death" so to speak, that believers in the New Covenant are to "wear His
garment", to defend His name and to not love the world.
What do we proclaim when we take the
Lord's supper, the New Covenant meal?
For as often as you eat this bread
and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. (1Cor
The Lord's death until He comes -- looking back to His death and looking
forward to His return and then living in light of that blessed hope.
Beloved, what you are looking for will determine what you are living
What is Paul's warning about not taking covenant seriously in
(1Cor 11:27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34)?
In 1Cor 11:27 he warns that whoever
eats or drinks unworthy manner (like a common meal, division, faction,
ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of
bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude as Corinthians were
manifesting) is guilty of body and blood of the Lord and therefore one
should examine self (1Cor 11:28), else they would received judgment
if they fail to judge the body rightly (1Cor 11:29), that this Judgment
was already manifest by the fact that many were weak and sick and a
number slept (had died). Paul encouraged them that if we judged self
rightly, we should not be judged. (1Cor 11:31). In (1Cor 11:32) he
equated judged with being disciplined (child training) by the Lord that
we not be condemned.
The New Covenant meal in Christ's blood is a reflection of the
solemn nature of covenant and can serve as a time of purification
for the church or of discipline even unto death for those who
refuse to prepare their hearts for communion. The Lord chastens to
drive His people back to righteous behavior and even sends death
to some in the church to remove them before they could be
God's discipline for
improper partaking of the New Covenant is pre-figured by the an event in 2Chr 30:18, 19, 20 in the context of the OT parallel feast, the
Passover. In the background of reforms by Hezekiah's which resulted in a
revival and re-institution of the Passover feast (which apparently had not
been properly and regularly observed in some time, perhaps since the
division of the kingdom 215 years earlier), Scripture records that ...
a multitude of the people, even many
from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified
themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.
For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone
who prepares his heart to seek God (just as in the new covenant meal, the
internal attitude of the heart was to prevail over one's external
activity), the LORD God of his fathers, though not according to the
purification rules of the sanctuary." So the LORD heard Hezekiah and
healed the people.
So just as when one
who approaches the New Covenant meal in an unworthy manner may suffer
sickness and even death, so too in this OT passage we learn that sickness
resulted in those who failed to eat the Passover in the prescribed manner.
THE NEW COVENANT
IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
OF FAITH AND OBEDIENCE
What is the definition of Biblical faith?
See related resource:
apistia see also
Another Discussion of Relationship of
Faith and Obedience
James alludes to a quality of
that is not saving faith when he writes...
You believe that God is one.
You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (James 2:19-note)
In light of this James' declaration,
it is clear that not all faith results in salvation for the demons are
certainly not saved and yet they have some type of belief. It follows
that it is of utmost importance that we all understand the nature of
true saving faith because of the solemn implications.
W E Vine in his respected classic work
Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament
Words offers the following definition of
faith characterized by
three main elements ()...
(1) Firm conviction producing a full acknowledgement of God's
revelation or truth (e.g. 2Th 2:11,12).
(2) Personal surrender to Him (Jn 1:12).
(3) Conduct inspired by such surrender (2Co 5:7).
Vine comments: Prominence is given to one or other of
these elements according to the context. All this stands in contrast to
belief in its purely natural exercise, which consists of an opinion held
in good "faith" without necessary reference to its proof. The object of
Abraham's "faith" was not God's promise (that was the occasion of its
exercise); his "faith" rested on God Himself, Ro 4:17-note,
A A Hodge adds that "Faith
must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition."
John MacArthur on faith...
Faith, like grace, is not static.
Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally
acquiescing. It is inseparable from repentance, surrender, and a
supernatural longing to obey (Ed: cp the truth in Php 2:13-note
= "will" = desire to obey! And not only the desire but the power!). None
of those responses can be classified exclusively as a human work, any
more than believing itself is solely a human effort.
A W Tozer a "modern prophet"
of sorts well stated that...
The Bible recognizes no faith that
does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that
does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.
James discusses relationship of faith
and works, a vital truth that parallels the truth of faith and
obedience, one's obedience signifying that they have a "working faith"
or a saving faith. As someone has well said "Faith and works are like
the light and heat of a candle; they cannot be separated." Faith is
never the basis or the reason for justification, but only the channel
through which God works His redeeming grace. Faith is simply a convicted
heart reaching out to receive God’s free and unmerited gift of
salvation. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.
See study on faith and works beginning with
on James 2:14-26. I love how the hymnist Augustus Toplady put it...
If God gives you St Paul's faith, you
will soon have St James's works!
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done:
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of thy Son.
The martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer
had an interesting saying
Only he who believes is obedient;
only he who is obedient believes.
Spurgeon wrote that
Faith is the foot of the soul by
which it can march along the road of the commandments.
William Barclay defines
faith as that which
begins with receptivity. It begins when a man is at least willing to
listen to the message of the truth. It goes on to mental assent.
A man first hears and then agrees that this is true. But mental
assent need not issue in action. Many a man knows very well that
something is true, but does not change his actions to meet that
knowledge. The final stage is when this mental assent becomes
total surrender. In full-fledged faith, a man hears the
Christian message, agrees that it is true, and then casts himself
upon it in a life of total yieldedness. (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series) (Bolding added)
Nothing before, nothing behind,
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath.
Hebrews 3:18, 19 the help us understand the
meaning of faith
and its relationship to obedience?
And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to
those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to
enter because of unbelief. (He 3:18, 19-note)
Those who were disobedient (apeitheo
[word study] = "refused to believe,
did not allow themselves to be persuaded") could not enter God's rest.
Why not? Because they had manifested unbelief (apistia)
or lack of faith, distrust or refusal to trust. The root was
unbelief and the fruit was disobedience. Biblically defined belief
affects behavior which is a reflection of obedience.
As Spurgeon said
Obedience is the hallmark of faith. Believing and obeying always run
side by side. Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle.
He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God.
What do we learn about the
association between faith
from the following verses?
Through Him and for His name's sake,
we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the
Gentiles to the ("obedience of faith") obedience that comes from
faith" (NIV). (Ro 1:5-note)
The gospel "is manifested, and by the
Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal
God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of
faith (NIV "so that all nations might believe and obey him")" (Ro 16:26-note)
Regarding the phrase
"Obedience of faith" John MacArthur
It is not that faith plus
obedience equals salvation but that obedient faith equals
salvation. True faith is verified in obedience. Obedient faith
proves itself true, whereas disobedient faith proves itself false.
It is for having true faith, that is, obedient faith, that Paul
goes on to commend the Roman believers... Together, faith and
obedience manifest the inseparable two sides of the coin of
for more detailed discussion)
What do we learn about faith and
obedience in 2Thessalonians 1:8?
Here is the context of this verse...
For after all it is only just for God
to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to
you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be
revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing
out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not
obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of
eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the
glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on
that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed-- for our
testimony to you was believed. (2Th 1:6-10)
Some commentaries see two groups in
verse 8 (those who do not know God and "those who do not obey the
gospel") stating that those who do not know God are Gentiles (1Th 4:5-note,
Jer 10:25) and the second group is Jews who are familiar with the OT
Scriptures. However in John 8:54, 55 Jesus describes Jews who do not
know God, so the distinction does not seem to be clear-cut. Irregardless
all those not knowing God and not obeying the Gospel are destined for
eternal separation from God. Paul is not saying that obedience to the
Gospel is what saves a person. Faith alone saves a person as is clear
from Paul's other writings (Ep 2:8, 9-note).
What he is saying is that obedience (e.g., godly behavior) is the fruit
of the root of genuine belief. They demonstrate that their belief is is
not genuine, saving belief because there is no supernatural power to
obey. There is no change in their life (cp 2Cor 5:17-note).
They may have even made a profession of belief in the Gospel of our Lord
Jesus, but their is absolutely no evidence in their lifestyle that they
have been born again and have either the desire or the power to obey
righteousness (cp Php 2:13-note).
Writing to the Corinthians Paul exhorts them to...
Test yourselves to see if you are in
the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about
yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the
test? (2Cor 13:5-note)
writes that 2Th 1:8
is a blanket reference to all who
refuse to act on what they know about God and who, more
specifically, reject his revelation in Christ.
William MacDonald adds that this verse
those who have heard the gospel and
have rejected it. The gospel is not simply a statement of facts to be
believed, but a Person to be obeyed. Belief in the NT sense involves
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)
What association do you see
between faith and works in
Ep 2:8, 9-note,
For by grace you have been saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as
a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship
poiema [word study]
gives us English "poem"), created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Clearly this
verse teaches that faith alone saves but the faith that
saves is not alone!
What is our
responsibility as those who have entered into the New Covenant by grace
To walk in obedience and to warn others of the serious and binding nature of covenant.
The question we all need to ask ourselves is does our covenant
relationship with Christ supersede every other relationship?