Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Covenant

I have just returned from a weekend in France where I shared in a small day-conference. My topic was the Covenant. I love this topic. Not 'covenant' in the way that the Reformed theologian understands it but just the way in which God has revealed the nature of his covenant with men and women. Isaac Watts said that you could join all the names of Christ together and they would still come short of expressing his glory. This is true of salvation too. It is expressed in terms of eating and drinking, baptisms, priesthood, justification, sonship, freedom from slavery and many another; one of those 'others' is Covenant. It seems to me that it has not received its due attention as a metaphor of salvation.

Covenant points towards relationship and of a relationship that has a specific beginning. There can be no 'covenant' without a beginning, but beginnings have no guarantee of permanency unless there is a 'covenant'. In that the whole story of the Bible is about relationships, the way that they are created, broken and restored, it is a wonderful topic for consideration.

The earliest hints at covenant are in the account of Eve's beginnings. When Adam views his gift from God he declares
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Gen 2:23 NKJV
The sense of this can be seen may following the idea through other parts of the scripture. Laban describes his relationship with Jacob in similar language:
And Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him for a month. Gen 29:14 NKJV
It is Laban's way of saying we belong to each other; we are family. It brings into existence what the lawyers would call a 'legal entity'. The closest links are those of family and Laban is declaring that he and Jacob 'belong to each other'.

We see it used again at the time that the whole 'united kingdom' of Israel acknowledged David as king;Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying,
“Indeed we are your bone and your flesh. 2 Also, in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel out and brought them in; and the LORD said to you, “You shall shepherd My people Israel, and be ruler over Israel.’ ” 2Sam 5:1-2 NKJV
David and the people were united in solemn covenant, inseparably. Consider then what Christ had in mind when at the Last Supper...
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 1Cor 11:25 NKJV
He was laying the foundation for a completely different kind of 'relationship', one unlike the covenant that Moses had facilitated... we would do well to consider 'the New Covenant' lest we should miss any of its blessings or obligations.

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