Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

The corporate nature of god's covenants

Some have identified eight different covenants or primary promises made by God in connection with His unfolding redemptive process. The first was with Adam in Genesis 3:15 when God promised to bruise the serpent. The next was with Noah when God promised to never again destroy all flesh with water. The third was with Abraham when God promised to bless him and make him a blessing to all men. The covenant with Abraham was then reiterated with Isaac and Jacob, indicating the exact lineage through which the promised blessing on all mankind would flow. After the Egyptian captivity, God gave the Law to Moses and established a covenant with the nation of Israel, following Jacob’s family line. The with David established as king of Israel, God promised that through his progeny would come the Messiah who would rule on his throne over the chosen nation.  Finally when Christ had completed all that was prophesied of Him and His redemptive work, God finalized a new eternal covenant arrangement based on Christ’ perfect sacrifice.


All the first five covenants were clearly universal in outreach, destined to extend God’s promised blessings to all men. The covenant with Moses was special in that it was a subset of the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This covenant, generally referred to as the Old Covenant, set Israel up as a nation for the purpose of serving as the vehicle through which the universal blessings promised under the Abrahamic covenant would come. The promise to David established a royal blood line for the coming Messiah, one who would sit on David’s throne and afterward inaugurate the Kingdom of God in which mankind would be reunited with God.


Finally all God’s redemptive plan culminated in the New Covenant of Christ. For some reason, this covenant is taught as being individual and voluntary instead of corporate and involuntary as all the previous covenants had been. In no case prior to Christ had any covenant with God been inaugurated on a purely individual or voluntary basis. In particular Israelites were such by birth and not by conscious decision on their part. When God visited blessings or curses on the Israelites all rejoiced or suffered collectively. The people of Israel might fall away in sinfulness over and over again, but never did God forget His promises or divert from the purpose for which He had made the covenant promise. Every covenant of God was a step in the overall plan to redeem mankind, and no actions or shortcomings of mankind were allowed to circumvent God’s purpose.


In light of the nature of all the preceding covenants, it seems particularly strange that the covenant in Christ would suddenly become individual and not corporate and universal. It also is not consistent that participation in the new covenant would require one’s assent. All the examples of God’s covenants prior to Christ would indicate that the traditional picture of how one gains the benefits of God’s New Covenant is incorrect.


Recognizing the covenantal nature of God’s redemptive process establishes the fact that Christ’s completed work is truly universal in outreach. There is no room in this covenant relationship with God for any kind of haphazard, individualistic application. It is just not the way God operates, as demonstrated by all these previous examples.