There are some really outstanding Bible teachers. Many of them are ladies. Heather (my wife) had me read a chapter in a new study by Kay Arthur. I have to admit I’m a little jealous that the ladies at church are going to start a new study called “Covenant: God’s Enduring Promises” with the subtitle “a woman’s in depth Bible Study“. I wonder if I put on a wig and wore a skirt if I could sneak into the study? Seriously the chapter I read in the book was really good!
As far as I can tell, we rarely use the word “covenant” in our modern language anymore. We have contracts that we sign. Make “deals” with other people. We call the promises that we make at weddings “vows”. I sense the general definition behind each of these words is more or less are the same.
What does make the words interesting is the difference in the way we use these words and the way scripture does. Think of how many people have “defaulted” on there home loans in the last few years and many of them have done so not because they had to but because the value of their homes no longer made it favorable for them to continue to make payments on it. Many of them choose not to uphold their end of the contract they signed because it became uncomfortable to keep. In signing student loans, students are making a deal with a lender to pay for the education they are getting sometime in the future. A 2013 study found that 21.8 of student loans were in default after just 3 years! How about wedding vows? What does the divorce rate tell you about how seriously people take the promise they make at the altar? In contrast to those examples, it appears that God takes His promises (covenants) seriously. Like we can take His word on things. Even when it hurts. Even when it cost Him something to keep them.
Of course God’s promise to Abraham is good example (Genesis 12 & 15). Notice that God’s promise to Abraham is not determined on Abrahams ability or faithfulness to fulfill it? God was willing to put His own son on the line to fulfill it. That’s taking your covenant seriously.
Ladies if you can (and guys if your willing to dress up as one), I really encourage you to join in the study that starts in two weeks!
How about you?
1. What’s the most serious commitment that you’ve ever made that turned out to be difficult to keep?
2. Does God want you to “accept Jesus into your heart” or does He expect you to “commitment” yourself to Him? If so what does that “commitment” entail?
Here is a good definition of “Covenant”:
In the general sense, a covenant is simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract.
Classically, covenants are between nations or other powerful groups (for example, 1 Samuel 11:1; Joshua 9:6,15). At the international level they usually involve an alliance between two unequal parties – the stronger one pledging protection and help to the weaker in return for some form of vassal status (as in vassal treaties).
This is similar to the biblical picture of God’s relationship with his people, except that the inequality between the parties (Creator and creatures) is absolute. It is always made clear that the initiative is God’s – that He makes covenants with his people and not vice versa. God initiates, confirms and even fulfills (ultimately in Christ, both sides of) the covenant.
In the Old Testament the word covenant is translated from the Hebrew berîyth ^[Strong’s #1285]^. This Hebrew word derives from a root which means “to cut” and hence a covenant is a “cutting” with reference to the ancient custom of cutting or dividing animals into two parts with the contracting parties passing between them, in making a covenant, see for example Jeremiah 34:18-19. Some suggest the parties of the covenant are thereby saying in essence, “May I be torn apart like these animals if I fail to uphold my part of this covenant.” This is illustrated in Genesis 15, as God alone passes between the slaughtered animals whileAbraham sleeps, again emphasizing the unilateral nature of this covenant, as well as the ultimate level of commitment involved – God putting his very life on line, as it were, as guarantee.
In the New Testament, the Greek word diath?k? ^[Strong’s #1242]^ similarly means covenant, testament, or will. In fact, the Old and New “Testaments” are really the Old and New “Covenants” – the new covenant being of course that which was established by Christ through His shed blood for the remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).
The amazing thing about such examples of divine covenant is that they are the gracious means of relationship with God for a people who deserve to be removed from His presence forever, by a God who has no need whatsoever, in and of Himself, for such relationship. Indeed, the heart of covenant, as so often and wonderfully recapitulated by God Himself, is that expression of intimate relationship: “you will be my people, and I will be your God” (e.g. Jeremiah 30:22).
Three crucial aspects of divine covenent have been outlined above: unilateral establishment, relational bond, and ultimate commitment. Each of these aspects is brought out in O. Palmer Robertson’s definition of covenant as “a bond in blood sovereignly administered.” http://www.theopedia.com/Covenant