DeRouchie, Jason S. “Is Every Promise ‘Yes’? Old Testament Promises and the Christian,” Themelios 42.1 (2017): 16-45.
This is a helpful article that discusses the application of Old Testament promises to the Christian. He helpfully provides numbers of examples where Old Testament promises are repeated in the New Testament. He situates these promises in their Old Testament context and then looks at their use in the New Testament.
The examples prepare the reader to ask how Old Covenant promises relate to those in the New Covenant. DeRouchie presents “Five Foundational Principles” to answer this question.
- “Christians Benefit from OT Promises Only through Christ.” Here he rests emphasis on Christ as the ultimate Seed to whom the Old Covenant promises were made.”
- “All Old Covenant Curses Become New Covenant Curses.” Here the key text is Deuteronomy 30:6-7, an anticipation of the New Covenant, which states the God place the covenant curses on Israel’s enemies. The New Testament broadens the application to all of God’s people.
- As Part of the New Covenant, Christians Inherit the Old Covenant’s Original and Restoration Blessings.” Here his key text in 2 Corinthians 7:1 in which Paul applies Old Covenant promises regarding life and God’s presence from Ezekiel 37:27 and Leviticus 26:11-12 to Christians.
- “Through the Spirit, Some Blessings of the Christian Inheritance Are Already Enjoyed, Whereas Others Are Not Yet.”
- “All True Christians Will Persevere and Thus Receive Their Full Inheritance.” Here he contrasts the Old Covenant’s “do this and live” requirement with the New Covenant’s promises that the true saints will persevere.
This section is helpful, but I did find myself desiring greater clarity on what DeRouchie considered to be the Old Covenant. Is it the Mosaic Covenant, the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants, all the covenants prior to the New Covenant? It seems that he is using an expansive definition, but at least a footnote of justification for the choice would have been helpful.
The article closes with an unpacking of principle 1: “Christians Benefit from OT Promises Only through Christ.” Here DeRoucie presents four different ways in which OT promises are fulfilled through Christ.
- “OT Promises Maintained (No Extension).” He gives as examples promises of “global salvation after Israel’s exile” (Daniel 12:2) or of Isaiah 53’s promise of “the royal servant’s victory over death.”
- “OT Promises Maintained (with Extension).” He gives the following as an example “God promises that his servant would be a light to the nations. → Christ is this servant-light. → Faith unites us to Christ. → Union with Christ makes us servants with hm. → We join Christ as lights to the nations.” Another examples is God’s promise to walk among his people in connection with the tabernacle extended to the church which is the temple of the Spirit. “
- “OT Promises Completed.” The promise that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem is one example. DeRouchie also places in this category promises given to specific individuals, such as the promise to Solomon that he would receive “both wisdom and riches and honor (1 Kings 3:11-13).” He connects this to Christ by observing that all of God’s good gifts, even common grace ones, were purchased on the cross.
- “OT Promises Transformed.” DeRouchie explains, “By this I mean that both the promise’s makeup and audience get developed.” His primary example is the land promise to Abraham and his offspring which gets transformed from a particular land for Abraham’s physical seed to the entire new creation for all saints.
This last category, however, is problematic if “developed” means that the makeup or content of the promise and the audience or recipients change to be something other than originally promised. This kind of development would actually result in God breaking his word to the original audience to whom he made the promise. If, however, “developed” means that what was originally promised is fulfilled as promised for the original recipients while the content and recipients are expanded beyond the original promise, then it would seem that this category would revert to category 2. With regard to the specific example of land, I have a hard time know whether it fits into category 1 or 2. The land promise is extended to cover the entire world and the nations, which seem to fit category 2. But the extension begins to be spelled out in the Old Testament itself.
I think a great deal of the impasse between dispensationalists, progressive covenantalists, and covenant theologians could be broken if category 2 were recognized by more dispensationalists and if category 4 were eliminated by covenant theologians and progressive covenantalists.