“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.”—HEBREWS 11:1.
1, 2. What will strengthen our confidence that by means of the Kingdom, God’s purpose for mankind will succeed, and why? (See opening picture.)
AS Jehovah’s Witnesses, we zealously preach that God’s Kingdom is the only solution for our problems. Are we truly convinced, though, that the Kingdom is real and that by means of it, God’s purpose will succeed? Why can we have solid faith in the Kingdom?—Hebrews 11:1.
2 By means of the Messianic Kingdom, Jehovah’s purpose for mankind will come true. The unshakable foundation of this Kingdom is Jehovah’s absolute right to rule. Who is the King of this Kingdom? Who else will rule with this King? Who and what will be under their authority? Jehovah has legally established these important elements of the Kingdom through covenants. These covenants are legal contracts, or agreements, made by Jehovah or his Son, Jesus Christ. By examining these covenants, we will better understand how Jehovah’s purpose will succeed and why we can be confident that the Kingdom is unshakable.—Read Ephesians 2:12.
3. What will we examine in this article and in the one that follows?
3 In the Bible, six main covenants are connected to the Messianic Kingdom ruled by Christ Jesus. They are (1) the Abrahamic covenant, (2) the Law covenant, (3) the Davidic covenant, (4) the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek, (5) the new covenant, and (6) the Kingdom covenant. Let us examine how each covenant is connected to the Kingdom and works toward the accomplishment of God’s purpose for the earth and mankind.—See the chart “How God Will Accomplish His Purpose.”
A PROMISE REVEALS HOW GOD’S PURPOSE WILL COME TRUE
4. As stated in the book of Genesis, what decrees did Jehovah make that affect humans?
4 Jehovah prepared our earth so that humans could live on it. Then, Jehovah made the following decrees: (1) God would create humans in his image. (2) Humans would make the earth into a paradise and fill it with their righteous children. (3) Humans were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 1:26, 28; 2:16, 17) These three decrees were a complete description of God’s purpose for man and the earth. So why did God have to make covenants?
5, 6. (a) How did Satan try to prevent God’s purpose from coming true? (b) How did Jehovah handle the rebellion in Eden?
5 Satan started a rebellion against God and his purpose. He focused on man’s obedience to God by tempting Eve to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 3:1-5; Revelation 12:9) By doing this, he challenged God’s right to rule over His creation. Later, Satan also accused humans of worshipping God for selfish reasons.—Job 1:9-11; 2:4, 5.
6 How would Jehovah handle this rebellion? He could destroy the rebels. But that would mean that God’s purpose to fill the earth with Adam and Eve’s children would not succeed. Jehovah chose not to destroy the rebels. Instead, he gave a great prophecy, the Edenic promise. It guaranteed that every detail of God’s promises for the earth and for humans would come true.—Read Genesis 3:15.
The Edenic promise guaranteed that every detail of God’s promises for the earth and for humans would come true
7. What does the Edenic promise reveal about the serpent and its offspring?
7 By means of the Edenic promise, God condemned to death the serpent and its offspring, that is, Satan the Devil and those who would take his side against God’s right to rule. God gave the offspring of the woman the authority to destroy these rebels. So the Edenic promise revealed that Satan and the effects of his rebellion would be eliminated. The promise also identified how this would be done.
8. What do we learn about the identity of the woman and her offspring?
8 Who would be the offspring of the woman? The offspring would have to be a spirit person. Why? Because this offspring will “bring to nothing” Satan, who is an invisible spirit creature. (Hebrews 2:14) So the woman who gives birth to this offspring would also have to be invisible. While the serpent’s offspring multiplied, the identity of the woman and her offspring remained a mystery for about 4,000 years after the Edenic promise. During those years, Jehovah made several covenants that identify the offspring and reveal how God would repair the damage caused by Satan’s rebellion.
A COVENANT IDENTIFIES THE OFFSPRING
9. What is the Abrahamic covenant, and when did it become valid?
9 About 2,000 years after the Edenic promise was made, Jehovah told Abraham to leave his home in the city of Ur and go to the land of Canaan. (Acts 7:2, 3) God told him: “Go out from your land and away from your relatives and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, and you will become a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who calls down evil on you, and all the families of the ground will certainly be blessed by means of you.” (Genesis 12:1-3) God’s promise to Abraham is called the Abrahamic covenant. We do not know exactly when Jehovah first made his covenant with Abraham. But we do know that the covenant became valid in the year 1943 before Christ, when Abraham, who was 75 years old, left Haran and crossed the Euphrates River.
10. (a) How did Abraham prove that he had strong faith in God’s promises? (b) What details did Jehovah gradually reveal about the offspring of the woman?
10 Jehovah repeated his promise to Abraham several times and each time added more details. (Genesis 13:15-17; 17:1-8, 16) Abraham’s faith in God’s promises was so strong that he was even willing to sacrifice his precious son. So Jehovah was moved to strengthen the covenant by guaranteeing that his promise would come true. (Read Genesis 22:15-18; Hebrews 11:17, 18.) After the Abrahamic covenant became valid, Jehovah gradually revealed important details about the offspring of the woman. The offspring would come from Abraham’s family, would include many people, would serve as kings, would destroy all of God’s enemies, and would be a blessing for many humans.
11, 12. How do the Scriptures show that the promises of the Abrahamic covenant will come true in a second, greater way, and what does that mean for us?
11 The promises of the Abrahamic covenant first came true when Abraham’s descendants inherited the Promised Land. Yet, the Bible reveals that this covenant would bring far greater benefits. (Galatians 4:22-25) The apostle Paul explained that the primary, or main, part of Abraham’s offspring is Jesus Christ. The secondary, or additional, part refers to the 144,000 anointed Christians. (Galatians 3:16, 29; Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1, 4) The woman in the Edenic promise is the heavenly part of God’s organization. This woman is called “the Jerusalem above” and is made up of loyal spirit creatures. (Galatians 4:26, 31) As the Abrahamic covenant promised, the offspring of the woman would bring lasting benefits to mankind.
12 The Abrahamic covenant provides a legal guarantee for the Kingdom of the heavens and opens the way for the King and his corulers to inherit that Kingdom. (Hebrews 6:13-18) How long will this covenant last? Genesis 17:7 states that it is “an everlasting covenant.” It will exist until the Kingdom destroys God’s enemies and until all the families of the earth have been blessed. (1 Corinthians 15:23-26) But the benefits of this covenant are everlasting. God’s covenant with Abraham proves that Jehovah’s purpose for righteous humans to “fill the earth” will succeed.—Genesis 1:28.
A COVENANT GUARANTEES THAT THE KINGDOM WILL LAST
13, 14. What does the Davidic covenant guarantee?
13 The Edenic promise and the Abrahamic covenant teach us that Jehovah’s rulership is always based on his righteous standards. So the Messianic Kingdom that God established is also based on those righteous standards. (Psalm 89:14) Will the Messianic Kingdom ever become corrupt? Will this Kingdom government need to be replaced? Another legal covenant guarantees that this will never happen.
The Messiah’s rule will never become corrupt, and the benefits that come from his rule will last forever
14 Jehovah made a promise to King David of ancient Israel. That promise is called the Davidic covenant. (Read 2 Samuel 7:12, 16.) Jehovah promised that the Messiah would be one of David’s descendants. (Luke 1:30-33) In this way, Jehovah gave more specific information about the family line of the Messiah. Jehovah said that this descendant of David would have “the legal right” to be King of the Messianic Kingdom. (Ezekiel 21:25-27) David’s kingship will rule forever because Jesus, the descendant of David, “will endure forever; his throne will endure like the sun.” (Psalm 89:34-37) We can be confident that the Messiah’s rule will never become corrupt and that the benefits that come from this rule will last forever!
A COVENANT FOR A PRIEST
15-17. According to the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek, what additional assignment would the offspring have, and why?
15 The Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant guarantee that the offspring of the woman would rule as a king. But in order for all mankind to fully benefit, the offspring would need to be more than just a king. The offspring would also need to be a priest. Only a priest can offer the sacrifice needed so that humans can be freed from sin and become part of Jehovah’s family of loyal servants in heaven and on earth. To make sure that the offspring would be a priest, Jehovah made another legal agreement, the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek.
16 God revealed through King David that He would personally make a covenant with Jesus. That agreement involved two things: first, Jesus would “sit at [God’s] right hand” and have the authority to conquer all of his enemies; and second, Jesus would be “a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.” (Read Psalm 110:1, 2, 4.) Why, though, would Jesus be a priest “in the manner of Melchizedek”? Before Abraham’s offspring conquered the Promised Land, Melchizedek was the king of the city of Salem and was a “priest of the Most High God.” (Hebrews 7:1-3) Jehovah directly appointed him as king and priest, and Melchizedek was the only person before Jesus to have both positions. Also, because there is no record of anyone having this position before or after Melchizedek, it is as if he is “a priest for all time,” or forever.
By means of the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek, Jesus is directly appointed by God to be a priest
17 By means of this covenant, Jesus is directly appointed by God to be a priest. Jesus will remain “a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:4-6) This covenant clearly shows that Jehovah guarantees that he will use the Messianic Kingdom to make his purpose for humans and the earth come true.
THE KINGDOM IS BASED ON LEGAL COVENANTS
18, 19. (a) How are the covenants that we discussed connected to the Kingdom? (b) What will we discuss in the next article?
18 So far we have learned how each covenant is connected to the Messianic Kingdom and how the Kingdom is solidly based on legal agreements. The Edenic promise guarantees that Jehovah will use the offspring of the woman to make his purpose for the earth and mankind succeed. The Abrahamic covenant explains who the offspring would be and what role that offspring would have.
19 The Davidic covenant gives more details about the family line of the Messiah. That covenant also gives Jesus the right to rule over the earth forever. The covenant for a priest like Melchizedek guarantees that the offspring would serve as a priest. But Jesus will not be alone in helping humans to become perfect. There are others who have been appointed to serve as kings and priests. Where would they come from? That will be discussed in the next article.