COVENANT & KINGDOM
God is a covenant-making God. He entered into a covenant relationship with the first humans (Adam and Eve), and He offers a covenant-relationship to us today. In a general sense, a covenant is an oath-bound relationship initiated by two or more parties. Human covenants (for example: marriage) fall under this general definition. But in the covenants that God makes, God is the one that initiates the covenant – and He always faithfully keeps it by binding Himself to it by His own oath to keep His promises.
In Genesis 1, we see that God created Adam and Eve “in His own image.” His covenant with them (and with us / humans) is proven by the fact that He made them in His likeness, and He blessed them. However, God didn’t just bless them for their enjoyment and contentment; He blessed them and gave them a kingdom purpose. They were to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over every living thing on earth.” In other words, God made them to be rulers over His kingdom.
But then in Genesis 3, we read that Adam and Eve decided to go against God. They sinned, and in doing so, they broke the covenant with Him and lost their kingdom privileges. They were, in essence, kicked-out of the kingdom’s center (Eden) and forced to work the land to survive. But God, who will not (and cannot) break His part of any covenant (and out of His great love for His people) initiated yet another covenant with them through Moses in Genesis 12. This cycle of God initiating a covenant with His people and His people not holding-up their end of the covenant is the thread that run through the stories of the Old Testament.
Because of sin, no human can keep their end of the covenant agreement with God. If not for God sending Jesus, this endless cycle of covenant-breaking by humanity would still be going on to this day, but Jesus (as a representative of all humanity) perfectly kept our end of the covenant agreement. His death paid our penalty for breaking the covenant, and His resurrection conquered the penalty of death that we owed for our sin.
Hebrews 9:15 perfectly sums this up when it says, “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
The new covenant that Jesus introduced at the Last supper in Luke 22:19-20 is a covenant that does not come with all of the requirements of the old covenant. Because Jesus perfectly kept and fulfilled all of the requirements of the old covenant, all we have to do to enter into the new covenant is place our faith in Him, and when we do, we become children of God who have the righteousness of Christ (the righteousness of His perfect covenant keeping life) credited to us! The New Testament says in several places that when we place our faith in Jesus and in His righteousness, we become the “children of God.” John says in John 1:12 that “all who received Jesus - to those who believed in his name - he gave the right to become children of God!”
This truth is essential for us to grasp if we are going to be true disciples of Jesus and if we are going to make true disciples of Him. If our covenant identity as “children of God” is not understood in our hearts and minds, we will never be able to do the kingdom work of making disciples that God has called all of us to do.