The recognition that mankind is fundamentally dependent on God is brought to the fore again and again in the Old Testament. Now, this finds direct expression in the building of places of worship and our recognition of God as our Maker.
In the course of time, sin became overwhelmingly prevalent, and mankind increasingly turned away from God. For this reason, God caused them to perish in the flood, His divine judgement.
But God granted grace to Noah and his family. They were saved in the ark. God made a covenant with them in which He promised all descendants of the human race that He would preserve and never again destroy them by water. He gave the rainbow as a sign of this covenant.
These events are already a reference to God’s acts of salvation which would later be carried out in the church of Christ: God accepts those who believe in Him and who are born again in Jesus. He cares for and protects them, and takes them into His Covenant. Deliverance in the ark is expressly interpreted in 1 Peter 3: 20-21 as a model for baptism, how deliverance is effected in the new Covenant. As a result, Christian tradition understands Noah’s ark as an image for the church of Christ.
The covenant with Noah included all human beings. Then, through God’s election of Abraham, a further covenant was established, which called Abraham and his descendants into a special relationship with God: they became the chosen people of God, designated to be the people who would be God’s witnesses and His Light to the nations. The outward sign of this covenant was circumcision. This covenant was confirmed with Isaac and then Jacob.
When Moses received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai and passed them on to the people of Israel by God’s commission, God revealed His will in the form of a Law. This was proclaimed to the assembly, a congregation. Acts 7:38
The Law defined the relationship between human beings and God, as well as their relationships with one another. It established rules for proper divine service. The latter consisted of the sacrificial rite performed by the priests in the tabernacle, in addition to worship of, and devotion to, God by the people through prayer, faith, and obedience. As the people chosen by God; Israel was called to this divine service.
They failed in this task and were exiled. Part of the Israelites, the House of Judah have returned, but in apostasy. The remainder: the House of Israel, are still scattered among the nations and it is mainly them who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus. The vast multitude of faithful Christian believers today.
The elements of the old covenant point to Jesus Christ and to the establishment of the church:
1/ The old Covenant shows the Way to the new Covenant.
2/ The old Covenant mark of circumcision points to baptism.
3/ The proclamation of the divine will points to the preaching of the word of God.
4/ The priestly sacrificial service points to Holy Communion and its administration by the authorised ministry.
5/ Prayer and faith point to the worship of God, in Christian divine service.