You’ve heard your relationship with God described in many ways, but have you ever considered yourself as God’s partner? That’s how God describes you. The Bible describes God as initiating covenants (or contracts) with humans. We’re talking about contracts business partners would use. We are in partnership with God.
But what are these covenants? Perhaps you’ve heard the New Testament referred to as the “New Covenant.” What does that mean?
The guys at The Bible Project have put together an animated walkthrough of “The Covenants” in the Bible. This video should answer these questions (and more).
Jon: If you’ve been around Christians you’ve probably heard the idea
of having a personal relationship with God,
which could mean different things in the Bible like having God as a friend,
or your Father, or maybe your teacher.
Tim: But there’s one particular way that the Bible talks about this relationship
that you find all over
but strangely we don’t talk about it that much
and that’s the idea of a partnership with God.
Jon: A partnership like working alongside someone to accomplish a goal together.
Tim: Right. And this is actually what you see at the beginning of the Bible.
God creates this good world full of all of this potential,
and then God appoints these unique creatures, humans,
as his partners in bringing more and more goodness out of all that potential.
Jon: But the humans don’t want to partner with God
they rebel and try to create a world on their own terms.
Tim: And so this broken partnership is the Bible’s explanation for why we’re stuck
in a world of corruption and injustice and the tragedy of death.
Jon: It’s not like they’re just one or two humans have bailed on this relationship.
In a story in the Bible everyone has abandoned the partnership with God
Tim: So what God does is select a smaller group of people out of the many,
and makes a new partnership with them called a “covenant”.
And in a covenant God makes promises
and then an exchange asks his partner to fulfill certain commitments.
And the purpose of all of this
is to somehow use this covenant relationship to renew his partnership with everybody else.
Jon: Now, they’re actually four times in the Old Testament
that we were told God initiates a covenant relationship:
With Noah, Abraham, the Nation of Israel, and King David.
Tim: And its through these that God is forming a covenant family
into which all people will eventually be invited.
Jon: So let’s see how these work. The first one is with Noah.
Tim: So in this story God has just brought the flood to cleanse the world
of humanities corruption. And Noah and his family are the only ones left.
And so God makes a covenant with Noah saying, “Listen…
… I know that humans will continue to be evil
But despite that I’m not going to destroy it like this again.
Instead, the earth will be this reliable place for us to work together.”
Jon: Great so was does Noah have to do?
Tim: Nothing. And that’s what’s so interesting about this first covenant,
is that God is promising to be faithful even though he knows humans won’t be.
Jon: The next time we see God make a covenant is with a man named Abraham.
God chooses him, promises to bless him, give him a large family, lots of land where they can flourish.
Tim: And in return got asks Abraham to trust him
and train up his family to do what is right and just.
And the whole reason for this covenant is that God says that somehow
he is going to bring his blessing to all families of the world through this one family.
Jon: So that’s Abraham.
The next time we see God make a covenant is when Abraham’s family grows
into the tribe of Israel.
Jon: And this covenant is with the whole tribe. Got asks them to obey a set of laws,
which are these guidelines for living well as a community of God’s partners.
And if they do this then God promises to bless them and that they will become
a people who then represent him to the rest of humanity.
Jon: That’s the covenant with Israel. The last covenant is with King David.
Tim: Yes. The tribe of Israel has become this large nation ruled by David.
And God asked David and his descendants to partner with him
by leading Israel in obeying the laws in doing what is right and just.
And God promises that one day one of David’s sons will come
and extend God’s kingdom of peace and blessing over all the nations.
Jon: So those are the four covenants that God makes
in order to restore his partnership with the whole world.
Tim: But here’s what happens…
Israel breaks the Covenant.
They worship other gods, they allow horrible injustice,
so they lose their land and are forced off in exile.
Jon: So it seems hopeless.
But during this time Israel’s prophets talked about a day
when God would restore these covenants in spite of Israel’s failure…
Tim: Yeah, they called it the ‘New Covenant’.
And this is actually what’s so interesting about Jesus, is that he is introduced into this story
as the one who fulfills all of these covenant relationships.
We’re told that he’s from the family have Abraham.
And so he will bring the blessings of that family to the whole world.
We’re told that he is the faithful Israelite who was able to truly obey the law.
And we’re told that he is the King from the line of David.
and so he goes about extending God’s kingdom of justice and peace to all.
Jon: And that’s really remarkable for one guy.
Tim: Yeah, and what it highlights
is perhaps the most surprising claim of all made about this man:
that Jesus is no mere human.
But rather God become human.
And God did this in order to be that faithful covenant partner
that we are all made to be, but have failed to be.
And so through Jesus
God has opened up a way for anyone to be in a renewed partnership with him.
Jon: So Jesus calls people to follow him and become part of this new covenant family.
Tim: And despite their failures, Jesus is committed to making them into partners
who are becoming more and more faithful.
Jon: The story the Bible ends with a vision of a fully renewed world
full of goodness and peace.
Tim: And there’s this renewed humanity there
partnering tog ether with God to expand the goodness of his creation.
And so the end of the Bible’s story is really a new beginning.
You may have heard Jesus called “the Messiah” but what does that really mean? This short video walks through the Bible exploring the significance of “the Messiah” from Genesis to Revelation. I think you’ll find it helpful because it ties together the Old Testament with the New Testament. Take a look.
Jon: There’s this crazy story at the beginning of the Bible we have Adam and Eve
and they in there in the Garden of Eden.
Tim: And everything in the garden is great exactly is it should be except
there’s this one tree that they’re told by God not to eat from because it’s
dangerous and it will kill them.
Jon: So that’s it, just avoid this fruit tree and we are fine?
Tim: Right, it seems pretty simple. But in this garden there’s a snake
and it starts telling a different story. It says that if you eat of this tree it is not
going to kill you
in fact it’s going to make you become like God.
Jon: And Adam and Eve, they believe the snake and the the fruit.
Tim: And because it is this the goodness of the garden is tragically lost and the evil and death
enters into God’s good world.
Jon: Now, why is there a talking snake in the garden? I mean this thing is a problem.
Tim: Yeah, it is very strange, and even more strange is the fact that the Bible doesn’t say why
or how this thing even got there. It simply presents the snake as this
creature who’s in rebellion against God and wants to get
other people to doubt God’s goodness and lead them on a path toward death.
And so whatever this snake is,
it’s the source of evil that pervades our world and our lives even still today
Jon: But there is some hope because right here in the story God makes this really
interesting promise to Adam and Eve.
Tim: That someone is going to come in the future, a son of Eve,
and this guys gonna common is gonna crash the Serpent’s head and destroy evil
at its source. However during this battle
t he serpent is going to bite this guy’s heal.
Jon: So it’s like I’m mutual destruction
Tim: Yes. It is a strange and beautiful promise and just hanging there until the next key moment in the story…
…when God singled out this guy named Abraham
and says that through his family goodness and blessing is going to be
restored back to all of the nations in the world
and as we follow this family we get to one of Abraham’s great-grandsons, this guy named Judah.
and he receives this promise that a king is going to come from his line
and that the whole world is going to follow this king, and he’s going to bring
peace and harmony and there will be lots of
food and wine and milk in vineyard and it’s going to be awesome.
Jon: The first king that we meet from the line of Judah is a guy named King David
and he’s a hero maybe he is the Snake Crusher
Tim: But it turns out that David is infected with the same evil
as the rest of humanity. He never crushes the snake
just the opposite. However God makes a promise to David that this king
is going to eventually come from his line. But as you go on in the story
one by one each generation of his sons they’re just total
chumps they give in to the snake, they choose evil
they go after money and sex and power and following other gods.
Jon: Things get so bad that they run the nation of Israel
right into the ground and the big bad Empire of Babylon just takes them out.
Tim: So now there are no more Kings to even fulfill this promise.
Jon: So seems like the whole plan is lost.
Tim: But during these dark days there’s these crazy group of guys called Prophets
and they kept talking about this coming King and reminding us of the
promise that he’ll come he will defeat evil
and restore the garden. Now one specific profit Isaiah –
he tells us more about why this King is bitten
Isaiah says that the promised King receives this wound
because of humanity’s evil, and that it kills him.
But then all of a sudden he comes back and Isaiah says that is because he suffered this wound
that he can now become a source of healing to other people.
Jon: But the Old Testament ends and the snake crushing King that everyone’s been
talking about never shows up.
Tim: And that is why when the New Testament begins it introduces us to
Jesus of Nazareth
not as some random guy but as someone who comes to fulfill these specific ancient promises.
Jon: Yeah, we learn that he’s from the line of David, Judah, and Abraham.
Tim: And he goes around Israel announcing
that the goodness of God’s kingdom is here now and he begins
confronting the affects of evil on people by healing them by forgiving them of their sins and evil
Jon: Many people are now believing that this is in fact the promised King
Tim: Bit Jesus began telling his closest followers
that he was going to become king and bring peace
by taking the full effect if humanity’s evil into himself.
Jon: That fatal snake bite wound.
Tim: And so it seems like the serpent wins
and this story actually would be a tragedy except for what happens next.
Jesus rises from the dead.
Jon: A nd now Jesus has the power over evil and death for himself.
Tim: So the rest at the New Testament is then making this claim
the Jesus’ power over evil and death has now become available
to us to begin confronting the effects evil in our own lives.
Jon: But even still, death and evil are a real problem in our world all around us.
Tim: And so the story of the Bible ends
by describing this future day when Jesus comes back
and he finishes the job. He destroys the snake once and for all, and he restores
I know I’m not alone. There are many reasons for this. Memorizing is a very left-brained activity. Memorizing requires a routine and patience and all kinds of things that make me cringe. Plus, there are so many Bible versions out there. Verses I had memorized in one version no longer match the translation I prefer now. (I actually use more than one version.)
I can’t memorize well and I’m okay with that. Rather than struggling to put information in my head, I use a more organic approach to putting God’s Word in my heart. By using my Bible excessively, I can tell you the main idea of passages and approximately where they are. The heart captures stories and messages. So I’m okay with my big-picture approach to learning the Bible.
But then I found this Bible memorization app, Scripture Typer.
Scripture Typer helps you memorize Scripture using a simple typing method.
First, you simply type the verse. Then it shows you every other word in the verse so you have some clues. You can hide opposite words and try both ways back and forth until you are comfortable with the verse. Then you are ready to type it from memory. Once you master the verse, it puts the verse on a review schedule for you, which you can adjust in the settings.
Like a typing tutor, it calculates your typing speed (and accuracy, if you choose that in your settings).
You also earn points, levels, and badges as you master verses.
Don’t know what to memorize?
Scripture Typer has a library of verses grouped into topical collections. You can select a single verse or an entire collection to work on.
You can also choose from the most popular Bible translations.
For one who doesn’t like to memorize, I have been oddly captivated by this method. It seems to be working for me and I’m not entirely sure why. I think it’s because it feels like a game.
It’s free, so I encourage you to check it out.
After you memorize 50 verses, they ask you to pay $10 for a “pro” plan to continue using the app, but that seems reasonable for long-term usage.
[button link=”https://scripturetyper.com/” type=”big” color=”purple” newwindow=”yes”] Go to Scripture Typer[/button]
Jon Collins and Tim Mackie of The Bible Project are using their skills for God by putting together enjoyable and entertaining short videos explaining concepts in the Bible and how it all fits together. According to The Bible Project, “This is episode 1 of a 14-part series that explores the origins, content, and purpose of the Bible. Here you’ll be introduced to some of the basic skills necessary for reading the Bible effectively.”
The Bible: it’s one of the most influential books in human history.
It explores the big questions of why we exist.
It’s inspired many people to do amazing things, and… confused many others.
And you’ve probably got one, sitting around… somewhere.
So. What is the Bible actually?
Well, the Bible is a small library of books, that all emerged out of the history of the people of ancient Israel.
And in one sense, they were just like any other ancient civilization.
But among them were a long line of individuals called prophets,
and they viewed Israel’s story as anything but ordinary.
They saw it as a central part of what God was doing for all humanity.
And, these prophets, were literary geniuses.
Yeah, they expertly crafted the Hebrew language to write epic narratives,
very sophisticated poetry, they were masters of metaphor, and storytelling,
and they leveraged all this to explore life’s most complicated questions
about death, and life, and the human struggle.
So, there’s a lot of different authors writing this book.
Yeah and these texts were produced over a thousand year period,
starting with Israel’s origins in Egypt.
Then leading up to their kingdom, with their first temple.
But eventually they were conquered by the Babylonians, who took them away into exile.
Then, at a crucial moment in their history, many Israelites returned to their land.
They built a second temple, they reformed their identity, and
this is when the Jewish Scriptures begin to be formed
into the shape that we have them today.
Okay, the Jewish Bible… what’s in it?
Well in Hebrew, it’s called by an acronym: Tanakh.
The “T” stands for “Torah.” (Sometimes called “the law.”) That’s Israel’s five-book foundation story.
The “N” stands for “Nevi’im,” the Hebrew word for “prophets,”
and this section consists of the historical books
that tell Israel’s story from the prophets’ point of view,
then you get the poetic books of the prophets themselves.
The “K” stands for “Ketuvim” – the Hebrew word for “writings.”
This is a diverse collection of
of poetic books, wisdom books, and more narrative.
And the Jewish people believe that through all of these literary works,
God speaks to His people.
Now, there are other Jewish writings being produced
during this Second Temple period as well.
Yeah, a really diverse group texts, and these too were
highly valued in Jewish communities.
And there was debate from ancient times,
about whether or not some of these should be considered part of their scriptures.
So… this is a lot of different writings, over a long period of time…
Why did they put them all together like this?
Well all together, these texts tell an epic story,
about how God is working through these people to bring
order and beauty out of the chaos of our world.
And it all builds up to a hope for a new leader who would come, and renew all creation…
And then the Tanakh concludes… and this leader never comes!
So it’s an expertly crafted work but it’s missing an ending?
That’s exactly right.
Now, few centuries later, a Jewish prophet comes onto the scene, named Jesus of Nazareth.
He claimed he was carrying the Tanakh story forward.
Yeah so Jesus, did a bunch of cool stuff… was killed…
But his followers claimed he was alive from the dead.
Yeah, they said that Jesus was that long-awaited leader who would restore the world.
And so his earliest followers called “Apostles,” they compose new literary works about the story of Jesus,
(they called these “good news,” or “the Gospel”), they formed an account, called “Acts,”
about the spread of the Jesus Movement outside of Israel,
and then they circulated letters to different Jesus communities all around the ancient world.
And they saw these writings as part of the scripture.
Yeah, the Apostles wrote all of this is fulfillment of that epic story found in the Tanakh.
And they were continuing the literary genius of the Jewish tradition.
They also believed that God was speaking to His people through
these texts, alongside the scriptures of Israel.
So that’s the Old & New Testament,
but what did the early Christians think of the other Second Temple literature?
Well different groups had different views about some of these books.
But we know they read them and
valued these texts, because they pass
them along with the Jewish Scriptures.
Okay, so we’ve got the Tanakh, (the Jewish scriptures),
we got these other Second Temple period works,
then the writing of the Apostles about Jesus.
And that’s a lot of literature… so what’s in my Bible?
So the Christian movement has taken different forms over 2,000 years, and from the beginning,
all Christians recognized the Tanakh and the New Testament as scripture.
And for centuries, much of the Second Temple literature was read that part of the biblical tradition.
The Catholic Church eventually made it official,
and called some of the books from this collection the “deuterocanonical books.”
Some Orthodox churches used even more books from the Second Temple literature,
and then in the 1500’s, during the Reformation,
Protestant Christians wanted to go back to the oldest writings of the prophets and Apostles,
so they accepted only the Old & New Testaments.
Okay. I think I got it.
But… how does a collection of books produced over a thousand years,
by all these different authors, tell one unified story?
Yeah, that’s the question we’ll address in our next video.
Hey I’m Jon, and I’m Tim!
This is The Bible Project, we believe the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus,
and has profound wisdom for the modern world.
So we’re creating videos to show that!
This was the first in a brand new series, that we’re starting,
“How to Read the Bible,”
But we have lots of other kinds of videos.
And you can find it all for free on our website, at jointhebibleproject.com.
In fact, there you can find a handout that will accompany this video; just goes into more detail
on the information that is video is about,
and… lots of other resources. So check it out,
and you can also be a part of this by supporting us at thebibleproject.com.
Our goal is to make all these resources available for free, to anybody, anywhere,