This study guide is meant to accompany the Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School lesson for the 2nd Quarter of 2021. The format of this guide follows a similar pattern for each week’s lesson: an introduction to the topic, a short discussion on several verses or a bulleted list of concepts for a passage, followed by questions in bold type. Please read through the Biblical passages, and then prayerfully consider the bolded questions. Perhaps you’ll find better questions that should be asked, and answered!
May the God who made a covenant with us through Jesus Christ illumine your study by His Spirit as we look forward to the time when His plan and covenant are fulfilled!
March 9, 2021
Our study this quarter focuses on the ancient social contract known as “covenant.” Depending on the Biblical scholar queried, some will say there have been many different covenants between God and different groups humans, others will argue for a single covenant reiterated throughout time, and still others may say that God’s covenants, while different for different people, all point to the same goal. While we may not completely clarify these issues during the next 13 weeks, it’s clear from the Bible’s trajectory that God wishes to enter into relationships with humans.
Social contracts come in many forms in our world: a business partnership, a marriage license, a car-rental, military enlistment, a cross-my-heart promise made to a friend, or even just a cash transaction at the grocery store. Each of these is a contract of greater or lesser significance. Each one carries expectations for all of those involved, and perhaps consequences or penalties for violating the contract.
Some of these are of a legal, binding nature in courts of law, while others are based on trust between friends. The legally binding contract is no more valuable than the personal promise, and in fact, it’s violation may cause far less pain and loss than a friend or spouse failing to fulfill a verbal promise when it matters most. Such is the nature of covenants.
But the Biblical covenant has some unique aspects, which we’ll examine this quarter. We’ll see why covenants were God’s means of interacting with His people Israel, what the expectations were for God and His chosen people, the penalties for violating the contract, and how those penalties were paid.
Most of all this quarter, we’ll also see the good news of God’s enduring faithfulness, the great depths of His love, and His desire to be in the closest of possible relationships with humans. No greater expressions of self-sacrificing love can be found anywhere in all of literature or history or social media than in the Biblical accounts of God’s fulfillment of the covenant at His own expense and loss—the death of His son in behalf of sinful humanity.