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Posts Tagged ‘covenant’

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A covenant is more than just a promise. A covenant is something agreed upon by at least two parties … both knowing what they are agreeing to.

The Bible speaks of a handful of covenants between God and people.

God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the Earth with a flood (Genesis 9:8-11), and gave the rainbow as a reminder of his covenant.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Hebrews 11:7

God made a covenant with Abram (later Abraham) when He said that Abram would be the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4).

Poor, old Abram, with his old wife Sarai (well beyond childbearing years) … this covenant sent Sarai into laughing hysterics. But, God did as he promised, and Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham, and God’s covenant flowed through his descendants.

By faith Abraham fulfilled his end of the bargain, and he went where God sent him (Hebrews 11:8). By faith, Abraham was circumcised, along with all males in his household, as a sign to set he and his descendants apart (Genesis 23:27). By faith, Abraham lay Isaac on an alter, willing to do whatever God asked of him (Genesis 22:8) … and so thankful that the Lord did provide.

God made a covenant, through Moses, with His people (not all people, but the children of Israel … the Jewish people), in the form of the Ten Commandments. This came after God, with force, brought His people our of slavery in Egypt. Before Moses had even written these laws in stone, the people, by faith, said, “everything the Lord has said we will do.”

And after he read the Book of the Covenant, Moses took the blood of young bulls that were sacrificed as offerings to God, and “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”” (Exodus 24:8). The people, who, by faith, said “we will obey” were, quite literally, covered by the blood of the covenant … their sins were covered by God’s promise.

God made a covenant with David, that the Messiah would come through the lineage, the house, of David. David wanted to build a house for God. Instead, God sent a message to David, a house would be built, through the One who would come after him, through his very own bloodline. This builder “is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son” (2 Samuel 7:13-14). David responded to God: “your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant” (2 Samuel 7:28) … David trusted his God, he had faith, that that which God promised, and David would never see in his lifetime, would come true.

Over and over we see that when it comes to a covenant with God, the equation is :

Covenant = Blood (Faith + Promise)

I suppose we should consider that fulfillment of God’s covenant with David :

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel (the Jews)
  and with the people of Judah (the Gentiles).
I will put my laws in their minds (not just knowing, but understanding)
  and write them on their hearts (intimacy).
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
(Hebrews 8:8-10)

A new covenant, “has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Previously, “the law required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ was the final blood sacrifice for sins. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14).

Jesus’ blood covers God’s promise and our faith.

And now, our part in the covenant:

Do we have the faith to follow, and obey? to be His?

 

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mawwiageThe BEST wedding clip of all time:

Once you have watched that clip, it simply stays with you forever … and changes every wedding ceremony thereafter.

When God first instituted marriage in Genesis, between Adam and Eve, there was no ceremony, no reception, and no government participation (there was no government).

“But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Genesis 2:20-25

Marriage is a covenant, and the Hebrew word for it, berith, means a coming together. It is a vow between a man, a woman and God. It is a covenant that God values so much, that He uses marriage to explain His love and promise to His people, how he sees the church, and His promises to each of us as believers. It is the oldest institution in  history.

The following video is from the wedding reception of Jefferson and Alyssa Bethke. Jefferson may look familiar to you because he is a popular spoken word poet with many videos on YouTube. Feel free to watch it all, but it is at 2:00 that Jefferson describes who invented marriage (God), and who it is about (not us). He also describes the biggest wedding yet to come.

“Mawwiage.

Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today”

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Twenty-three years! How can it be?

What were we thinking twenty-three years ago, as we stood in front of friends, and family, and God promising to love and honor and obey (yes, obey) “until death do us part”?

I know what I was thinking, “this is going to be easy, because we are so much alike.”

Ya, right! Of course we had only met about one year earlier, so, what we knew of each other was alike, and what wasn’t was shaded by rose-colored glasses.

We were young, too young (I say that as a now older woman who can see what each of us may have missed out on … the gift of knowing God’s calling for us as individuals before we were to become one couple … but that is topic for another post). Hubby was fresh out of university, only twenty-three. I was fresh out of my drafting program, just twenty. And we embarked on a lifelong, covenant relationship.

After twenty-three years, I now know that we are more opposite than alike, and easy could never describe marriage.

I also know that what we share, similarities and differences alike, is held together by the covenant that we both hold dearly. The marriage covenant is more commonly known my the word promise, but a covenant is more than a promise, more than something you say, more than something you do. It is a vow that includes us two, and the originator of covenants.

Really the marriage covenant is a metaphor for the covenant that God made with Israel (Genesis 17:7):

“I will establish my covenant, an everlasting covenant
between me and you and your descendants after you

for the generations to come,
to be your God
and the God of your descendants after you.”

God’s covenant was that He would be the God of Israel, from before the beginning of time (everlasting) to everlasting. A marriage covenant is like this in that it is a promise between a woman and a man that nothing will separate them, like God from His people.

But, like the Israelite people, we who make a covenant with another in marriage, fail to live up to our end of the agreement. And that sometimes means we are wandering through the desert, tired, frustrated, disappointed and there is no Promise Land in sight.

Like God’s chosen people, who were probably heard muttering under their breath, “well God, where is the land flowing with milk and honey?” we wives and husbands can dwell on the (yet) unfulfilled promises of our wedding day. Promises get broken, expectations do not get met, dreams fade, and the wandering in No Man’s Land is endless. It can begin to feel that marriage is more like a life sentence.

But, it is a covenant, and God is not dismayed by the unfaithfulness, broken promises and apathy from His people. In Jeremiah (31:31-34) God provides yet another opportunity to meet at the alter:

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Let me re-write that as a wife (who has lost the rose-colored glasses from the alter):

Soon, we will simply need to start over,
you and I.
We cannot still make the vows we made back in the stone ages,
before wrinkles and cellulite
before broken promises, and disappointments,
even though we both made promises many years ago.
We need a fresh promise, a brand new covenant.
God would agree with that, and He will be faithful,
and others will see Him through this covenant He has for us
 not just because He has been faithful in the past,
but because of what He will do in the days to come.
We, you and I,
we’ve got baggage.
But, a new start, a new covenant,
That could give us the chance to forgive each others broken promises,
and remember each others sins no more.

Happy Anniversary,
From everlasting to everlasting,

Your Bride

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