Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Extent of the Divine Covenants

If you were to take your concordance or any Bible software and look up the word covenant, you would find the first appearance of the word in Genesis 6.  This is the account of Noah and the flood.  While giving instructions on how to build the ark, God makes a covenant with Noah to save him and his family.  We’re going to see this later in week seven.  What you won’t find is the word covenant occurring previous to this.  You will find it after, in fact 292 times according to Blue Letter Bible online.  This idea of covenant ultimately finds it’s fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and continues until the consummation of all things.  But what about the 1600+years of history previous to the flood?  Was there a time where God did not deal with us in terms of a covenant?  You cannot find that word previous to Noah, so what was mankind’s relationship to God in terms of?  Attention should be given to why the word does not appear, however it would be very foolish to conclude that since the word does not appear, therefore a covenant did not exist.  If you were to apply that principle across the board, you would have to throw out the agreement God made with David as being covenantal, because the word did not appear in 2 Samuel 7.  That would be an example of what we call hyper-inductivism.  Hyper-inductivism is the disease which prevents you from applying deductive reasoning to a particular situation because of inductive restrictions.  For instance, if you suffered from the most radical form of this disease you would not be able to say that God is a Trinity, in spite of the overwhelming system of that thought found in the Bible, because the word Trinity is not actually found in the Bible.  There are lesser forms of this disease which take on varying degrees of cognitive dissonance.  At it’s core, it violates the LNC because it is a type of systematic theology that rejects all systematic theology.  But that’s not a problem for them because the LNC is not found in the Scripture.  
With that in mind, it shouldn’t bother anyone in here that the word covenant is not found in the first 1600+years of history if the concept of covenant is there.  Robertson makes this statement concerning this idea  “If all the ingredients essential to the making of a covenant were present prior to Noah, the relationship of God prior to Noah may be designated as “covenantal.”
IF that’s true, THEN the extent of the covenants covers all of God’s dealings with man from the beginning of time until the end of it.  So that is the task at hand today.  I’m going to start out with the assertion that that is the case, and then spend the rest of the session seeking to prove that out.  

THE BIG IDEA is that God has always dealt with man in terms of a covenant.  
 The Covenant with Creation
 The Covenant with Man
 The Covenant with Creation
This is a concept that maybe completely foreign to much of the church including us.  But it should not be an obstacle to our thinking.  If it’s true that God’s covenant is unilateral, that is, he sets the terms and accomplishes the conditions, then why would it be any different if we are talking about creation in general?  There are two passages in Scripture that seem to speak about the created order of things in terms of a covenant.  Both are from the book of Jeremiah.  The first is Jeremiah 33:20-21, and 25-26 which says 
Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers...[v. 25-26] Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.  
You see here God speaking about a covenant made with an order of things.  The order of created things.  Some might object here, and say that what Jeremiah was speaking of was the covenant made in Genesis 8:22 after the flood where God said
“I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” 
God did certainly, at the very least reinforce his covenant with day and night in this passage.  But the question remains, is that what Jeremiah was referring to or was he talking about a covenant made prior to Noah?  Robertson interjects here “ is equally possible that the reference to a “covenant” of “day and night” might refer to the ordinances of the third day of creation.”
  The reference that he has in mind here is from Genesis 1:14 which says
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,..”  
If it is said that God did not use the word covenant here in 1:14, the response could be that neither did God use the covenant in the immediate vicinity of the promise in Genesis 8:22.  Arguing like that does not solve this inquiry.  So to which passage was Jeremiah referring to?   One more passage, also found in Jeremiah, is helpful to bring in here in order to answer that question.  Jeremiah 31:35-36
Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD of hosts is his name: “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”  
Again if you suffer from hyper-inductivism this is going to drive you mad. The Hebrew word for ‘fixed order’ here means ordinance, or decree, or statute.  It is used interchangeably with “covenant” in Scripture.  In fact we already saw this in the Jeremiah 33:25 where it used the word “fixed order” when referring to the covenant.  So a covenant could be spoken of as a statute and a statute could be spoken of as a covenant.  For instance Psalm 105:9-10 speaks of God remembering His covenant
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant
If you just take the book of Deuteronomy alone, there is 21 places where Moses commands the Israelites to obey the statutes in order for them to stay in the land.  Moses was doing nothing less than commanding them to keep the covenant that God made with them. More on that on the week on the Mosaic covenant.  
So this phrase ‘fixed order’ in Jeremiah 31 is equivalent to the idea of a covenant.  If that’s true, then Jeremiah 33 and Jeremiah 31 are saying the same thing.  ‘IF it’s possible that this covenant of creation falls apart, THEN it’s possible that my covenant with Israel will cease.’  The same thread runs through both.  These are parallel passages teaching us the same truth.   So then, back to the original question:  is Jeremiah referring to a covenant with creation or is he referring to the covenant with Noah?  Here’s where the details are especially important.  The elements that are found in the Jeremiah 31 passage are not found in the Noahic covenant, BUT they are found in the Genesis 1 regarding creation.   Robertson says “...the reference to the sun and moon specifically as light-bearers for day and night is found in the creation narrative but not in the narrative describing God’s covenant with Noah.  Furthermore, the narrative of the creation-activity of the third day refers to the stars as well as to the moon (Gen. 1:16), as does Jer. 31:35.  The record of God’s covenant with Noah makes no mention of the stars.”
(NOTE:  Regardless of where you personally land on this Scripture, it’s unmistakably clear that God has covenanted with creation here.  Either originally in Genesis 1 or in Genesis 6.)
I believe the evidence is clearly on the side that Jeremiah 33 is speaking about a covenant made in Genesis 1.  One that preceded Noah, that was established at the very beginning. 
Remember that at this point we are only trying to prove that the extent of the covenants covers the entire span of human history.  One more example of this time period between Genesis 1 and Genesis 6 will prove compelling.  

The Covenant with Man 
Perhaps the defining document when it comes to Covenant Theology is that of the Westminster Confession of Faith.  Written in 1646, by mostly English and Scottish Puritans, this document is throughly reformed and replete with covenantal language.  The shorter catechism which is the Q. and A. form of the confession, used to indoctrinate both children and adults alike ask this question:  
Q. 12. What special act of providence did God exercise towards man in the estate wherein he was created?
A. When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.
So the Puritans had much confidence is saying that God’s first dealing with man was in terms of a covenant.  They saw the ingredients, being that of a sovereign administration, conditions of the covenant, and the penalties for breaking such a covenant.  That doesn’t of course prove the case, but it does prove that the church down through the ages has accepted this.  So what was their confidence based on?   They, like all who see this as a covenant, first turn their attention to Genesis 2:15-17
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
As we observe this text, do we find the ingredients necessary for a covenant?  We defined a divine covenant as a bond-in-blood sovereignly administered.  Do we see sovereign administration?  Yes.  God initiated this agreement, set the conditions, and the blessings and cursing.  Do we see a bond-in-blood?  Yes.  If Adam obeyed, he would live.  If Adam disobeyed, he would die.  All the ingredients for a covenant are here.  However the word “covenant” isn’t here.  Is that a problem?  Or is there another place in Scripture where this is referred to as a covenant?  Remember this is exactly the case of the Davidic covenant.  When God made a covenant with David in 2 Samuel 7, He didn’t use the word covenant.  It wasn’t until later that this promise God made was called a covenant.  We find the same scenario unfolding here regarding Adam.  Hosea 6:4-7 reads 
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?  What shall I do with you, O Judah?Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.  Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;  I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.  For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.  But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.
In this text we see the Lord lamenting over his chosen people because of their whoring after other gods.  The whole context of the book is about the prophet being commanded by God to take for himself a prostitute as his wife.  This was meant to demonstrate what God has done with his people Israel and how they continue to prostitute themselves.  Here in chapter six we see the same.  V.4 says “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?  What shall I do with you, O Judah?Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.”  Your love is nothing to me but words.  V. 6 goes on  “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”  In other words from the beginning I have always required this one thing from you.  Love.  V. 7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.”  
So here we have the relationship of God to Adam being called a covenant.  Not quite a open and shut case for Robertson points out three possible interpretations. 1) “ has been suggested that “Adam” should be understood as designating a place.  “At Adam” Israel has broken the covenant.”
  Adam is a city in the Jordan Valley.  But this interpretation would be a huge assumption since we don’t have any Scriptural evidence for Israel committing sin nationally at this place (cf. Joshua 3:16)  2)  It is taken at face value.  In other words, just like the sin of Adam, the first man, so Israel has broken covenant.  This indicates that there was a covenant made with Adam.  3)  The Hebrew word here for “Adam” could be translated “man,” or “mankind.”   In fact the KJV translates the word as “men.”  So would that translation destroy this idea of a covenant being made with Adam?  Hardly.  In fact, either of these last two interpretations still support the idea of a covenant preceding Noah, starting with Adam.  The second interpretation is obvious.  The third interpretation needs to be unpacked a bit.  Hosea 6:4 is clearly speaking of national Israel for Ephraim and Judah are mentioned.  They are set in contrast to the different group in v. 7. What is the only remaining group?  Non-Israel. Robertson says “The point of the passage rests on a comparison.  Israelite man in his relation to God is compared to non-Israelite man in his relation to God.”
  So there is a comparison between Israel breaking it’s covenant with God AND non-Israelite man breaking it’s covenant with God.  The question naturally arises:  what non-Israelite man is the prophet referring to?  To answer that, you have to look earlier then Abraham since he was considered the father of Israel.  That leaves us with Noah or earlier.  The problem with resting this passage on Noah is that the one condition that was clear to Noah, found in Genesis 9:1, tells him to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”  However, this was not a new obligation, but found it’s origin with Adam in Genesis 1:28.  So this third interpretation of Hosea 6:7 doesn’t prevent us from resting it on the shoulders of the first man, it only supports it.  Robertson concludes.   “If “Adam” is taken individually, the term would refer to the original representative man.  His violation of the covenant would refer to the specific breaking of the test of probation described in the early chapters of Genesis.  If “Adam” is taken generically, the term would refer to the broader covenantal obligation that falls on man as he has been given solemn responsibilities in God’s world by creation.  In either case, Hosea 6:7 would appear to apply covenantal terminology to the relation of God to man established by creation.”
  At the end of the day, Hosea 6:7 drives us all the way back to the beginning of time where God sets conditions for Adam to follow.  
What about out detractors that would still claim foul by saying that the word “covenant”  is not found in Genesis 1-5?  First I would point them to the Davidic covenant like I already mentioned.  Secondly I would ask if the ingredients for a covenant are found in the beginning?  This would be an impossible task to deny since it’s clear that God initiated an agreement, set the terms, and enforced the penalties.  The ingredients are clearly there.  Thirdly a little reductio ad absurdum an be applied here.  Remember that their principle, i.e. hyper-inductivism, is that deductive conclusions aren’t allowed because of inductive restrictions.  This principle destroys the Trinity.  There’s no such thing as the Trinity because the word isn’t mentioned in Scripture.  By the way, you don’t exist either, because I can’t find your name anywhere on the pages of the Bible.  At the end of the day this type of reasoning does not stand up to the command to “love the Lord your God with all your mind.”  These things are deep things that require careful thinking.  
The fact is, is that The Extent of the Divine Covenants reaches from the beginning of time and will extend until all things are brought into completion.  

(All Scripture quotes taken from the ESV.  Other quotes from O. Palmer Robertson come from his book The Christ of the Covenants)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Preaching at the Voodoo Donut Shop in Portland

Here's my buddy Shawn "the Baptist" Holes preaching at the Voodoo Donut shop in Portland, OR.

The Nature of the Divine Covenants

Covenants means very little if anything in our contemporary culture.  The word is used rarely, and when used generally the meaning has been completely stripped away.  In God’s court, which is the entire created universe, the meaning remains unaltered.  We see this meaning of covenant from the beginning in Genesis and we can trace its thread all through redemptive history and see it continue into the infinite future.  The meaning of covenant is so foreign to us, that we must look at a fairly radical example of covenant in order for us to begin to grasp the weight of its importance in the mind of God.  In 2 Samuel 21, David was near the end of his life.  Most of his enemies had been dealt with including the insurrection of his son Absalom, and he had the reigns of the nation well placed under his rule.  However there was one more major hardship that the nation was waiting to overcome.  Picking up in 2 Samuel 21:1-9 we read 
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. [Picking up in v. 5] They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel, let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the LORD at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the LORD.” And the king said, “I will give them.”
But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Saul's son Jonathan, because of the oath of the LORD that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite; and he gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before the LORD, and the seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest.
Three very important things to observe from this text. 1) The nature of a famine.  In verse one we read that ‘...there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD’  A famine is not simply missing a meal, or two or three, or ten.  Remember that a famine is what caused the children of Israel to leave their land and settle in Egypt for four hundred years.  Famines drove parents to each their children near the end of Israel’s reign.   A famine an event where the memory of abundance is erased from the minds of the people.  The weather acts as the chief adversary on the land and crops and causes nothing but dust to grow.  It literally controls the population levels because people and animals don’t simply miss dinner, but they die because of the prolonged exposure to starvation.  This was happening for three years in David’s time.  No body knew what it was from, so David inquired of the Lord.  
2) Notice how the Lord answers David.  ‘the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”’  This is a curious statement since both David and Saul put many people’s to death, and many of those peoples were put to death because of a direct command from the Lord their God.  To understand what’s going on here we must travel backwards in time some 500 years to Joshua 9.  Here we find Joshua after the exodus from Egypt on the conquest of Canaan.  He already defeated Jericho and Ai, and the response of the remaining enemies of the land is either to rise up in battle or lose heart because of fear.  One particular group of people in Joshua 9:3-6 takes a different approach. 
...when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.
At first the Israelites were doubtful and interrogated these strangers, but the  Gibeonites responded by pointing to their worn-out provisions.  Picking up in v. 14-15
So the men [the Israelites] took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the LORD. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.
So the Israelites, even though they did not seek the counsel of the Lord, and that this was in fact disobeying the command of the Lord to destroy the inhabitants of the land, made a covenant with the Gibeonites.  This covenant is what God was referring to when David inquired of Him.  Remember he said it was on behalf of the Gibeonites whom Saul killed.  He was pointing back to that.  It could be asked:   ‘But God, that was 500 years ago, and the people who made that covenant on both sides have long since died.  Why are you punishing us for that?’  The answer is covenant.  (By the way, notice in v.7 that the only thing that saved Mephibosheth was the covenant that David made with Jonathan.)
3)  Lastly observe how the famine in 2 Samuel 21 ended.  After these ‘innocent’ men were hanged on the mountain before the Lord for all to see.  After Rizpah wept and protected her sons from the elements and the beasts of the field.  After David went and collected their bodies and the bodies of Saul and Jonathan and had them buried, THEN v. 14 records 
...after that God responded to the plea for the land.
God remembers covenant.  Even after 500 years.  Even after the people who made the covenant died.  He fulfills the covenant and punishes the guilty party.  He even punishes those on the side of the guilty party, though they might not have been directly responsible for breaking the covenant.  God always remembers and upholds the covenant. 
So the scope of this teaching will focus on the nature of divine covenants.  
 The Definition of Covenant
 The Bond of Covenant
 The Administrator of Covenant
THE BIG IDEA is that a DIVINE covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered.
Divine v. Human Covenants
The children’s catechism says that a covenant is ‘an agreement between two or more persons.’  That is true.  Left alone, that would be an adequate definition for a human covenant.  It is a bi-lateral agreement.  It can be initiated by one or both parties and conditions need to be met on both sides.  This definition of a divine covenant is a unilateral agreement, meaning that it is initiated by God, and in the case of the covenant of grace which is the covenant that brings unity to the diversity, the terms are set, and the conditions are met by one.  What we’re going to discover is that a human covenant finds it’s beginning and meaning inside of the divine, whether it’s acknowledged or not.  The penalty for breaking such covenants, sacred or pagan, is still death regardless if it is acknowledged or not.  “The wages of sin is death...”   Just because death doesn’t occur immediately does not mean that judgement is forgotten.  The only way out, is for Jesus to substitute Himself for us, thereby freeing us from the penalty and curse of breaking any such covenant.  
 The Definition of Covenant
The Scripture uses the term covenant in a fairly broad sense.  Some would suggest that nailing down a specific meaning of the word would be a near impossible task.  In spite of the apparent diversity of it’s usage, the Scriptures provide us with an overall unity in the definition.  O. Palmer Roberson says that “In its most essential aspect, a covenant is that which binds people together.  Nothing lies closer to the heart of the biblical concept of the covenant than the imagery of a bond inviolable.”
  To have a bond inviolable means that it is a bond that is secure from violation.  It, by definition, cannot be violated.  So covenant is a bond and the result of that bond is the establishment of relationship between two or more persons.  
One important aspect to keep in mind during this study of covenants is that when a covenant is made between God and man, it is always, without exception a gracious act on God’s part.  The creator owes us nothing but wrath.  For God to covenant with us, is always an act of pure condescension on his part.  He binds Himself to us in an agreement by grace and not by necessity or compulsion.  This idea must be retained.  It is at the very heart of understanding what covenants between God an us are, and is the very fuel for worship and gratefulness which God delights in.  Having said that, a divine covenant is defined as a bond in blood sovereignly administered.

Now Biblical covenants often look different from case to case, like the leaves of the forest look different from each.  However there is unity in the diversity.  A synonym for covenant could be expressed in terms of a binding oath, which also could be parsed out in different forms.  One example of a verbal oath is found in Genesis 21:23.  Abimelech who was the commander of Abraham’s army spoke to him this way
...swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” And Abraham said, “I will swear.
Some might contend that a Biblical oath is not the same as a covenant, but evidence proves otherwise.  Ezekiel the prophet rains down cursing on Zedekiah, king of Judah, for violating both oath and covenant.  Ezekiel 17:19 says 
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: As I live, surely it is my oath that he despised, and my covenant that he broke. I will return it upon his head.
Many other places could be cited to show that binding oaths and covenants, Biblically speaking are interchangeable.  Other forms which a binding oath or covenant might include are symbolic actions like gift giving.  After Abraham swore to Abimelech, he gave him sheep and oxen to seal the covenant.  Robertson goes on to say that other actions could be attached to covenants such as “...the eating of a meal (Exodus 24:11), the setting up of a memorial (Josh 24:27), the sprinkling of blood (Exodus 24:8), the offering of sacrifice (Psalm 50:5), the passing under the rod (Ezekiel 20:37) or the dividing of animals (Genesis 15:10, 18)”
The point is, is that all these oaths, and symbols that accompany them are indicative of a covenant.  These things point to the fact that a commitment has been made which binds people together into a relationship of some type. 
 The Bond of Covenant
Biblically speaking, the terms of the covenant are life and death.  That’s why Robertson calls it a ‘bond-in-blood.’  It is a commitment that will result in life or death.  If the terms of the covenant are kept, life results, if not then death follows.  He says this “God never enters into a casual or informal relationship with man.  Instead, the implications of his bonds extend to the ultimate issues of life and death.”
Making a covenant in the O.T. means literally “to cut a covenant.”   This meaning is applied Biblically to all three types of covenants: a covenant initiated by God with man, initiated by man with God, and lastly a covenant initiated by man with man.  In Genesis 15, we see an example of this “cutting” covenant.  God promised Abraham a son whose descendants would be more numerous than the stars, and the land to go along with it.  Abraham responds by asking ‘O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?” (v. 7)  God answers by telling him to bring animals and have them cut in half and laid opposite each other so that there were two columns of bloodied animals with a passage way in between them.  Then the LORD said to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-18
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”  When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates...”
God passed through the cut up animals, in effect saying ‘that this oath that I’m making with you is binding.  May this happen to me if I do not fulfill this covenant.’  If the terms were kept, life followed; if not then death.  In other words, those animals represents what will happen if the covenant is broken.  Is that the interpretation in all such cuttings?  Is that what it always means Biblically?  I would say yes.  Jeremiah records for us an instance of this interpretation in 34:18, 20
the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts... I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.
Translation:  You break the covenant, and you end up like those pieces you cut up.  Covenants are bound by blood.  ‘The life of the flesh is in the blood’-- Leviticus 17:11.  When a covenant is broken, blood must be shed.   Robertson says “Once the covenant relationship has been entered, nothing less that the shedding of blood may relieve the obligations incurred in the even of covenantal violation.”
This reasoning is the justification for some more difficult Scriptures like that of Hebrews 9:22 which says ‘...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.’   The spilling of blood is THE ONLY WAY appeasement can be made for the breaking of a covenant. 
What’s the difference between a covenant and a testament?
At this point chapter one Robertson seems to make an intrusion that makes no sense, but that’s not the case.  He acknowledges similarities between a covenant and a ‘last will and testament’ in that they both involve death.  Death inaugurates a covenant, and places before the parties involved the promise of life for fulfilling the covenant and death for breaking it.  In the case of a testament however, death does not inaugurate it, the testament does not come into effect UNTIL a death occurs.  The main point regarding these differences is this: The death of Jesus Christ is meant to be understood primarily in terms of covenant and not in testamentary death. “Christ died as a substitute for the covenant-breaker.”
  A last will and testament has no category for substitution.  The testator dies and that’s it.  That death cannot be substituted for.  Christ death was substitutionary for a covenant breaker, it was not testamentary.  He became the curse of the covenant for us, on our behalf because we broke the covenant.  The curse still must be carried out.  One might argue at this point that we are heirs of Christ, and by definition that means we have been included into a testament of sorts.  In fact the book of Hebrews is explicit in terms of Testament and how the testator must die in order for the effects of the testament to go into effect.  All true.  But it is not on the basis of a testament that we are included into the family of God.  Covenant is the cause of us being adopted into Christ.  Once in Christ, we are heirs, and we THEN take part in promises laid out in the testament.  Point and case of this would be found at the last supper.  In Matthew 26:26-28 Jesus said 

“Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
In other words, ‘this is my blood, the blood that is required to relieve the curse of the covenant that is dreadfully resting on my people.’  A covenant is not the same thing as a testament.  The formal is the cause of us being included in the later. 
 The Administrator of Covenant
The definition of a divine covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered.  In other words divine covenants were created, and are executed, and are managed by God.  He created them, and he providentially governs them.  The establishment of them was entirely God’s idea.  Robertson is emphatic on this point by saying “Both biblical and extra-biblical evidence point to the unilateral form of covenantal establishment.  No such thing as bargaining, bartering, or contracting characterizes the divine covenants in Scripture.  The sovereign Lord of heaven and earth dictates the terms of his covenant.”
  You can see this very clearly in the example of the covenant that opened up this session.  A period of 500 years and many generations separated the covenant that Joshua made and with Saul who broke it.  God who governs and watches over such things brings punishment on the people of Israel for breaking it BECAUSE it says something about Him.  He’s not arbitrarily acting on behalf of a long forgotten human promise.  He’s acting on behalf of Himself as the sovereign administrator of the covenant.  As we are going to discover as we go through this study, this subject strikes very close to the very nature of God.  
[The quotes were taken from O. Palmer Robertson's book The Christ of the Covenants.  Bible quotes are taken from the ESV]