Christ and the Word of Christ, Together

“There is such a connection between the evangelical truth of God and Jesus Christ, that they have both one name, to insinuate to us that as we will be partakers of Christ, so it must be of Christ, as he is revealed in the gospel, not in conceits of our own. The word is truth, and Christ is truth. They have the same name; for were there never so much mercy and love in God, if it were concealed from us, that we had nothing to plead, that we had not some title to it by some discovery of it in his will, the word and the seal of the word, the sacraments (for the sacrament is but a visible word, they make one entire thing, the word and sacraments; the one is the evidence, the other the seal), what comfort could we take in it? Now his will is in the promise, wherein there is not only a discovery of what he doth or will do, but he hath engaged himself: ‘If we believe, we shall not perish, but have life,’ John iii. 15; and ‘Come unto me,’ Matt. xi. 28, and be refreshed, saith Christ. Every one that thirsts, come and be satisfied, John vii. 37. And now we may claim the performance of what he hath spoken, and bind him by his own word. ‘He cannot deny himself,’ John vii. 37. So now we see him comfortably in the glass of the word and sacraments.” -Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom



Michael Horton, God of Promise, Chapter 2, “God and Foreign Relations”

In this chapter, Horton goes into the Ancient Near Eastern background behind the biblical concept of covenant. Surprisingly, many of the covenants in Scripture have similarities to these secular treaties (cf. Kline, Hillers, Mendenhall), specifically Hittite suzerainty-vassal treaties. He then explains how these Hittite treaties worked, their form, and the rituals involved in confirming them.

The covenant is important for understanding God’s relationship to man, because there can be no “natural relationship” between them (contrary to pagan and various pantheistic claims). God’s relationship with man is a by-product of the covenant and God’s condescension to our level).

These covenants, particularly Israel’s, were intended to bring stability and security. Even though Biblical covenants manifest clear similarities to ANE secular law, when YHWH becomes the suzerain, they develop religious connotations.

Horton then gives his modus operandi for studying the Biblical covenants in this book: Law–> Prophets–> New Testament.

Lastly, Horton discusses the differences between the Biblical covenants and suzerainty treaties, the quintessential difference is that YHWH forbears and is gracious to Israel when she fails to fulfill her covenant duties: grace is the difference. He also discusses the role of the Israel’s kingdom in redemptive-history in relation to Adam and Christ. He also discusses the idea of the “royal grant” or “patron covenant” (which is another ANE secular treaty).

Back to the God of Promise Table of Contents.

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