The Covenant Formula by Rolf Rendtorff (part 4)

The Covenant Formula by Rendtorff
As I stated in my previous posts, the covenant formula occurs repeatedly in the Old Testament. It is part of the stock language of the Old Testament that is used to express God’s covenant relationship to his people. In The Covenant Formula, Rendtorff provides a helpful introduction to the covenant formula and its relationship to various elements of Old Testament theology. In this post, I will look at important instances of the covenant formula in Ezekiel.

The Covenant Formula and God’s Promises in Ezekiel 36 and 37

In Ezekiel, the covenant formula only occurs in predictions concerning Israel’s future after the exile (Rendtorff 35). Ezekiel reiterates the connection between the covenant and obedience in Ezekiel 36:25-28. God will cleanse his people from their idolatry, give them a “new heart” and a “new spirit,” and place his Spirit in them so that they might be obedient to his commandments. Rendtorff (76) comments, “It is as if God wanted to be quite sure that his commandments are going to be kept. That is why he additionally puts his own spirit into the new heart.” In Ezekiel 36:28, one finds the covenant formula: “You will be my people and I will be your God” (36:28).

In Ezekiel 37:24-28, the covenant formula occurs in a passage that is brimming with hope for the future of the people of God. There will be a new David, “an everlasting covenant,” and a new sanctuary (Temple). God will dwell with them, as he did in the Tabernacle and the Temple (37:26-27). God’s words regarding dwelling with them echo Exodus 29:45 (Rendtorff 77). Recall that Exodus 29:45 (see previous post) was the first time that God’s dwelling with his people was related to the covenant formula (and the covenant). The covenant formula occurs in Ezekiel 37:27: “I will be their God and they will be my people.”

Therefore, one can see in Ezekiel the repetition of familiar aspects of God’s covenant. The covenant has to do with obedience; it also has to do with blessing. The people of the covenant will be blessed.

If you have read all of the posts on the covenant formula, you can already see that that covenant formula occurs in several familiar passages. These passages are, or should be, familiar, because they are so important for biblical theology. The covenant is one important aspect of biblical theology. Genesis 17, Exodus 6:2-8, Exodus 19:5-6, Exodus 29:45-46, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 36:25-28, and Ezekiel 37:24-28 are all important passages for biblical theology and they all contain the covenant formula, which affirms God’s covenant with his people.

We will end our treatment of the covenant formula by looking at how it occurs at the end of the Bible in Revelation 21.

Coming Up: The covenant formula in Revelation

The Covenant Formula by RendtorffThe Covenant Formula

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