Entries tagged with “Covenant”.


Jesus rescuing Adam and Eve from the grave
Image by wwhyte1968 via Flickr

Who are you? That always seems like a tough question – are you American, Somali, your father’s son, a husband, brother… who are you really?

During the time that 2 Chronicles 1 Chronicles was written the Jews were living in exile and were beginning to forget their heritage and the important stories of their history.  Ezra begins the book with a geneology – 9 chapters long from Adam all the way to David.

Remember last week when Josiah found the law?  Ezra was also bringing back the ideas surrounding the covenant made in Genesis 15.  Part of the covenant’s promise was that God would continue to provide for the Israelites as long as they followed His dictates.   The covenant was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus’ death (Is 53:5).  We need to remember that the covenant is both relational and legal.

Sometimes we let things get in the way of God’s work in our lives.  For example by Jesus’ day the Jews were creating all types of rules and laws to “help” people follow God.  Ultimately, these had the opposite affect placing barriers in the way of a relationship with God.

We can find great hope in this Hebrews passage (1:1-5)

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?

Jesus is the King forever. He iniaited the original covenant and fulfilled it. Ezra was trying to bring the Israelites back to a story of Grace through the covenant.

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Who would have that Deuteronomy would have so much great stuff in it? I mean obviously, it is part of the Bible so it is good.  So thanks to David for teaching out of Deuteronomy and making it relevant to our life in Christ.

The journey begins in John 5, at the pool in Bethesda. Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath and the Pharisees give Him a hard time about it. He challenges them and ultimately says this in 5:45-47:

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

Jesus is saying that Moses wrote about Jesus and accused the Pharisees way back in Deuteronomy 29-30. Many scholars think that Deuteronomy is the foundation for understanding the entire Old and New Testaments.  David says that it is a simple story of being enslaved and finding freedom in Jesus but it is still very complex and fraught with lots of theology. Much of the book contains rules, laws, and covenants the most important of which comes at the end.

What is a covenant? A covenant is a solemn promise or one way agreement.  The marriage covenant is maybe the most practical to understand. It is both a personal and intimate agreement between two parties to love each other unconditionally and a legal agreement or oath (29:12). David shared this thoughtful phrase:

I will be what I should be even if you aren’t and I will lay down my life for you, no matter what. Even when you make me mad, I won’t do something bad just to get even.  I love you so much that I’ll continue offering my best, even at your worst.  That is part of God’s covenant with us, but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  This is also an ideal for what a church community should look like. A “covenant community” is based on unconditional love and acceptance of each other for the mutual benefit of all involved.  This was what my college campus was based on, sadly we are all sinful humans and often fall short of the ideal.

Mystery of a Covenant

This is where it gets tricky! God had given the Israelites certain rules and regulations regarding a variety of different sacrifices, procedures for celebrating Him, and much more.  He was quite emphatic as we learned last week in Numbers. He even says in 29:20 that He would never forgive and blot a person from the earth. Where’s the love in that? But then a few verses later (30:3) God says we can be restored and given life.

So which is it? Punishment and consequences or love and grace? Can we really have both? Is God’s blessing conditional or unconditional? YES and NO.  Let’s go back to Genesis 15 where God made the Covenant with Abraham. Do you remember the story, Abraham cut in half all these different types of animal carcasses and laid them out? During that time period it was somewhat common that a servant would do this and then walk through the middle indicating that if he broke the promise just made, he should be torn into half.  It should have been Abraham that walked through the sacrifice, but instead God did, saying symbolically that if we screw up He will be torn to pieces or ripped apart for our sins.  We can see this as a foreshadowing of Jesus death on the Cross.  When God walked through the sacrificial ceremony He set in motion a way for us to be redeemed.

Hero of Our Covenant

Everyone and every good story needs a hero.  By now you should be able to guess who the hero of this story is… JESUS! Galatians 3:6-14 lays it out pretty clearly (13-14):

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Isn’t that awesome? Jesus was torn into pieces so that we wouldn’t face the wrath of God as described in Deuteronomy!

Jesus was glad to die for us, can we humble ourselves and submit to His Grace?

We ended the service with this great promise from Deuteronomy 31:8:

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

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