The main thrust of the session was to look at the building of a matrix for background understanding of a text. Since I had given the assignment for Jeremiah 31:31-34, I used that as the basis for discussion, specifically focusing on covenant (ברית).
Genesis 12:1-3, 7 Fourfold expression of God’s call and covenant with Abram (great nation, blessing, great name, land). All parts of the covenant are dependent on God (Yahweh) not Abram. Each of these will receive partial fulfillment throughout the Old Testament, but reach their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, which will be realized in all its glory at the end when Christ returns (Hebrews 9:27-28) (i.e. for the land, see Hebrews 3-4, especially 4:8-10).
Genesis 15 The reassurance given to Abram regarding the covenant promises finds expression in 15:6 (NAS95) “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Further, in the ceremony that follows, the one-sided covenant receives its ultimate expression when God’s essence (“smoking oven and a flaming torch”) passed between these pieces declaring that if Abram fails in any aspect, then God will die (using the treaty understanding that the lesser king passes between the pieces). Jesus’ death satisfies that requirement and fulfills the old covenant.
The connection to Jeremiah 31 becomes immediate with Jesus’s institution of the “new covenant” or better “new testament” or further “new last will and testament” which becomes effective when the person dies. Thus, the old covenant gives way to the new testament in Jesus’ death.
Exodus 24 the “blood of the covenant” half thrown on the altar, the other half thrown on the people. From then on, the blood of the covenant will either be a curse, “his blood and death be on us” (Matthew 27:25), or a blessing, “his blood shed for me” (Matthew 26:8), an unworthy recipient.
Exodus 20:24 “in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.” Here the promise of God’s presence is related to his name and his remembering (to act for the deliverance of his people). This connects Baptism (Matthew 28:18-20, “baptizing in the name of …”), the Lord’s Supper (“do this in remembrance of Me”), absolution (Matthew 18:20 “for where two or three are gathered together in My name”), and the forgiveness of sins and salvation which comes through these means.
At several points I emphasized how critical translations become so that we can better understand the original language text and be able to communicate effectively when preaching and/or teaching.