The Covenant of Works in Isaiah 24

I used to think that Hosea 6:7 was the clearest passage outside of Genesis 2-3 describing the covenant of works as a covenant (hereafter CoW). However, I no longer think that is the case. Isaiah 24 now takes pride of place. For one thing, although I believe Warfield’s arguments on Hosea 6:7 are correct, it is still a disputed passage with more than one possible interpretation. I do not believe there is nearly as much wiggle room in Isaiah 24.

The key verse here is verse 5: “The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant” (ESV). The question is simple: what is the identity of the בְּרִית עוֹלָם, the “eternal covenant”? Well, it cannot be the Abrahamic covenant, or the Mosaic covenant, since the scope of the people involved goes well beyond Israel. This is proven in the context by the repeated references to the earth in verses 1-4, capped by a reference to the תֵּבֵל (world). The use of this term in 1 Samuel 2:8 certainly points in a universalizing direction. While one could argue that the nations are involved somewhat in the Abrahamic (“all the nations of the world will be blessed through you”), this does not make the nations of the world direct parties to the Abrahamic covenant.

The only other universal covenant in the OT besides the CoW is the Noahic covenant. However, this possibility is ruled out by the presence of sanctions in verses 2 and especially 6. There are no sanctions in the Noahic covenant whatsoever. The only other possible reference, then, is to the Adamic situation. This has some very important ramifications.

Firstly, John Murray’s misgivings about the terminology of the CoW can now be put finally to rest. The Adamic administration is a covenant. Period. If it isn’t already clear in Hosea 6:7, it is now abundantly clear in Isaiah 24. Secondly, just because Adam and Eve broke the CoW doesn’t mean that the CoW is now somehow defunct. Surely, this is explicit in the use of עוֹלָם to describe the covenant: it is eternal. The sanctions are still being applied, and the nations are still violating the CoW. Thirdly, the CoW cannot be purely a covenant of grace if the sanctions fall on the earth because of the violations (and this is the implication of the move from verse 5 to verse 6). Obedience -> blessing; disobedience -> cursing. This is the very structure of the CoW. Fourthly, the terms of the CoW are here obviously so much more than refraining from eating an apple. The nations are not punished here for eating an apple. It is assumed that the basis for a just society on earth is tightly related to the terms of the CoW. This might relieve the misgivings of those who claim that Adam and Eve got more punishment than they deserved. For Adam and Eve had far more sin going on than merely eating a forbidden fruit.

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107 Comments

  1. Steven Hawk said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:13 am

    Yes, the Adamic covenant is still being sanctioned. The question is, how?

    http://thechristianmythbusterseries.com/950-2/

  2. March 3, 2018 at 10:18 am

    […] via The Covenant of Works in Isaiah 24 — Green Baggins […]

  3. Ron said,

    March 3, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Firstly, John Murray’s misgivings about the terminology of the CoW can now be put finally to rest. The Adamic administration is a covenant.

    Lane,

    I imagine Murray to have rejected a “works principle” and in so doing he rejected a CoW. Whether he rejected, or would have rejected, any covenant construct as relating to the Adamic administration is, I think, another matter. In other words, mightn’t one recognize the covenant principles of the first administration (e.g. mutual binding compact; promise; conditions; sanctions…) and although deny a works principle, still consider the exact same administration in covenant terms (just not as a works covenant)? Maybe as covenant of life, for instance?

    In a word, that the Adamic administration is indeed a covenant would not seem to establish that it is best called a covenant of works. I suppose the main reason being, there are different types of merit that the word “works” does not define for us.

    All that to say, I don’t think that by establishing prefall covenant terms that we can thereby dismiss Murray’s theology on the matter.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    March 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

    I know that Rick Phillips’s estimate of Murray’s theology (which, on this point, is actually rather disputed) is that Murray objected to the term, but not the substance of the CoW. That is my understanding as well. I was only addressing his concern about the term in the OP. To be specific, I am after one thing in the OP: was the Adamic situation a covenant or not? Isaiah 24 proves pretty clearly that it was.

  5. roberty bob said,

    March 3, 2018 at 11:26 am

    Well, we do know that God’s covenant with Abraham is an everlasting covenant [Genesis 17]; we know that for the returning exiles of Israel God promised to make an everlasting covenant [Jeremiah 32]; we also know that the atoning blood of our crucified and risen Lord, Jesus Christ, is the blood of the eternal covenant [Hebrews 13]. Interestingly, when Moses confirms the Law covenant with the new generation of Israel poised to enter the Promised Land, there is a “for all time” [Deuteronomy 4] and a “forever” [Deuteronomy 5] prospect in that covenant. Moreover, the sanctions you mention — obedience > blessing, disobedience > cursing — are specific to the Mosaic covenant, especially the confirming of it in Deuteronomy.

    I know of no biblical reference to the so-called Covenant of Works which declares it to be God’s everlasting covenant, and that also proclaims the sanctions, in the way that the Sinai covenant does.

    Yet, you have ruled out the Abraham covenant and the Sinai covenant being in the mind of Isaiah 24.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    March 3, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Bob, the people in view as parties to the covenant are explicitly NOT limited to Israel. Therefore, Abrahamic and Sinai covenants are ruled out. There are only two places in Scripture that I know of where the CoW is even referred to as a covenant. One of them is here, and the other is Hosea 6:7, which, as mentioned, is disputed. This means that there aren’t a lot of opportunities to begin with to call the CoW an eternal covenant. But that would hardly be an argument against my reading of Isaiah 24.

  7. reiterations said,

    March 3, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    It’s hard to believe that anyone would think that Adam and Eve “got more punishment than they deserved” since Adam was a public person acting in a federal capacity and not merely sinning for himself, so to speak.

  8. roberty bob said,

    March 3, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    I am curious, greenbaggins, about the laws and statues also being broken along with the breaking of the eternal covenant. In your own mind you have ruled out the Noahic, Abrahamic, and Mosaic covenants so that the Adamic covenant stands alone as the everlasting covenant. Isaiah, however, speaks of judgment coming upon transgressors of the laws and violators of the statutes — the same persons also being breakers of the everlasting covenant. I did not know that God’s covenant with Adam contains laws and statutes. Does it?

    Highly reputed covenant scholars from the Reformation on through to today are all over the map on properly identifying the everlasting covenant. Some vote for Noah, some for Abraham, some for Moses, some for Abraham-Moses-David-Jesus. Yes, and some opt for Adam.

    Some also translate the Earth as the Land [Promised Land], and the city of chaos as Jerusalem. God’s covenant judgment upon Israel / Judah will spill over onto rebellious kings and nations. So they say.

  9. March 4, 2018 at 7:07 am

    stimulating thoughts, thanks brother! Do you know how EJ Young takes that passage? I’ve never studied it out before.

  10. March 4, 2018 at 8:24 am

    RE #6: Lane, you said, “Bob, the people in view as parties to the covenant are explicitly NOT limited to Israel. Therefore, Abrahamic and Sinai covenants are ruled out.”

    Our Standards state otherwise as both Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants are administrations of the CoG coming to full fruition under the NC, there are applications to peoples who are not just Jews. Galatians 3, Ezekiel 37, and Romans 2-4 are some examples of this.

    Further, you’ll have to deal with Poole, Gill, Henry on this verse (and/or chapter) as well. I think they all state take different views.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    March 4, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Bob, Reformed theology has always held that the substance of the moral law was given to Adam as part of the terms of the CoW. This comes by way of good and necessary consequence rather than explicit attestation (although I would say that Isaiah 24 actually comes pretty close to explicit). The reason for this is that Romans 1-2 speak of the image of God in terms of the law written on the human heart. This must also have been true of Adam in the garden.

    Jim, E.J. Young understands the eternal covenant to be the Noahic, and refers the statutes and ordinances to the laws that are written on the human heart (he brings in Romans 1-2 in the discussion: see volume 2 of the commentary, pp. 156-157). However, just a little later, he acknowledges that the laws were given to Adam (p. 158). He ends this discussion with an intriguing comment: “It would seem, therefore, that insofar as they have perverted the meaning of life, they have frustrated the covenant that God made with man in order to set forth this truth.” Which covenant is he talking about now? It is not clear. He doesn’t really answer the question he himself raises about how the Noahic covenant could be broken. Nor does he explain how the statutes and ordinances that are broken are related to the Noahic covenant. Instead, he acknowledges that the ordinances etc., come from Mosaic covenant language. Young is therefore a bit confused, as I read him.

    Andrew, the applications to the Gentiles of those covenants are primarily in the NT. There are hints in the OT. But there is no indication that the Abrahamic and Sinaitic covenants have the nations as a party to those covenants in the OT time. God chose Israel out of all the nations. That kind of language is all over Deuteronomy. I think you are confusing a later time in redemptive history with an earlier one. That there were implications for the nations in the Abrahamic and Sinaitic is one thing. To say that they were actually parties in the covenant is something else. I do not believe our standards say the latter. They say the former.

  12. Phil Derksen said,

    March 4, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Couldn’t help but think of this post during our Sunday School class today, in which we are starting to go through the book of Amos. It was observed that the structure and content of the whole book is a premier example of a Suzerain-vassal covenant lawsuit. Notably, Amos begins by indicting Israel’s neighbors, wherein the central offenses are primarily laid out in moral terms. In 2:1 the Moabites are simply cited for a sin of extreme disrespect against the Edomites, not even something committed against Israel. All this seems suggestive of God punishing even the heathen for not ‘loving their neighbor as themselves’ within an overall context of covenant breaking – which can’t help but bring Romans 1-2 to mind. I’m certainly not saying any of this is sufficient grounds on which to decide the doctrinal issue in question, but I think it offers a measure of corroboration to what Lane is proposing.

  13. roberty bob said,

    March 4, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    OK. I agree with the Apostle Paul in Romans 2 that the requirements of God’s [moral] law are written upon all human hearts, each human’s conscience bearing witness to that fact. Also, I agree that God made a covenant with Adam — you say “of works” while I say “of life” — as it is abundantly clear that Adam was ordained as the covenant head of all humanity: As in Adam all [persons] . . . .

    Even so, I am not yet convinced that Isaiah’s mention of disobeyed laws, violated statues, and the broken everlasting covenant leads us all the way back to God’s covenant with Adam. The reason I am not convinced is that I take the defilement of the earth and the curse put upon it as a reference to The Land. Isaiah, I take it, is prophetic about the the soon to occur exile which will result in The Promised Land being laid waste and totally plundered with its inhabitants burned up, so to speak, and the City left in ruins. On into chapters 25 and 26 Isaiah is prophetic about the City being rebuilt into the Great City of God, and a feast — a Lord’s Supper ! — grand enough to serve all the nations.

    The Reformed corner in which I have lived all of my life reads Isaiah’s everlasting covenant as the Abraham one, or Abraham / Moses together.

  14. March 4, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    RE 11: Lane, I understand what you are saying, but I don’t think it is completely in the NT. You didn’t say that of course. You said primarily, which would suggest that you acknowledge it isn’t merely in the NT. So we are back to the OT and proofs there in which you acknowledge there are some. There are gentiles of course under the Covenant of Grace during the OT administrations of it as I suggested. But maybe I’ll come at this from a different angle. Where is “everlasting covenant” found in the OT and in reference to what?

    Of course it is used with reference to the Noahic Covenant (Gn. 9:16), the Abrahamic (Gn. 17:7, 13, 19), Davidic (2 Sam 23:5), Abrahamic/Mosaic (1 Ch. 16:17, Ps. 105:10). Those coming from the Abrahamic/Mosaic/Davidic pointing to NC (Jer. 32:40; 50:5; Ez. 16:60 and 37:26). In Isaiah, 55:3 (Davidic –> NC) and 61:8 (seemingly pointing to aspects of the Abrahamic –> NC).

    All mentions of “everlasting covenant” [בְּרִית עוֹלָם] seem to have some reference to an administration of the covenant of grace, even in Isaiah. Though I admit in the 2nd half, not the first half of Isaiah like ch. 24. There are no Scriptures that describe the covenant of works with that language above of “everlasting covenant”.

    Your post intrigued me so I wondered what commentators said from the past. It seems Poole thought Is. 24:5 referred to the Abrahamic covenant. Henry states, “It is God’s wonderful condescension that he is pleased to deal with men in a covenant-way, to do them good, and thereby oblige them to do him service. Even those that had no benefit by God’s covenant with Abraham had benefit by his covenant with Noah and his sons, which is called an everlasting covenant, his covenant with day and night; but they observe not the precepts of the sons of Noah, they acknowledge not God’s goodness in the day and night, nor study to make him any grateful returns, and so break the everlasting covenant and defeat the gracious designs and intentions of it.” So not on the CoW side at least. Gill predictably said this referred to the NC.

    Calvin coming in before the ‘formal language use of covenant theology’ says, “He calls it “the covenant of eternity,” or “the everlasting covenant,” because it ought to be perpetual and inviolable, and to be in force in every age. It was to be transmitted, in uninterrupted succession, from father to son, that it might never be effaced from the memory of man, but might be kept pure and entire. He therefore represents in strong terms their treachery and wickedness, because they dared to violate that covenant which God had made with them, and to overthrow what the Lord intended to be firm and permanent. This was monstrous; and therefore we ought not to wonder that the earth takes vengeance for this wickedness, and refuses to give food to men.”

    All that to say, I am not convinced but will still be watching the post/comments.

  15. March 4, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I posted a long response, but apparently it didn’t post. It was basically wondering what you do with “everlasting covenant” when the use of that phrase in Scripture refers to the various administrations of the covenant of grace. Even the two others in the book of Isaiah.

  16. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Lane, might the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah support here? That is they were both nations outside the CoG stream. So what accounts for their judgment? Their subsequent paradigmatic use throughout the rest of Scripture would then support the notion that it is the CoW that is used as the standard for judging those outside of the CoG.

  17. Reed Here said,

    March 9, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Lane, wondering if you’ve thoughts on Andrew’s observations about “everlasting covenant”?

  18. greenbaggins said,

    March 9, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Andrew,

    Even if “berit olam” never referred to the CoW anywhere in the Bible, that would hardly be an obstacle. For one thing, the CoW is hardly ever referred to as a covenant of works. Hosea 6:7 is arguably about the CoW, but its focus is not on the longevity of the CoW, but on its transgression. In other words, we have WAY too small a sample size to say anything like, “Well, since ‘berit olam’ never refers to the CoW, it can’t mean that here.” I believe it actually makes good sense to refer to the CoW as being the “berit olam” here, since people are very much tempted to believe that the CoW is completely kaput.

    As to the parties of the CoG, hints and shadows are all we have of Gentile inclusion in the Old Testament. It is certainly not obvious how Gentiles participate, whereas Isaiah 24 speaks of Gentiles being party to the “berit olam” in an obvious recognized way, in a way they should have recognized even without special revelation. The CoW is the only covenant in Scripture that can fill this bill.

    Another argument against the Abrahamic being in view is the sense in which it is said to be broken. Laws and statutes are said to be violated, the consequence of which is that the curse consumes the EARTH. Even if the Abrahamic covenant were violated by God’s people, the consequences would be a cutting off from the people of God, not a curse on the whole earth (Is. 24:6). The consequences are way too vast to be accounted for on the Abrahamic covenant theory. No sanctions are ever even mentioned for Gentiles with regard to the Abrahamic covenant in the Old Testament. Plus, the only explicit way the Abrahamic could be violated is for a member of the covenant community to be uncircumcised. That just doesn’t fit with Isaiah 24 at all.

  19. roberty bob said,

    March 9, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I cannot help but wonder what judgment event Isaiah chapters 24-27 foretells. My careful reading of the entire passage persuades me that the prophet speaks of Israel’s exile, return, and restoration of Jerusalem. It is not the whole earth that is destroyed, but The Land [The Promised Land]. Furthermore, it is not all the nations of the earth that will encounter the Lord’s judgmental wrath, but specifically Israel / Judah, Moab, Assyria. Name others that are mentioned, if you can find them.

    You say, “the CoW is hardly ever referred to as a covenant of works” [#18]. I ask, so when is the CoW ever referred to as a covenant of works? I readily accept that all persons and nations born into the world are covenant-bound in Adam in such a way that the Lord God holds all persons and nations accountable for the laws written upon their hearts and consciences. You may call the Adam covenant the everlasting covenant if you please, but nowhere in Scripture do we find the label “everlasting covenant” put on it; that label is put upon the Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus covenants.

  20. rfwhite said,

    March 9, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Green Baggins — Found this quote from Meredith Kline in Kingdom Prologue, pp. 14-15. As he is writing about the appropriateness of applying the term berith to Gen 1-3, Kline remarks as follows:

    “Actually, it is possible that the Bible itself, in later references back to Genesis 1-3, applies the term berith to the situation there, just as 2 Samuel 23:5 and Psalm 89:3 refer to God’s covenantal revelation to David as a berith , though that term is not employed in the account of it in 2 Samuel 7. Isaiah 24:5 and Hosea 6:7 have been suggested as instances of this. Although the meaning of both passages is disputed, the everlasting covenant of Isaiah 24:5 definitely appears to refer to the creational arrangements and Hosea 6:7 probably refers to Adam as the breaker of a covenant. Also, comparison of Jeremiah 33:20, 25 and Jeremiah 31:35-37 suggests that the former applies the term berith to God’s ordering of the world of nature as described in Genesis 1, though the use of the term berith here possibly reflects the use of berith in Genesis 9 for the postdiluvian reestablishing of the order of nature according to the measure of common grace. Even though the Jeremianic reference would not be to the Genesis 1-3 arrangement precisely, it would nevertheless show that covenants may be found in historical narratives from which the term berith is absent.”

  21. roberty bob said,

    March 10, 2018 at 9:43 am

    “Well, it cannot be the Abraham covenant, or the Mosaic covenant, since the scope of the people involved goes well beyond Israel.” — GB

    Read Isaiah 24-27 and cite by name the peoples and nations under the wrath of God’s judgment.

    To me it looks like the judgment being foretold by Isaiah is the very one warned about by Moses in Leviticus 26 and in Deuteronomy 27-32. The Land is suffering because Jacob has transgressed the covenant law and violated the covenant statues. The prophet is foretelling the soon to come exile, and goes on to proclaim a post-exile message of restoration and resurrection for God’s covenant people. The blessings promised to Jacob will, by extension, reach all of the nations. If this isn’t the event of which he speaks, then what is it all about? Is it the final judgment at the end of the world surrounding Christ’s second coming, or what?

  22. greenbaggins said,

    March 10, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Bob, you are limiting the context too narrowly, in my opinion. Observe: chapters 13-14 are Babylon; chapters 15-16 are Moab; chapters 17-18 are Damascus; chapter 19 is Egypt; chapter 20 is Assyria; chapters 21-22 are more all embracing, speaking of the wilderness, and the valley of vision; chapter 23 is Tyre, and now, all of a sudden, you want to restrict “earth” in chapter 24 to Israel, after Isaiah has just finished talking about almost every major world power known to Israel except Philistia. The context heavily favors “earth” in 24:1 having the same connotation that it has in the immediately preceding context of 23:17’s “every kingdom on earth.” There is no reason to believe that “earth” has completely changed referent here. The scope is far larger than Israel.

  23. roberty bob said,

    March 10, 2018 at 11:02 am

    OK. I see your point. So, then, the translations [including Jewish ones] that translate the Earth as the Land, referring to the portion promised to Abraham [Egypt to the Euphrates] are misguided. Isaiah does not have in his prophetic view Israel’s exile [the Land having been polluted, about to be left barren, resting] and eventual return [which will be a great reunion, restoration, resurrection] in which the nations will also rejoice. Yes, I am curious to learn from you what event it is of which Isaiah speaks in chapters 24-27. Should Israel’s / Jacob’s transgressions and violations mentioned in the text be seen as the breaking of the Adamic covenant or the Mosaic covenant? How do you read it? I am only wondering, not being critical.

  24. greenbaggins said,

    March 10, 2018 at 11:29 am

    Bob, I do not see the sins listed in Isaiah 24-27 as belonging specifically to Israel/Judah. There does not seem to me to be a single instance of specifically Israelitish/Jewish sin mentioned in 24-27. The events seem to me to be of global significance. The sins mentioned seem to me to be the sins committed against the Adamic covenant, and so the remedy (eventually) has equal scope. Isaiah clearly sees the remedy as starting with God’s people, but then overflowing to the rest of the earth. This idea is present in 24:23, 25:6, 10, 26:1-2, and other passages. However, the remedy will be by no means limited to Israel. For instance, 25:8 as understood by John in Revelation refers to all God’s people. The definition of “his people” will have to undergo a transformation for that to happen. The suffering servant will do that. So the basic events of 24-27, as I see it, are a recounting of the nations’ sin, followed by the remedy, which starts with Israel (i.e., the suffering servant), and then flows to all the world. In short, it is a prophecy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  25. roberty bob said,

    March 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    “So he basic events of 24-27 . . . are a recounting of the nations’ [and Israel’s] sin, followed by the remedy, which starts with Israel [who is God’s suffering servant], and then flows to all the world. In short, it is a prophecy [and a proclamation!] of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Well, that’s how I would put it, too.

    The events of which Isaiah speaks occur, then, from the time of the exile until their fulfillment by the crucified, risen, and forever ruling Christ.

  26. greenbaggins said,

    March 10, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Bob, yes I think we’re pretty close. I should have probably made it clear, though that I do not equate the suffering servant with Israel, but with Christ. So, when I said “Israel [i.e., the suffering servant],” I actually meant Israel as represented by Jesus, who relived Israel’s story the way it should have been.

  27. roberty bob said,

    March 10, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Jesus is the true Israel. Jesus completed / fulfilled Israel’s calling.

  28. roberty bob said,

    March 11, 2018 at 7:16 am

    “Well, it cannot be the Abrahamic covenant . . . .” — GB

    If peoples / nations will be blessed for blessing Abraham and cursed for cursing Abraham, then how can you say that the peoples / nations are not parties in that covenant? The sanctions [blessings / curses] are applied to all peoples / nations. Peoples and nations who treat Abraham and his seed unjustly are in violation of the Abrahamic covenant, are they not?

    I ask these questions because I know that there are reputable Reformed scholars who believe that this is the everlasting covenant in the mind of Isaiah [chapter 24:5]. This is not to say that the Adamic covenant isn’t also an everlasting covenant; I agree with you that it is that. However, I am not sure that you have made your case that Isaiah could not have been speaking of the Abrahamic covenant, which is by all counts an everlasting one.

  29. greenbaggins said,

    March 11, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    Those particular “sanctions” you mention in the Abrahamic covenant (I think it is debatable whether they are sanctions) do not include anything concerning the cursing of the earth, whereas the earth is in explicit view in verses 5-6 as a thing distinct, though related to, the inhabitants. The sanctions of the Adamic covenant most definitely include the earth. This is conclusive, in my mind.

  30. rfwhite said,

    March 11, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    28 roberty bob: Help us out — are you saying that peoples/nations are defined as parties to the Abrahamic covenant because they are cursed by God? How are you defining party to the covenant?

  31. roberty bob said,

    March 11, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    It is clear to me that God’s covenant with Abraham includes a word to the world’s peoples and nations, namely, that they will be held to account for the way they behave toward Abraham’s offspring. God will bless those who bless [do good toward] Abraham, and God will curse those who curse [do evil toward] Abraham. There are consequences / sanctions. For example, God’s judgment against Babylon [Isaiah 13 and 14] comes because they have treated those in Abraham’s line of promise harshly. Check it out.

  32. roberty bob said,

    March 11, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    “The sanctions of the Adamic covenant most definitely include the earth.” — GB

    Yes, and so also do the sanctions of the Mosaic covenant include a curse upon the Land, as Deuteronomy 28 attests. Calvin, among others, references this passage when commenting on Isaiah 24:5,6. The idea is that Isaiah is forecasting the impending judgment of which Moses had warned.

  33. greenbaggins said,

    March 12, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Bob, with regard to the Abrahamic, those sanctions do not include the earth itself (where the Adamic covenant most definitely includes sanctions regarding the earth). With regard to the Mosaic covenant, it is by no means inclusive of the nations (whereas the Adamic covenant is universal). So neither the Mosaic or Abrahamic covenant fit in the context of Isaiah 24. But the Adamic most definitely does. I am curious as to your seeming reluctance to embrace Adamic implications in Isaiah 24. Are you just having fun playing devil’s advocate, or is something else going on?

  34. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 9:57 am

    As to the Adamic covenant most definitely including sanctions regarding the earth itself, the only one of which I am aware is the ground will be cursed on account of Adam’s rebellion so that thistles and thorns take root thereby making cultivation a toilsome labor. Is that it, or is there more? I am unaware that the Adamic covenant warns the earth’s nations of judgments that will devastate the earth [or the land] in the manner that Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 28 concerning pestilence, drought, mildew, powder, and dust. Isaiah [as I, Calvin, and others have read him] proclaims the impending judgment of which Moses forewarned upon the entire earth / land promised to Abraham and his descendant, the Land that is bordered by the River Euphrates and the River of Egypt [Isaiah 27:12]. China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Holland, and the Americas are not in view here.

    I am not denying the Adamic implications. However, Moses is specific and detailed about the covenant curses that will fall down upon the Land. We know what those curses entail, and we can hear Isaiah sound the warning. The Land will be cursed for Israel’s rebellion against the Lord; the nations — their peoples and their lands — will be cursed for having harshly afflicted God’s chosen people, and for seducing them with their idolatry [Isaiah 13 – 23]; God is judging the nations for mistreating [cursing rather than blessing] Abraham’s descendants, is He not?

    No, I am not having fun playing the Devil’s advocate. I stay as far away from the Devil as I can.

  35. greenbaggins said,

    March 12, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Okay, but I am still mystified as to why you think this is the Mosaic covenant in Isaiah 24, when the Mosaic covenant not only had nothing to do with the nations, but in fact specifically told the Israelites to have nothing to do with the peoples that would tempt them to idolatry, whereas Isaiah 24 says that the nations have broken the berit olam. The nations are NOT part of the Mosaic covenant. Therefore, the Mosaic covenant cannot be the covenant in view here. But then you bring in the Abrahamic to sort of “cover” the nations part. But the Abrahamic and the Mosaic are distinct covenants. Only the Adamic has the elements of the earth and the all-embracing nature of the nations. All of the curses on land of whatsoever kind stem from the Adamic sanctions. Even those in the Mosaic stem from the Adamic. But, as has been said, the Mosaic covenant cannot be in view here.

  36. rfwhite said,

    March 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

    35 greenbaggins — I acknowledge your point about the Mosaic covenant, but I’ve got to wondering how Paul’s universalization of the 5th commandment’s reference to “the land” in Eph 6.1-3 might relate here. In other words, did Isaiah universalize “the land” as Paul did? Just thinking with you and bob.

  37. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 11:20 am

    The Land brought under the curse [Isaiah 24-27] is the Promised Land in the fullness of its measure [Euphrates to Egypt]. The Land is brought under the curse because of Israel’s / Judah’s rebellion, according to the sanctions of the Mosaic covenant [Deut. 28]. All of the nations in Israel’s / Judah’s orbit are judged for their mistreatment of Abraham’s offspring [Gen. 17], and undoubtedly for breaking Noahic and Adamic covenants, too.

    Paul’s earth is the Land apportioned to the covenant people of God. Isaiah’s earth is also the Land apportioned.

  38. greenbaggins said,

    March 12, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Bob, several points. Firstly, the Noahic cannot be broken. There are no sanctions in the Noahic covenant. Secondly, the promised land did not include Egypt, even in promise. The people of Israel had to come OUT of Egypt in order to TRAVEL TO the promised land. And yet, Egypt is most definitely included among the nations affected (see Isaiah 19). You have yet to deal with 23:17’s ways of saying “all the kingdoms of the earth,” which is far too broad to be limited to the Promised Land, even to the farthest reach of its promised extent. Isaiah’s earth is universalized to include the whole earth. Isaiah’s earth is the whole earth here, not just the Land apportioned. This is the Adamic Covenant, pure and simple. I do not see any reference to anything in 24 or its context that would suggest any other covenant to be in view.

  39. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Spell out for me the sanctions of the Adamic covenant, sil vous plait. Name the laws and statutes to which the nations were in violation.

  40. greenbaggins said,

    March 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Bob, the Reformed believe that the entire Decalogue is implanted in the hearts of human beings as part of the image of God, and that this law was given to Adam as a covenant of works (see WCF 19). The main ways that the nations were in violation, therefore, include idolatry, image-making, murder, stealing, lying, and Sabbath-breaking. In the Adamic situation, the lure of Satan’s temptation was against the first commandment (having himself for a god in place of God), the fifth commandment (would Adam obey God his spiritual father?), the sixth commandment (stealing the fruit was conducive to self-murder), the seventh commandment (spiritual adultery), the eighth commandment (not to steal from the fruit, nor to steal glory from God), the ninth commandment (lots of lies in Genesis 3), and the tenth commandment (they coveted what did not belong to them). What Adam and Eve did, the nations do as well. The oracles against the nations starting in Isaiah 13 detail all the various ways the nations engage in lawless behavior.

  41. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    So, the Law given by Moses does not apply to all peoples / nations, only Israel, but the peoples / nations are judged according to it because it was given to them through Adam!

  42. rfwhite said,

    March 12, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Let me offer a proposal in a couple of steps. First, consider if the judgment in Isa 24-27 isn’t modeled on the judgment in Gen 6-7. The more obvious parallels are as follows. In the days before the judgment in Isa 24-27 the earth will be as it was in the days of Noah: fully defiled by the lawlessness of its inhabitants (cf. 24:5-6, 20 with Gen 6:5, 11-13). Isaiah describes the judgment coming upon the reprobate world-city/-ies, to whom Jerusalem’s faithless entrusted their security, as wrath poured out of the windows of heaven (cf. 24:18c with Gen 7:11, 8:2), resulting in the fiery overthrow of both heaven and earth (24:19-20, 23; 26:11). The covenant faithfulness of God that delivered a remnant from the flood of Noah’s day will likewise spare a faithful remnant of Israel (cf. 24:6; 26:2-3 with Gen 6:8, 18; see also Isa 54:9-11). The righteous will be required to take refuge behind doors of safety (cf. 26:20 with Gen 7:16; see also Exod 12:22-23) until judgment has passed (26:20-21), and thereafter they dwell securely in a new Jerusalem on an exalted Mt Zion in Edenic glory (24:23; 25:6-8; 26:1-4; 27:2-6, 13). Arguably, these several correspondences indicate that the prophet has modelled his description of the judgment in Isa 24-27 primarily after the pattern of the world’s judgment in Gen 6-7.

    Second, consider whether the outcome of the judgment in Isa 24-27 brings about the restoration of Eden on Mt Zion, a state of affairs modeled on and traceable to the removal of Edenic curse in Gen 3 from nature and from man. In Isa 25:6 and 27: 2-6 the prophet describes the banquet the Lord will prepare and the vineyard he will plant on Zion, and in the process he portrays nature’s redemption from the curses (Gen 3:17-19) of infertility (cf. Isa 24:7), decay (Isa 24:7), and adversity (Isa 27:4). Then, in Isa 25:7-8 and Isa 26:15-19 the prophet proclaims the elimination of suffering and death from Zion, and in this way he depicts man’s redemption from those post-fall curses (Gen 3:16-19). Finally, in Isa 25:3-5 and 26:1-4 the prophet describes the security and peace among the righteous who enter into God’s presence on Zion, and he places before us readers man’s redemption from the curses of fear and hostility among sinners who were driven out of God’s presence in Eden (Gen 3:15, 22-24). From the vantage point of these conditions, it is more than plausible that the prophet is describing the new Jerusalem on Mt Zion in pre-fall and post-fall Edenic categories.

    The upshot of all this for Green Baggins’s original post would be that Isaiah has synthesized details from the pre-flood days of Noah, the post-fall days of Adam, and the pre-fall days of Adam — a synthesis made possible because of the continuity he discerns in God’s covenantal dealings with man and the cosmos from at least the sixth day of creation through his own day. In those dealings, it looks to me that the covenant of works with Adam, the post-fall covenant of grace with Adam, and the pre-flood covenant of grace with Noah are all in view, along with their cosmic complications. Through all of this, the moral law first given in Eden applied.

  43. rfwhite said,

    March 12, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    42 *complications in the next-to-last sentence should be implications — duh.

  44. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    All of humanity [all peoples and nations] are ruled by God and judged by Decalogue from Adam onward. This relationship between God and all humanity is the Covenant of Works.

    God chose one small nation from the entire world of nations to be for Him a priestly kingdom, serving as His agents in the grand plan to redeem the world from the curse of sin. Israel is ruled by God and judged by the Decalogue from Moses onward.

    The Covenant of Works and Covenant of Moses is in substance the same: Decalogue. The penalty for breaking the Decalogue is death to the nations and death to Israel.

  45. roberty bob said,

    March 12, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    rfwhite #42 . . .

    Thanks for your good proposal.

    Now I am wondering . . .

    When did / does the judgment foretold by Isaiah occur?

    When did / does the restoration foretold by Isaiah occur?

  46. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 13, 2018 at 9:25 am

    @ Mr. Bob (#44): The Covenant of Works and Covenant of Moses is in substance the same: Decalogue. The penalty for breaking the Decalogue is death to the nations and death to Israel.

    Consider the differences also — that the Covenant of Moses included sacrifice for sin, where the Covenant of Works did not.

    The element of forgiveness in CoM indicates that the CoM is more complex than the CoW, hence possibly not the same substance.

    Consider also that David, under the CoM, was justified by faith and not by his works (Rom 4).

  47. roberty bob said,

    March 13, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Hi Jeff Cagle,

    How are you so sure that godly people of faith did not offer up sacrifices for sin from the time of Adam to Moses? Are you suggesting that God did take into account the sacrifices of the faithful, and grant forgiveness of sins during that long era? Abel’s sacrifice was accepted by the Lord. Didn’t his sacrifice have something to do with maintaining good fellowship with the Lord, as a fallen but faithful creature made in God’s image?

    Yes, of course David was justified by faith. So were Adam and Eve and Abel and Seth and Enoch and Noah and Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Judah and Joseph and Moses and Gideon, and Samson.

    I even have a book in my library entitled, The Ten Commandments: A Manual for the Christian Life. Apparently God’s Standard for Living in God’s World has has forever been and forever will be the Decalogue. Every person and every nation will be judged accordingly.

  48. Jeff Cagle said,

    March 13, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Hi Robert,

    They probably did. I agree that Abel’s sacrifice was likely a sin offering.

    My point was that the sin offerings were incorporated as a part of the Mosaic Law.

    So whereas the CoW had only command and sanction, the Mosaic had command, sanction, and forgiveness.

  49. roberty bob said,

    March 13, 2018 at 12:32 pm

    We know heaps more about the Law covenant God made with Israel through His servant Moses than we do about the so-called Works covenant God made with Humanity through His servant Adam: the entire covenant-making ceremony is preserved for us in Holy Scripture, so we have, as you say, everything spelled out.

    I see God’s covenant with Adam as a Covenant of Life. The gift of life was given to Adam when He was created in God’s image and put in charge of all God’s works beginning in the garden. Had Adam been content in the service in which God had placed him, willing to live by every word the proceeds from the mouth of God — that is, by faith — then he would not have grasped for the highest honor [to be like God], and all would have been well or him and for us: humanity would have been confirmed in the faith and life of God. It would take a second Adam to undo the damage, someone who would not grasp onto the honor that was rightfully him in order to come to us in servant form to save us.

  50. roberty bob said,

    March 13, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    The Apostle Paul, in Romans 5, writes that while there was sin and death occurring from the time of Adam to Moses, yet there was no law by which to count / keep score of all the sin. This makes me curious about what Isaiah says about the inhabitants of the earth [Land] who transgressed the laws and violated the statutes. How is it possible for nations that are parties in the CoW where no law exists to be charged as transgressors of laws and violators of statutes? There were no laws and statutes from Adam to Moses. Moses gives us the laws and the accompanying statutes; the statues apply to law to a range of aspects. Nations not under the Law of Moses, having no law at all [per Paul], could hardly be in violation of laws and statues. But they could be sinners who did for their own sins.

  51. greenbaggins said,

    March 14, 2018 at 9:44 am

    Bob, the “absence of law” in Romans 5:13 does not refer to an absolute absence of law, but rather to a lack of revealed law. Otherwise, Paul would be contradicting what he had said in 2:14-15, wherein Paul clearly tells us that what the law requires is inscribed on everyone’s hearts. So what Paul must mean in chapter 5 is that there was no revealed standard by which to “keep score” until Moses codified the law in written form. But if the law is a revelation of God’s own character, and humans are made in the image of God, then the law must be, at least in some form, present in the hearts of all people. Otherwise, how could Paul say that no one has an excuse for not giving God glory?

  52. roberty bob said,

    March 14, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Basically I agree with you that the law must be in some form present in the hearts of all people. You don’t get laws and statutes in codified form until Moses. How can the non-covenanted nations be transgressors of laws and violators of statutes? Did the nations also have statutes written upon their hearts? I doubt it.

  53. roberty bob said,

    March 14, 2018 at 11:11 am

    Let’s take a look at Romans 2:12. All who have sinned without the law [the non-covenanted nations] will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law [God’s covenant people] will be judged by the law [be charged as transgressors of law, violators of statutes, breakers of the everlasting covenant].

    I am curious now about the Gentiles mentioned in Romans 2:14,15 who are seen to be doing what the law requires even though they do not have the law. The Jews have the law; the Gentiles do not have the law. Yet, there are some Gentiles who are seen to be living in obedience to the law that they do not have. In so doing, they show that what the law requires is written on their hearts. So, then, did God write his law on the hearts of the non-covenanted Gentiles when God created Adam, or did God write his law on hearts when our Lord Jesus established the New Covenant [Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 11, Ezekiel 36]?

    Of course I agree wholeheartedly with the Apostle Paul in Romans 1 where he writes of God having been revealed to humanity is such a way so as to leave all people without an excuse for not giving God glory. Enough truth was revealed for every person to acknowledge God.

  54. rfwhite said,

    March 14, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    50/52 bob: You asked, How is it possible for nations that are parties in the CoW where no law exists to be charged as transgressors of laws and violators of statutes? You essentially this question in 52.

    Can we agree that the nations can be charged as transgressors because they sinned (fell) in Adam, their federal representative?

  55. rfwhite said,

    March 14, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    54 *You essentially this question = You essentially repeat this question

  56. roberty bob said,

    March 14, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Everyone who sinned in Adam, their covenant representative, can justly suffer the deadly consequences: sinners who are without the law perish for having sinned [Romans 2:12]. Paul does not say that those without the law are charged with transgressions. Why does he not say that? Is it because they are not under the law. You cannot transgress a law that does not apply to you. If you are not under a particular body of law, you cannot be charged for transgressions and violations, can you? Yes, you can still be a sinner, and suffer the consequences for having sinned. Isn’t that what Paul is pointing out in Romans 2:12?

    Why does Moses, in Deuteronomy 4, take note of the nations who look upon Israel with wonder for having been gifted by God with such wise laws and statutes? Obviously Israel has been given something that the nations do not have. If you do not have wise laws and statues, you cannot be transgressors and violators of them. Can you?

  57. rfwhite said,

    March 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    56 bob: Can you not transgress a law if your federal representative transgressed that law?

  58. roberty bob said,

    March 14, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    You can.

    What is the meaning, then, of sin not being counted where there is not law? If there is no law from Adam until Moses, how can one logically speak of a law being transgressed? Adam trespassed. I know that. But Paul says that there was no law in the world from Adam to Moses. with sin being not counted.

  59. rfwhite said,

    March 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

    59 bob; It looks to me that there is more than one part to answering your good questions. From where I sit, I would have to consider whether God calculated the sins of those from Adam until Moses differently than He did the sins of those from Moses until Christ. In other words, did the basis of God’s indictment change (by addition, not subtraction) over time? Another part of answering your questions is to consider whether the reason(s) that death reigned from Adam to Moses was different that the reason(s) that death reigned from Moses to Christ. (In a sense, that last question is the same as the first.) Still another part for me is to consider whether there is a covenantal relationship in which sin occurs but is not counted. Is there a covenantal relationship in which “the Lord does not impute sin”? One more part is implied in that previous question: what does it mean for Paul to affirm that “sin is not counted” [ = “there is no transgression”] and that “there is no law”?

  60. roberty bob said,

    March 29, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    In paragraph 3 of the main post GB rules out the Noahic covenant in our quest to identify the everlasting covenant. GB says that it cannot be the Noahic because the Noahic includes no sanctions. Is that so? Did not God say that He would require a reckoning for human bloodshed (Gen. 9:6)? Isn’t it also a curious thing how Isaiah describes the judgment of which he prophecies in terms reminiscent of the flood-judgement (Isaiah 24:18)?

    Then there are those like Herman Bavinck who see God as having only one covenant with those created in His image and likeness. This one covenant God made unilaterally with Adam, and there are renewals of it with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Christ. So, in essence, the covenant is everlasting as it stretches from first Adam to second Adam, in whom it is finally fulfilled. Any person or nation who breaks faith with the Lord God through disobedience breaks the everlasting covenant, no matter which administration [Noah, Moses, whatever] the breach occurs.

  61. Ron said,

    April 2, 2018 at 10:58 am

    “In paragraph 3 of the main post GB rules out the Noahic covenant in our quest to identify the everlasting covenant. GB says that it cannot be the Noahic because the Noahic includes no sanctions. Is that so? Did not God say that He would require a reckoning for human bloodshed (Gen. 9:6)? Isn’t it also a curious thing how Isaiah describes the judgment of which he prophecies in terms reminiscent of the flood-judgement (Isaiah 24:18)?“

    These were “covenants of promise.” There was a unity and harmony to the covenants (plural) as they pertained to the one promise, the Seed (singular).

    The promise to preserve the world was so that God might redeem the world. So, we see, Abrahamic and Nohaic covenants complimented each other, as opposed to Abrahamic supplanting or replacing the other. Under Moses, God “remembered” the covenant he made before… and in grace provided an pedagogical administration appropriate at the time. This all dovetails nicely with ii Samuel 7, for a kingdom presupposes a king.

    They’re all swallowed up in the New Covenant.

  62. roberty bob said,

    April 2, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Yes, but the nations being judged by the judgment announced by Isaiah [in chapters 24-27] are getting the punishment they deserved for having broken the covenant God made with Adam, the covenant of works. That covenant is the only one in which nations outside the Abraham / Israel are held to account. They have transgressed the laws of the covenant of works and shown no regard for its statutes. All of the laws and statutes of the covenant of works have been engraved on the human hearts of all persons born among the nations.

  63. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Basically I agree with you that the law must be in some form present in the hearts of all people. You don’t get laws and statutes in codified form until Moses. How can the non-covenanted nations be transgressors of laws and violators of statutes? Did the nations also have statutes written upon their hearts? I doubt it.

    RB,

    You acknowledge:

    The law is in some form present in the hearts of all people.

    You then ask:

    How can non-covenant people transgress laws?

    I have no idea what you’re driving toward but I wonder whether answering your own question might help you get there.

  64. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 7:04 am

    This is what I know:

    1 Adam is the original covenant representative / head of all humanity, so that all persons who are born into this world are found to be “in Adam.”
    2 Adam sinned / trespassed against the command God gave him, and he died the covenant death which God had warned / threatened.
    3 All persons born into this world face the same covenant death because they are in Adam / bound to Adam their covenant representative.

    This is what I find perplexing:

    I do not know that God’s covenant with Adam is a body of laws and statutes. The Genesis account of the Adamic covenant does not strike me, the reader of it, as a thoroughgoing ceremony in which a body of laws is recited followed by a book of statutes. Isaiah speaks of those who had broken the everlasting covenant as being transgressors of laws and violators of statutes. Honestly, I do not see laws and statutes being revealed before Moses. According to Deuteronomy 4, it is the nations who stand in awe of the laws and statutes given to God’s covenant nation Israel because it is a wise and righteous body of legislation that they do not have in their possession. To claim that the nations have the same body of laws and statues as Israel seems to counter their own claim that they do not have them. Furthermore, to claim, as GB does, that the nations have all the laws and statutes written upon their hearts seems to put them in a more favorable position that Israel, whose laws and statutes were on stone tablets and parchment, but not yet engraved upon their hearts; the engraving of God’s law upon human hearts could only occur by God’s Spirit in the New Covenant. How can GB say that the nations in Isaiah’s day already have that Holy Spirit going for them?

  65. Reed Here said,

    April 3, 2018 at 8:01 am

    RB: sounds like the old confusion, “what do you mean by law/?”

  66. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 10:25 am

    Yes, it is the same confusion that entangled the serious Christian thinking of Calvin, the Reformers, the Puritans, and other covenant-minded souls.

    Isaiah 24:5 says that the breakers of the everlasting covenant were guilty of having transgressed the laws and violated the statutes. The laws and the statutes are Torah-specific. The as-much-confused Calvin holds to that view in his commentary on this passage. While we can rightly agree that the truth about God [and how to live in faithful obedience to Him] was made known to Adam and all of humanity, the Apostle Paul nevertheless maintains that there was no law from Adam to Moses; all humans who sinned did so without [or apart from] the law. They were sinners whose sinning did not consist in law transgression and statute violation. Even so, such sinners justly incurred God’s wrath for having suppressed what truth they were given, and for having abandoned the worship of God and the thankful way of life that would flow from that. I have no difficulty ascribing to Adam and the human race of nations a knowledge [or truth] about God of which they were being held to account; I do have difficulty ascribing to Adam and race of nations a covenant-documented body of laws and statutes because such a documented body is Torah-specific. Even the reality of natural law or moral law imbedded into the human conscience does not, in my view, equate to the full-bodied Torah. The nations lived in ignorance of that; they noticed that Israel possessed the wise and righteous Torah, and that they did not.

    Why do you suppose that our Reformation and Puritan forebears who had read Isaiah 24:5 believed that the everlasting covenant in the mind of the Prophet was God’s covenant with Moses / Israel or even God’s covenant with Abraham? Were they also confused? Had they not yet seen the light that you now see?

  67. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 10:48 am

    Also, the questions of rfwhite at #59 are pertinent ones in relation to the Isaiah passage that is under examination here. Indeed, how can the nations be charged for transgressing laws and violating statues when they are not living under the administration in which the sanctions of laws and statutes are applied? If the nations are living under such, then show me the laws and statutes please. Don’t just say that they exist, and that they have been impressed upon the conscience. What ever happened to “the times of ignorance” of which Paul speaks? Does ignorance mean not having the knowledge of? Or, does ignorance mean having no regard for the knowledge that has been given?

  68. rfwhite said,

    April 3, 2018 at 11:26 am

    60/62/64/66/67 bob: Like Ron, I’ve struggled to understand exactly what you are driving at. In your last few comments, I think you are getting clearer, though I’m not quite sure. It gets clearer when you state this: I do have difficulty ascribing to Adam and race of nations a covenant-documented body of laws and statutes because such a documented body is Torah-specific. Ok, understood. I reasonably sure that no one else here would disagree with you that neither Adam nor the nations had a Torah-specific, documented body of laws.

    Even the reality of natural law or moral law [embedded] into the human conscience does not, in my view, equate to the full-bodied Torah. This might be the nub of the difficulty you have. What do you understand the equation to be, and why do you deny it?

  69. rfwhite said,

    April 3, 2018 at 11:36 am

    bob: To put my closing question in 68 another way, is it not enough to say that the equation is man’s duty to love and serve God according to His revealed will? If not, why not?

  70. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 11:54 am

    Of course it is man’s duty to love and serve God according to His revealed will. God enlisted Israel as His army to drive out the Canaanites for their wickedness. The Canaanites disobeyed the revealed will of God.

    My question, which no one here wants to answer, is this: How can the nations be charged with transgressing laws and violating statutes? Calvin sees the laws and statutes as Torah-specific. So do I. Is God judging the nations on the basis of Torah-specific laws and statutes? If not, then why is Isaiah being Torah-specific in his charges against the nations?

    Come on. Straighten me and Calvin out!

  71. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    RB,

    Nobody wants to answer you? Is it possible that some of us just don’t understand you?

    “How can the nations be charged with transgressing laws and violating statutes?”

    Regarding laws, you yourself noted, “The law is in some form present in the hearts of all people.”

    That being so, aren’t all men culpable? If so, then doesn’t that answer your question as it relates to law? If so, wouldn’t that leave us with only statutes to address? Regarding statutes, why not this from Fowler: “Ok, understood. I reasonably sure that no one else here would disagree with you that neither Adam nor the nations had a Torah-specific, documented body of laws.”

  72. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    What ever happened to “the times of ignorance” of which Paul speaks?

    You mean Mars Hill, the former days of ignorance and the resurrection? Not tracking here either.

  73. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    You are right, Ron. The nations did not have a Torah-specific, documented body of laws. Yet, Isaiah is charging someone in 24:5 with transgressing and violating Torah-specific laws and statutes. You all say that the nations cannot be charged with such because they are not under the Torah. Why, then, are they being charged with Torah-specific violations by Isaiah?

  74. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Maybe they’re not, RB.

    As an aside, our system of doctrine should not be so fragile as to be undermined by one verse that lends itself to varying interpretations. An analogy of faith might be useful.

    Having not studied the verse, I’ll try to offer an exegetical option that doesn’t undermine bedrock axioms of theology. Please mind, I’ve given the passage little consideration.

    Might the “they” who’ve transgressed the laws simply be Judah? Can’t the “world” in 4 be referring to the land of Judah? After all, the text goes on to speak of both the city and the land and we know “earth” doesn’t always mean every square inch.

    Secondly, we also might note that the “earth” is defiled *because* these people have done things that *include* changing the ordinances – presumably worship ordinances, and broken the “everlasting” covenant, presumably the Abrahamic compact. Who was in a position to do that? Certainly not the nations, right?

    With that in mind, wouldn’t it be simpler to interpret the persons (ie the transgressors) by first answering the question of who and who alone could transgress the ordinances other than the covenant community? And if they are found to be the transgressors, then isn’t it reasonable to infer the meaning of land, city and earth from who fits the description?

    Instead, you seem to want to interpret who the persons are by first trying to define the land mass. Then you’re forced to interpret the worship ordinances and everlasting very covenant as pertaining to the CoW. I find that a strained, unsound hermeneutic. By starting with the nations you’re forced to squeeze the ordinances into something they’re not and, also, overlook the covenant people to which the land and full promise pertained.

  75. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    I will have to inform you, Ron, that it was GB in the original posting who identified that transgressors of law and violator of statutes as the nations. GB said that Isaiah 24-27 is all about the nations of the world being judged according to the CoW [with 24:5 being the charge against them as transgressors, violators, everlasting covenant breakers]. That is where I raised my hand to inquire about the whole earth actually being the whole land — promised land. It is not I who was trying to force you all to interpret the everlasting covenant as the CoW. No sirree! I believed from the start that it was the everlasting Abrahamic / Mosaic covenants that had been broken. Read what I wrote at #5 and #8. Yet, no one here at GB would acknowledge that good interpreters like Calvin had sound reason for holding to that view.

    In my view / interpretation the chief transgressor is Judah and the city under judgment is Jerusalem [which had become like the wicked cities of renown among the nations].

    Thank you, Ron @ #74. You were barking up my tree. I feel vindicated.

  76. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    GB says in the original post:

    The question is simple: what is the identity of the everlasting covenant? Well it cannot be the Abrahamic or the Mosaic since the scope to the people involved goes well beyond Israel. This is proven in the repeated references to the earth.

    Ron @ #74 para #4, what say you? You say that maybe it can be the Abrahamic and Mosaic because the references to the earth need not imply every square inch of it. I think that you also are not on the same page as GB.

  77. rfwhite said,

    April 3, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    70/73/75/76 bob: It appears that you’re happy to have Ron (at least ostensibly) with you in disputing GB’s interpretation of Isa 24.5 by his affirmation that the transgressors in that text are the inhabitants of Judah. Be that as it may, it seems premature to say that the discussion ends there.

    Included in the interaction above was the observation that, in the context of Isaiah, God’s judgment comes upon both pagan nations and Israel. In that light, the phrase “everlasting covenant” can plausibly be interpreted as intentionally referring to more than one of God’s covenants. For instance, the nations can (conceivably) be said to have transgressed the post-flood Noahic covenant of Gen 9 with its specific stipulations (Gen 9.1-7) and central regulation (Gen 9:7). By shedding blood, the warring nations in Isaiah had violated that administration of God’s covenant. Then too, there’s good reason to say that Israel transgressed the Mosaic administration of God’s covenant and its regulations prohibiting murder (Exod 20:13; Num 35:6-34), insofar as the land’s inhabitants were guilty of bloodshed (see Isa 1:15, 21; 4:4) — just as were the transgressors of the post-flood Noahic covenant. In addition to all that, it remains that the outcome of the judgment in Isa 24-27 brings about the restoration of Eden on Zion, the world mountain, an eschaton modeled on and traceable to the removal of the curse of God’s covenant of works with Adam.

  78. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    RB,

    I would have no major problem applying this judgment to the neighboring nations. I wouldn’t include much farther out than that, however. That said, I think I’d be more hard pressed to index the chastisement to any other fault than solely that of the covenant people of God. I think me allow the everlasting covenant and ordinances to define for us the immediate transgressors and from there we may interpret how far reaching their chastisement extends. Certainly if God judges his church, we should expect the fallout to spill over to our heathen neighbors.

  79. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    I hadn’t been paying close attention. I began reading bottom up and, therefore, couldn’t grasp RB’s line of questioning. I see now that he was trying to tease out some apparent conundrums. Without my having a top down context, his posts seemed a bit confusing to me.

    I think my last post indicates that I would not locate the CoW in this passage.

    Something else we agree on, RB. Not just gendered souls. :)

  80. roberty bob said,

    April 3, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    rfwhite @$77 . . .

    Yes, there is a lot to digest with regard to the everlasting covenant of Isaiah 24:5. I, too, wondered [somewhere up above] about the Noah covenant connection, especially when the announced judgment is likened to the flood judgement [24:18-20]. Undoubtedly there are nations within the periphery of God’s covenant nation who are justly deserving of divine wrath. I can see that in chapters 24-27. I can see the restoration of Eden / Zion [on this mountain], too, and the outflow of blessing to the [formerly judged] nations. So, I resonate with your thinking here.

    However, I align with Ron in my thoughts that the covenant nation is the primary addressee of Isaiah’s condemnation, and of the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the Land they they had polluted by their sinning. We know that Moses had forewarned such events in Leviticus and more so in Deuteronomy, as I had referenced above.

  81. Ron said,

    April 3, 2018 at 7:27 pm

    “However, I align with Ron”

    No, I align with you! :)

    Back to my Caymus, family and tunes.

  82. rfwhite said,

    April 3, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    80 bob: with all the “resonating” and “aligning” (!) going on, here’s another suggestion: the judgment of ‘the nations’ and the judgment of ‘the nation’ coincide/overlap because ‘the nation’ has lost the marks of the true covenant community and so is indistinguishable from ‘the nations.’ In other words, ‘the nation’ has become utterly worldly and hence has to be counted among ‘the nations.’ ‘The nation’ is now liable to the same judgment as ‘the nations.’

  83. Ron said,

    April 4, 2018 at 2:11 am

    The danger of such discussions is we can begin saying things that although true, are not exegetically supported by the passage. We in turn can point to the truism as support for the passage when if fact we’ve drifted from the passage. That all men have the moral law on their hearts and the church can become like the world might be such examples.

  84. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 6:49 am

    If Isaiah 24-27 is a unit, a full and complete prophetic sermon, then the outcome of the judgment is rejoicing in the land of Judah [ch. 26] and the gathering of Israel into the fullness of the promised land [from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt, ch. 27]. The battered, broken down City will become God’s true Holy Mount Zion, the fountain of salvation blessings for all of the nations. The [promised] Land will be restored.

    “`The nation` is now liable to the same judgment as `the nations`.” — rfw

    While it is true that God’s covenant nation had become like the nations — Isaiah gives Jerusalem the name Sodom to drive home that truth — the judgment is not the “same judgment.” Judah / Israel is judged with astonishing severity for refusing to serve as God’s anointed covenant agent [a light to the nations]; thus a 7-fold judgment is to be executed upon them and upon the Land the Lord God gave to them [Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28]. While Isaiah preaches judgement sermons against the various wicked nations who dwell within Israel’s periphery, the long sermon recorded in chapters 24-27 doesn’t proclaim judgment against any of these nations by name except for Moab. Clearly the much intensified judgment of chapters 24-27 is aimed at Judah / Israel [the Land dwellers!], and specifically at the City [Jerusalem].

    That is how I read it.

  85. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 7:20 am

    With that reading of it . . .

    transgressing the laws
    violating the statutes
    breaking the everlasting covenant

    are the rebellious, wrath inducing acts of Israel / Judah / Jerusalem

    the judgment: destruction of Jerusalem, laying waste the Land, exile of Israel / Judah

    the restoration: ultimately completed in the death / resurrection / ascension / rule of Jesus Christ our Lord; the result being the regathering of God’s true Israel, the elevation of Mt Zion / New Jerusalem, the defeat of death, a life-sustaining communion meal, etc.

  86. rfwhite said,

    April 4, 2018 at 8:00 am

    I appreciate all the interest in advocating for “the nation” as the focus of Isaiah’s “little apocalypse.” The commentaries on chs. 24-27 in the context of Isaiah’s prophecy as a whole are full of the same sorts of discussions and disagreements that we’ve been having on whether Isaiah’s focus is on “the nation” or “the nations” [“the land” or “the earth”]. Some conclude, as I do, that it’s a false choice for any number of good exegetical reasons, some of which have been cited above.

  87. Ron said,

    April 4, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Fowler,

    Although the commentaries you consulted reference discussion(s) on the nations, do any index everlasting covenant and ordinances to the CoW?

  88. Reed Here said,

    April 4, 2018 at 8:22 am

    Um RB, how about this:

    In Isa 24:5, the nations might be (ala Ron) limited to the nations Israel usually interacts with (i.e., the “surrounding” nations, the usual suspects). Yet given the reference to the everlasting covenant, it could a instead be a Gn 10 rerefence to the nations, i.e., all nations.

    If so, then the surrounding context in Isa 24 focused on Israel is making a startling comparison. Israel, in spite of having the Mosaic Law, is just like the rest of the nations, guilty of violating the everlasting covenant.

    Lane’s suggestion then stands: the everlasting covenant in view is the CofW. The Mosaic covenant present in the surrounding context is not confused with the everlasting covenant, but rather contrasted to it. the MC was supposed to keep Israel from following in the rest of the nations in violating the everlasting covenant. It didn’t.

    P.s., I’m sure you posted it previously, but I’m not going to be able to easily work through the comments and find this. Might you reference where Calvin says what you’ve referenced? No doubt of you. Just want to read it for myself. Thx.

  89. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 10:12 am

    The task of Abraham and his offspring / seed is to reconvene God’s plan to Eden-ize / Garden-ize the world; thus the Land Promised to Abraham and his offspring [Israel] was observed to be a land flowing with milk and honey. From this new Edenic model estate, Israel would cultivate the wilderness-like world [of nations] into the ever expanding Garden of God. God covenant with Abraham and his offspring Israel was everlasting [for the duration of the task] and thorough in its instruction [laws & statutes]. To the extent that Abraham and his offspring Israel would succeed in this holy calling, they would bless the nations of the world. Conversely, the nations were called upon to bless Abraham in order to bring blessing upon themselves; to curse Abraham would result in the nations calling down God’s curse upon themselves.

    What I know: the Abraham covenant and the Moses / Israel covenant are specified as everlasting. While it is obviously true that Adam broke CoW [or whatever you call it] implicating all persons / nations, I do not see the CoW in play here in Isaiah 24 – 27 because the judgment so described is clearly the result of God’s covenant people transgressing Torah-specific laws and violating its statutes [again Lev. 26 and Deut. 28]. Furthermore, the post-judgment restoration results in a New Zion, a healed Land, and a regathered Israel [Isaiah 26 and 27].

    I am not buying the CoW as the everlasting covenant of which Isaiah speaks. I do not see in the Isaiah passage some kind of contrast between Mosaic covenant and everlasting CoW. Yes, Israel comes under judgment for being like the idolatrous wicked nations who live in their neighborhood; Israel comes under judgment for failing to advance God’s Eden restoration plan — refusal to let the land enjoy Sabbath rest being one huge reason for Israel’s exile. Once again: transgressing the laws, violating the statutes, and breaking the everlasting covenant is all of one piece. This is Moses / Israel stuff, not Adam / all nations stuff.

  90. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Reed Here,

    I googled Isaiah 24:5 and readily found link to a string of Bible scholars with their comments on the passage. Calvin was in the mix of this. 2/3 of my library has already been passed on to young men in ministry, so I have limited access now.

  91. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    to Reed @ #88 . . .

    You are wondering whether “all nations” [of the entire world] are going to be judged in the judgment Isaiah foretells. If you think that the repeated references to “the earth / the land” requires you to believe Isaiah has the entire land mass of the earth in view, then you might be drawn to the inescapable conclusion that “all the nations” that inhabit the whole earth are going to come under divine judgement. If that is so, then we have yet to see such a judgment [where the entire land mass of earth — what is now China, Argentina, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, etc. — becomes a barren wasteland. To my knowledge, no such judgement has occurred; so you would have to push it out into unforeseen future. I believe that the judgement Isaiah foretells encompasses the pre-Exile invasion of the Promised Land, the Exile of the covenant people, the desecration of the City and the Land [coming to full and final ruin in A.D. 70]; the restoration comes through the rule of our crucified, risen, and ascended King Jesus. There is a time of overlap [the passing away of the old world order, the revelation of the glory of the new world order]. It fascinates me that the Hallelujah Chorus is first sung at the fall of the Old Jerusalem as it gives a sure signal that the Eternal Rule of our King has been established.

  92. roberty bob said,

    April 4, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    “Lane’s suggestion then stands: the everlasting covenant in view is the Covenant of Works.” — Reed

    Lane was not suggesting; he said that he had proof. I don’t think that the proof was convincing. As a suggestion, however, it does stand!

  93. roberty bob said,

    April 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    From the final paragraph in the original posting . . .

    “The nations here are not punished for eating an apple. It is assumed that the basis for a just society on earth is tightly related to the terms of the CoW.” — GB

    The nations don’t come into the picture until the sons of Noah have their families spread over the face of the earth. How is it, then, that nations are included in the CoW? What specific terms in the CoW [made with Adam] address the responsibility of nations to form a just society? Where in Holy Scripture are such specific terms put forth?

    It is one thing to agree that all of humanity is bound to Adam, their covenant representative / head, and it is quite another thing to agree that people as nations are being addressed when God made his covenant with Adam. I find it easier to agree that the nations are being addressed, even if indirectly, through the Abrahamic covenant.

  94. roberty bob said,

    April 30, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    As to “the terms of the Cow,” it appears to me that the only terms are to be fruitful and multiply while enjoying all the food from the trees in God’s garden with the exception of one tree; to partake of fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good & evil would be an act of grasping after equality with God. The duly of man under the Adamic covenant was to be a willing servant-king under the authority of the Lord God. Adam grasped for what God had forbidden; Christ undid Adam’s damage by being the willing servant Adam refused to be [as Paul expounds in Philippians 2].

  95. Ron said,

    April 30, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    Just so you don’t post seven in a row.

  96. roberty bob said,

    May 1, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Great Tackle on the open field, Ron!

  97. roberty bob said,

    May 14, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    I am curious about the doctrine / notion that in the beginning when God created mankind He wrote God’s Law upon the human heart so that mankind would have sufficient truth for obeying every word of God and also be without excuse for any and all acts or disobedience. I am curious about this because the remedy for Israel’s failure to obey God’s Law written in stone was to have that same Law written upon the heart.

    My question: Is God’s remedy for Israel’s Law-breaking — having that same Law written upon the tablets of their hearts [instead of the tablets of stone] — a different thing than what God did in the beginning when He wrote His Law upon the human heart? If these two writings of Law upon the human heart are different kinds of heart-writings, wherein does the difference lie? The Prophet Ezekiel foretold the writing of God’s Law upon Israel’s heart [ch. 36], and Apostle Paul speaks of Gentiles who did not have God’s Law written on stone or scripture as their heritage but who nevertheless were found to be obedient to that Law because it had got written on their hearts [Rom. 2:14,15] — meaning, so it seems, that God did for them what He had promised to do for Israel!

    What say you?

  98. Ron said,

    May 15, 2018 at 9:02 pm

    I would suugest… Under the older economy, the law written on the hearts of gentiles was enough for culpability. God convicts all men of sin. Under the new covenant, true believers have the law written on their hearts. The Holy Spirit is given in ways unlike before.

  99. roberty bob said,

    May 16, 2018 at 8:57 am

    GB in post 11 says that in the beginning, specifically with Adam, God’s Law was written on the human heart. The distinction, it seems, between this original writing upon the human heart and the later new covenant writing is that the new covenant writing occurs through the agency of God’s Holy Spirit which would enable obedience whereas the original writing did not provide such Holy Spirit enabling, but only a sufficient awareness of God’s requirement to hold His sinning creature culpable.

  100. roberty bob said,

    May 16, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    Romans 2:14-15 speaks of certain Gentiles who are obedient to God’s Law even though they do not have the Law. [God had given His Law to Israel only.] Of these Gentiles Paul says that “what the Law requires is written on their hearts.” Is it truthful, then, to make this same claim of all Gentiles from Adam onward — that “what the Law requires is written on their hearts” too? Or is the claim only true of those Gentiles who obey God’s Law? I ask this because it looks to me as though this is what Paul is asserting: the God-fearing Gentiles are found to be obedient because they have God’s Law written on their hearts.

  101. Ron said,

    May 16, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    The glory of the New Covenant is greater fidelity (and not the exclusion of infants). It comes through full atonement, the ascended God-man, a closed canon and the outpouring of Holy Spirit.

  102. roberty bob said,

    May 19, 2018 at 11:08 am

    OK, how about this?

    CoW with Adam, all humanity, the world of nation: God’s Law is written on everyone’s heart, but the ability to keep the Law is lacking because the things Ron mentions in #101 have yet to occur.

    Law Covenant mediated through Moses: God’s chosen nation Israel gets the Law etched in stone, along with statutes which spell out the specifics of said Law in detail. The non-covenant nations stand in awe of the wise and righteous Law that Israel now has in hand. Israel, however, breaks the Law Covenant repeatedly, thereby falling under its curse and losing its blessing.

    New Covenant mediated through the blood of Christ for Israel and all of the nations: God’s Law is written on the human hearts of those who are justified by faith in Jesus’ blood, and the attendant power to obey the Law is put in motion through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

  103. Ron said,

    May 21, 2018 at 6:14 am

    As long as we maintain that the New Covenant, being part of the CoG, is established only with Christ and the elect in him. WLC 31 Accordingly, it’s communicated only to the elect. WCF 8.8

    One tiny quibble might be that the benefits of the NC aren’t only communicated to the justified but also to those who will be justified. The gift of faith, by which one is justified, is mediated by Christ. WCF 8.8 is helpful here.

  104. Ron said,

    May 21, 2018 at 6:19 am

    But yes, athough the NC is mediated to the elect prior to personal justification (in their persuasion, faith etc.) , the law is written upon the hearts of only those existentially united to the Savior.

  105. roberty bob said,

    May 21, 2018 at 9:18 am

    ” . . . the law is written upon the hearts of only those existentially united to the Savior.” — Ron #104

    So, then, those who assert that the law is written upon every human heart from Adam onward (as greenbaggins asserts in #11, and as I momentarily agreed in #13) are reading into the CoW something that is not explicitly stated in Scripture. Paul, in Romans 2:14,15 is referencing Gentiles who live in obedience to the law on account of the fact that they are existentially united to the Savior by grace through faith, and have the Lord’s indwelling Holy Spirit now empowering them to live according to the Law that now written upon their hearts.

    The CoW, therefore, falls short of writing the law on human hearts; what the CoW provides to humanity from Adam onwards is a rudimentary knowledge that the Lord God exists (being seen through his creative work and experieced through his sovereign power); this knowledge is given so that all persons will seek to know God and worship God, and also to render them without excuse for failing to live thankful lives before God’s face.

    Is this how you see the situation, Ron?

  106. Ron said,

    May 21, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Surely Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 are looking looking forward to the new covenant, not backward to the prelapsarian period. The law writing on hearts spoken of by the prophets has a context.

    That all men have the moral law written upon conscience so that all are without excuse, know right from wrong and are outwardly retained, is not what I’m talking about. When the law is written on the heart, obedience that’s pleasing to God by the grace of the Holy Spirit obtains, though imperfectly.

  107. Ron said,

    May 21, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    RB,

    Writing on heart is metaphorical. If regeneration and union with the exhaulted Christ is necessary, then clearly Adam didn’t have the law written on his heart.


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