Troublesome Topic: The Identity and Accomplishments of Our Covenant Lord

Lesson 3 of 13

Suzerain/vassal covenants of ancient times started with an introduction in which the identity of the sovereign ruler was made clear along with his accomplishments, which were usually given to instill fear in his new subjects.

The Identity of Our Covenant Lord

The one establishing this covenant is the same as the one who established the Former Covenant. Since it was a New Covenant established between basically the same two parties (God and mankind) there was no need for God to identify himself again. The only thing man needed to be convinced of was that Jesus is indeed God, i.e. part of the Trinity. The Gospels were written (among other things) to prove that point. Therefore the identity of the sovereign Lord establishing this New Covenant is expressed in the entirety of all four Gospels.

The Accomplishments of Our Covenant Lord

The accomplishments of the conquering king were usually mentioned at the beginning of a covenant summary in order to tell his new subjects that they better follow the covenant conditions, or they may not like the consequences. While the New Covenant does include punishment for the wicked, the accomplishments of our sovereign Lord are intended to lead us to repentance based on gratitude rather than repentance based on fear.

In this case the accomplishments of God on which this covenant is built are expressed, not in the Gospels, but in the letters of the apostles written after Jesus had returned to heaven. The basis of this New Covenant is the redemptive work of Christ when he died, rose again, and ascended into heaven. Therefore, it could only be communicated from the perspective of those left behind to carry on the mission.

While the Former Covenant was founded on God’s gracious act of bringing Abraham’s descendants out of slavery and expressed by the phrase “out of Egypt,” this New Covenant is based on the work of Christ and expressed by such phrases as “in the cross,” “by his blood,” “by his death,” “in Christ,” “by Christ Jesus”, or ones with a similar emphasis. Just as God often reminded those under the Former Covenant that He had “brought them up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” so God used the pens of His apostles to remind us that we are under a covenant, one which was established on the foundation of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: The Conditions of the New Covenant