The Olivet Discourse – Covenantal Unfaithfulness

30Jun11

This post may prove to be the most “theological” of the entire series. It is my intention to keep it as simple and necessary for our discussion as possible, but some basic understanding in the differences between Dispensational and Covenantal theology is simply mandated. It an attempt to be brief on both sides there will obviously be some minor details and disagreements found within each individual camp that will be avoided. This is simply an overview of the most broad scope.

The primary issue of difference between the Dispensational and Covenantal camps that relates directly to our study is the concept of “history” as it relates t0 how God operates with mankind. How does He speak, what does He demand and how do His demands and expectations relate to His relationship with mankind. How is time “divided” up in human history.

DISPENSATIONALISM

Dispensationalism sees God’s dealing with mankind in a linear, time going forward manner. His decrees for each time period my change and His expectations may change as well under the new economy of time. God works in this linear fashion from creation through the final judgment roughly in the following manner. Each time economy has it’s separate form of testing and “redemption” that differs from the previous or future times.

  • Innocence. Salvation is “maintained” by obedience to the restriction of eating the forbidden fruit.
  • Conscience – Salvation is earned by “doing good” and not doing evil
  • Authority – Obey the revealed God (Noah)
  • Promise – Believe God’s promise (Abraham)
  • The Law – Salvation earned by keeping the Law (Moses)
  • Grace – Salvation obtained by faith in Jesus Christ
  • Reign – Man is saved under the personal governance of Jesus Christ in His millennial kingdom – including the re-institution of the Law of sacrifices (in traditional Dispensationalism)

Each economy of time has different demands and salvation is obtained and maintained through a different practice.

The main thrust here though is the the age of promise. This age goes “unfulfilled” in the Dispensational model and those promises given to “Israel” through Abraham will be fulfilled after the rapture of the Church and into the Millennium. These include land promises and ruler-ship of the nations of the earth. The claim is made that the promises given to Israel are unconditional and can only find fulfillment in the most literal sense.

COVENANTALISM

Rather than a linear time-line of changing economies the Covenantal view sees expanding concentric circles of a single promise expanding upon the previous to reveal the ultimate covenant of God with man in the sending of His son to redeem His people. Each promise or covenant expands upon the previous and sheds more light on the initial promise of a “seed” (Galatians). All covenants (actually one covenant that is expanding) are gracious in nature.

By definition a “covenant” is a contract or agreement with restrictions and rewards or blessings and curses in a more theological sense. It is initiated by one party and agreed to by the other, though God’s agreements are irresistible in a sense and God is the initiator of these covenants. They are all to be seen as relational in nature and bind on to the other through promises and retributions for failure to comply. Again, it is important to remember that they are all seen as a covenant of grace. Each covenant had demands and rewards, but for brevity only the basic concept of each covenant can be discussed.

  • Works – The covenant of works is a gracious relationship between Adam and God. Adam’s failure prompted the promise of a seed that would crush the serpents head
  • Grace – God does not abrogate the covenant of works but rather promises to Abraham that He would send a representative who could fulfill the covenant perfectly. Each covenant from this point forward is a subset of the covenant grace and expands to enlighten His people as to the coming Messiah/representative.
  • Abraham – He would be Abraham’s God and Abraham’s descendants would be His people. This promise expands with Israel later. God walks through the blood sacrifice TWICE, taking on both sides of the obligations of the covenant. In a sense God said that He would receive the punishment for man’s inability to fulfill the covenant!
  • Noahic – The promise expands by stating that God would not destroy the earth but rather renew through the work of the coming Messiah
  • Mosaic – God reveals more of what obligation this coming representative would need to fulfill and what God demands ion terms of obedience. That law prompts the sinner to repent realizing he has no hope on his own and must seek the representative that is to comes work on his behalf
  • Davidic – This promise reveals even further the nature of the coming Messiah. One that would be the king over all and establish an everlasting throne over His people. This we find fulfillment in the resurrection of the Christ as stated by Peter in Acts 2.

So how does this fit into our discussion?

Covenantal faithfulness is at the heart of this expanding relationship with the Lord of Host. Israel, as the original representative type for mankind in this relationship would fail at an alarming rate bring about God’s curses upon themselves. From the wandering in the wilderness to ultimate having the “vineyard” taken from them in Matthew’s gospel, Israel is the picture of inability needed to remind us of our constant need for Christ’s finished work on the cross. This inability leads to the removal from the vineyard, the cursing of their generation and temple (Matt 23) and eventual destruction of the Temple and city for all the blood of all the saints that were held up against that generation (Matt 23).

Note the following passage from Leviticus and how it applies to what we will be reading in the Olivet Discourse. I have taken the portion of curses God determined would beset Israel if she failed to live up to the covenant given to them.

Deut. 28:15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…
[21] The Lord will make the pestilence stick to you…
[22] The Lord will strike you with wasting disease … and drought
[25] “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies.
[26] And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air
[27] The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt
[28] The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind
[33] A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground
[36] “The Lord will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation
[41] You shall father sons and daughters, but they shall go into captivity.
[42] The cricket shall possess all your trees and the fruit of your ground
[49] The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle
[53] And you shall eat the fruit of your womb … in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you
[63] … And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering
[64] “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other

We will more than once refer back to this conditional cursing and see how it relates directly to both the Babylonian captivity as a “type” or “shadow” and in the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem in ultimate fulfillment.

Ultimately the question will be raised as to why that specific generation would receive the punishment for all the previous generation’s failings? What made that generation so special in a negative? Thank about it for a moment. What did that generation do that no other generation before or sense could do or did do?

No other generation killed the Lord of Glory!

No other generation took the long awaited Messiah, reject Him, spit om Him, whip Him and stretch out His arms and legs out on a Roman cross and brutally and savagely kill Him. The greatest crime in human history would therefor require the greatest penalty. That is also why, as we will learn, it is the greatest tribulation ever as no other generation committed such a crime! Covenantally speaking, no other generation could be as guilty of this crime as that one and that is why all of the blood of all of the saints would be held up (or against) that generation.

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2 Responses to “The Olivet Discourse – Covenantal Unfaithfulness”

  1. 1 Yehoshuamyking

    This is by far the most excellent scripturally based,easy to understand teaching on this subject that i have ever heard…

    You have proven that there is and that there never has been a dichotomy or dispensation between believers throughout the history of humanity…

    From Adam and Eve who first heard the Gospel.Genesis 3:15…To the Prophets and all those of “the hall of Faith”.To Simeon,who held the PROMISE of God in his hands…From the Apostles and bretheren…Those who had not seen the PROMISE of God and yet Believed…To those who have seen the PROMISE and believed…To US who believe that he came and believe in the PROMISE of his return…

    Yes Gentiles are grafted into the New Covenant with believing Israel…Yet Able the Son of Adam,at the DAY of the Lord’s return,will recieve the same blessings and promises as Noah and Cornelius who were not the seed of Isaac and were not of Israel [Jacob]…ALL those of all nations of people under the Heavens who BELIEVE,will recieve the same promises and blessings as BELIEVING Israel at HIS coming…

  2. 2 Tracey

    David,
    There is so much great information here. I wish I was smart enough to remember it all! I’m heading back over this information as I’m listening to a lecture series on Revelation and am seeing the depths of what I do not know!

    Looking forward to your book,
    Tracey


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