God Operates Within the Parameters of the Covenants He Makes
Because God operates solely within the terms of the covenants he makes with his people or with individuals, his commandments are the terms of a covenant he made somewhere with someone. From the time of Adam and Eve, land, offspring, and protection formed his covenants’ blessings:
Expand the site of your tent;
extend the canopies of your dwellings.
Do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you shall spread abroad
to the right and to the left;
your offspring shall dispossess the nations
and resettle the desolate cities.
Be not fearful, for you shall not be confounded;
be not ashamed, for you shall not be disgraced.
Although God’s covenant people Israel broke the terms of his covenants with them—bringing upon them curses or misfortunes instead of the covenants’ blessings—the covenants themselves were never annulled. All covenants God makes are eternal in nature and still function to this day:
The mountains shall be removed
and the hills collapse with shaking,
but my charity toward you shall never be removed,
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says Jehovah, who has compassion on you.
By renewing their covenants with God and observing his commandments that are the terms of his covenants, his people may recreate the conditions for God’s restoring his blessings to them. God’s supreme desire is to bless, not curse, all who come into a covenant relationship with him.
The blessings and curses belonging to God’s covenants are grounded in his free gift to humanity to choose good or evil. Blessings and curses that persist to this day—that derive from people’s choosing good or evil—can all be traced back to covenants God made somewhere with someone.
Christianity’s doing away with God’s covenants—claiming that prophecies by Isaiah and others concerning the physical restoration of his people Israel were fulfilled spiritually—made believers beholden to the church instead of directly to God as intended under the terms of his covenants:
My Lord says, Because these people
approach me with the mouth
and pay me homage with their lips,
while their heart remains far from me—
their piety toward me consisting of
commandments of men learned by rote—
therefore it is that I shall again astound these people
with wonder upon wonder,
rendering void the knowledge of their sages
and the intelligence of their wise men insignificant.
Prominent among God’s covenants are the Sinai Covenant—an agreement made with Israel as a nation; the Davidic Covenant—an individual compact with King David and his heirs; and the Abrahamic Covenant—God’s personal pledge to Israel’s patriarchs of an everlasting posterity:
If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant,
then will you be a particular treasure to me above all people,
for all the earth is mine.
And you will be a kingdom of priests to me and a holy nation.
Psalms 89:20, 28
I have found David my servant;
with my holy oil have I anointed him:
My mercy will I keep for him for evermore,
and my covenant shall stand fast with him.
Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him,
I am Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect,
and I will make my covenant between me and you,
and I will multiply you exceedingly.
The “good news” of Jesus’ atoning for his people’s sins originates in the terms of the Davidic Covenant. By acting as proxy saviors for their people’s temporal salvation—for their physical protection against a mortal threat—David and his heirs foreshadowed Jesus’ spiritual salvation.
Davidic kings, in other words, were deliverers of their peoples. By answering for their peoples’ disloyalties to God—with prayers and supplications taking upon themselves the curses of God’s covenant due to their peoples—they sought God’s physical protection of those whom they ruled.
When an Assyrian army of a hundred and eighty-five thousand men surrounded Jerusalem in the days of King Hezekiah and demanded its surrender on pain of death, God answered Hezekiah’s prayers, suffering, and intercession on behalf of his people by sending an angel to deliver them:
Thus says Jehovah, the God of your father David:
I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.
I will add fifteen years to your life.
And I will deliver you and this city
out of the hand of the king of Assyria.
I will protect this city and save it,
for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.
Then the angel of Jehovah went out and slew
a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp.
And when men arose in the morning,
there lay all their dead bodies!
Recommended Reading and Listening:
Avraham Gileadi, Isaiah Decoded: Ascending the Ladder to Heaven. The best all-time layman’s comprehensive overview of Isaiah’s prophetic message for Judeo-Christian readers based on the analysis of Hebrew literary patterns. Hebraeus Press, 2013: 357 pages. Softcover $27.95; E-Book $9.95; MP3 download $15.95.