Some notes upon re-reading Chapter 3 of Pascal Denault’s “The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology”…
The Covenant concluded between God and Israel in the Sinai desert was a progression of the covenant of circumcision [i.e. the Covenant of Promise with Abraham]. The Sinaitic Covenant was specifically concluded with the physical posterity of Abraham for the accomplishment of the carnal land/seed promises of the Abrahamic Covenant. The natural posterity of Abraham was to inherit the Promised Land and the Sinaitic Covenant was made to this end.
But, did the Covenant serve a fuller purpose?
Why Was the Old Covenant Given?
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; …But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal 3:19-24)
According to the Apostle Paul, the law (i.e. the Covenant made at Sinai) was given to guard against sin until the Promised Seed of Abraham would come. The Old Covenant had a distinct role in preserving and keeping the Hebrew people separate so they could fulfill their mission of bringing the Messiah into the world.
Paul also states that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Jesus Christ. The law teaches us our failures and short-comings. The law teaches the justice of God and our need of a sacrifice, a priesthood, and a mediator. By giving the Hebrews a picture of the offices and roles of Christ, it taught them to weary of their rites and sacrifices and to despair of the priesthood and to seek mercy and grace, no longer under types and signs, but in its fullness in Christ.
Does the Sinai Covenant Continue?
The Apostle continues…
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Now that the Gospel of Grace has been revealed, we no longer require the ordinances, types, and shadows of the Old Covenant. There is no longer a distinction between Jew and Greek required. The Promises made to Abraham are not to be passed from generation to generation through the physical seed of Abraham. The Seed of Abraham has come and fulfilled the promise and received all it’s blessing. Those that are united to Christ are heirs of the promises, and with Christ, the heirs/seed of Abraham.
Brother Denault’s analysis, from his reading of 17th Century Particular Baptist works, is that the historic Baptist position is that goal of the Sinai Covenant was achieved in three ways:
- It preserved the Messianic lineage (Gal 3:16-29, Rom 9:4-5).
- The Old Covenant pointed typologically towards Christ – Priest, Mediator, Judgement, Sacrifice, Atonement, Deliverance, etc.
- It Concluded all under sin, so that faith could only be by faith in Christ (Gal 3)