The Presence of God and Covenant

I am reading a book entitled The Presence of God by J. Ryan Lister. Let me quote part of the book to you. He says:

God is present because He wants to be; He is present because it brings Him glory. There is nothing forcing Him to draw near other than His very character. We see that the transcendence of God is the source of His imminent presence with and for His creation. His nature—typified by holiness, control, and authority—is free to relate to a broken world in the ways He deems fit and in ways that exalt Him. It is only in this understanding of God that we can truly grasp what the presence of God really is. Out of the Lord’s transcendence and freedom emerges His decision to draw near—to redeem us and to be our hope. God enters this world to establish a covenant relationship with us, to redeem us and to usher us into new creation filled with His presence.”

There are three things he deals with in this book as our covenant God: God’s presence, a place, and His covenant people. He begins with Adam (people) in the garden. God was present with him to meet his every need. He gave him a wonderful place in which to dwell. If Adam had not sinned, would not the beauty of Eden been worldwide? Adam walked with God, there was no sin. He enjoyed His presence with no hindrances at all times. When God created Eve for Adam, they dwelt in perfect bliss with God. Every need they had was met. Think of living in an environment with no sin, not only in ourselves but in others and enjoying unhindered fellowship with God. This all changed when Adam and Eve sinned and were expelled from the garden. God made a covenant with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 which is often referred to as the first Gospel. There God said: “and I will put enmity between you and the woman, in between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Here God talks about the triumph of Jesus Christ over Satan.

In spite of their sin, God did not abandon mankind but promised that His presence would continue. If you read through your Old Testament, you will see that the pattern of God’s presence, place and people continues. We see this through Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob.

When we come to David however, He promises in 2 Samuel 7:10: “Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own and move no more…” It is a land of peace, free of affliction (2 Samuel 7:10) and enemies, characterized by joy and rest (2 Samuel 7:11). This evokes what we call Edenic imagery and looks forward to the new creation’s fulfillment of these promises in Revelation 21. In this sense the covenant with David “restarts” creation. Through the dominion promise, the Lord reveals an unwavering devotion to the purposes established in Eden.

Let me close by quoting from Lister:

With Israel set to become the new Eden, let us remember that we who were once in sin received our just curses, but also received, out of God’s sheer grace, a covenant relationship with our Creator and Redeemer that ensures the eschatological goal of becoming a people in the place of His presence. In light of this, may our hearts revel in the God of our salvation, who covenants with us to secure His glory and our hope and happiness. And what is more, God is not done. Our look back upon God’s work before David should draw our eyes forward to what God will do next. What we see when we look ahead is our Lord pulling the common threads  of all the previous covenants together to create the beautiful fabric of the new covenant.”

Though we are now enjoying God’s presence as His people, the place in which we now live is yet to be renewed when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. In John 21:4, he said: “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”


See you Sunday.