Naming the Covenants: Adam through Abraham

In our discussion of covenants we covered the covenantal framework of the Bible in brief along with a summary of the Adamic covenant. Today, I want to mention a better way to think of these covenants than simply referring to them by the OT person associated with them. We should think of them as what the covenant’s purpose is.

Adamic: the covenant of (at) creation. God created Adam and Eve specifically to care for the world and expand the boundaries of the garden which he already started. What God began in grace, God’s image bearers continue through their effort which is equipped by his grace. It’s the Genesis 1 and 2 version of the Great Commission.

Noahic: the covenant of re-creation. Comparing the command God gave Noah is essentially the same as the one he gave Adam. Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 9:1-3, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.” The essence of both is: be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. After the total destruction of the flood, God’s image bearers are commanded to fill the earth again and take dominion of it.

Abrahamic: the covenant of promise. This covenant forms the basis of the promises for all the successive covenants, even the New Covenant which finds all the promises fulfilled in Jesus. Like the covenant of re-creation added the sign of the rainbow, this covenant adds a sign, too: circumcision. There is also a ceremony in Genesis 15 which is a demonstration that God himself will fulfil the obligations of the covenant. And in Genesis 22 we see a substitute sacrifice when God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac and Abraham stated succinctly the OT gospel: “God will provide”.