“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.”—HEB. 11:1.
1, 2. What will strengthen our conviction that the Kingdom will accomplish God’s purpose for mankind, and why? (See opening image.)
AS Jehovah’s Witnesses, we often say that God’s Kingdom is the only solution to all our problems, and we eagerly direct people’s attention to this vital Scriptural truth. We also find great comfort in the hope that the Kingdom provides us. How strong, though, is our conviction that the Kingdom is a reality that will accomplish its intended purpose? What basis is there for us to have unshakable faith in the Kingdom?—Heb. 11:1.
2 The Messianic Kingdom is an arrangement established by the Almighty himself to accomplish his purpose regarding his creation. The Kingdom is based on an unshakable foundation—Jehovah’s absolute right to rule. Important aspects of the Kingdom—its king, his corulers, the domain of their rule—have all been legally established by means of covenants, that is, by legal contracts or arrangements in which one of the binding parties is either God or his Son, Jesus Christ. Reflecting on these covenants will enhance our understanding of how God’s purpose is sure to become a reality and will help us to see how stable this arrangement is.—Read Ephesians 2:12.
3. What will we examine in this article and in the one that follows?
3 The Bible refers to six primary covenants that relate to the Messianic Kingdom in the hands of 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 relates to the Kingdom and advances the outworking of God’s purpose for the earth and for mankind.—See the chart “How God Will Accomplish His Purpose.”
A PROMISE REVEALS HOW GOD’S PURPOSE WILL BE FULFILLED
4. As stated in Genesis, what decrees did Jehovah issue regarding humans?
4 After preparing our beautiful planet for human habitation, Jehovah issued three decrees regarding humans: Our God would create mankind in his image, humans were to expand Paradise globally and fill the earth with righteous offspring, and humans were prohibited from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Gen. 1:26, 28; 2:16, 17) There was no need for anything more. After the creation of man, adherence to the other two decrees was all that was necessary to have God’s purpose fulfilled. How, then, did the need for covenants arise?
5, 6. (a) How did Satan try to thwart God’s purpose? (b) How did Jehovah respond to Satan’s challenge in Eden?
5 In a villainous attempt to thwart God’s purpose, Satan the Devil instigated a rebellion. He did so by focusing his attention on the decree he could most easily influence—the one that required obedience on the part of man. He tempted the first woman, Eve, to disobey the prohibition regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. (Gen. 3:1-5; Rev. 12:9) In doing so, Satan challenged God’s right to rule over His creation. Later, Satan also imputed selfish motives to God’s loyal servants.—Job 1:9-11; 2:4, 5.
6 How would Jehovah respond to Satan’s challenge in Eden? Destroying the rebels would, indeed, bring an end to their rebellion. But it would also mean that God’s expressed purpose to have the earth filled with obedient descendants of Adam and Eve would go unfulfilled. Rather than executing the rebels right then and there, the wise Creator responded with a profound prophecy—the Edenic promise—to ensure that every detail of his word would come true.—Read Genesis 3:15.
7. What assurance does the Edenic promise give us about the serpent and its offspring?
7 By means of the Edenic promise, Jehovah passed judgment on the serpent and its offspring representing Satan the Devil and all those who would take his side on the issue of God’s right to rule. The true God gave to the offspring of his heavenly woman the authority to destroy Satan. Thus, the Edenic promise not only emphasized that the instigator of the rebellion in the garden of Eden and all ill effects of his action would be done away with but also identifies the means by which this would take place.
8. What can be said about the identity of the woman and her offspring?
8 Who would the woman’s offspring prove to be? Since the offspring is to crush the serpent’s head, that is, “bring to nothing” the spirit creature Satan the Devil, the offspring would have to be a spirit person. (Heb. 2:14) Therefore, the woman giving birth to the offspring would also be of a spiritual nature. While the offspring of the serpent proliferated, the identity of the offspring and the woman remained a mystery for almost 4,000 years after Jehovah gave the Edenic promise. Meanwhile, Jehovah made several covenants that identify the offspring and assure His servants that the offspring would be the means by which God would undo the disaster that Satan had brought on the human family.
A COVENANT IDENTIFIES THE OFFSPRING
9. What is the Abrahamic covenant, and when did it go into effect?
9 Some two millenniums after passing sentence on Satan, Jehovah commanded the patriarch Abraham to leave his home in Ur in Mesopotamia and go to the land of Canaan. (Acts 7:2, 3) Jehovah said to 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.” (Gen. 12:1-3) This is the earliest recorded account of the Abrahamic covenant—the covenant that Jehovah God made with Abraham. Exactly when it was that Jehovah first made the covenant with Abraham is not known. However, it went into effect in 1943 B.C.E., when 75-year-old Abraham left Haran and crossed the Euphrates River.
10. (a) How did Abraham demonstrate unshakable faith in God’s promises? (b) What details did Jehovah gradually reveal about the offspring of the woman?
10 Jehovah restated his promise to Abraham a number of times, adding further details. (Gen. 13:15-17; 17:1-8, 16) And when Abraham demonstrated unshakable faith in God’s promises by showing willingness to offer up his only son, Jehovah reinforced the covenant with an unconditional promise. (Read Genesis 22:15-18; Hebrews 11:17, 18.) After the Abrahamic covenant went into effect, Jehovah gradually revealed important details about the offspring of the woman. The offspring would descend from Abraham, would be many in number, would have a kingly function, would destroy all enemies, and would be a blessing for many others.
11, 12. How do the Scriptures show that the Abrahamic covenant has a greater fulfillment, and what does that mean for us?
11 While the Abrahamic covenant had a literal fulfillment for the descendants of Abraham when they inherited the Promised Land, the Scriptures show that the terms of that covenant also have a spiritual fulfillment. (Gal. 4:22-25) In this greater fulfillment, as the apostle Paul explained under inspiration, the primary part of the offspring of Abraham is Christ and the secondary part refers to the 144,000 spirit-anointed Christians. (Gal. 3:16, 29; Rev. 5:9, 10; 14:1, 4) The woman producing the offspring is none other than “the Jerusalem above”—the heavenly part of God’s organization, made up of loyal spirit creatures. (Gal. 4:26, 31) As the Abrahamic covenant promised, the offspring of the woman would bring blessings to mankind.
12 The Abrahamic covenant points to the King and to his corulers in God’s Kingdom, and it forms the legal foundation of the Kingdom of the heavens. (Heb. 6:13-18) How long will this covenant stay in effect? It is “an everlasting covenant,” states Genesis 17:7. It remains in effect until the Messianic Kingdom destroys God’s enemies and all the families of the earth have been blessed. (1 Cor. 15:23-26) In fact, those who will then live on earth will benefit in an everlasting way. God’s covenant with Abraham shows that Jehovah is determined to fulfill his purpose that righteous humans “fill the earth”!—Gen. 1:28.
A COVENANT TO ENSURE THAT THE KINGDOM WILL LAST
13, 14. What does the Davidic covenant guarantee regarding the Messiah’s rule?
13 The Edenic promise and the Abrahamic covenant establish the vital point that Jehovah’s sovereignty as expressed through the Messianic Kingdom is solidly based on God’s righteous standards. (Ps. 89:14) Will the Messianic government ever become corrupt and therefore have to be eliminated? Another legal covenant guarantees that this will never happen.
14 Consider what Jehovah promised King David of ancient Israel by means of the Davidic covenant. (Read 2 Samuel 7:12, 16.) Jehovah made this covenant with David during David’s reign in Jerusalem, promising him that the Messiah would be his descendant. (Luke 1:30-33) Thus, Jehovah further narrowed the line of descent of the offspring and established that an heir of David would have “the legal right” to the throne of the Messianic Kingdom. (Ezek. 21:25-27) Through Jesus, David’s kingship “will be firmly established forever.” Indeed, David’s offspring “will endure forever; his throne will endure like the sun.” (Ps. 89:34-37) Yes, the Messiah’s rule will never become corrupt, and its accomplishments will last forever!
A COVENANT FILLS THE NEED FOR A PRIESTLY FUNCTION
15-17. According to the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek, in what additional capacity would the offspring serve, and why?
15 While the Abrahamic covenant and the Davidic covenant make it certain that the offspring of the woman would have a kingly function, that role alone would not suffice to bring blessings to people of all nations. For them to be truly blessed, they would have to be freed from their sinful state and brought into Jehovah’s universal family. To accomplish this requires that the offspring also serve in a priestly capacity. The wise Creator provided for this by means of another legal arrangement, the covenant for a priest like Melchizedek.
16 Jehovah revealed through King David that He would make a personal covenant with Jesus with a twofold objective: to have him “sit at [God’s] right hand” until he subdues his enemies and to be “a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.” (Read Psalm 110:1, 2, 4.) Why “in the manner of Melchizedek”? Because long before any descendants of Abraham inherited the Promised Land, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, served as “priest of the Most High God.” (Heb. 7:1-3) He was directly appointed by Jehovah to do so. He is the only one mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures who served as both a king and a priest. Moreover, since he was without a recorded predecessor or successor, he can be called “a priest for all time,” or forever.
17 Jesus is directly appointed to be a priest by means of this personal covenant that Jehovah made with him, and he will remain “a priest forever in the manner of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 5:4-6) This clearly shows that Jehovah has legally bound himself to use the Messianic Kingdom to accomplish his original purpose concerning humans on earth.
COVENANTS FORM A LEGAL BASIS FOR THE KINGDOM
18, 19. (a) What do the covenants we have discussed so far show about the Kingdom? (b) What question remains?
18 As we look at the covenants we have considered, we can see how they relate to the Messianic Kingdom and how the Kingdom arrangement is solidly based on legal contracts. The Edenic promise binds Jehovah to fulfill his purpose regarding the earth and mankind by means of the offspring of the woman. Who would the offspring be, and in what capacity would that offspring serve? The Abrahamic covenant provides the framework for all of this.
19 The Davidic covenant further narrows the line of descent of the primary part of the offspring and gives him the right to rule over the earth so that the accomplishments of the Kingdom will be everlasting. The covenant for a priest like Melchizedek becomes the basis for the offspring to serve in a priestly capacity. Jesus will not be alone in raising mankind to perfection, however. Others are also anointed to serve as kings and priests. Where would they come from? That will be discussed in the following article.
THE WATCHTOWER—STUDY EDITION