Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 3 Lesson 10 Sunday
Read second paragraph,
“The Hebrew word translated “covenant” is berit. It occurs nearly three hundred times in the Old Testament and refers to a binding contract, agreement, or treaty. For thousands of years, covenants played an integral role in defining the relationships between people and nations across the ancient Near East. Covenants often involved the slaughter of animals as part of the process of making (literally “cutting”) a covenant. The killing of animals symbolized what would happen to a party that failed to keep its covenant promises and obligations.”
What do you hear being described?
A covenant is an agreement, contract, or treaty – now with this in mind read the last paragraph,
“While marriage, physical labor, and the Sabbath were part of the general provisions of the covenant of creation, its main focal point was God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit. The basic nature of the covenant was “obey and live!” With a nature created in harmony with God, the Lord did not require the impossible. Obedience was humanity’s natural inclination; yet, Adam and Eve chose to do what was not natural, and, in that act, they not only ruptured the covenant of creation, they made its terms impossible for humans now corrupted by sin. God Himself would restore the relationship that Adam and Eve had lost. He did this by enacting a covenant of grace based on the eternal promise of a Savior (Gen. 3:15).”
Several good things in this paragraph, like Adam and Eve’s natural desires were to live in harmony with God and do right, and sin was unnatural and God had to restore the relationship that was lost.
What is the major error in this paragraph, which infects Christian thought and contributes to a misunderstanding of God’s character and how He runs His government as well as the plan of salvation?
What is a covenant? A contract, agreement or treaty, which necessarily require what? The mutual consent of both parties. Are such agreements based on natural law or based on the desires, goals, wishes, wants of the two parties involved?
Regarding, God’s warning in Eden, “in the day you eat of the tree you will surely die.” Was this a contract, agreement, treaty i.e. “covenant of creation,” or was it a warning of how the universe is built and if you exercise your freedom to step out of harmony with this design life cannot continue?
If God had taken them to the top of the Empire State building and said, “In the day you jump you will surely die.” Is this a contract, treaty or agreement? Or is it merely the statement of reality – no agreement or contract necessary.
What happens if we believe what happened in Eden was a covenant, a contract, or treaty?
- Then we immediately put God back into the role of enforcer of breeches of the contract, or treaty.
- He now must sue, or prosecute or punish, or destroy because the contract was broken.
- Why would those who broke contracts in the ancient Near East be killed like the animal? Because it would automatically happen, or because it would be imposed upon them?
- What concept of God does the idea of “the covenant of creation” create?
- It creates the distorted idea that there is no natural consequence of sin, just as there is no natural consequence to breaking a contract, the problem with breaking a contract is the enforced penalties that come from such a breech. So, God must enforce punishment upon sinners.
But when we understand God’s law is the law of life that He constructed the universe to operate upon then we realize God’s warning in Eden was not a covenant, but a mere education on the reality of how the universe was built and what was necessary to live in harmony with life.
So specifically, the covenant of creation –
- Marriage, as God designed it in Eden, not how it functions in sinful beings – a natural law, part of God’s design, or contract law? Can love exist without someone to love? Marriage, as God designed, is not contract law, it is part of humanity’s design, just as reproduction, is built into our biology and design, and we don’t have to get a contract, or treaty to have children, neither was marriage, originally, a contract issue. This is why Adam said, “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” He understood Eve was built, constructed, to be his life partner in love. The two of them were built to love each other and did so automatically, freely, without the need of a prenuptial agreement or a marriage license.
- Physical labor – a contract issue, God contracted with Adam to keep and tend the garden? Or God built His universe to exist on the principle of giving, and work, physical labor, is the giving of one’s energy to tend, manage, help, etc. and in so doing the one who works gets stronger. This again is part of God’s natural design for life.
- Sabbath – contract law, rule put in force to obey, or expression of natural law? The Sabbath is a gift of love from God to mankind and the onlooking universe who learn of God from what happens on planet earth (1st Corinthians 4:9). As a gift of love it is not a contract, rule, or treaty, but an expression of love, which reveals the character of the One who gave it.
It is Satan who wants to turn every aspect of God’s character of love, into some legal, contractual, rules oriented idea so that we will conceive of God as an severe imposer of law and punishing judge.
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