Leviticus 18 and RoCoW (Republication of the Covenant of Works)

Status
Not open for further replies.

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
In one of the classical passages on "do this and you shall live" from the OT - Leviticus 18:5 - notice that here the Lord is really saying that "If a man does these things he will experience physical life in the Land", which of course, for the Old Covenant people was also a type of spiritual and eternal life.

In Romans 10:5 the Apostle Paul picks up on this passage and goes straight to the antitype, as he had every right to do, and under the inspiration of the Spirit.

The reason that I think that Leviticus 18:5 may be speaking of natural/physical life primarily, is because of the context, which may not be "coincidental"

It introduces a passage that deals with incestuous relations and other sexual relations, which, sinful practices, can:-

(a) Spread infectious diseases e.g. What kind of diseases could be spread by relations with animals? Are animals likely to take kindly to such behaviour or turn on the offender and rend him?

(b) Spread and promote genetic diseases, weaknesses and abnormalities.

(c) Cause major problems in families and family structure leading not productive of healthy and happy lives and leading sometimes to early death.

(d) On top of that, under Moses, if you were caught doing any of these things by two or three witnesses and they were willing to be involved in your execution, you would be deprived of a sacrifice for these sin-crimes and excommunicated by execution, probably by stoning, by the witnesses and the congregation, under the authority of the elders, as typological of eternal death. This was also true for the grossest violations of 9 of the 10C, apart from covetousness (Commandment number 10).

I don't know if other ways in which these laws are particularly promotional of life in this world can be seen. Not all sinful practices, certainly, are as directly detrimental to physical life and the healthy and happy reproduction of human life - and the well-being of that life as it is nurtured in the family - as these practices in Leviticus 18 are.

The fact that this isn't pointing to a Republication of the Covenant of Works in the Mosaic Covenant (or Sinaitic Covenant as RoCoW advocates like to call it) is also shown in that this is a very tributary passage in the Mosaic Covenant and not at the headwaters of the Mosaic Covenant.
 
Last edited:

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
From John Calvin’s Commentary on Leviticus 18:5:

“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.”

Ye shall therefore keep my statutes. Although Moses introduces this passage, where he exhorts the Israelites to cultivate chastity in respect to marriage, and not to fall into the incestuous pollutions of the Gentiles, yet, as it is a remarkable one, and contains general instruction, from whence Paul derives his definition of the righteousness of the Law, (Romans 10:5,) it seems to me to come in very appropriately here, inasmuch as it sanctions and confirms the Law by the promise of reward. The hope of eternal life is, therefore, given to all who keep the Law; for those who expound the passage as referring to this earthly and transitory life are mistaken. The cause of this error was, because they feared that thus the righteousness of faith might be subverted, and salvation grounded on the merit of works. But Scripture does not therefore deny that men are justified by works, because the Law itself is imperfect, or does not give instructions for perfect righteousness; but because the promise is made of none effect by our corruption and sin. Paul, therefore, as I have just said, when he teaches that righteousness is to be sought for in the grace of Christ by faith, (Romans 10:4,) proves his statement by this argument, that none is justified who has not fulfilled what the Law commands. Elsewhere also he reasons by contrast, where he contends that the Law does not accord with faith as regards the cause of justification, because the Law requires works for the attainment of salvation, whilst faith directs us to Christ, that we may be delivered from the curse of the Law. Foolishly, then, do some reject as an absurdity the statement, that if a man fulfills the Law he attains to righteousness; for the defect does not arise from the doctrine of the Law, but from the infirmity of men, as is plain from another testimony given by Paul. (Romans 8:3.) We must observe, however, that salvation is not to be expected from the Law unless its precepts be in every respect complied with; for life is not promised to one who shall have done this thing, or that thing, but, by the plural word, full obedience is required of us. The pratings of the Popish theologians about partial righteousness are frivolous and silly, since God embraces at once all the commandments; and who is there that can boast of having thoroughly fulfilled them? If, then, none was ever clear of transgression, or ever will be, although God by no means deceives us, yet the promise becomes ineffectual, because we do not perform our part of the agreement.

"it seems to me to come in very appropriately here, inasmuch as it sanctions and confirms the Law by the promise of reward. The hope of eternal life is, therefore, given to all who keep the Law; for those who expound the passage as referring to this earthly and transitory life are mistaken".

It's interesting also that the keeping of the particular laws that are mentioned in the context of this promise of life for keeping the law, are ones that happen promote natural and physical life in quite a direct and obvious way.

Once again the antitype of spiritual and eternal life are offered to the Israelites under the type of natural life and health (in the Land of Promise). This is as it should be, since the antitypical work of Christ on the Cross was typified by the physical death of animal sacrifices.

There is no comfort for RoCoW advocates here, because all that the Lord was doing by mentioning life by the law here was to point out that physical and natural life was promoted by the observance of certain laws, which reward of physical and natural life, pointed to

(a) the hypothetical possibility that spiritual life and eternal life could be secured if a man kept the law perfectly from conception to death, and without Adam's sin, which was picked up on by the Apostle Paul.

(b) Also there may be a hint that those who observe the law are showing by their works that they are those who are not only benefitting themselves physically by observing these laws, but are the ones who also have spiritual and eternal life.

There is no sense that this is a general RoCoW associated with the Sinaitic Covenant and this is confirmed by the place where it is in the Torah. It is a tributary of the Torah and it is no accident that the laws that this statement of "keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them" is associated with are these laws in particular.

All it is, is a pointer from a possible and achievable typological reality that these and, no doubt other's of God's laws, if kept promote physical life and the good life, to the hypothetical antitypical reality that if someone could keep God's law perfectly he would inherit spiritual and eternal life.

I hope that those with better exegetical skills and academic training pick up on these things, to the extent they are the case, if they are not found elsewhere.
 
Last edited:

Willem van Oranje

Puritan Board Junior
Shouldn't the intent of the Holy Spirit in this passage, as expressed in Paul's apostolic interpretation, be considered normative to shape our understanding of it? I note this with special consideration to the disciplines of biblical and systematic theology. When the Holy Spirit speaking by Paul states that the land was a figure of eternal life, and that the law aspects of the Mosaic covenant were a schoolmaster intended to drive Israel to Christ, isn't that how we should think of it, theologically speaking? (I. E. as an administration of the covenant of grace with eternal life in Christ as its end.)
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Well this is it.

There were these typological teaching aids which were attatched to the Old Covenant, not as a RoCoW, which strictly speaking is impossible after Adam's sin, and not in order to cause added grief and "hassle" for the Old Covenant people, but graciously given because of the Church's then state of development.

You need someone sinless for a RoCoW - particularly a representative individual. Therefore it was only in Christ's case that there was a RoCoW. Unless God was mocking the poor Israelites (His People, His Firstborn) at Sinai!

A "burdensome" picture-book Gospel accompanied by a childhood form of discipline, including the possibility of being expelled by a typological curse from the Land of Promise - either individually, and sometimes by death, or collectively by death and by exile - may not seem so gracious to us, because we are in the New Covenant. And it wouldn't be gracious if God gave that to us after Christ, after the completion of the Scriptures, after the outpouring of the Spirit, etc.

But because of the stage of development at which the Church was - underage, WCF 19:3, it was gracious. I don't believe that God was somehow trying to provoke the Jews or giving them laws that were unnecessary at that time. Everything is decreed of course, but humanly speaking, the Jews had all they needed to make a good and great go of it. Maybe some of the laws of the Old Covenant were graciously given in order to make the Jews more conscious of their sin and turn to Christ, as when God graciously gives us portions of Scripture and preachers and convictions to make us more aware of our sin.

To call the "Sinaitic" Covenant a RoCoW is pure confusion.

There were typological teaching aids that in some sense echoed the situation in Eden e.g. the Land of Israel pointed back to Eden and forward to the New Heavens and New Earth. The casting of the Jews out of the Land as individuals or collectively echoed Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden. The way to the Holy Place and Holy of Holies was guarded by Cherubim, etc. Maybe the Seven Branched Candelabra (Menorah) of Divine Light and Life pointed back to the Tree of Life. There are many other echoes.

In the New Covenant those in the visible Church who were unbelievers will one day be excluded from this Earth in its renewed and transformed state, and some are put out into Satan's kingdom, temporarily or permanently, by proper Church discipline. Does that mean that the New Covenant is a RoCoW?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I think one of the keys to this RoCoW business and what the RoCoW advocates are trying to poorly express by the formulation "a Republication of the Covenant of Works" is the fact that from the beginning God has been giving Mankind typological lessons in the ultimate reality that they can be eternally and finally excluded from His Kingdom. But because God is a gracious God, and He doesn't want to immediately and irrevocably exclude men from His Kingdom the moment they sin, He gives them anticipations and "tasters" of it, that are less than the real thing. Eventually - in God's will - some of these (us) repent, before we experience final and irrevocable exclusion from God's Kingdom, partly because of these gracious intimations of God's ultimate wrath.


E.g. (a) Eden and all the blessings that God gave the first couple, including the Sabbath Rest, were a taster and pointer to the greater Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom which would be Man's when Adam had fulfilled the Probation and Mankind had fulfilled the Creation-Cultural Mandate.

When Adam sinned, God, because He is gracious, did not want to immediately cast Adam and Eve into Hell, as He had every just right to do so. So by excluding them from Eden and bringing upon them the Curse and all the other consequences of the Fall He graciously gave Adam and Eve and Mankind a taster of and pointer to Hell, that they might heed His Gospel message and escape the final reality to which these things pointed.

E.g. (b) There may be lessons of this kind in connection with Noah and the Deluge.

E.g. (c) There may be lessons of this kind in connection with Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah.

E.g. (d) There may be lessons of this kind in connection with the wandering of the Israelites in the wilderness.

E.g. (e) There may be lessons of this kind in connection with the wickedness of the Seven Nations of Canaan being allowed to increase before they were conquered and judged by Israel.

E.g. (f) When it comes to the Old Covenant people in the Land of Israel, God being a gracious God did not want to bring the ultimate realities of Heaven and Hell onto individuals or the nation collectively the moment they sinned, and of course He already found them as sinners.

Therefore to teach them to avoid Hell, He graciously set up a system of discipline and sanctions for individuals, and also ultimately for the nation collectively, that would give them a little taster of and warning of and pointer to Hell, whether they were true believers or not.

(i) There was simple "cutting-off" (excommunication) from the Land and Fellowship of the Living, of individuals that committed certain ceremonial offences. This would have involved being temporarily debarred from the Passover and other ordinances, partial or complete shunning, and maybe internal or external exile.

(ii) "Cutting-off" by God, from the Land and Fellowship of the Living, by bringing illness and/or physical death, was associated with some offences, particularly when the community does not have the knowledge of the offence because access to that knowledge is difficult. Or when the community fails to act in some laws God says that He Himself will act to cut-off the person or persons.

(iii) "Cutting-off" from the Land and Fellowsip of the Living by being denied an animal sacrifice for presumptious sin and being "utterly cut-off" by the death penalty. Of course if you were a believer and this happened to you properly or improperly you would go immediately to glory. But it was a type of God's wrath against sin and the fact that ultimately some will be utterly and irrevocably excluded from God's ultimate Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom.

(iv) God reserved the right to exclude the whole nation of the Jews from the Land by disaster, disease, death, famine and exile. This would teach many of them about the ultimate exclusion of Hell before it was too late. Obviously believers, like Jeremiah, could be caught up in this type.

{These things, by the way, more than touch on the task of discerning the general equity of the Mosaic penology for today}

If this was a RoCoW, God would have been encouraging the Jews to avoid these things by the way of works. But the Pharisees tried this route and failed. God graciously gave these lessons to His Old Covenant people so that they would not seek to be reconciled to Him by works, grace plus works, "Covenantal Nomism", but by grace through faith in the Christ that was graciously offered to them in the Ceremonial Law and Preaching of the Prophets in particular.


We could also look at how God in His wonderful grace teaches us about the ultimate exclusion of Hell from His Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom in this New Covenant Era of the Abrahamic Covenant, without Him sending us to Hell the moment we step out of line.

The Hebrews/Israelites/Jews were priviledged to graciously have clearer and fuller teaching than the Patriarchs on all things including God's ultimate exclusion of some/many from the ultimate Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom.

The Christians are priviledged to graciously have clearer and fuller teaching than the Hebrews/Isrealites/Jews had on all things including God's ultimate exclusion of some/many from the ultimate Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom.

Therefore the Mosaic settlement is building on the lessons of Eden and exclusion from Eden, and the Christian settlement is building on the lessons of Eden and exclusion from Eden, and the lessons of the Mosaic settlement and period.

But neither the Mosaic Covenant (or "Sinaitic" Covenant as RoCoW advocates like to call it for some reason) or the New Covenant are RoCoWs.
 

johnpesebre

Puritan Board Freshman
You are saying that the RoCoW is christological.

Therefore it was only in Christ's case that there was a RoCoW

So in some sense[\I] you are saying that there was in fact a republication that happened.

Now, you also say that the "typological lessons" which are "less than the real thing" will "eventually" result in repentance. For you (I could be wrong) the Mosaic law is given towards the "repentance" of His people in order to free them from the "experience [of] final and irrevocable exclusion from God's Kingdom." Looks pedagogical.

Now that confuses me after surveying a catalog of RoCoW positions. I read one RoCoW proponent teaching that Sinai was not republished "as a covenant of works per se, but as part of the covenant of grace, which pointed to the person and work of Christ." So, organically Sinai is not Eden -- but there is a continuation: utilization of the law. When you utilize "typological lessons" to anticipate "repentance" you are in fact echoing John Ball

"The old testament doth promise life eternall plainly under the condition of morall obedience perfect, that is under condition altogether impossible, together with an heavy burden of legal rites and a yoke of most strict pollicie, but covertly under the condition of repentance and faith." (Covenant of Grace, 96)

Though you say
To call the "Sinaitic" Covenant a RoCoW is pure confusion.
. Pardon me but I think you are in fact espousing one category of "republication"

Probably, sir, I am misunderstanding and misrepresenting your thoughts. I'm sorry. I can see that you are a very sophisticated thinker and it is to my disadvantage that I have to read your posts numerous times. English is not my first language.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Though you say

To call the "Sinaitic" Covenant a RoCoW is pure confusion.
.

Pardon me but I think you are in fact espousing one category of "republication"

Probably, sir, I am misunderstanding and misrepresenting your thoughts. I'm sorry. I can see that you are a very sophisticated thinker and it is to my disadvantage that I have to read your posts numerous times. English is not my first language.

Dear John,

The only category of "Republication" which is possible is a hypothetical Republication. But that is not a real Republication.

God couldn't have offered a real Republication to the Israelites at Sinai, or He would have been encouraging sinners to seek salvation by the keeping of the law, which would be immoral for God to do.

So at best there is a hypothetical Republication at Sinai to point out a way of salvation that there once was, but has been ended for ever by Adam's one sin. The end of the CoW as a real option for salvation is illustrated by the cherubim and fiery sword barring the way to the Tree of Life. If Adam and his offspring - including us and the Israelites - were to be saved afterr Adam sinned, it would have to be by some other way than the CoW.

Christ had to keep the CoW for us and the Israelites in God's grace towards us. It would be morally wrong for God, Christ, or a preacher or anyone else to give people in the Patriarchal Period Old Covenant period or New Covenant period the notion that there was a real RoCoW.

To call such a Republication of the Covenant of Works is extremely misleading at best, because it is hypothetical and not real.

Apart from that we could say that there is a Republication of the Covenant of Works in the New Covenant, e.g. where our Lord points it out as a way of salvation to "the Rich Young Ruler". but if our Lord was really trying to encourage the Rich Young Ruler to get to Heaven by the Covenant of Works, then our Lord was doing what is wrong. He was using the Covenant of Works - not really, but hypothetically as a teaching aid, to encourage the Rich Young Ruler to seek salvation by grace.

Although the Covenant of Works is republished in this way in the New Covenant Scriptures, why don't we hear of the Republicationists calling the New Covenant a Republication of the Covenant of Works?

The Republicationistas need to make clear that they are talking - at the strongest - about a hypothetical and not a real RoCoW as a teaching aid.

A hypothetical RoCoW is a very different animal to a RoCoW. If the Republicationistas mean the former they should say so, instead of muddying the waters of Covenant Theology and of the doctrine that since the Fall Man has always been saved by grace through faith and not by works.

Jesus had to fulfil the CoW, but for us and the Old Covenant Israelites and Patriarchs that is not a RoCoW. The Republicationistas are saying that a RoCoW was issued to the Israelites at Sinai.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top