Book 2 Chapter 10 Section 1-23
We have reached the point where Calvin draws out the similarities between the covenants to show their common elements. The next chapter will look at the differences. The main thrust of his argument is that the main differences can be explained by a different mode of administration, but the reality and substance is the same.
Calvin summarises his main arguments for the unity of the covenants under three headings:
- That the Jews were invited to the hope of immortality, rather than purely temporal blessings
- That their covenant was founded upon the mercy of God and not on their merit (ref Book 3 Chapters 15-18)
- That they both had and knew Christ the Mediator (see Chapter 6)
It is principally the first point that Calvin addresses in this chapter. He spends a long time going through the life story of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob demonstrating that each of them, while receiving great and precious promises, did not seek fulfillment only in this present life. Rather the promises they were given were intended to lift up their thoughts to the hope of immortality and a future life.
There is much to be learnt in this chapter about the prosperity gospel. The idea that the promises of temporal blessing given to Old Testament believers should be named and claimed by modern Christians in order to satisfy our material desires is the exact opposite of what God was trying to illustrate through the first covenant. They are a picture, or symbol, of the heavenly Jerusalem that is to come.
God was intending their physical blessings to point to a more fulfilling and permanent future blessing after death. Indeed, most of these faithful believers never saw even the material blessings, but they trusted that the God who would provide a land for their descendants would also find a resting place for their own souls.
Standing on this side of the cross we have a far superior view of our future inheritance. We can see the limitations of the material blessings provided under the old covenant and we have a much brighter view of our glorious inheritance. Indeed, the mystery of the ages, which was hidden from them, has been revealed to us. Why then do some become intoxicated with the loose change of earth, when all heaven is before us? If we have learnt anything from our journey through the Old Testament it must be to take our eyes off our present circumstances and look with the eye of faith for the future revelation of the children of God. For that day when we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.
“These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11.39+40
Father, cure us of our intoxication with the things of this world, strip us of all that we rely on that we may cast our entire hope and security on You. May You show us that we are only pilgrims in a foreign land. That we have no enduring city and no reason to linger. Amen