The legal stipulations of the Mosaic covenant express and apply God’s eternal moral law for humanity to the specific context of old covenant Israel. While many of its individual laws are no longer in force since the coming of Jesus, the moral law as given in the Ten Commandments and fulfilled in love of God and neighbor remains in place (Ex. 20; Rom. 13:8–10). The Mosaic covenant is found particularly in Exodus 19–24 and the book of Deuteronomy, which elaborates the history, terms, blessings, and cursings of the Mosaic covenant in a form similar to other ancient covenants.
The Davidic covenant. The Davidic covenant, given in 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, and Psalm 89, identifies the one family descended from Abraham in whom God would accomplish all the promises to His people. God chose David to hold the kingship over Israel permanently. As the king of Israel represented his people in a manner similar to how Adam represented his descendants, David and his family were selected to be the covenant keepers par excellence and to lead the people of God in faith and obedience. David’s faith and obedience would bless the nation, but his unbelief and disobedience would curse the nation. As we see in the books of Kings and Chronicles, when the Davidic king trusted God and obeyed Him, great blessing followed for the entire nation. When he was faithless and disobeyed, disaster ensued, culminating in the exile to Babylon.
In the royal Davidic covenant, God promised David an everlasting throne and a son to build Him a temple. Later prophets revealed that the Lord would exalt David over the nations of the earth. In so doing, He would also exalt Israel—the people of God—to rule and reign over the world (Ps. 2; Isa. 11; Mic. 4:1–5). However, God also promised that He would not leave David and his sons undisciplined when they committed gross sin. Ultimately, David’s family would give rise to one Son of David in particular who would atone for the sins of David’s line and, indeed, for all of God’s people (Isa. 53).
The new covenant. All the other covenants under the covenant of grace and, indeed, the covenant of grace itself are fulfilled in the new covenant made by God in Christ with His people. The new covenant is announced in Jeremiah 31:31–34; inaugurated in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ; continued in the ministry of the church; and consummated at the return of Jesus (Luke 22:20; Heb. 8; 9:15, 27–28).
The new covenant began in the first coming of Christ, but the fullness of its blessings will not arrive until Jesus returns. All the earlier covenants point forward to the new covenant, and Jesus in various ways fulfills the promises and goals of these covenants between God and His people. Here are some highlights of this fulfillment.
Covenant of works: Jesus obeys God perfectly, succeeding where Adam failed and securing the perfect righteousness that enables us to stand before God unafraid (Rom. 5:12–21; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Covenant of grace: God is gracious to us in Christ because He fulfilled the covenant of works and atoned for our sin (John 1:14–18; Rom. 1:1–7).
Noahic covenant: The work of Jesus removes the curse of sin and will remove its presence, leading finally to a new heaven and earth that will continue forever (Rom. 8:18–25; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21).
Abrahamic covenant: Jesus is the Seed of Abraham in whom the world is blessed, and those who trust in Him are also Abraham’s children who receive the promise of land (the whole earth), a great name (the name of Christ), and a multitude of fellow divine servants (Gal. 3; Rev. 3:12; 7:9–17).
Mosaic covenant: Jesus is the final exodus from sin foreshadowed in the exodus from Egypt, the perfect expositor of God’s law, and the effectual sacrifice (Matt. 5:17–48; Rom. 3:21–26; Heb. 10:1–18).
Davidic covenant: Jesus is the Son of David who builds the temple of God by uniting us to one another as a spiritual house, and He is the promised King who governs us righteously forever, mediating between us and the Father (Luke 1:26–80; Heb. 3:1–6; 1 Peter 2:2–8).
Covenant Theology Today
I began this article by noting that covenant theology helps us understand what to do with the Old Testament. In affirming covenant theology, we see the glorious structure of God’s plan of salvation and learn that we can never unhitch the Old Testament from our faith.