Covenant Love, Lesson 4.1

Covenant Love: Introducing the Biblical Worldview

Lesson Four: The First-Born Son of God

Lesson Objectives

  1. To read the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy with understanding.
  2. To understand God’s covenant with Israel at Sinai and to see how this covenant looks forward to and is fulfilled in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
  3. To appreciate the key figures and events - Moses, the Passover, and the vocation of Israel as “a kingdom of priests” - as they are interpreted in the Church’s tradition.

I. Review and Overview

A. One Down, 72 to Go!

It has taken us three lessons - half of this intermediate course - to read the Bible's first book. One down, 72 to go!

It's a good time to review our purpose in this class. We've identified the series of covenants that God makes in the Bible as the master key that unlocks the meaning of the Bible. Remember, the Bible tells the story of God the Father's love for His children and His plan to fashion all people into one holy family. God unfolds this plan of salvation through the series of covenants that we've identified - the creation covenant with Adam, the flood and the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with Moses at Sinai, the covenant with David and the New Covenant brought by Jesus Christ.

If you understand well these covenants, you'll have great insight into the "worldview" of the Bible. This in turn will help you see how all the various books of the Bible fit together to form a single "book." That's why we've spent so much time on Genesis and that's why we're going to devote this lesson to the experience of the Israelites as recounted in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

But go back and look at those first three lessons - you'll notice something you may not have noticed the first time through: We have been ranging all over the Bible to help us understand what we've been reading. We've shown how the various stories in Genesis have been understood and interpreted in nearly a dozen other Old Testament books, in each of the Gospels, in the New Testament Epistles and the Book of Revelation.

Be sure to look up the citations and references we make to other books of the Bible. First, it will give you a greater familiarity with the whole Bible. But secondly and more importantly, it will deepen your reading, helping you to read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old.

In this lesson, too, be on the look out for these types of connections, especially in the Book of Exodus, where we're going to find images and ideas that turn up again and again in the Old and New Testaments - the figure of Moses, the idea of "the lamb of God," the Passover, and more.

B. The Story So Far

By way of a quick review, here's how the story has gone so far:

God created the world out of nothing and created man and woman "in His image and likeness," as His children, to be rulers over His divine kingdom on earth. God made a covenant with them, promising to bestow His blessings upon them, and through them, upon the whole world.

But Adam and Eve broke that covenant, rejected their royal birthright as the first-born children of God. Growing up in exile from the original garden sanctuary, their offspring fill the world with blood and all kinds of wickedness.

So God created the world again, in effect, destroying the wicked and saving the just in a great flood. He started His human family again with the family of Noah. But Noah falls, too, and trouble again fills the earth, symbolized by the effort of all the nations of the world to build a tower to the heavens and glorify their name, not the name of God.

At Babel, God scatters the nations to the four corners of the earth, dividing the single human family into a multitude of languages and cultures, confusing their speech and making it impossible for them to understand and work together.

God again raises up a righteous man, through whom He hopes to establish the family of God He intended in the beginning. He makes a covenant with Abraham and promises to Abraham a line of descendants that would last forever, a line through whom God would bestow blessings on all the families and nations of the world.

At the end of Genesis, Abraham's family tree is a large one, consisting of twelve tribes, each headed by a son of Jacob, who was the son of Abraham's beloved son Isaac. Through many twists and turns, the chosen people of the God, the children of Abraham, now identified as the children of Israel (the new name God gave to Jacob), find themselves in Egypt.

In this lesson, we'll see how the family of God grows from a tribal network of patriarchs to a full-fledged nation, under the leadership of a divinely appointed savior and lawgiver, Moses.

Continue to Section 2

Other Lessons

  • Lesson One: The Master Key that Unlocks the Bible
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To learn the "big-picture" overview of the Bible - the story that the Bible tells.
    2. To understand the concept of "covenant" and its importance for reading and interpreting the Bible.
    3. To learn in general detail the six major covenants in the Bible.

    Begin Lesson One

  • Lesson Two: From Sabbath to Flood
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To read Genesis 1-12 with understanding.
    2. To learn the meaning of the first two covenants of salvation history - the Sabbath, and the covenant made with Noah.
    3. To begin to understand the "patterns" of biblical history.

    Begin Lesson Two

  • Lesson Three: Our Father, Abraham
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To read Genesis 12-50 with understanding.
    2. To understand God’s covenant with Abraham and to see how that covenant is fulfilled in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
    3. To appreciate key figures and elements in the Abraham story - Melchizedek, circumcision, the sacrifice of Isaac - as they are interpreted in the Church’s tradition.

    Begin Lesson Three

  • Lesson Five: A Throne For All Generations
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To finish reading the Old Testament (from Joshua to Malachi) and to read with understanding.
    2. To understand the broad outlines of the history of Israel in light of God’s covenant with Abraham.
    3. To appreciate the crucial importance of God’s everlasting covenant with David.

    Begin Lesson Five

  • Lesson Six: The New and Everlasting Covenant
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To read the New Testament with understanding.
    2. To understand how the New Testament depicts Jesus as the fulfillment of the covenants of the Old Testament.
    3. To appreciate, especially, the importance of God’s everlasting covenant with David for understanding the mission of Jesus and the Church as it is presented in the New Testament.

    Begin Lesson Six