Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2003
An Everlasting Covenant
Title] An Everlasting Covenant
[Texts] Genesis 12:1,2; 15:7; 17:1-5; 18:19
[Use] January 25, 2003
"In an aggressive effort to show that President Bush's voluntary climate strategy can work, senior administration officials are traveling the country collecting written promises from industries to curb emissions of gases linked to global warming…
"The administration's intent, once all the industries' commitments are tallied, is to meet Mr. Bush's stated goal: an 18 percent reduction, by 2012, in emissions of greenhouse gases for each unit of gross domestic product. Overall emissions would continue to grow, but more slowly.
"White House officials, insisting on concrete commitments measured in tons of gases, have rejected written offers from some industry groups to take nonspecific actions, several industry officials said. The administration and industry leaders plan to unveil a broad array of pledges at the White House on Feb. 6…" (1)
Bush's plan is for companies to voluntarily pledge to make reductions in the amount of harmful emissions released into the environment. However, the administration realizes that a simple statement to "do better" is not enough. For this reason, senior administration officials are collecting specific, written promises from the industries and rejecting "nonspecific actions."
An effective goal is one that is well defined and attainable. Likewise, a worthwhile promise between two parties is one that commits to a specific action or behavior, and which both parties believe is possible and will be completed.
God made some very specific promises to Abram:"make him into a great nation," "bless him," "make his name great, and make him a blessing to others." God promised to "give the land to his offspring" as an "everlasting possession," and that those offspring would be numerous because Abram himself would be "very fruitful," the "father of nations and kings." God promised, "I will…be your God and the God of your descendants after you…. I will give [this land] as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God" (Genesis 17:7-8).
God's promises were not one-sided, however. God and Abraham entered into a covenant together, and just as God's promises had been specific, so was the sign required of Abraham. Circumcision was the outward sign of the covenant made between God and Abraham, and Abraham committed to the covenant by accepting this sign of the promise and passing it down through the generations.
God's promises to Abraham, like those the administration is extracting from various industries this week, were specific ones. Like those promises, it was written, not on paper but on hearts.
Some question whether Bush's "voluntary" emissions reduction plan is really voluntary, or if it's actually mandatory. God's covenants are always voluntary. Abraham voluntarily entered a covenant with God thousands of years ago, and God promised to be the God of his descendents.
Galatians 3, verses 7 and 29 assures us, "Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham… If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." God's promise to Abraham was and is specific, and written. But the best news is that for those who choose to claim it, it's also a promise for us today.
(1)New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/20/politics/20CLIM.html