“He ordained his covenant forever.”
Charles Spurgeon continues to amaze me. Our devotion this morning was on the covenant of God. As a child I grew up hearing that word “covenant”, but I never quite understood it completely. Spurgeon says, “The covenant is a treasury of wealth, a granary of food, a fountain of life, a storehouse of salvation, a charter of peace, and a haven of joy.”
But was a covenant made to restrict us? To “tie us down”? To punish us? Many people think there is no freedom in conditions and restrictions yet, there is even more freedom in the proper restrictions. For example a fish, once it gets out of the aquarium for a second it thinks it’s free but soon it’s gasping for air.
So what exactly is the “Covenant of God”? A covenant consists mainly of four things.
Promise, Law, Agreement, and Witness.
The covenant is a promise. It is a promise of love, hope, protection, and blessing. A promise that God will not reject you or leave you even if you have done wrong things.
The covenant has laws. Within the promise of all these things there are laws. Think of it this way, a covenant is like a marriage. If you want your marriage to thrive, you must stay within the laws of a marriage. If you break your covenant, you must face the consequences. Yes, there are promises, but you will experience pain if you break it.
So a covenant can’t be just one person right? There has to be 2 parties involved. Which brings us to the agreement. The agreement is us saying “Okay, God I will go where you lead me and I will abide by your covenant.” Take Abraham for example, God called him and his family out of Ur in Genesis 12.
“The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” Back in the old testament a covenant or agreement was always made between a “higher” and a “lesser”. They called it a Suzerian-Vassal covenant. Which was particularly made between a king and a subject. A king promised blessings to whoever agreed to the covenant. A higher to a lesser, a suzerian to a vassal, and God to his people.
Lastly, a covenant has to have a witness. Take again marriage, there has to be witnesses in a marriage as there should be in a covenant. Or Abraham in the Land of Ur. God said, take you, yourself and your family out. There you have Abraham’s family as witnesses.
Even with all these things you must not forget that Grace is the basis of this covenant. “Grace is the basis, the condition, the strain, the bulwark, the foundation, and the capstone”.
Back then a covenant was often sealed by severing an animal. The 2 parties would pass between pieces of animals and would mean both parties had to keep these commitments and if either failed to do so, they would be like the pieces of animals. However, in Genesis 15 when the ceremony was happening, a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, representing God, walked among the pieces. It would then be Abraham’s turn but God caused a sleep to fall upon Abraham so that he would not be able to pass between the two halves of the animals. Meaning the fulfillment of the covenant fell to God alone.
Which also means that if Abraham broke his promise, he would not be punished. This covenant was unconditional. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of him. Which brings us back to the basis of this covenant. Grace and grace alone. :)