Sunday, January 2, 2011

The New Covenant in the Old Testament

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

(Genesis 3:15)

I don't plan to keep doing daily entries as we in "The JOY FM" group read together, but it seemed important to follow up on a claim I made yesterday about the importance of reading the Old Testament. The Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the books of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) stand in relation to the New Testament as that of roots to a tree. The flowering of Gospel promises in Christ is germinated from the seed and soil of God's acting and speaking, from Genesis 1:1 onward.

In the specific verse mentioned, Genesis 3:15, we have the Gospel in seed-form, promised by the same "voice" that spoke the universe into existence out of nothing. The promise was fulfilled in Christ's death ("bruise his heel") in which death itself was permanently robbed of it's sting ("bruise your head"). There is a sense in which the entire history of redemption is a working out of this promise.

But there is a larger structure of biblical dynamics revealed in this chapter: God, the Creator and Sustainer of life, seeks relationship with humanity even after the fall. The prohibition of humans from forbidden fruit is a clue that the basic contour of that relationship is a grace-based covenant of works. Immediately following our fall, God pursued a redemptive relationship, requiring animal sacrifice as a substitute death for treasonous Adam, offering promises and threatening punishments, providing a way for sinners to be redeemed by another Substitute's saving work on our behalf.

Our part in that gracious, redemptive relationship would be simply to respond in faith to the gracious, promise-keeping God, looking for the One who was progressively revealed as Savior.

We who are in Christ live in the fulfillment of this "Covenant of Grace," ratified by the death of Jesus, enacted by his resurrection and ascension, applied and administrated as the New Covenant by the Holy Spirit. Here is the foundation of our salvation and the relationship we have with God, right here in the opening chapters of Genesis.

(Note: Look at yesterday's post for info on "The JOY FM" Bible reading group.)

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