Covenant // Part 1
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. /// Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)
What are some things that we can learn from these scriptures? God is a relational Person. He takes His relationships seriously. God interacts with people through covenant, so let’s define it so we better understand it.
Something about God is that His covenant reflects His character and lets us better understand who He is and what His desires are for us. Those who are outside a relationship with God do not participate in His relational covenant but do partake of other covenants He established. There are many covenantal promises between God and humanity/nature. What we can learn from scripture is that there seems to be three types of covenants:
- Abrahamic: God would bless Abraham and make him a great people. God would bless the entire world through Abraham. God would give his descendants the land that would be known later as the Promised Land. The sign of God’s covenant with Abraham was the rite of circumcision.
- Mosaic: God would make the Israelites His treasured possession among all people groups. He would make them a kingdom of priests. God gives the children of Israel His Law which establishes them as a holy nation. The sign of the covenant was the sacrificial system given at Mount Sinai.
- New Covenant: a new relationship between God and humans mediated by Jesus which necessarily includes all people, both Jews and Gentiles, upon sincere declaration that one believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and God. Based upon faith, this covenant fulfills the requirements of the Mosaic covenant, releases the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant. The sign of the covenant is the sacrificial death of Jesus.
God relates to His people through His covenant. The promises of the covenant reveal who God is and His relationship to His people. There are several important things to note about covenant. First is that God instituted covenant so He is the One who defines the covenant. We cannot change the terms if we don’t like them, because they are God’s who never changes. The second important thing to not is that God’s jealousy reflects the type of relationship and covenant He has with His people – love.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. /// Hebrews 12:28-29 (Deuteronomy 4:24 adds that He is a “jealous” God)
The third and final thing to note about covenant is that our faith is not in a Form but in what we have heard. We don’t perform according to the dictates of a law in order to conform to something that pleases God – we embrace what we have heard from God and believe in His Word which is revelation of Who He is. Similarly, we don’t lean into our physical, visible understanding (Deuteronomy 4:12). The New Covenant operates on the same principle of hearing and trusting except that we have seen a form – God has revealed Himself to us through the appearance of His Son, Jesus Christ and has release His Spirit into our hearts to live within us.
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” /// John 14:7
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. /// Romans 10:17
Faith is to trust in, cling to, and rely upon the covenant which reflects the nature of who God is and His heart/actions toward us. Next time, we’ll look at the covenantal promises God has given us.
- Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)
- Hebrews 12:28-29
- Deuteronomy 4:24
- Deuteronomy 4:12
- John 14:7
- Romans 10:17
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