Here’s something I wrote on my previous blog. Thought I would share on here. This is an attempt to see covenant through a trinitarian lens. I present this as one side of the diamond, and welcome your thoughts and feedback.
Trinity is the word theologians have used to express the “threeness” of the one God, that God is one God and that he is three persons. These three persons are the Father, Son, and Spirit. Each of these persons are distinct from one another; they relate to one another. It is precisely their distinction and relationship to one another as separate persons that brings the unity of the one God.
The implication of this doctrine that sets the Christian God infinitely apart from the gods of false religion is that God, when he exists apart from anything that he has created, is in his essence a loving Father. A father is only a father if he has a son. So if the Son of God was not fully God and did not exist with God the Father eternally, the Father would not be the Father; he would depend on a thing which he created to be who he is most essentially, viz., the Father, and this ruins his self-sufficiency.
Likewise, if the Father and Son ever existed apart from the Holy Spirit of love, some standard outside of these two persons (outside of God himself) would determine their essence. In other words, they would be loving only because they conform to a standard or law of love which exists outside of their relationship. God himself would not be who he is in and of himself; he must look to and depend on something that exists outside of himself to be God. Once again, this ruins his self-sufficiency.
But the standard or law which declares that the relationship between Father and Son is holy, loving, and good is God himself, yet he is a person distinct from the two; he is the Holy Spirit of Love. So God is completely self-sufficient in the relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit. He is a loving Father in his very essence as he exists in and of himself apart from what he has created, apart from anything that exists outside of himself. There was a time, in fact, when he did exist apart from everything else, and Christ declares that then the Father loved him, and that it was glorious (John 17:24).
In this way Jesus is the Truth. The Truth is that God is a loving Father. Jesus is the Truth because he is the Beloved Son. When Jesus is revealed, the world sees that God indeed has a Son and that this Son is loved by the Father. The Gospel writers make this central to the revelation of Jesus: “This is my Beloved Son; listen to him.”
Jesus is what is true about this universe, because Jesus is what is true about God; God is the fountain from which reality proceeds; he is the Creator; he is the loving Father from whom all things good and beautiful shine forth (James 1:17).
What is real about life is therefore a person, namely, the Eternal Son of God. Jesus is the Truth. Truth is a person. Knowing Jesus is knowing what is true and real about life, because knowing Jesus is knowing that God is a loving Father; and this is the essence of God himself.
“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; [the covenant witnesses from Deut 4:26]
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.” (Is 1:2)
Israel is often rebuked as the Son of God (Deut 32:6; Hos 11:1; Mal 2:10). Their failure in the covenant is not merely a failure of walking through “do”s and “dont”s. Their failure is a relational failure involving their identity as the Son of God. In fact, the Israelites often do walk through the tasks and ceremonies of the law, and still Yahweh rebukes them strongly in their failure to live as his sons and daughters; he rebukes them because this law has become a wearisome task for them (e.g. Isaiah 1).
Hosea mentions that Israel, like Adam, transgressed the covenant. This means the moral failure to live under the Mosaic law is precisely the same failure which Adam had made in the garden. There are certainly several concrete covenants between specific individuals (e.g. Noah, Abraham, David, Solomon, etc.) and between the nation of Israel, but these are to be understood theologically as demonstrative of God’s relationship with every human being. That is why Hosea can speak theologically and say that Adam transgressed the covenant (even though the word “barit” is not used in Genesis 1-3). The covenant is this special relationship between God the Father and humanity, his sons and daughters. All humanity is called to live in his grace and goodness, yet humanity looks inward, away from God their Father, and throws away his love in their pride. All humanity is guilty of transgressing this covenant, because all humanity are created as the sons and daughters of God, their fundamental essence.
We speak theologically of the covenant like we speak theologically of idolatry (and New Testament writers did this too). As there are several concrete instances in “salvation history” where God makes a covenant between himself and humanity, so there are concrete instances of humanity literal bowing down and worshiping idols. But these concrete instances are demonstrative of something theologically true about humanity, viz., covenant and idolatry. The covenant between these individuals reveals something pervasively true about humanity, namely, covenant; between God the Father and every human being who has ever existed there is in a real sense a covenant: if they live in faith and obedience and look to their sovereign, gracious Father for their identity and worth they will experience infinite blessing. He will follow through faithfully. If they reject the grace of the Father and build their identity and worth in their pride and selfish ambition (Gen 11:1-9) they will experience the infinite wrath of God. They will be lost forever in outer darkness, since there is no alternative human reality to the love of the Father as revealed in Jesus. Covenant is pervasive. Covenant is a trinitarian reality. It is the relationship between God and humanity which reveals God to be a Father.
All humanity has rejected their Father. The biblical text consists of zooming in on specific groups of people who one after another fail to live as sons and daughters of God.
In a very real sense, the New Covenant is precisely the same as the Old Covenant. What is different about the New Covenant is that the divine Son of God has become a human being. God, instead of wiping out humanity who lives in this covenant with him, has sent his Son to become a human being and live as the Son of God. Since the meaning of the universe culminates in humanity living as the sons and daughters of God, the Incarnation of the Son of God to make this a reality must not be overlooked.
The relationship of God and humanity is a covenant relationship between the Father and his children. The new covenant is only new in the sense that God himself has become a human being and upheld man’s obligation in the covenant. This is what Jesus means when he says he did not come to abolition the law, but to fulfill it.
1 John 2:7-9 is even more precise:
“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.”
Human beings are called into the life of God through union with Jesus. God is the infinite Love between the Father and Son. Jesus prays, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
Creation and history tell the story of sinful, treacherous humanity being brought back into the eternal joy of their Father through union with the Son; it is the story of the covenant Love of a Father for his children.