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Sabbath School Lessons on The Promise - God's Everlasting Covenant
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 2: Covenant Primer *
Introduction: Samples. People offer me samples all the time. They
send them in the mail. They put them in with my newspaper. They offer
them on street corners. They tempt me with them in stores. Why do
merchants give out samples? They hope to draw me in to buy their
product. Our lesson this week is also a sample. We are going to
sample four contracts between God and man. Let's jump into our
lesson and see if this encourages us to study these promises in more
depth later this quarter!
- Noah's Contract
- Read Genesis 6:13&18. God offers Noah and his family a
"covenant" - what we might call a "contract." Is this
covenant between Noah and God different than our
contracts? If so, how does it seem different? (Genesis
6:18 is the first time in the Bible that "berit," the
Hebrew word translated "covenant," appears. Vines tells
us that this Hebrew word is considered the parallel or
equivalent to "word," "statute," "testimony," "law,"
"will" (as in last will and testament)and "loving-kindness." This gives us a broader definition of this term
than just looking at it as a contract.)
- Would you have accepted this contract offer?
- Read Genesis 6:22. As you consider this verse and the
story of Noah, what do you think were the terms of the
covenant between Noah and God?
- If Noah had not obeyed God, would they still have had
a covenant relationship?
- Abram's Contract
- Read Genesis 12:1-3. Assume God came to you with this
offer, would you gladly accept?
- What would be the most difficult part of this offer?
(Leaving his familiar surroundings.)
- Why do you think God wanted Abram to leave his
familiar surroundings? What sense is there in that?
(The text does not even say where Abram was going
("go to the land I will show you") God apparently
wanted to have a more focused relationship with
- Read Genesis 12:4-5. Abram accepted God's offer. Do you
think Abram had a relationship with God before God came
with the offer in Genesis 12:1-3? (Yes. No one would
accept such an offer unless you had confidence in the
person making the offer.)
- Last week we discussed that Adam sinned because he
chose Eve over God. How would you compare Abram's
decision to follow God with Adam's decision to stay
with Eve? (They were just the opposite. Abram passed
the test that Adam failed - however Abram's test was
not as severe.)
- Read Genesis 11:31. Do you think God made the same offer
to Teran, Abram's father? (Something certainly caused
Teran to set out for Canaan. If you look at Nehemiah 9:7-8, God is said to have brought Abram out of "Ur of the
Chaldeans." This shows that God's plan for Abram was in
action when his father left Ur - well before the promise
of Genesis 12:1-3 when Abram was in Haran. The important
point here is that this tends to show a long-standing
relationship between God and Abram.)
- God offered Noah a contract to avoid the flood. He offered
Abram a contract to be the father of a country. Is there a
common thread in these two offers?
- Moses' Contract
- Read Exodus 3:10-12. Do you think Moses wanted to enter
into the contract God is offering him?
- Read Exodus 6:2-4. Does God's contract with Moses have
anything to do with His contract with Abraham? (This is a
continuation of the same contract.)
- As you consider the contract offered to Noah, Abram and
Moses, how do they differ, how are they similar? (Noah and
Moses were offered a "rescue mission" contract. Moses and
Abram were involved in different aspects of the same
- The Old Contract
- Read Deuteronomy 4:12-13 & 6:4-9. Does this contract seem
anything like the others we have just sampled? (Because we
are only looking at "samples" this week, this contract
seems quite different.)
- The other contracts we looked at were keyed to specific
people. This contract is not. Why is that? (As we look at
each of these successive contracts, they seem to be
getting broader all the time. They are less and less
focused on an individual.)
- When you consider only Deuteronomy 4:12-13, what is our
obligation under this covenant? (To follow the
- Why do you think God wrote the commandments on stone
tablets? (If we have some doubt about what God wanted
His people to do with the Ten Commandments, this
erases the doubt. God wrote them down in a very
permanent way so His people would have no doubt about
what He wanted them to do.)
- What is our obligation under Deuteronomy 6:4-9? Is it
different than the obligation under Deuteronomy 4:12-13?
(What is similar is that in both instances God gives
instructions about how to keep our attention on His
commandments. What is different is God's command about
love. Telling someone to "Do this," is substantially
different than telling someone "Love me." Together,
however, they create a picture of a clear, long-standing
relationship in which we fulfill our obligations out of
- The New Contract
- Read Jeremiah 31:31-33. God talks about the Ten
Commandments and then says He is going to make a new
covenant with Israel. Car manufacturers tell us about
their "new" models, but rarely is the new model totally
new. What is new and what is old about this new covenant?
(What is old is that God is still speaking about His law.
Verse 33 explains the difference: under the new covenant
the law will be written on the hearts of the people.)
- What does it mean to have God's law written on your
- Keep your bookmark at Jeremiah 31:33 and turn back to
Deuteronomy 6:6. Carefully compare these two verses.
What difference do you see between God's description
of what He had in mind for the Ten Commandments and
what He has in mind for the new covenant? (Wait a
minute! What we determined was "new" about the new
covenant turns out to be part of the old covenant
too. These verses show that God had exactly the same
goal in mind all the time. In both the old and new
covenants He wanted His law in "the hearts" of His
- Look again at Jeremiah 31, and especially verse 32.
What does God say is the difference between the old
and new covenants? (In this text God says the
difference is that the old covenant was not obeyed.)
- Is God saying that the old covenant was not
obeyed or that it could not be obeyed?
- What do you think God means by His remark
(v.32) "though I was a husband to them?"
(This sounds like an "even though I did my
best" kind of remark. The New Living
Translation says "though I loved them as a
husband loves his wife." God sounds like
He expected His people to have kept the
- Why did the people not obey the old covenant?
(These texts create a very strong argument that
God's goal for His covenants has not changed. He
wants His law to be part of our "heart." It
seems the old covenant did not work because it
did not become part of the "heart" of the
people. They were not willingly obeying God's
- A major difference between the old and new
covenant is the coming of Jesus to earth
as the Messiah. How do you think this
affected "heart obedience?" (Let's just
put to one side for a moment the obvious
importance of salvation by grace alone.
Just seeing God come to earth, live as a
man, demonstrate His love for us by His
miracles, His life, His death and His
resurrection, should be an irresistible
force for writing God's will on our
- Let's read on: Jeremiah 31:34. What time or place is this
describing? Is this a time when the Gospel Commission
( Matthew 28:18-20)does not apply? (The Gospel Commission
tells us, among other things, to teach those around us.
Jeremiah 31:34 says no more teaching. These verses in
Jeremiah must be looking forward to a time after the
Second Coming of Jesus.)
- If I am right about these verses in Jeremiah
referring to our new life in heaven, what does this
say about the Law? Is it, the "old" contract? (No,
God's Law is for all times. I think it is a serious
theological error to put aside the Ten Commandments.
God's Law does not change under the new covenant,
what changes is the way in way we relate to the Law.
We now have the Law written in our hearts and our
- Friend, the good news in the theme that connects these
contracts is that God wants to have a relationship with
- Next week: "All Future Generations."
* Copr. 2003, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.