Covenant and Kingdom foundations
Our bible reading plan (encounterbc.org) starts the year with Genesis and Matthew. As we start at the beginning of the Old and New Testaments, it is worthwhile remembering there are two major themes in the bible - Covenant and Kingdom.
A Covenant is a binding agreement between people, like a marriage, much stronger than a mere contract. God relates to humans in a Covenant. This solid relationship defines our identity as God’s children, and it is out of this relationship that we obey God. Obedience that doesn’t flow from our relationship becomes legalism. Covenant relates to who we are: human ‘beings’!
Human kingdoms can be thought of as covering a physical area or over a group of people that may be dispersed. In either case the kingdom is where what the king wants to happen, happens. It is the same with God, God’s Kingdom is where what God wants done is done. As we submit to the God as King, we come under His authority and he gives us power to exercise our responsibilities as subjects of His Kingdom. Kingdom relates to what we do: human ‘doings’!
The creation accounts in Genesis 1-3 contain both of these themes identity/relationship and rule/responsibility. These two themes are then explored in great detail in the two largest stories in Genesis (by number of chapters) - Abraham and Joseph.
It is also interesting to note that both Covenant and Kingdom are referenced in the first verse of Matthew: 'This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David (the main King in the Old Testament), the son of Abraham (with whom God made a covenant to bless all people)'.
The genealogy of Jesus in the remainder of Chapter one is then framed around Covenant and Kingdom in history:
from Abraham with whom God made a Covenant,
to David the pre-eminent king in the Old Testament,
to the exile where Israel lost its Kingdom because they were unfaithful to God's Covenant,
to Jesus who restores relationship through a new Covenant of forgiveness and invites people to live in the Kingdom of God.