God’s Covenant Plan, Lesson 6.1

God’s Covenant Plan

Lesson Six: Into the Kingdom of the Son

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.

I. Review and Overview

A. The Covenant Plan Fulfilled

With the coming of Jesus, the story of God’s covenant plan reaches its conclusion.

Jesus "fulfills" the promises of each of the five covenants we have been studying in this course - the covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David.

What do we mean by covenant fulfillment? Each of the earlier covenants was a pledge - an oath sworn by God to do certain things. For instance, in His covenant with Noah He swore not to destroy the world by water again; he swore to Abraham that by his descendants the nations of the world would be blessed.

However, if the Bible ended with the last book of the Old Testament (remember "testament" is just another word for "covenant") then it would appear that few if any of God’s promises had been fully kept.

Certainly, by the end of the Old Testament, all the world’s nations hadn’t found blessing in the descendants of Abraham. In fact, the descendants of Abraham - the twelve tribes of his grandson, Jacob - could barely be identified. They had been scattered to the four corners of the known world.

God’s final covenant, the one in which each of the earlier ones was to be fulfilled - the "everlasting covenant" with David - seemed hopelessly abandoned as we concluded the Old Testament in our last lesson.

To review: God had made an "eternal covenant" (see 2 Samuel 23:5) with David, promising that He would raise up a son of David to reign on David’s throne forever (see 2 Samuel 7:8-16; 1 Chronicles 17:7-14), and that his kingdom would extend over all nations (see Psalm 2:8; 72:8,11). He had promised that this son of David would be His own son, the son of God (see Psalm 2:7), that he would build a Temple to God’s name and be a priest forever, like Melchizedek, the priest who offered the sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham’s victory over his enemies (see Psalm 110:1,4).

But after the reign of David’s son, Solomon, everything had fallen apart. The kingdom was divided in two, and the people suffered corruption, invasion and exile. Even when the people were restored from exile, centuries continued to pass without any sign of the great Davidic king that God had promised.

At the time when Jesus was born, there was no kingdom to speak of, no Davidic heir in the wings. Still, the devout awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises, awaiting the consolation of Israel - the coming of the new son of David and the resurrection of his fallen Kingdom (see Luke 1:69; 2:25,38; Mark 11:10; Isaiah 40:1; 52:9; 61:2-3).

B. Turning to the New Testament

But with Jesus comes the fulfillment of God’s oath to David. As we will see, the New Testament shows us the image of Jesus as the "new David" and of His Church as the restored kingdom promised to David.

But we will also see how Jesus is depicted as fulfilling all of God’s earlier covenant promises - He is the new Adam, bringing about a new creation, restoring humankind to the paradise promised in the beginning. He is a new Noah, bringing about a flood that saves, the waters of Baptism. He is the new son of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the world will find blessing. He is the new Moses, giving God’s chosen people a new Passover, the Eucharist, and leading a new exodus, a deliverance from sin, by His Cross and Resurrection opening up the promised land of heaven.

We see three of these earlier covenants referred to in the first line of the New Testament:

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (see Matthew 1:1).

In its first words, the New Testament points us back to creation, to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. The word we translate "genealogy" is actually genesis, a word meaning "creation," and of course, the name of the Bible’s first book.

We’re also referred in this first sentence to God’s covenants with David and with Abraham. Remember that Abraham’s covenant involved the gift of a son, Isaac, whose descendants were to be the source of blessing for all the earth (see Genesis 22:18).

Finally, Jesus is called "Christ," the Greek word for Messiah or "anointed one." This word points us to the covenant with David - the Messiah or Christ was the Davidic figure that many of Israel’s prophets said would be sent to deliver Israel and restore the kingdom to Israel.

So in the first sentence of the New Testament we have an allusion to three of the five peaks of salvation history that we have studied in our previous lessons - Adam, Abraham and David.

And in this sentence, so rich in Old Testament allusions, we have a summary of all that the New Testament will tell us about Jesus: The New Testament is the book about the new world created by Jesus, the Messiah, the promised son of David, in whom God fulfills His promise to Abraham - that in his descendants all peoples will be blessed.

Continue to Section 2

Other Lessons

  • Lesson One: How a Catholic Starts to Read the Bible
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To learn how to read the Bible the way the Catholic Church has always read it.
    2. To understand the concepts of “salvation history” and “covenant” and their importance for reading the Bible.
    3. To learn the key points of the creation story in the Bible’s first book, Genesis.

    Begin Lesson One

  • Lesson Two: Creation, Fall and Promise
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To read Genesis 1-3 with understanding.
    2. To learn God’s “original intent” in creating man and woman.
    3. To understand the sin of Adam and Eve and understand God’s promise of a New Adam and a New Eve.

    Begin Lesson Two

  • Lesson Three: East of Eden, Headed to Egypt
  • Lesson Objectives
    1. To read Genesis 3-50 with understanding.
    2. To understand God’s covenants with Noah and with Abraham and to see how these covenants look forward to, and are fulfilled in the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
    3. To appreciate the key figures in the story of Abraham - Melchizedek, circumcision, the sacrifice of Isaac - as they are interpreted in the Church’s tradition.

    Begin Lesson Three

  • Lesson Four: On the Way to the Promised Land
  • 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.

    Begin Lesson Four

  • Lesson Five: To Kingdom Come
  • 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