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Scan 140220001 ZacCOVENANT HISTORY. 

The relationship between God and people, often expressed in the language "your God" and "my people", is understood in the Old Testament as that of a covenant. Three major covenantal perspectives or patterns of symbolization are evident. All three are covenants of grace, for they rest upon the initiative and superior status of the divine covenant maker, but each nuances the relationship between God and people differently.

THE TORA GIVES PRIMACY TO THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM. This covenant is based on God's gracious commitment, unconditioned by human performance. It is designated an "everlasting covenant", one that has perpetual validity. Caracteristic of this type of covenant is the giving of divine promises, not the imposition of obligations. In the priestly perspective ( that governs the Tora in its final form), the Abrahamic covenant belongs to a periodized history that is punctuated with 3 divine covenants:

1. The 1st period extends from creation to the covenant with Noah after the flood, a universal, echological covenant embracing all human beings, animals and birds, and the earth itself. The sign is the rainbow.

2. The 2nd extends from Noah to Abraham and includes the divine promises of the land of Canaan as an everlasting  possession, a numerous posterity, and a special relationship between God and the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. The sign is the circumcision.

3. The 3rd period extends from Abraham to Moses, the mediator of the Sinai covenant, also designated as everlasting.The Sign is the Sabbath,  harking back to God's creation. The Sinai covenant is regarded as the ratification or fulfillment of the ancestral covenant that God "remembers".

A SECOND COVENENTAL PATERN OF SYMBOLIZATION, following the sequence of the Hebrew Bible, is associated with Moses. It is the forth classically in the book of Deuteronomy, canonically joined to the priestly Torah discussed above. In contrast to the Abrahamic covenant, which was based unilaterally on God's gracious commitment and promise, this covenant is more of a two-way affair, and places greater emphasis on human obligation and includes several characteristic elements : the story of the saving deeds of the covenant intitiator, the stipulations that are binding on the covenant recipient, and the sanctions of blessing and curse in case of abedience or disobedience. It is a covenant of grace, but it carries within it "the curse of the law" (Galat 3:10).

A THIRD COVENANT PATTERN OF SYMBOLIZATION is  also found in the Deuteronomic history -  this is the ROYAL covenant theology, according to which Yahweh made  an everlasting covenant with David, promising perpetual divine grace to the throne, even though particular kings performe badly in office and had to be chastised. This Davidic covenant did not supersede the Mosaic covenant; as in other religions of the ancient Near East, the two salvific institutions are kingship and the Temple, both of which were alian to the Mosaic tradition.

These 3 covenants, associated with Abraham, Moses, and David  should not be understood as following one another chronologically but as existing side by side, like overlapping theological circles.  To express the relationship between God an human beings all 3 theological perspectives are required: God's sovereignty and human freedom, God's trancedence (distance) and immanence (presence), and God's relation to the particular people, Israel, and God's universal sway as cosmic creator and sovereign. All 3 include promises and obligations, but the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants are primarily promissory, while the Mosaic covenant is primarily one of obligation ( Bernhard W. Anderson).



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