Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2003
(Title) Covenant Primer
(Text) Exodus 19:5
(Use) January 11, 2003
Every covenant involves a promise, a response, and a result. Spiritually, God makes a promise, we respond, and the promise is fulfilled.
"If you agree to the terms of the loan, please sign on this line." "Do you promise to love, honor, cherish; for better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sickness and in health; so long as you both shall live?" Transfer your high interest rate balances and for the next 6 months receive the low rate of 0%!
We may not use the term very often today, but most of us enter into a covenant of some type nearly every day. We take out loans, we get married, we apply for a new credit card. Even the simple act of purchasing items at a local store puts us in a covenant relationship with someone else.
The bank promises us money and we promise to pay it back. Our significant other promises to love us forever and we respond in kind. We bring our items to the checkout and the store promises us we can take them out when we promise to pay for them. Life is full of covenants.
A covenant is simply a way of describing both a relationship and an arrangement - the relationship we have with our creditors; the relationship we have with our loved one. Each covenant we make involves a promise, an obligation, and the means of fulfillment.
This is true spiritually as well. In every covenant mentioned in Scripture there are promises made, obligations to meet, and means of fulfillment expressed. It happened with Noah, Abraham, the children of Israel, and Moses.
It even happens with us. In Jeremiah 31:31 God promises to enter into a covenant with any person who is willing. God promises to be their God and they will be God's people. The Divine Covenant-Maker promises to write the principles of the divine law upon their hearts that they might keep the covenant and fulfill its obligation.
The problem with covenants is that often they are too easily broken. People default on loans. Marriages end in divorce. Credit card companies lose when a client overextends and files for bankruptcy. Some even lose their faith and walk away from God, especially if they've been trusting in their own performance to keep the covenant intact.
That's what's so great about the new covenant. Yes, there's a promise involved. Yes, there's an obligation. And yes, there's a means of fulfillment.
God promises to be our God. The obligation is again to keep God's commandments. And the means of fulfillment is the grace of Christ. Rather than the law continuing as an external force, God writes the divine commands in our hearts and it becomes an inward motivator causing us to truly live as God's people. Our obedience then is simply a loving response to God's grace through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As honest human beings, we need to fulfill all the covenants we make. But the greatest covenant we can ever enter into is the one that God makes with us and fulfills in us through Divine grace through Jesus Christ our Lord.