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In this week's blog we will be continuing to explore the different biblical covenants in chronological order. We will be starting in Genesis 1 with the Edenic Covenant. The first covenant that we see made between God and man in the Bible.


Genesis 1:28 (NIV) 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”


The first part of this scripture says that 'God blessed them'. From the beginning, God decided to give His blessing, it wasn't earned, bought or deserved, but He gave it freely. This highlights the character of God right from the origins of creation, He gives freely and without any regard for his own gain. God then goes on to build a covenant with mankind after placing His blessing upon them.


The Edenic covenant then starts with 'Be fruitful', it's not a coincidence that the covenant starts with an instruction to 'Be fruitful' before mankind start to move into the next steps. God is very specific and makes no mistakes and often before we are in a position to be used to fulfil his plans, we need to be in a place of obedience. Now, this doesn't mean that we need to be perfect to be used by God, because to be honest, that would disqualify all of us. However, it does mean that we need to be ready and willing to be obedient and follow his instructions.


God goes on to tell man to 'increase in number' and 'fill the earth'. The underpinning of this part of the covenant is based in the design of mankind. We are not designed to be alone; we are designed to be social beings. God knows that we can't survive, thrive or function as we were designed to if we are on our own. So, he makes it clear to us that we should 'increase in number' and 'fill the earth'. This is an interesting part to make note of as the way in which this will come to fruition is explored more in the latter chapters of Genesis. We see this idea expounded on throughout the rest of the Bible and put simply and right back to the beginning, Adam was given a partner, so that he may not be alone. This translates all the way to the New Testament where we see teachings around fellowship, friendship and relationships unpacked through the teachings to the Church.


The final sentence of this verse goes on to say; 'Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.' The idea of ruling over something brings up ideas of power and control for me, and I think that in modern society that it's the accepted norm that a 'ruler' has power and status. However, the kind of ruling that we find here is a different kind to the ruling that man has displayed throughout history. Infact, the ruling that is declared by God in this section of scripture is actually encapsulated in God's own character and ruling himself.


So, here we see the first part of the Edenic Covenant formed between God and man, where God bestows the authority of rulership over the earth and its creatures upon mankind.


This is further unpacked in Genesis 2:


Genesis 2:15-17 (NIV)

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”


We see here that God has taken mankind and put Adam into the 'Garden of Eden', not just to sit in it and enjoy it whilst others tend to it, but instead for him to 'work it and take care of it'. When I think of a ruler, I often think of kings and queens, they don't appear to have to do the day-to-day things, they often have people to do these things for them. However, God is placing man into the garden to do these things. So, there is a task that needs to be completed in order for mankind to live in the covenant that is made in Genesis 1 and here as we see above.


The scripture then goes on to say that God gives man a command, where Adam is told that they can eat from any tree that they choose, apart from one. For if they eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they will die. This is the condition of the covenant; God places an offer at the feet of mankind that they can rule over the earth and have dominion of all of its plants and animals and all they have to do is choose not to eat from that tree.


Some covenants in the Bible are conditional and this is one of them. We believe that God is good, loving and kind. So why does he impose this restriction upon mankind? For those very reasons. He knows that with the knowledge of good and evil, mankind will become tainted and descend into murder, deceit and suffering. So, God places this condition upon the covenant that He has made with them.


As we know, this covenant is broken by Adam and Eve when they take and eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And therefore, the Edenic covenant comes to an end. But God is not finished with them there and creates a new covenant with them.


Next week we will be looking into the Adamic covenant and what the new bind between God and man will look like.



Prayer:


God, help me to learn from the disobedience of the Garden of Eden, but instead help me to obey your commandments. To live in the rulership that you created for mankind, to tend to the needs of those around me, to take care of my own 'garden' and to steward with wisdom and righteousness.


Amen


  • Luke Hamblett

If you've spent any time in church, or around Christians, then you've probably heard the word 'Covenant' bounded around a fair bit. However, do we really understand what a covenant is and what the covenants made in the Bible really are?


Over the coming weeks I hope to unpack and explore the different covenants that we see made between man and God in the Bible. But first, let's start by taking a deeper look into the origins behind the word to form some context and greater understanding.



Hebrew Origins

I always find that one of the best places to start when trying to understand a biblical concept or principle is in the understanding of the Hebrew word behind our English counterpart. This often reveals more to use about the use, form and tense of a word that simply reading the translation.


The Hebrew word for covenant is 'berith',(בְּרִית), (pronounced as ber-eeth'). It's also important at this point to note, if you haven't read Hebrew before, it is written and read from right to left. This word is used 285 times in the Bible, 275 times it is translated into the word covenant, a few of the other translations form the words 'treaty', 'allies' and 'league'. Interestingly, each Hebrew letter also comes with symbol that it is connected to, if we were to spell out 'berith' using the Hebrew symbols we would find it as follows:


The first letter is known phonetically as 'Bet' (בְּ), and it produces a 'b' sound. It is represented by a picture of a tent. The tent is a symbol for the idea of a home or family.


The second letter is known phonetically as 'Resh' (רִ), and it produces a 'r' sound. It is represented by a picture of the head of a man. The head is a symbol for the idea of something being 'first' a 'beginning' or the 'top'.


The third letter is known phonetically as 'Yod' (י), and it produces a 'y' or 'ee' sound. It is represented by a picture of an arm. The arm is a symbol for working, throwing or worshipping.


The fourth and final letter is known phonetically as 'Tav' (ת), and it produces a 't' sound. It is represented by a picture of a cross. The cross is a symbol for a mark, sign, signal or monument.


So, in order we have the following pictures:

  • Tent

  • Head

  • Arm

  • Cross

I believe that the Bible is the divinely inspired word of God, written by God through man. I also believe that the words of the Bible were crafted with absolute purpose and intent, and that through God's inspiration they have a much greater depth and meaning than we could hope to understand in our own language.


If we use the basis formed above to picture the word 'berith', we can picture it as follows:


The first of which is:

The tent head's arm points to the cross. This line of symbols to me shows that the 'Head of the tent', who we know in our understanding of the New Testament to be Jesus, points directly to the cross. Where we will eventually end up for the New Covenant. It doesn't seem coincidental to me that the very word itself is surmised in imagery that represents the final biblical covenant that we see made.


Another point, that I believe adds to the validity of this, is the formation of words within the word 'berith' itself, the first two letters of the word are 'bet' and 'resh' (בְּרִ). These two Hebrew letters actually form the word 'bar', which can be translated into the word 'Son'. This again is a direct marker that points towards Jesus. Using 'bet' and 'resh' together would mean that the imagery would read: Jesus points to the cross. Another confirmation of what is to come in the New Covenant that we find grace under.


All of this points to the importance of the concept of a covenant, right from the beginning.


Application


I found that this definition from Warren Wiersbe is a great summation of some key points that define what a covenant really is:


The Hebrew word translated “covenant” has several meanings: (1) to eat with, which suggests fellowship and agreement; (2) to bind or fetter, which means commitment; and (3) to allot, which suggests sharing. When God makes a covenant, He enters into an agreement to commit Himself to give what He promises. It is purely an act of grace.

The three key words to draw from this definition that I believe are essential to understanding and applying to concept of a covenant are agreement, commitment and sharing. The application of these three things is surmised in the final part of that definition where Wiersbe describes God's actions as an 'act of grace'.


The biblical covenants are binding agreements made between man and God, where a commitment is made from both parties and the most amazing thing of all is that God always upholds his promise in the fulfilment of the covenant that he makes, regardless of our failings, He acts with grace.


I hope this has given you a little bit of insight into the concept of a covenant and has set the scene for the different covenants that we will be exploring together over the coming weeks.


I will try and make the unpacking of the covenants themselves a little less nerdy!


Prayer


Lord, help me to understand your word, help me to grasp and soak in the depth and richness of it. Thank you for providing me with all that I need, I pray that a desire will build within me to seek a deeper relationship with you. All worship and praise be to your name.


Amen








  • Luke Hamblett

In this blog we are going to be taking a look at Noah, a very well known biblical figure. Noah is one of my favourite biblical heroes and is an amazing symbol of obedience and trust. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from his life.

We meet Noah in Genesis:


Genesis‬ ‭6:9-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high. Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.” Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

‭‭

The first point that I want to make about Noah is that when the scripture says, he was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time”, that this doesn’t mean he was sinless. When we read on, we find out one of Noah’s sins in Genesis 9:20 as he gets drunk on wine and lies naked in his tent. This part of the scripture is actually referring to the fact that Noah wholeheartedly loved and obeyed God. Despite his flaws, he stood apart from the other people of the world because of his intense desire to love and serve God.


The second thing I want to draw out from this section of scripture detailing Noah’s life is that he followed Gods instructions exactly. Noah was given specific, accurate instructions from God, explaining how to build the ark, from what materials and at what time. Because of his closeness with God, Noah was able to align himself with God’s will. God can still speak to us in this way now, but the question I am asking of myself and you is; Are you close enough to God to hear His specific instructions?

I like to challenge myself with this question on a regular basis. We can often get caught up in everything else and neglect our individual relationship with God. When we align ourselves with His will, through spending time with Him, we can open up ourselves to receive specific instructions. The closer we are to God, the more we can work out His will.

Noah is also a great example of trust and adaptability. He allows God to use him for different things in different seasons of his life. He is a farmer, ship builder, preacher, zoologist and father. Noah’s obedience to God, allows God to use him in ways that he would never of though he could of been used. This is the same for us, we don’t always know how God will use us, where he we will use us or when he will use us. But, if we remain close to him and obedient to him then we remain open to God using us in a variety of ways.

This is not to say that our lives will be easy. God doesn’t always protect us from trouble, but cares for us in spite of it.

To summarise:


  • Noah was a man of patience, consistency and obedience

  • Noah built a strong and close relationship with God through persistence and trust

  • Noah was ready to be used in a multitude of ways, times and environments

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