Why An Everlasting Covenant?
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.” (Hebrews 13:20)
A covenant has specific stipulations which each of the contracting parties is honor bound to fulfill. If ever one stipulation is not met, then the entire covenant is nullified and made void. As I showed you in the previous article on this text, God’s covenant had stipulations. But they are stipulations made, accepted, and sworn to by the triune God. Therefore, the covenant never was and never can be in jeopardy.
The covenant of grace was made in anticipation of the fall of our father Adam and the ruin of his race. The object and goal of the covenant is the restoration of God’s elect from the ruins of the fall for the glory of the triune God. When all the stipulations of the covenant had been agreed upon all the blessings of grace were fully and infallibly bestowed upon God’s elect in Christ, our covenant Head (Eph. 1:3-6).
The beneficiaries of this everlasting covenant were named from eternity and their names written in a book, the Book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8). No, the covenant was not made for all men. If that offends some, I am sorry that it is so. But man’s offense does not nullify God’s work. This covenant is a work of God’s unconditional grace and absolute sovereignty, performed for his elect from eternity (Rom. 9:13-18), for the praise of his glory (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14).
Do you ask, “Who are God’s elect?” They are those sinners for whom Christ died (John 10:11, 15, 26) and for whom he makes intercession (John 17:9, 20). God’s elect are those who are called to life and faith in Christ by God the Holy Spirit (Ps. 65:4). God’s elect are all who trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior (1 Thess. 4:1-10).
In other places it is called, the “covenant of peace,” “covenant of life,” “better covenant,” and “new covenant.” Why does the Holy Spirit here and elsewhere describe the covenant of grace as the “everlasting covenant?” It is described in just these words seven times in the Word of God (2 Sam. 23:5; Isa. 55:3; 61:8; Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26; Heb. 13:20). Why?
First, it is called “the everlasting covenant” to identify its antiquity. The covenant of grace is the oldest of all God’s works. It is from everlasting. The covenant of works had a beginning and an end. The covenant of grace has neither. Believer, think about that fact. Let it ravish your very soul.
Before anything that is was God loved you and made a covenant of grace for you. Before the mountains, the stars, or the seas were brought forth, God thought of you. Before Adam fell, God covenanted with God for you. Before you sinned, help was laid upon One who is mighty for you. Before you went astray from your mother’s womb speaking lies, the Triune God found a way to bring you home to glory. Before he made the angels to minister to you, God’s heart was devoted to you in covenant grace. The Triune God, who has had his heart upon you from eternity, will never forget you, or forget to be gracious to you (Isa. 54:7-10).
Second, the covenant of grace is called “the everlasting covenant” to assure us of its sureness (2 Sam. 23:5). Here is something that stands sure and stands forever! Its mercies are sure mercies. Its blessings are sure blessings. Its promises are sure promises.
On our part, it is an unconditional covenant. Nothing was left to chance. Nothing was left to be determined by our wills. Nothing about it depends upon our works. There are no “ifs,” “maybes,” “buts,” or “perhaps” in this everlasting covenant. Every line is punctuated by God’s “shall” and God’s “will.” It is a covenant ordered in all things and sure from everlasting: ordered by God’s decree and made sure by his power.
Third, the covenant of grace is called “the everlasting covenant” to show us its immutability. Anything everlasting must be immutable. Not one line of the covenant can be erased, not one word blotted out. God is immutable in all things. His love is immutable love (Rom. 9:13). His grace is immutable grace (Mal. 3:6). His forgiveness is immutable forgiveness (Rom. 4:8). His favor is immutable favor (Eph. 1:6). His blessings are immutable blessings (Rom. 11:29; Eph. 1:3). And his covenant is an immutable covenant (Eccles. 3:14).
Fourth, this covenant is called “the everlasting covenant” to teach us that it will never cease to be enforced, no, not even in eternity. It shall one day be consummated, but never terminated. All the heirs of grace shall be the heirs of grace forever: for the same reason (because God chose us), upon the same basis (the blood of Christ), and, therefore, to the same degree! Well may we sing with Phillip Doddridge…
“My God, the covenant of Thy love abides forever sure;
And in its matchless grace I feel my happiness secure!
Thy covenant the last accent claims of this poor, faltering tongue;
And that shall the first notes employ of my celestial song.”