What a comfort to know we are included in God’s covenant! To be in God’s covenant means that God dwells with us, communing with us, making known to us His secret will concerning our salvation. It means also that He promises us that He will fully deliver us and bring us nigh unto Him to dwell with Him forever. The previous article was on God’s covenant as a relationship of friendship. In this article we consider that those who are included in God’s covenant are the recipients of His promise. We consider first that those who are in God’s covenant are promised deliverance in Christ. Next time, Lord willing, we will consider that this promise is unconditional.
We learn about God’s covenant when we study the places in the Old Testament where we read of God establishing His covenant with someone. Here we consider two examples: the covenant with Noah and the covenant with Abraham. In both instances God promised deliverance to those with whom He established His covenant. We start by looking at God’s covenant with Noah.
When we read the narrative concerning the Flood, we first come across God telling Noah about the punishment that was to come upon the ungodly: “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Gen. 6:13). God then proceeded to tell Noah to construct an ark and gave him instructions as to how to build it. Then we read that God told Noah that He would do two things:
1) Bring a flood of waters to destroy everything that is in the earth;
2) Establish His covenant with Noah and preserve him and his family in the ark.
“And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee” (Gen. 6:17–18). It is important to see this connection between God’s covenant and the promised deliverance. God establishes His covenant with a particular people and promises to deliver them in distinction from others.
We see this same connection when we turn to consider God’s covenant with Abraham. Again, God promises deliverance to those in His covenant.
God made His covenant with Abraham and promised to deliver his seed from bondage. God told Abraham that his seed would serve a nation that would afflict them for four hundred years. He also promised Abraham that He would judge that nation, deliver Abraham’s seed, and give them the land of Canaan.
After reading that in the book of Genesis, we turn to the book of Exodus and find Israel groaning under the affliction of the Egyptians. Then we read of God remembering His covenant: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Ex. 2:24). God remembers His covenant. He sends Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, just as He had promised:
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:7–8a).
The point here is that God promises deliverance to those who are included in His covenant. He does not merely offer deliverance; He promises deliverance. Understanding this is fundamental to understanding God’s covenant.
The deliverance of Noah’s family in the ark and the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt both pointed forward to the deliverance that would come when Christ, our Deliverer, came to rescue us from bondage.
The deliverance that Noah received was obviously not the final deliverance. Though it is true that Noah and his family emerged from the ark and their unbelieving enemies were gone, they still did not have the complete victory. They were still sinners, as became evident soon afterwards when Noah was found drunk and exposed in his tent and his own son delighted in his sin and told his brothers. The complete deliverance from sin had not yet taken place.
The same can be said about the deliverance from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. Though God’s people were separated from the Egyptians who cruelly afflicted them, and though they defeated the Canaanites and took the land of Canaan, they again did not have the complete deliverance from sin and death. They did not even have the complete deliverance from the Canaanites. Many of the Canaanites still remained in the land and became thorns in their sides.
The promised deliverance would be fulfilled in the coming of Christ. Indeed, all the covenant promises are fulfilled in Christ.
God made known to Zacharias that his son John would prepare the way for the coming Messiah. Though for a time Zacharias was chastened and was unable to speak because of his unbelief, when God granted him the ability to speak again he praised Jehovah for His mercy and made reference to God’s covenant:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…. That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life (Luke 1:68–75).
Christ came in fulfillment of God’s covenant promise. He came to deliver us from our sins and to bring us into God’s presence to enjoy fellowship with Him forever.
The covenant promises are fulfilled when Christ comes, atones for our sins, and delivers us. They were fulfilled centrally in Christ’s resurrection, as Paul explained when he preached in one of the synagogues: “And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again” (Acts 13:32–33a).
The resurrection of Christ is the fulfillment of God’s covenant promise. By His resurrection our Lord has overcome death, that He might make us partakers of the righteousness which He had purchased for us by His death. By the power of Christ we are also raised to a new life. In principle we have already received the promised deliverance from sin. We are also comforted knowing that Christ’s resurrection is a sure pledge of our blessed resurrection on the last day.
Indeed, God’s covenant promise has been fulfilled. Yet the full realization of all that God has promised us is still future.
What a comfort we have as we think about God’s covenant with us. We rejoice knowing that our Lord has delivered us, just as He had promised. We also go about our daily tasks with joy in our heart as we think on the promised deliverance we will one day receive.
There is a deliverance we will receive at the moment we die. Then we will be forever freed from our sins. Oh, what a deliverance that will be! A passageway unto eternal life free from sin—that is what death is for us. This deliverance our covenant God has promised us.
He has also assured us that our Lord Jesus will come again. We doubt not that He will return, just as God has promised. Our bodies will be raised from the dead and conformed to the glorious, incorruptible body of our risen Lord. All things will be made new, and we will inherit the earth!
What a comfort we have as we think on these things! The living God has made His everlasting covenant with us! He reveals His will to us. We really walk with Him, talk with Him, and commune with Him each day. He dwells with us. He dwells in us.
Thinking on this, we are patient in our adversities. In all our sorrows, with uplifted head, we look for our Redeemer. The Lord is faithful. Our Deliverer will come for us. Then all of us, God’s covenant people, will be together, communing with our Savior: “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 22:3–4).
God has made His covenant with us. To us and to our children He has promised this deliverance. Knowing this, we praise Him, hoping and longing for the full deliverance that He has promised.