The Preciousness Of Covenant
Behold I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels.
Many of us do not differentiate clearly between the promises of God, the accomplished facts of God (His mighty works), and the covenant of God. Promises are given to encourage faith, but often we cannot rise to God’s promises. At times we cannot even lay hold of divine facts; appearances seem to belie them. But when this is so we still have His covenant. And the covenant means more than the promises, more even than the mighty works. It is something God has committed Himself to do. The covenant is a handle given to us by God on which faith can lay hold. Morally we have no claim on God. But He has been pleased to bind Himself to a covenant, and having thus pledged Himself to act for us, He is- and I say it reverently- bound to do so. Herein is the preciousness of the covenant. It is this that gives strength to faith when faith is at its weakest.
Webster defines a covenant as: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement :
a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. In fact a covenant is more than just a promise. I may promise you that I will do something but if we enter into a covenant I am formally declaring my intent usually in writing.
Covenants aren’t broken and every covenant that God has made He has kept sometimes in spite of the failure on the part of humans involved in the covenant. In Genesis, we read that God made a covenant with Noah that never again would the world be destroyed by water and for centuries that promise has been kept even though humans have certainly broken their covenants with Him. God made a covenant with Abraham that he would become the father of many nations even when he did not yet have a son. The covenant specifically said that Sarah would be the mother to the promised son. Yet Abraham broke the covenant when he chose to attempt to bring to pass the plan on his own by fathering a son with Hagar, God relentlessly carried out the covenant and in due season, Abraham and Sarah had a son they named Issac. To Abraham’s descendants, God promised Canaan and even when they moved to Egypt and wound up becoming slaves there, God kept His covenant and at the right moment brought them back into the land of promise, fulfilling the covenant.
David captured God’s heart and the Lord entered into a covenant with him that his seed would sit on the throne of Israel. We read that David failed, had an affair with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. His son Solomon started well but ended up bringing idolatry to Israel and Solomon’s son Rehoboam divided the kingdom. After a succession of other kings, Israel was conquered and scattered to the nations. But the covenant that God made with David has and will find its completion through Christ Jesus the descendant of King David. One day Christ will sit on the throne of David and rule the nations.
We could go on listing multiple examples of how God has kept covenant and how He still keeps covenant and in the future yet to come will complete every covenant He has made.
You may think that while God kept covenant to those we read about in the Bible, how does that affect me? I’m not a Noah or Abraham or David. While that may be true, if you have received Christ, you are a child of God and an heir of the covenant with God.
Paul describes our covenant relationship with God:
“The Spirit Himself testifies and confirms together with our spirit [assuring us] that we [believers] are children of God. And if [we are His] children, [then we are His] heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.”
Romans 8: 16-17
“Brothers and sisters, I speak in terms of human relations: even though a last will and testament is just a human covenant, yet when it has been signed and made legally binding, no one sets it aside or adds to it [modifying it in some way]. Now the promises [in the covenants] were decreed to Abraham and to his seed. God does not say, “And to seeds (descendants, heirs),” as if [referring] to many [persons], but as to one, “And to your Seed,” who is [none other than] Christ. This is what I mean: the Law, which came into existence four hundred and thirty years later [after the covenant concerning the coming Messiah], does not and cannot invalidate the covenant previously established by God, so as to abolish the promise. For if the inheritance [of what was promised] is based on [observing] the Law [as these false teachers claim], it is no longer based on a promise; however, God granted it to Abraham [as a gift] by virtue of His promise. For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ [if you are in Him], then you are Abraham’s descendants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.”
Galatians 3:15-18, 26, 29
The writer of Hebrews informs us that we are the second party in the covenant of God:
“For this reason He is the Mediator and Negotiator of a new covenant [that is, an entirely new agreement uniting God and man], so that those who have been called [by God] may receive [the fulfillment of] the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has taken place [as the payment] which redeems them from the sins committed under the obsolete first covenant. For where there is a will and testament involved, the death of the one who made it must be established, for a will and testament takes effect [only] at death, since it is never in force as long as the one who made it is alive. So even the first covenant was not put in force without [the shedding of] blood. For when every commandment in the Law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and goats [which had been sacrificed], together with water and scarlet wool and with a bunch of hyssop, and he sprinkled both the scroll itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant [that seals and ratifies the agreement] which God ordained and commanded [me to deliver to] you.” And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the containers and sacred utensils of worship with the blood. For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but [He entered] into heaven itself, now to appear in the very presence of God on our behalf; then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” [And so] He does away with the first [covenant as a means of atoning for sin based on animal sacrifices] so that He may inaugurate and establish the second [covenant by means of obedience]. And in accordance with this will [of God] we [who believe in the message of salvation] have been sanctified [that is, set apart as holy for God and His purposes] through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) once for all.”
Hebrews 9: 15-21, 24, 10: 9-10
“Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word];”
Our hope, trust, confidence, and faith rests not in us our our ability to keep covenant. Instead they rest solely in the faithfulness of God Himself. That’s what the stories are meant to reveal to us. It’s not about the accomplishments of men but the faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, tells us a powerfully important truth: even in the midst of our struggles and temptations, it is the faithfulness of God that keeps us:
“No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].”
1 Corinthians 10:13
Finally, one day we will experience the fullness of the covenant of God:
“Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.”
And until that day we can receive another promised covenant that Christ made:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), to be with you forever— the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive [and take to its heart] because it does not see Him or know Him, you know Him because He (the Holy Spirit) remains with you and will be in you.”
Today let us lift up our hearts and voices to the Covenant-Keeper- the Lord God Almighty who keeps covenant with His people.
Dr. John Thompson