This past Sunday, I had the privilege of listening to my Dad preach a sermon in church. It had been ages and for those of you who know Pastor Tee, I was not disappointed! His message was about our covenant relationship with God and this is a synopsis of the sermon and my interpretations of it.
All of God’s dealings with mankind have revolved around two major covenants: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Both of these covenants were entered into by God with a person and were ratified by blood. Within these blood bound covenants were stipulations which both parties abided by. These included the fact that covenants sealed in blood should never be broken. The parties involved in the covenant become blood partners and everything one had was placed at the disposal of the other. And finally, there were terms of reference that had to be fulfilled. Enter Abraham:
The Old Covenant was established between Abraham and God and ratified on both sides by blood- Abraham through circumcision (Gen 17:10-14) and God through the blood of sacrificial animals (Gen 15:1-10). These were the terms of the covenant:
What does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God by walking in [obedience to] all His ways, to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am giving you this day for your own good? Deuteronomy 10: 12-13 BSB
To shake hands on this covenant, animals were cut up in halves and put on either side with a path between them that the parties had to walk through. This signified that whoever broke the covenant was worthy of death just like those animals.
Those who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces. Jeremiah 34:18 NIV
So Abraham and God shook hands on their covenant (Gen 15: 1 -21). Abraham had everything he wanted by virtue of the covenant. In his old age, he even had a son! Everything that belonged to God was at Abraham’s disposal and everything that belonged to Abraham was at God’s disposal. For the covenant to remain unbroken, Abraham had to meet the terms of reference: Love, Obey, Fear God, Serve God, and Keep the commandments. The day Abraham took Isaac to Moriah to sacrifice him, he proved to God that in as much as God would not break the covenant neither would he!
Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Gen 22:12, 16-17 NIV
The descendants of Abraham got to partake of the blessings of this covenant which they entered into by circumcision- circumcision of the foreskin and whenever they strayed away and broke the covenant (the Israelites broke the covenant a lot! Hosea 6:) they were brought back into covenant with circumcision of the heart.
When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
So what has this got to do with me? I am not a direct descendant of Abraham!… oh but it’s got everything to do with me […and Jesus Christ]!
Stay tuned for the second part of We are Covenant People. In the meanwhile be intentional in living out your faith.