B. God’s Self-revelation Through His Covenant With Man
Man was created free but not autonomous. Man was not created to be law unto himself but subject to God’s law. Otherwise, God will no longer be the Sovereign of the entire universe.
The Bible teaches that the Sovereign Creator God, after He issued man’s two-fold mandate, entered into a covenant with man, whereby He said to him: You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die (Genesis 2:16-17). So man was free to fulfill his God-given purpose and enjoy the fruit of his labor and God’s blessings and live forever for as long as he believes in God’s word.
A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. With regards to the covenant made by God with man, covenant denotes a gracious and just undertaking entered into by God by which He again binds Himself to His word. It is a covenant divinely imposed on man by the Sovereign God. It was made solely for the benefit of man that God may be glorified.
There are always four parts to a covenant. Between God and man the different parts are: 1) The parties involved are God and man. 2) The term of the agreement, in all its different expressions, simply requires man to put his faith in God’s word. 3) The benefit and the penalty involved in the keeping or breaking of the said agreement are likewise simple: Believe God’s word, receive and enjoy all His blessings, and live forever or disregard God’s word and die. 4) For a seal, God used the tree of life which He planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden together with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God knew, of course, that when He gave the commandment of not to eat from the forbidden tree He bound Himself to either continue blessing man or carry out the death penalty depending on man’s response. Anytime God issues a command He binds Himself to the carrying out of its consequences. Man had the choice of either heeding or disregarding God’s warning. But whatever choice man makes, God will certainly be glorified either through the provision of grace or the prosecution of justice.
The questions begging to be asked are these: God already knew that man will fail to keep His commandment, why then would He still let it happen? Why couldn’t God just bless the man? Why let him fall and suffer? When we are confronted with questions like these, let us not forget that although God is omniscient (knowing all that can be known) and eternal (not subject to time), it is for our sake that God also dwells within the boundaries of time (and space for that matter) as part of His progressive self-revelation that those who love God may be proven to be the kind of beings that He has intended for them to be. People who will continue to trust God though His actions be beyond their finite understanding. It is when God remains mysterious that we are given the opportunity to put our hope in the Transcendent God that He is; that we are given the opportunity to please Him with our faith (see Hebrews 11:6).
So, what have I been saying?
1. What does it mean to reveal in a progressive way?
2. How did God reveal Himself in general and particular ways? Please elaborate.
3. What are some of nature’s fixed laws?
4. From what have been discussed so far, what kind of being did God reveal Himself to be?
5. What is man’s God-given mandate?
6. How is Christ’s great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 compatible with God’s original mandate to man?
7. What can you say about someone who says, “There is no God?” Why? Check out Psalms 53:1.
8. Is there a need to argue for the existence of God? Why?
9. Why did God allow the fall of man?