January 12, 2008 at 10:01 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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From the time that man was created, God established a covenant. All throughout the history of Israel, God made covenants with His people. When the fullness of time had come, and Jesus came to earth, it was to establish a new covenant; an everlasting covenant.

As time has marched on, it seems that God’s people have not only forgotten that God is a covenant God, and that He has established a covenant with all those who accept Christ, but it seems that we have forgotten what a covenant is.

If you turn on the television today and watch any of the preachers, eventually (more often sooner than later), you’ll hear about the blessings of God and how they are just waiting for you to “tap into”. It’s like they’re just hanging in mid air right ahead of you and all you have to do is pluck them up and take them home. Is that what covenant is about?

For instance, there are certain scriptures that people quote all the time. One of them is Deuteronomy 28. I hear people always talking about being blessed in the city and blessed in the field. They talk about being the head and not the tail, the top and not the bottom, the lender and not the borrower. All of these things can be found in verses 3-14. The odd thing is that they forget a few things. One thing that I never hear when I hear people quote this is verse 1. Deuteronomy 28:1 says:

       “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. “ 

This is the most important verse of the passage!! In the first verse, God uses covenant language to tell the Israelites what the conditions were. It says if you diligently obey the Lord and are careful to do ALL His commandments THEN verses 2-14 apply to you. I can honestly say that I have never heard this quoted when people talk about the blessings in Deuteronomy 28. Why not? I believe it’s because we don’t want the covenant; we just want the blessings. We don’t want the truth or the work or the obedience; we just want the result.

There is something else that I never hear when people talk about this chapter. They talk all the time about the 14 verses of blessings, but no one seems to remember the 54(!) verses of curses that will come from disobedience to God’s commandments. We pick and choose what we want to believe and how we want it to work when God has already laid all the ground rules and determined exactly what needs to happen and how.

If we really understood covenant, things would be different. See, when two people (or families, or tribes) wanted to make a covenant, it wasn’t a light-hearted undertaking. First, they would sit down with each other and determine the different terms of the covenant, by using if/then phrasing. They would say things like:

            “If you do this, then I’ll do this.”

            “If I do this for you, then you do this for me.”

It would go back and forth until both parties were satisfied with the terms. When they were both satisfied, they would then proceed to a designated area and take animals and cut them in half. (Do you realize how much work it would take to cut rams, bulls, goats, and sheep in half from head to tail? Without power tools?) They would then lay the halves of animals across from each other on a path, allowing the blood to pool up in the path between the animals. Then both members of the covenant (or the representatives of the parties involved) would start at the ends of the path and walk to the middle through the blood. When they got to the center, they would often cut their palms, and clasp hands. They would then look each other in the eye and, in the presence of those gathered, would reiterate the terms of the covenant. When this was done, the covenant was sealed and the only way out of the covenant was death (‘Til death do us part…). If you didn’t hold up your end of the bargain, you died. This was back in the day, though, when a covenant actually meant something.

If we really understood what being part of a covenant meant, I think that we would see our relationship with God differently. We would see it as truly precious because of what the covenant means. Instead, we try to claim the blessing part of the covenant without really understanding the part that we’re supposed to play in it. If you read through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, you’ll see covenant language throughout. In the New Testament, you’ll see it in John 8:31-36. You’ll also see it in Romans 10:9-10.

There are two amazing things about the covenant that God has made with Christians. First of all, it’s that He even made the covenant with us. Second, it’s the amazing way that He ended the old covenant. In Leviticus, it says that without the death of one party, the covenant is still in effect. For the covenant that God made through Jesus Christ, one party had to die. That party was God and it happened when Jesus died on the cross.

Are you a part of the covenant? If so, what are you doing to hold up your end of the bargain?

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