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Covenants ï" ïOldï ï" ïNewï ï" ïRenewedï?
by Susan Budensiek
1/04/2018 / Bible Studies
I occasionally post comments and share things I have learned for the edification of others in the forum on a Christian chat website and a few months ago I posted a study I had undertaken about covenants because I knew so little about this topic. I wanted to better understand this subject that causes so much contention in the Christian community. I posted small segments each day but stopped posting when the opposition became so fierce that the entire point was lost to a derailed conversation and I determined that I didn’t need that headache every day. I concluded that it wasn’t worth the time it took because arguments always put spiritual edification to naught, and there was an overwhelming amount of arguing, nasty, rude comments, and downright mean spiritedness. The edification I was attempting to accomplish appeared to be MIA. I have since been asked by several people to repost what I had posted and add to it.
After beseeching Adonai and reminding Him of what happened before (yes, I had the audacity to remind Him of something our All-knowing Lord of Lords might have forgotten (!) or overlooked), and reminding Him that I really would prefer to pass up those ramifications of sharing subject matter that proves we as Christians have certain responsibilities, which does not set well with many professing Christians these days, He reminded me of what He said to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient.” So, I presented to the Great I AM, another reason – oh okay, it was an excuse - to not do this. I said, “But I thought You were leading me in the direction of studying the “Bride of Christ” because so many people don’t have a clue who that is or are misled thinking they are part of this blessed body of believers,” to which He replied, “They are related to each other.”
Experience has shown me over and over that what God says in His Word is true, and most professing Christians would agree with that simple statement. Likewise, it has also been proven that many professing Christians are exactly that – professing to be Christians, all the while having been misled somewhere along the way, into believing that their carnal minds are somehow compatible with the Word of God which is only spiritually discerned. It is not warm and fuzzy. It is many times not logical by our 21st century standards. It is however, the very Words of El ‘Elyon (The Most High God), every one of which we are to live by according to both Deuteronomy 8:3 - He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD, and Matthew 4:4 - But He answered and said, "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.' "
God likes to use covenants. They are important to Him and should be to us…but they aren’t.
We can say with all good intent that we believe that when we make a promise we keep it and that is part of the ‘integrity’ we should all have. What is so bad is that as a society (at least in America) we have become so accustomed to breaking promises and contracts that we no longer view the covenants God makes with us with the gravity He does. The proof is in the pudding as the old saying goes – just consider the number of marriage contracts broken, the number of home and car repossessions, and the number of bankruptcies we see today. As much as we might like to say that these things happen for good reasons in our own minds, a closer look at covenants would do us well. Why should we study covenants…because according to Galatians 3:14, the covenant blessings of Abraham are also for us “…in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Only a fool would not want to know his/her obligations and benefits of a contract he/she was a part of.
To begin with, in 21st century America we use the common definition of the word ‘covenant’ to determine our understanding of what it is – an agreement or contract. This is logical and acceptable for modern secular life, although ethically, it is still terrible that we go back on so many contracts, so easily. However, when pondering the status of most of our prayers – answered or unanswered, or any other aspect of our spiritual health, or anywhere that God is concerned, we need to use His meaning of the word. In order to do that, we have to look at history.
Dr. H. Clay Trumbull (1830-1903) studied extensively about the covenants and the covenant mindset, and fortunately, shared the findings with those who would hear. He writes much more eloquently than we are accustomed to these days, but he says the following in essence: When God created man, the one vital ingredient necessary for man’s happiness was “trustful surrender of his whole being to the willing and working of God,” but once sin entered that was destroyed. Consequently, man feared God, tried to hide from Him, no longer knew or trusted God as he had before. From the very beginning, God’s plan has been to share not just the blessings of being in Covenant but Covenant friendship with us. All God wanted was for man to believe in Him, then trust, love, and communication would naturally follow. And it did…until sin came. But man could not affect his own salvation to restore the relationship with God he had known before the fall and it could only be accomplished by faith.
Most of us probably never even looked at our salvation as a covenant with God but we enter into Covenant when we proclaim ourselves to be “saved” or a “believer” or “a Christian” or simply a “follower of Christ.” We accept God’s gift of salvation without realizing the point of it is to bring us back to that state of fellowship for which we were created. That is the purpose of His covenants. Understanding all of this, to realize that He could have simply said, “I will do this and you do that,” but instead He chose to partner with us in covenant, which while being breathtakingly awe-inspiring, is at the same time, equally as humbling. God created us to have fellowship with Him, and this is proven by the fact He makes covenants with man…as if He could not be trusted to keep His word. 1 Peter 2:9 (NAS) tells us we are “…A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;” The moment we enter into Covenant with God we are His…dedicated to Him much like the Nazarites of Bible times.
We do not understand Covenant God’s way. Not only do we no longer respect authority and we view dependence as weakness, we refuse to practice submission – all vital components of Covenant. Currently in America the separation of church and state has accelerated the process of covenant breaking and not understanding covenant because it (being in Covenant with God) is meant to infiltrate all of our daily lives, and used to be integrated into all of life until we began harping on the misinterpreted phrase, “separation of church and state.” God blessed America for befriending Israel and being the first to recognize her as a legitimate country when she became independent in 1948. Americans lived better and had more than ever before, until we allowed the separation of church and state to pull us away from the principles we stood for and propagated in our society…and look at us now.
God “invented”, for lack of a better word, ‘covenant’ as His plan for interacting with man. He initiated these covenants we are talking about. Therefore, when I say that covenants are important to God, it is almost an understatement of the fact.
Simply put: keeping Covenant yields blessing – breaking Covenant yields curses. Deuteronomy 28 spells out more than twenty-five blessings for the keepers of Covenant! However, the more than sixty curses reserved for Covenant breakers put things firmly in perspective. History plainly reveals what happened when the children of Israel forgot about their part of the Covenant with God – just like Christians today. See Revelation 2:4. The sequence goes like this: forgotten covenants lead to broken covenants, which inevitably must lead to curses.
“Curses” – another one of those words New Testament Christians don’t like, and because of the evolution of society and the church, we like to think “curses” don’t apply to us anymore. But make no mistake; breaking Covenant will be followed by curses, and curses are not merely something the local witch casts upon her enemies. We can read the Apostle Paul’s description of Covenant breakers in Romans 1:25-32 as downright depraved and filled with every imaginable wickedness there is. “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil ; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice ; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
I read a simple description of covenant breaking related to Christianity that I think is a good parable. “Covenant breakers are like dish breakers. You may own a beautiful set of imported china, but if you break one cup, you lose the benefits of that piece. If you break all the pieces, all the benefits of the china are lost. Yes, the set of dishes are still yours, and you can look at them and think about how pretty they were and how expensive they were to buy. You can talk about them to your friends, but you can’t use them. They are broken! As a child of God you hold in your heart all of the wonderful costly blessings and promises paid for by the blood of Jesus. God’s covenant nature confines Him to the laws of Covenant… God will not override the laws of Covenant to give you your blessing. Just like you may own a broken dish, a broken promise is a lost blessing, rendered useless because of your broken covenant. Just think what happens when you break all of your covenants? No wonder some of us have little joy and satisfaction in our lives as well as ineffective prayers.” (Debby Davis Keepers of Salt) As this illustration shows, we break one dish and our set is not complete - food for thought.
Depending upon whose count a person chooses to use, there are seven, eight or nine covenants that God made with people in the Bible. They all fall into one of four basic categories -- the Blood Covenant (sometimes referred to as the service or servant hood covenant); the Salt Covenant (sometimes called the friendship covenant); the Sandal Covenant (also called the inheritance covenant); and the Betrothal Covenant, also known as the Marriage Covenant. To begin with, I am working on the types of covenants rather than the individual covenants God made with Abraham, Moses, Noah, etc.
As I studied, I found that the concept of the blood covenant has been found in every society from the earliest to the present day, and the meaning and the seriousness of it are still the same as when it began. Modern society regards it as “historical” and irrelevant today, so obviously, does not understand the obligations or benefits involved. What makes this so crucial is that the basis of Christianity is rooted in Blood Covenant. The Blood Covenant between God and Abraham, founding the Hebrew people as God’s chosen in the Old Testament, appears in the New Testament between God and those who choose to serve Him through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. A Blood Covenant requires shedding of blood in sacrifice which in ancient Hebrew culture was a sign of restoration and purification. Our lack of understanding does not change or minimize the importance of this profound plan. It is equally as binding and important today in 2014 as it was about 4000 years ago when Abraham walked this earth as the “friend of God.”
Historically, the typical blood covenant was composed of nine parts, or steps. I found a detailed description of the nine parts and what the different components represented to a Hebrew in biblical times written by Paul Ziegler.
In our Bible we have the old and new testament, (or covenant). The old covenant was made with Abram and we have a record of it in the Bible. We can look in on it starting in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis. In verse one we read; "After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, `Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.'." Here we see God offering His robe and belt to Abram. He offers to be his shield and His rewards. He cuts the covenant in Genesis 15:7-21. And He said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it." He said, "O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will, possess it?" So He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. "But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. "As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. "Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite." Here God is giving the terms of the covenant to Abram. But who are the ones passing between the pieces while Abram is in the deep sleep? I submit to you that it is the pre-incarnate Christ. In the Revelation 1:14-15 we see a description of Christ as follows, "And His head and His hair were white like wool, like snow, and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters," Here we see Christ, a descendant of Abram, standing in for Abram in the covenant procession. In Genesis 17:4-5+15 we see the exchange of names as follows, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations....Then God said to Abraham, as for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name." In Hebrew, God was called YHWH. Here we see Him taking part of His name and combining it with that of Abram and Sarai. From that time on God was known as, "The God of Abraham". Next we see the making of a scar or symbol of the covenant. In Genesis 17:10-12 we see, "This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you; every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants." The scar of circumcision bears witness of the covenant. Abraham was tested when God told him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a small mountain called mount Mariah near the town of Salem. Abraham passed the test. Two thousand years ago, the other party to the covenant was to sacrifice His only Son. The names had been changed by then; Salem was then called Jerusalem, and Mariah had been changed to Calvery, but the places were the same.
The new covenant took place in the same area of the world and contained some of the same players. God was there, of course, and Jesus; now incarnate, and the descendants of Abraham. This time Jesus was not only the representative of Abraham's descendants but He was also the offering; the Lamb that was slain. This time it was God's only Son and not Abraham's. Let us see how the new covenant was completed in Christ.
The typical blood covenant contained nine parts, or steps. These steps are as follows.
1) The two people exchange coats or robes. To a Hebrew, the coat or robe represented the person himself; so when he offered the other person his robe, he was offering himself; even his very life itself.
And as fulfilled by Christ…
1) EXCHANGE COATS OR ROBES. We come to this covenant clothed in sin and unrighteousness. He comes clothed in holiness and righteousness. We put on His righteousness. II Corinthians 5:21, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." He takes our sins upon Him and we take His holiness for ours. What an exchange!
2) They take off their belt and offer it to the other person. The belt, also called the girdle, was used to hold your sward, your knife, and other fighting instruments. In this way you were saying to the other person that you were offering him your protection. If someone attacks you, they also have me to deal with. Your battles are my battles.
2) TAKE OFF BELT: He protects us and provides us with protection. Luke 10:19, "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you." Ephesians 6:13-17 "Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sward of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
3)"CUT THE COVENANT". In this part, an animal is killed and cut down the middle and the two halves are laid opposite each other. The two parties to the covenant pass between the two halves of the animal and are saying, "May God do so to me and more if I break this covenant. This is a blood covenant, and cannot be broken.”
3) CUT THE COVENANT: Hebrews 10:14-18, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are
sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, `This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their heart, and upon their mind I will write them, And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer any offering for sin." Jesus was not only the one making the covenant, but he was also the sacrificial lamb.
4) Raise the right arm and cut the palm of the hand and clasp each other's hand and mingle your blood. This is saying to the other person, "We are becoming one with each other. To intermingle the blood is to intermingle the very life of both people.
4) RAISE RIGHT ARM & MIX BLOOD: Jesus was both man and God. He was holy and also human. As we have the shed blood of Jesus Christ applied to our hearts, His blood cleanses us from all sin and we are also made holy. Our lives are forever intermingled with His.
5) Exchange names. Each one takes part of the others name and incorporates it into their own.
5) EXCHANGE NAMES: Jesus took on the name, "Son of Man" and we take on the name Christian. We are forever in the family of God.
6) Make a scar or some identifying mark. The scar was the outward evidence of the covenant that others could see and know that the covenant was made. Sometimes they would rub the cut in the hand to make the scar, then anyone who wanted to fight you would know that he not only had to fight you but another as well.
6) MAKE A SCAR: Jesus has the scars of the nails in His hands and the feet and the spear in His side. We have the circumcision of the heart. Romans 2:29, "But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God."
7) Give terms of the covenant. Both parties to the covenant stand before a witness and list all of their assets and liabilities, because each one takes all of these upon himself. You are saying, "Everything I have is yours and everything you have is mine. If something happens to you, your covenant partner will see to it that your wife and children are taken care of.
7) GIVE THE COVENANT TERMS: Jesus gives the terms of the covenant in the whole Bible. It is our responsibility to know it so that we can live by it.
8) Eat the memorial meal. A loaf of bread is broken in half. Each feeds his half to the other saying, "This is my body, and I am now giving it to you." Then they take wine as a symbol of his blood and says, "This is my blood which is now your blood."
8) EAT MEMORIAL MEAL: I Corinthians 11: 23-26, "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, `This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, `This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes."
9) Plant a memorial tree. The two then plant a tree as a memorial to the covenant and sprinkle it with the blood of the animal that was killed for the covenant offering.
9) PLANT A MEMORIAL TREE: The cross that Jesus died on was the tree that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on and it still is a memorial of His covenant with us to this day. This is our covenant with the God of the universe. He will live up to His end and He expects us to live up to ours.
These nine steps do not have to take place in the same order that they are listed here. There are a lot of covenants listed in the Bible and there is not great detail about them because everyone is familiar with the procedure and the writer assumes that we know what was done.”
A few thoughts I had as I meditated upon the Blood Covenant
Imagine what it would be like to wake up and see all those cut up animals laid out on the ground – the first thing that would have gone through my mind would probably be shock and horror at the sight of those bloody carcasses before me, unlike Abraham who would have instantly known that God was about to seal His promise to him in a very profound manner.
Leviticus 17:11 tells us why the Blood Covenant is so important: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for yourselves; for it is the blood that makes atonement because of the life.” (CJB)
In plain simplified terms, a blood covenant is a promise made by God that He will choose a people for Himself and bless them. Originally God made this covenant with Abraham and provided a way by which his physical descendants could enter into this covenant with Him and His friend, Abraham, by means of circumcision. Later, this was extended, spiritually, to all those who, like Abraham, ‘believe God’ Compare Galatians 3:7 (NAS) “Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham” with Genesis 15:6 (NAS) “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” [Because the physical is temporal, this extension had to be spiritual, which transcends time.] God’s promise of eternal blessing is given only on the basis of faith in the saving blood of His Son, Jesus Christ Hebrews 9:11-12 (NAS) “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation ; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”
It is obvious that centuries of time have dulled our realization of what a blood covenant is and our obligations as a participant. We seem to be quick to grasp and claim the benefits toward us but those “obligations” – another one of those words like “curses” that we like to think no longer apply to us – that is a different story. So, what are the terms of this Blood Covenant we are now in? Since in a blood covenant relationship, everything you possess is freely available to your covenant partner and everything he possesses is now available to you; you only need to ask and it is yours. Just think – everything our Heavenly Father has is ours for the asking, assuming we keep our part of covenant. Then, why are we constantly in a state of not getting what we pray for? Then of course, the opposite is true – everything God asks of us we are bound by covenant to do. Does it remind you a little of the story of young Samuel when God called to him and the little boy didn’t realize it was God at first but finally said, “… "Speak, for Your servant is listening"? Consider the gravity of that. And consider how often you have even heard the call, let alone replied as little Samuel did. I am duly ashamed of the number of times in my life that I very likely didn’t hear my Heavenly Father’s call because I wasn’t listening for it. I do remember when I was in my teens that I felt a distinct longing to be closer to God and thought I wanted to be a nun…but there was no such thing as a Lutheran nun…besides, my multitude of Norwegian Lutheran relatives would have hog-tied me to keep me from turning Catholic. Since then, I have learned what a mistake I escaped at the time by not converting to Catholicism so I could be a nun. I have also learned that Lutherans are not exactly on target either, in spite of my tremendous respect for Martin Luther and the fact that I was raised Lutheran. Then we moved hundreds of miles south of my old Wisconsin home and wouldn’t you know it – the Baptists and Pentecostals down here have their flaws too. You see what I mean I’m sure. Observing the flaws in these earthly denominations caused me to search for truth rather than simply accept doctrine as taught by the many churches I have attended.
There is a whole lot going on in the spiritual realm that we are completely unaware of at the moment we accept the free gift of salvation. We know our sins are forgiven but we are told nothing about the fact that we have just chosen to be a part of the Blood Covenant between God, the Father and Jesus, His Son. We are certainly not told that we have certain binding obligations under this covenant.
From “Covenant God” by Dr. Trumbull:
“Salvation could only be by faith: God restoring the life man had lost; man in faith yielding himself to God's work and will. The first great work of God with man was to get him to believe. This work cost God more care and time and patience than we can easily conceive. All the dealings with individual men, and with the people of Israel, had just this one object, to teach men to trust Him. Where He found faith He could do anything. Nothing dishonored and grieved Him so much as unbelief. Unbelief was the root of disobedience and every sin; it made it impossible for God to do His work. The one thing God sought to waken in men by promise and threatening, by mercy and judgment, was faith… Oh that we knew how God longs that we should trust Him, and how surely His every promise must be fulfilled to those who do so! Oh that we knew how it is owing to nothing but our unbelief that we cannot enter into the possession of God's promises, and that God cannot-yes, cannot-do His mighty works in us, and for us, and through us! Oh that we knew how one of the surest remedies for our unbelief-the divinely chosen cure for it-is the Covenant into which God has entered with us!… No wonder that, where that Covenant, with its wonderful promises, is so little thought of, its plea for an abounding and unhesitating confidence in God so little understood, its claim upon the faithfulness of the Omnipotent God so little tested; no wonder that Christian life should miss the joy and the strength, the holiness and the heavenliness which God meant and so clearly promised that it should have.”
There are other blood covenants spoken of in the Bible, but the one with Abraham is so detailed and so profound that I was captivated by all it teaches. One of the others was with Adam. When Adam and Eve sinned against God it was the equivalent of divorcing Him because they were in a Marriage Covenant with God at the beginning. When that happened God’s plan was set into motion to restore us to Himself, step-by-step back into that highest level of all covenants, a plan that had been in place since before the world was even created.
Another thing I read about the Blood Covenant (written by a Messianic teacher) is that it is supposed to be renewed daily. “This relationship, also understood as “entering into a relationship of servanthood,” requires the shedding of blood by sacrifice and must be renewed daily. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:31 (NKJV) “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” In all honesty, I must admit that I had to spend some time figuring that all out. I understand Paul’s statement, and that it is obviously speaking spiritually and not speaking of a physical death, but renewing the blood covenant daily left me puzzled for a while. Then I read that wine is an acceptable alternative to shedding blood in Hebrew culture as it is the “blood of the grape.” Now it was becoming clearer! That is why we celebrate communion the way we do – we spiritually die daily and renew the sealing of the Blood Covenant with wine when we partake of communion. This also reminded me of the fact that Hebrew custom is to speak the words, "Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine" before drinking wine. It is mind-boggling to me to see how everything is connected and interwoven in scripture, how one thing can make me think of something else somehow related to it. And I wonder how I could have become bored with studying the Bible…which I did at one time several years ago…and even more so, to regret all the time I wasted when I could have been learning this sooner if I had only realized how incredible it would be!
I had no idea what all was involved in covenants in general when I first started studying. I expected to learn some things but the outcome has far surpassed my expectations for that. I have come in here to my desk intending to read some more or write down something I had thought of, only to find some time later that my mind has drifted off and I’m ruminating upon the various aspects of covenants, especially the Blood Covenant lately. The study of covenants definitely can be classified as “meat” and not the milk of the Word!
The next type of covenant is the Salt Covenant which was eternal and didn’t have to be renewed like the Blood Covenant where Paul noted that he died daily. Each person carried a small pouch of salt. When two or more men wanted to enter into a covenant of this type they would mix their salt together in a bowl, break bread and dip it in the salt and eat it. After they finished they each took some of the salt and put it back in their little pouch. The only way to break the covenant was to separate each grain of each person’s salt back out from being mixed and put it into his own pouch again. Not possible.
Salt covenants were also widely understood and used in the ancient world by more than just Hebrew people. Dr. H. Clay Trumbull describes the significance of a Salt Covenant in Bible days, as being like a contract that could never be broken…never-ending and unchangeable. This was a custom worldwide centuries ago and is still just as seriously entered into now in some parts of the world. Take for instance this story written by John Macgregor, who was taken prisoner by the Arabs while on the upper Jordan in his canoe, the “Rob Roy.” These are his own words as he relayed the story of a salt covenant taken from the book he wrote, The Rob Roy on the Jordan, Nile, Red Sea & Gennesareth.
“No one had as yet offered me any food. This gross neglect (never without meaning among the Arabs) I determined now to expose, and so to test their real intentions. My cuisine was soon rigged up for cooking, and I asked for cold water. In two minutes afterwards the brave little lamp was steaming away at high pressure with its merry hissing sound. Every one came to see this. I cut thin slices of the preserved beef soup, and, while they were boiling, I opened my salt-cellar. This is a snuff-box, and from it I offered a pinch to the Sheikh. He had never before seen salt so white, and therefore, thinking it was sugar, he willingly took some from my hand and put it to his tongue. Instantly I ate up the rest of the salt, and with a loud, laughing shout, I administered to the astonished outwitted sheikh a manifest thump on the back. “What is it?” all asked from him. “Is it sukker? (sugar)” He answered demurely, “ La ! meleh !” (No, it’s salt!) Even his Home Secretary laughed at his chief. We had now eaten salt together, and in his own tent, and so he was bound by the strongest tie, and he knew it.”
The Arabs then not only freed MacGregor, but escorted him safely on his way.
Historically, two parties sharing a lick of salt meant they were binding themselves to one another in greatest loyalty and honesty, to the point of suffering death rather than break the covenant. The truces made, the friendships and treaties sealed this way, were never taken lightly. Even the physical properties of salt echo the seriousness of a covenant made with it because it is, among other things, a preservative that prevents decay and corruption. Salt represented purification and symbolized enduring friendship, honesty, and loyalty to the ancient Hebrews.
The Salt Covenant is first mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 2:13 “You are to season every grain offering of yours with salt - do not omit from your grain offering the salt of the covenant with your God, but offer salt with all your offerings.” (CJB) However, that is absolutely not to say that God’s Blood Covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 was replaced by the Salt Covenant. Rather, it was an expansion of it in a way. Each of God’s covenants in scripture is built upon the one before it. The Blood Covenant established the relationship of servanthood, where God asks us to serve and obey Him, and the Salt Covenant takes that up a notch to the level of friendship while still keeping the servant obligations of the never-ending, unbreakable Blood Covenant. Abraham became the “Friend of God” but he never stopped being a servant.
I didn’t realize it before but the Covenant of Salt is mentioned two more times in the Old Testament. The next time it is mentioned is in Numbers 18:19 “All the contributions of holy things which the people of Isra'el offer to ADONAI I have given to you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before ADONAI for you and your descendants with you." (CJB) And 2 Chronicles 13: 5 “Don't you know that ADONAI, the God of Isra'el, gave rulership over Isra'el to David forever, to him and his descendants, by a covenant of salt [which is unbreakable]?” (CJB) Again it becomes clear that we are not allowed to just ignore these covenants with God because we find them inconvenient to abide by for one reason or another.
Bringing the Salt Covenant from Bible times into our time, Dr. Trumbull, considered by scholars to be the greatest authority on Covenant making, says Jesus was talking about covenants in Matthew 5:13 – taken literally, Jesus was saying that we are God’s expression of covenant. "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (NAS)
Jesus was talking to His disciples when He said that so, we must take it as instruction to us also if we are to claim to be His followers. Therefore, if we break our covenants – lose our saltiness – we are of no use any longer. Think for a moment about what the intensity of the meaning of Jesus’ words would have been to those disciples, steeped in ancient tradition’s value of salt. Now, think about modern churches – any of them: Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, various Evangelical denominations, etc. – and evaluate honestly how we keep this Covenant with God. In all reality, we are what people, other Christians and non-Christians alike, look at to see who God is whether we like it or not. Personally, I would like to say to them all, “Don’t look at me, I mess up too much!” The point is that when the rest of the world looks at the church, the unsaved are forming their opinion of just who God is, and the Believers are watching for sincerity with wisdom and knowledge in professing Christians – a very rare commodity these days. If we, as Christians who claim to ‘love the Lord’ and follow Him, were to keep the Covenant we made with God when we accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the world would see a God who keeps His covenants rather than a social club that claims to love everyone and has no power whatsoever. The Salt Covenant is also known as the covenant of “friendship” or “hospitality’ – both very appropriate names for it. God is trying to rebuild that close friendship that this type of covenant represents as another step toward that complete restoration to what had existed with Adam and professing Christians who do not keep Covenant are not working toward that same goal.
Covenant involves at least two parties, each with certain responsibilities. This is something that is not taught much today. People make the traditional trip to the altar and “get saved” because they have been led to believe that’s all there is to securing a place in heaven for eternity. Since there is no follow-up discipleship, they walk away thinking everything is fine and their only obligation is to stop doing the really bad things they did before and then God is going to come and zap them up in the sky at a pre-tribulation rapture and we will all live happily ever after in heaven with Jesus.
Lest anyone be tempted to jump on the grace vs. works bandwagon, this is not teaching salvation by self-works – it is teaching us that we must keep our promises to God.
We tend to forget that God asked something of His servant, Abraham after the Blood Covenant they made together...he asked Abraham to sacrifice his own child. (There is a huge implication here. We are traditionally taught that Abraham had such faith in God that he would be given another son or whatever needed to happen so that God’s promise of many descendants would be fulfilled, that he took Isaac up the mountain to do as God had asked. I can’t help but think there is also an implication of the seriousness of that Blood Covenant from back in Genesis 15 playing into this act of faith.) Why do we dare think we can practice a watered down Christianity and still expect all of God’s blessings, benefits, joy, peace, etc.?
The next type of covenant is called a “Sandal Covenant” which is a name acquired because of the use of worn out sandals to mark boundaries of property in ancient times. These old sandals would be partially covered with rocks to prevent wind and rain from moving them but my first thought was that someone who wanted to have more land could go out and move the sandal so it appeared the boundary line was situated to give him more property. Of course, God had that possibility covered. He strictly forbids that in Deuteronomy 19:14. I thought about people today and wondered just how many would honor a ‘moveable’ property line…whether a professing Christian or not. I admit that it is possible that our family’s experience taints a totally objective or a give-the-benefit-of-the-doubt view concerning people who claim to be Christians. This two-year long nightmare consisted of the chairman of the deacon board making a deal –(in plain terms – a party to bribery) to help get the house and one acre of land we had bought from him, back to give back to the original owners. I know, that sounds like fiction, but if you want to know the details I can tell you our name and you can find it online. The result was a change in the law of the state of Tennessee. As of today it is still online. What doesn’t show up online is that we followed the instructions in Matthew 18:15-17. My husband went to the deacon’s house and begged him not to follow through with what he was doing and what he got for a reply was, “Do what you have to do.” Next was a consultation with the church authorities which got us a promise of, “I’ll take care of it. If he does this, I’ll have his job!” from the man who also happened to be the deacon’s employer. In a nutshell, the church hung us out to dry so we had no choice but to sue for the right to abide by the contract we had signed and nothing extra like damages which our lawyer said we could easily have gotten. If anything could teach me that professing Christians do not necessarily follow God’s rules of honor and ethics and brotherly love, etc., this was it.
I have also discovered that there really is no such thing as “new” and “old” covenants, as we commonly hear in the Christian community, especially from those who like the idea of no responsibility on our part so much that they will fight tooth and nail against everything that so much as insinuates obligation on our part. As I have already said, they are different levels of a progressive restoration process.
1 - Blood covenant = Servanthood = in easily understood terms: entry level – first step; just do as requested as a good servant should. Daily sacrifice is needed. Luke 17:10 (CJB) “It's the same with you -- when you have done everything you were told to do, you should be saying, “We're just ordinary slaves, we have only done our duty.”
2 - Salt covenant = friendship or hospitality = one step closer, ah – a friend now! So much better than merely a servant. And what real friend does not have a servant attitude along with that friendship? The covenant of friendship could only be broken if each person got back his own personal grains of salt. Impossible. Friends serve each other. The reason it doesn't really feel like serving is because it becomes a part of yourself. I ran across this description and wanted to share it with you, although I don’t know who said it: “Abraham was called God's friend but still he served God. Jesus was in an ultimately deep loving relationship with Father but still He served Father.”
3 - Sandal covenant = Covenant of inheritance = for an ancient Hebrew an old worn out sandal was sufficient to mark the boundaries of one’s property – in modern times we seem to need fences to do the same job. But a sandal also became known as a symbol of the concept of inheritance – as a picture of the relationship of parents with their children. A classic example of the Inheritance/Sandal covenant is written in Ruth 4:1-13 where we read about the marriage between Ruth and Boaz. Verses 7 and 8 (NAS) are particularly relevant: “Now this was the custom in former times in Israel concerning the redemption and the exchange of land to confirm any matter: a man removed his sandal and gave it to another; and this was the manner of attestation in Israel. So the closest relative said to Boaz, "Buy it for yourself." And he removed his sandal.” I cannot tell a lie – my carnal nature said, “Eeeewww! A dirty old sandal!” As I whipped my fleshly nature back into subjection, I gleaned from that story the understanding that aside from the old sandal, Boaz got land…and a wife!
Like the previous covenants and like all contracts today, there is responsibility along with the benefits. With the privilege of inheritance comes the responsibility to keep both the servant covenant and the salt /friendship covenants as well. And realistically speaking, if a person inherits an estate he is automatically expected to take good care of/be a good steward of that estate, so does it not seem logical that we as ”heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” (Romans 8:17) of our Father’s “estate” would also be responsible to be good stewards? I believe this was God’s original plan for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He gave them the authority and responsibility to manage the garden and the earth, but everything went awry when Adam gave in to temptation and sinned. Hence, God’s pre-ordained plan was set into motion.
A comparison can be made between these covenants of God and parenting, which helps illustrate the progressing from one level to the next. To begin with a child is taught obedience (Blood covenant) and assuming we did a pretty good job of teaching him that, then he grows older and becomes a friend (Salt covenant). We all know, from practical experience and/or observation of others that trying to raise a child by being his friend before teaching him obedience just does not work. Then the child matures becoming a responsible adult qualifying for an inheritance (Sandal covenant). So it is with the covenants - each progressive step closer to that goal of restored relationship between God and man is dependent upon the one before being kept. As we enter into each new level of this renewing covenant with God, we most certainly do not leave behind the responsibilities or benefits of the preceding ones any more than a child leaves behind his learning of obedience as he attains the status of friendship with his parents.
God always initiates these covenants and it is up to man to reciprocate and that can take time to happen.
Remember the Last Supper in the Upper Room, as described in John 13:4-14? Jesus removed the disciples’ sandals and washed their feet. Peter balked at this manifestation of a servant and friend that Jesus displayed but Jesus made it clear that it was necessary for this to be done: “Peter said to Him, "Never shall You wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." John 13:8 (NAS) Jesus was offering the inheritance of His heavenly kingdom to His disciples. John 1:12-13 (CJB) “But to as many as did receive him, to those who put their trust in his person and power, he gave the right to become children of God, not because of bloodline, physical impulse or human intention, but because of God.”
As I thought about these things I still couldn’t reconcile all of this with a few questions that tumbled through my mind sometimes such as, why do our prayers go unanswered or denied when we definitely do believe in Jesus Christ and have been taught that we are part of His bride? It made me think of the rich young ruler story in Matthew 19:16-29. He did the right things and I equated that with being a believer and going to church – doing all the “right” things a Christian should do – but he lacked something and that kept him from receiving what Jesus offered him. It was a little bit frightening and caused me to look many times at myself and wonder if I lacked the same thing that man did. Then I found an explanation of this story in relation to covenants of God.
This is how John Klein and Adam Spears explain it:
“To take an example from B’rit Hadashah [Hebrew for New Testament], the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-29) shows us what Yeshua is looking for in someone who aspires to be both a servant and a friend. The young man was obedient to God’s commandments, but he found it difficult to enter into Yeshua’s offer of a deeper relationship.
Yeshua basically said, “You are already my servant and my friend; now come and be my son.” But the young man wasn’t quite ready to trade his earthly inheritance for an increased share in the heavenly kingdom. Therefore, his poor decision prevented him from entering into a deeper relationship and getting any farther than the friendship (salt) covenant.
This does not mean that the rich young ruler “lost out” on what he had settled with God up to that moment. His salvation was never in question. But like so many believers today, who are called into deeper relationships, the rich young ruler simply failed to draw closer when the opportunity came.
Today many believers think you can get saved and have all the intimacy you’ll ever need by accepting the free gift, with no additional effort on your part. But salvation is only the beginning – it’s only the first step toward establishing the intimacy that God desires. At the moment (or very soon thereafter), God gives to each one of us the choice of increasing the maturity and intimacy of our relationship with Him. This is the reality that many seem to miss.
Philippians 2:12 says, “work out your salvation [literally, ‘work out our success’; terms of relationship, or obligations of covenant; i.e., purity] with fear and trembling [earnestness and urgency].” All of this takes on a whole new meaning when you begin to understand covenant.” [My note: That’s for sure!]
“The Lord will give us a step-by-step increase of His kingdom in our lives if we choose to walk out our faith. But we have to consciously make that commitment to move beyond basic salvation and enter into true covenant relationships with Him. When we do, He will give us the strength, the knowledge, and the stamina to move continually forward. As we show that we can be faithful with one step, He will show us the next one.
The final step in the process of restoration is the hand of the bridegroom alone. Why marriage? Because that is the ultimate fulfillment of all the covenants. God’s goal for us is a marriage relationship with Himself, involving complete intimacy. Marriage is the renewed relationship He desires.
However, not everyone who accepts salvation will aspire to be His bride. Like the rich young ruler, many will consider the price too high. But that will not leave them out in the cold – many people besides the bride and bridegroom will attend the wedding of the Lamb (Matthew 20:1-16, Matthew 22:1-14, Matthew 25:1-13, Revelation 19:5-9).
They just won’t be part of the bride because you can’t be married without being completely in covenant.”
The cornerstone that these building blocks were stacked upon was not laid at Jesus’ birth or at His death for “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1 (CJB)
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation 3:20 (NAS)
I understood this verse to mean that Jesus is standing at our heart’s door asking us to let him in and save us from our sins. I have since learned that there is much more to it.
Studying the Marriage Covenant, the last of the four types of covenants God made, answered a big question in my mind. Many times I thought about the “bride of Christ” and wondered, if the church is the bride of Christ why is the church so ineffective and so wrapped up in itself and its own good deeds, and its frequent pot-luck dinners, retreats, seminars, etc. today.
The Marriage Covenant consists of all of the prior covenants which are satisfied to the fullest extent all merged into this final pledge. As with the other three covenants, and just about everything else in the Bible, learning about the Hebrew culture and idioms used greatly expanded my own understanding of God’s Word. I tried to consolidate the information concerning the Marriage Covenant and the culture involved but every time I tried, it seemed like something important to good understanding was missing. So, I used copy and paste so you can read the whole explanation written by someone far more knowledgeable than myself – John Klein and Adam Spears.
“Once the prospective bridegroom made his first official move, he brought his father to the intended bride’s house. They carried a betrothal cup, wine and the anticipated price in a pouch. When they got there, they knocked. The prospective brides’ father would be on the other side of the door, but before he opened, he would peek through a little window, identify the visitors, then look to his daughter to confirm what, in most cases, she had long since settled in her own mind. Should he open the door? If she said yes, for all practical purposes the commitment to work through the betrothal process and arrive at a fully functioning marriage was made at that moment. Therefore, hers was not a lightly made decision for the issue was not, “Can we have a wedding?” Once the door was opened the only remaining question was, “We can have a marriage if we can work out the terms … so what will they be?” In other words, opening the door was the first major step toward making a marriage, which is precisely what Yeshua is saying in the verse. You open the door, He comes in, and the restoration process begins. At that point, you have salvation. But beyond that, He is asking you if you will enter into the covenant of betrothal with Him. Will you walk in a loving relationship with your bridegroom? But that’s not the only significant parallel here. The choice is “ours” exactly as the choice was always that of the ancient Hebrew bride. If she refused to open the door the groom would make a u-turn and head for home. And even after the bride opened the door, she could end the whole process at any stage. In fact, once the initial agreement to be married was “darashed out” (ie, worked out through intense, animated discussion) and formalized in a written contract, the bride was the only one who could still back out, right up to the very instant of marriage consummation. She could stop the whole process at any moment, and she didn’t even need any special reason.
The betrothal was binding and could only be undone by a divorce with proper grounds, such as the bride being found not to be a virgin, (see Joseph and Mary - Matt 1 v18-19 ) The young man prepared a Ketubah, or marriage contract (or covenant) which he presented to the intended bride and her father. Included in this was the “Bride Price,” which was appropriate in that society to compensate the young woman’s parents for the cost of raising her, as well as being an expression of his love for her.
To see if the proposal was accepted, the young man would pour a cup of wine for his beloved and wait to see if she drank it. This cup represents a blood covenant. If she drank the cup she would have accepted the proposal and they would be betrothed. The young man would then give gifts to his beloved, and then take his leave. The young woman would have to wait for him to return and collect her.
The wedding chamber and the Chuppah
Before leaving the young man would announce, “I am going to prepare a place for you,” and “I will return for you when it is ready.” The usual practice was for the young man to return to his father’s house and build a honeymoon room there. This is what is symbolized by the chuppah or canopy which is characteristic of Jewish weddings. He was not allowed to skimp on the work and had to get his father’s approval before he could consider it ready for his bride. If asked the date of his wedding he would have to reply, “Only my father knows.” Meanwhile the bride would be making herself ready so that she would be pure and beautiful for her bridegroom. During this time she would wear a veil when she went, out to show she was spoken for (she has been bought with a price)
When the wedding chamber was ready the bridegroom could collect his bride. He could do this at any time so the bride would make special arrangements. It was the custom for a bride to keep a lamp, her veil and her other things beside her bed. Her bridesmaids were also waiting and had to have oil ready for their lamps. When the groom and his friends got close to the bride’s house they would give a shout and blow a shofar to let her know to be ready. When the wedding party arrived at father’s house the newlyweds went into the wedding chamber for a seven day honeymoon and the groom’s best friend stood outside waiting for the groom to tell him that the marriage had been consummated. The proof of this was the bed-sheet bearing the blood shed by the bride as a result of her first sexual intercourse. This is notable for two reasons. It speaks of purity before marriage, but it also shows a blood covenant (the most solemn and binding kind) such as God’s covenant with his people. Then all the friends really started celebrating for the seven days that the couple were honeymooning. When the couple emerged there would be much congratulation and the Marriage Supper could begin. Gives a whole new meaning to Jesus preparing a place for us as well as taking the cup unworthily.
At the same time, once his initial proposal had been made and accepted, the groom was utterly and totally committed. Only by a writ of divorce, on extremely limited grounds, could he ever back out. You are invited to compare the above to the betrothal covenant between ourselves and Yeshua. Opening the door is the same as accepting Him as our redeemer and forming a lasting relationship. It’s the first step in the process.
On the other hand, we can accept eternal salvation and even avail ourselves of all the benefits of a servant covenant with Him, including heaven itself, without ever moving beyond that to betrothal. In fact, if we decide to go a little further than simply opening the door, we might even be able to establish and maintain the servant covenant, then the friendship covenant, and perhaps even the inheritance covenant without ever moving beyond that last point. Becoming the actual bride of Yeshua requires a committed, intimate relationship with Him that goes well beyond all the preliminaries. How many of us are willing to separate or distance ourselves from those things that are not created, designed by, or pleasing to God? Even so, if we do desire to take the betrothal step, we can still back out at any time, and many of us do. Yet the invitation to be part of the bride is always there, except for those times when we give back the free gift of salvation. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV).
The four cups of wine
Think once again in terms of the four types of covenant. Remember, they are progressive in nature, meaning that you must enter into the first three covenants - in order - before you can enter into number four. Remember also the names and the implications of each one, for you’re about to see how the servant, friendship and inheritance covenants are woven into covenant number 4. Each one helps to establish, to support and to reinforce the ancient Hebrew betrothal contact, In turn, the progression of commitments about to take place during the betrothal process, beginning on the evening when the groom comes and knocks, mirrors the sequence of commitments in the 4 covenants.
In his capacity as the Ultimate Master of Symbolism, God established 4 cups of wine as milestones, or “markers,” to signify exactly where the betrothal parties were in their negotiations. Each cup corresponded to a covenant, but it also represented something that all the participants had to physically grasp, to physically consume and make part of themselves. It goes without saying that each person would also have to participate mentally and spiritually at each step of the way, or the process would break down.
Now, refer back to the reference to “sup with him” from Revelation 3:20, for it has to do with what traditionally happened next. Once the prospective groom and his father were inside the prospective brides home, as they worked out all the details of the wedding they would eat dinner together with the prospective bride’s family. In this instance, the visiting father and son represented their entire family.
Members of the two families would also drink 3 of the 4 betrothal cups of wine, one cup each at certain well-established points throughout the negotiating process.
Cup number 1.
The first cup was the cup of Sanctification (Barry and Steffi Rubin, The Messianic Passover Haggadah - Baltimore: Messianic Jewish Publishers, 1989, page 7) which equated to a servant (blood) covenant between the two families. This cup was consumed almost as soon as the door closed. The groom, his father, and every member of the bride’s family above the age of accountability participated, for each member of each family was agreeing to serve the other family.
Sanctification embodies the idea of setting ourselves apart for God. Just as God sanctified the Nation of Israel, these two families were doing the same with respect to each other. In effect they were making a sacred commitment to become one giant family, each person to unilaterally serve all the new members. That’s partly why the support structure underlying ancient Jewish marriages was so strong.
Cup number 2.
The second cup was the Cup of Betrothal, Cup of Plagues (Ibid.) Cup of Bargaining, or the Cup of Dedication (Marvin R. Wilson, Our Father Abraham), which presented a salt covenant between the families. This cup was consumed by the bride and groom and their two fathers only. The two families, represented here by the fathers, were covenanting to become eternal friends with their joint son and daughter, and with each other.
As they ate, the members of both families haggled over the details of the marriage contract. This is usually where the negotiations would break down if they were ever going to. But if they managed to surmount all the difficulties, the families entered into a friendship covenant even as they established the terms of the upcoming marriage. In similar fashion, we are admonished to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12) when we accept the Lord’s offer of servant hood, which then matures into friendship.
The issues the families established were straightforward and direct, just as the ancient Hebrews themselves were. How much would the groom’s family contribute to the wedding feast? Where would they hold it? What skills would the bride need to acquire to become a Proverbs 31 wife? What possessions would she bring with her? Did she fully understand her responsibility to remain pure?
The bride’s family would also want to know how the groom intended to support her. Just as it was the bride’s primary responsibility purify and prepare herself, the groom’s chief responsibility was to go away and prepare a place for her to live. Many times her new quarters would be no more than a room, built on the side of his father’s house. This would hardly equal what Yeshua promises us in John 14:2, yet the whole process certainly corresponds to the reference in that verse.
Cup number 3.
The third cup was the Cup of Redemption. (Wilson). Or the Cup of Inheritance. Which represented a sandal covenant and signified the shared inheritance of the marriage partners. This cup was drunk at the end of the meal, by the bride and groom only, to symbolize their exclusive commitment to each other, along with their increasing level of intimacy.
It also officially “sealed” the marriage agreement between them. Once the bargaining was over, the families brought in a scribe who wrote out all the terms of the marriage covenant in a formal agreement, called a Ketubah.
At that point the young men of the family would hit the streets and blow their rams horn trumpets (shofars), announcing to all the world that the marriage contract had been signed. For all intents and purposes the bride and groom were now officially married, even though neither the ceremony nor the consummation had yet occurred. Nevertheless, from that moment onward, if either one died, the survivor would fully inherit the deceased partner’s possessions.
The third cup also corresponded to the cup Yeshua shared with His disciples during the Passover feast, or the Last supper, when he washed their feet and thus transferred His inheritance to them (sandal covenant). He also made further reference to His coming marriage to His kalah, His “called out ones,” knowing that it was customary for the groom not to drink wine again until the wedding ceremony. That explains why He said he would not touch the fruit of the vine again until He could do so with them in the Kingdome of Heaven. He even maintained his vow as He hung on the cross when He refused the pain numbing wine that the Roman soldiers offered.
The meaning of communion......
None of this can be modified by our opinion or interpretation. We don’t get a list of options, except for choosing whether we’ll participate in the first place. Once we’re in a covenant with Yeshua we don’t get the option of restructuring that relationship to suit ourselves. Yet sadly, the modern Church has altered the very fabric of the Hebraic relationship that God began with Adam and Eve. We have literally thrown away our understanding in favor of doing it our own way. Yet God has shown us very clearly how He wants to be approached. It’s not our option to say that we, on the contrary, have a better idea. God says, “This is how you go about mending and restoring your relationship with Me.”
Given that dynamic, it’s totally presumptuous and futile of us to try to alter our relationship and our approach to God. From God’s perspective, neither is the meaning and import of any of the four covenant types up for discussion. God offered mankind a betrothal contract starting 6,000 years ago, and sealed the terms 2,000 years ago. It’s also not accidental that the cups of wine of the betrothal covenant overlay - and thus reinforce - the individual covenants in the sequence. All this happens on purpose, for God was building a seamless mosaic of concepts that has, at its foundation, a commitment to establish and maintain a relationship leading to marriage, and this is the ultimate responsibility. Hence it requires the ultimate covenant.
Cup number 4.
The fourth cup of wine was the Cup of Praise (Rubin). Shared between the bride and groom only during the wedding ceremony itself. This fourth cup also awaits all those who are chosen to be the bride by Yeshua. It will be taken on the wedding day and will forever seal Yeshua’s union with His beloved.
We become eligible for the fourth covenant only after we’ve met all the previous requirements by entering into the first three. The decisions to do so are ours alone. However, Yeshua chooses His own bride, to whom He promised the crown of life in Revelation 2:10.
What is a Ketubah?
Ketubah is the Hebrew word for marriage contract. As talked about above, the terms of the contract were worked out between the two families during the meal they shared together. When both sides were satisfied they brought in a scribe or a rabbi to write the actual document itself, which had five parts.
1) First came a combined family history of the bride and groom, which included detailed family trees and anecdotes.
2) Second came a personal and family history of the bride, with a detailed family tree and anecdotes.
3) Third came a personal and family history of the groom, also with a family tree and anecdotes.
4) Fourth came the story of how the bride and groom met, with related anecdotes.
5) Fifth came a final section detailing both the bride’s and the groom’s responsibilities before and after the wedding. Look at the significant parallels to the marriage contract itself, one from the beginning of scripture and one from the very end.
The first five books of the Bible correspond to the five parts of the ancient Hebrew ketubah.
1) Genesis provides the combined family history of the bride and groom.
2) Exodus gives the personal and family history of the bride.
3) Leviticus provides the history of God’s family, the Levites.
4) Numbers tells of god’s love affair with His people in the wilderness and records His joys and sorrows as He reaches out to His bride.
5) Deuteronomy specifies the responsibilities that both bride and groom must fulfill.
What is this saying? That the first five books of the Bible are written as a marriage contract between God and His people. This is not analogy….It this is what it is.
I go to prepare…
By the time the happy couple had drunk the third cup of wine, only three more “milestones” remained.
1) First, the groom had to pay the bride price (which he’d brought with him), equaling 30 pieces of silver in Yeshua’s time. It was 100% refundable if the bride turned out be impure. This specific amount was also the price of a male bondservant (Exodus 21:32) and came to symbolize the redemption price of a bride (Leviticus 27:4)
2) Second, the groom now had the sole responsibility to go and prepare a home. … In this enterprise the groom was under the ironclad rule of his father, who was the only person empowered to judge when the groom’s bridal preparation (as per the Ketubah ) were sufficient and complete.
3) Third, the groom finalized his preparations he would let the word slip out that the wedding day was near………….
The groom could come anytime between 6 and midnight, on the second thought the 4th day of the week. When he did so he had to see his bride’s welcoming light in her window. If she let it burn out he would take it that as a sign that she had either changed her mind or simply didn’t care anymore, and he would turn away and leave her in darkness.
After the ceremony itself came the moment of yachid, or physical unity. The parents of the bride would invite the guests to enjoy the feast. The music would swell, the dancing would begin and the wine would flow for the first of seven days.
Meanwhile the bride and groom would slip away to a private room, set apart from the noise and provided especially for them. Soon their marriage would be complete in every sense.
On the other hand, if the groom discovered that his bride was not a virgin, or worse pregnant, the whole situation would immediately change. Within the ancient Hebrew culture, the groom had four choices:
1) He could let her pay the price for her unfaithfulness, which was death.
2) He could quietly give her a writ of divorce and walk away, which is what Joseph started to do with Mary before the angel intervened. But this approach was risky for her; later on, if other witnesses came forward to accuse her of adultery, the law would still require her to pay the death penalty (Matthew 1:19).
3) He could pretend the child was his. If he discovered the truth before the wedding, he could forfeit the ceremony and simply begin living with his new wife, who was already married to him anyway from a legal point of view. This is essentially what Joseph did with Mary
4) He could choose to be her goel (redeemer) and take her punishment upon himself. In the case of sexual impurity, he would pay her fee … death. The groom could also redeem his bride for violating Torah in other ways as well, whatever her violations might be involved including monetary debts of all kinds. The biggest drawback I n this approach was that the groom could never again refuse to pay for any “required redemption” as long as they stayed married. He’d established a potentially harsh precedent; once he’d redeemed her even one time he had to pay the same price every time she violated torah after that, as long as she was his wife.
What does this all mean?
This is the introduction of the fundamental concepts that underlie B’rit Hadassah and the book of Revelation. This will aid in understanding Revelation as never before. Right now the message is still quite simple. Each of us has both the obligation and the privilege of choosing the relationship we will have with God. We can be His servant, his friend, His son, or his daughter.
Beyond that, we can purify ourselves, accept each of the covenants He offers and accept the ultimate union. We can be part of His bride.
But becoming part of the bride doesn’t happen automatically. This is probably the most important point of this whole chapter. Many assume that salvation alone is all they need to become “one with Christ,” now and forever united with Him as His Chosen One, His bride dressed in white.
It isn’t that simple. Salvation equals … salvation! Nothing less, but also nothing more. Salvation / covenant / betrothal is not a three-for-one sale. Salvation means you can come to the wedding, which is quite an invitation all by itself, but you can’t be a guest and a bride at the same time.
One more example.......
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.
Most of us understand this verse on the simplest level, as saying that He loved them and still loves us, as a mother loves her chicks. But from a Hebrew perspective this verse means much more. Remember, Hebrew scripture works on four levels! The Hebrew word translated as “wings” is kanaf and can mean wings, but here it is also used to describe the corners of Yeshua’s prayer shawl, His talit. Hanging from the corners of the talit are the tzit-tzit, what most people call “fringes” but which are actually four cords doubled over and knotted in a distinct pattern, numerically spelling out the name of god.
Yeshua Himself provided the “hen” metaphor, but in addition He was referring to what a loving groom would do for his wife. At the end of a Hebrew marriage ceremony he would spread his arms around her and wrap her up in his talit, thus protecting her but also making them as one, even as he “covered” both of them with the name and the word of God.
Thus He was also saying how much he yearned to be in a marriage relationship with His people. †”
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My parents gave me instruction as all good parents do and many times I or my brothers would say, “Yeah, but…” and they always replied with, “No yeah-buts. Just do it.” My heavenly Father, however, more graciously answered my “yeah but” that I told you about at the beginning where I said, “But I thought You were leading me in the direction of studying the “Bride of Christ” because so many people don’t have a clue who that is or are misled thinking they are part of this blessed body of believers,” to which He replied, “They are related to each other.” Now I know how they are related.
A few thoughts about the “Bride of Christ” –
I know it was a long time ago, forty-six to be more precise, that I was a new bride but even though my memory lets me down a bit now and then, I can still recall how I thought and acted when we were engaged and when we were newlyweds. One thing I distinctly remember is that everything I did was geared toward making my fiance`/husband happy with me. I wanted so much to please him that he didn’t even see me without makeup on until after we were married. And shortly before we got married, I developed a sudden interest in washing and waxing the car – not just any car – his car. And I hated raw onions, but he loved them and it took only one mention by him that they were a vital part of a taco to make me suddenly decide that I must put onion on my tacos from then on also. You get the idea. I have since backed off a little bit from the “must please my husband in all I do” but very little. (I am no longer fond of washing and waxing the car and if I don’t want onions I don’t eat them!) I still listen to everything he says to pick up any hint regarding what he would want. My point is that I see nobody who even appears to live with an attitude like that toward God – including myself…and I hang my head in shame.
Then there is the scripture that uses the term “New Covenant” which those who prefer to disregard the Old Testament as being anything more than mere history like to point out. They claim this entirely nullifies the “Old Covenant” or the “Law” and they teach others to ignore what God requires of us, which is to keep the covenants which began with God and Adam. It is always a challenge to think about something we have some degree of familiarity with in a different aspect because we are used to thinking about it a certain way. We are creatures of habit, after all. However, to study for the purpose of learning the truth, this is what must be done. This is contrary to the normal so-called study which has the purpose of using whatever portions of scripture a person can find to support his/her own thoughts on a given subject or a quick reading of a chapter of the Bible before going to bed at night or to work in the morning, etc.
Obviously, it is of the utmost importance to let scripture speak for itself and to always compare scripture with scripture, taking context into account. Another thing often forgotten is that there are words that have been added that were not in the original text when the KJV was written, and they are the italicized words. The KJV is not my favorite translation but it does clearly show these italicized words which makes it a beneficial version to use when studying alongside other versions or translations.
There exists a school of thought that says it isn’t a new covenant and should correctly be labelled as a “renewed” covenant. The first thing I had to do was to identify or define the New/Renewed Covenant. There isn’t much in the Scriptures regarding the “new covenant.” The first verse that refers to this covenant is found in what we call the Old Testament - Tanakh in Hebrew - in a prophecy made by the prophet Jeremiah around 588-587 B.C.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (KJV)
31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
This is the only time the phrase “new covenant” is used in the Old Testament and is the scripture referred to in Hebrews 8:8-12 (KJV)
8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
A word study can be helpful so looking at the key words in this passage from the book of Hebrews we find: Starting from the word that is translated as “new” we find the word in the Hebrew “haDasah”. The dictionary form of the word is (“hadas” or “chadash”) which is Strong’s #2319. When used as an adjective, it is “chadash” but when it is used as a noun it is the word “chodesh”, meaning “new moon” or month. The verb of the word (chadash) is translated as “to renew” (as seen in 1 Samuel 11:14) or “restored” (as can be seen in 2 Chronicles 15:8). When looking up the adjective form of the word (as is the use here) in the lexicons it shows that has two related meanings:
- That what is recent (not old) – young or new
- That what was not previously known
This is a case where we must rely on context to derive the proper meaning. The covenant being referred to here, can either be a renewal of the existing covenant, or it can be a covenant that did not previously exist. What we learn about the “new” covenant from this phrase in Hebrews 8 is that it is not like the previous and that “this is the covenant” tells us the content that will be contained in the covenant. Taken together we can surmise that these two clues let us know that this covenant does not exist independent of the previous two. Looking into the content of this new/renewed covenant, the connection to the earlier two covenants can easily been seen in “I will be their Elohim, and they shall be My people” and “My law.” This is a clear link to the Sinai covenant. I see where this connection, in my opinion, makes the choice of “renewed” better for this specific term.
Next came the figuring out of the real meaning where “covenant” is an added word in Hebrews.
Hebrews 8 starts out talking about the tabernacle.
[ FYI: When God gave Moses the law, after leading the Israelites out of Egypt, he gave instructions for building the Tabernacle. It was to be the centerpiece of Israel and would move wherever they camped in their journey to the Promised Land. The Tabernacle was not like churches today in that it was not merely a place where people worshiped. Instead, it was a place where God visited the people and made his glory known. Exodus 40:34-35 (KJV)
34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Once Israel settled in the Promised Land, the tabernacle no longer needed to be mobile and when David became king, he made plans to build a permanent temple where God could dwell. Those plans were completed by his son, Solomon. (1 Kings 6)]
Then the third paragraph of Hebrews 8 refers back to the work of the high priests concerning the tabernacle bringing Jesus into the picture by saying, “But now the work Yeshua has been given to do is far superior to theirs, just as the covenant he mediates is better. For this covenant has been given as Torah on the basis of better promises.” Hebrews 8:6 (CJB)
The way this passage in Hebrews is worded, it is easy to read as a new, completely separate from the old, covenant if a person neglects to study (something relatively few people like to do) as the Bible exhorts us to do. Obviously, that would lead to misinterpretation. I found it interesting that this particular weakness in human nature, also known as having a carnal mind or thought process, was one thing God was talking about in Hebrews 8:7 (KJV) when he said, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” I didn’t see where adding “covenant” in that verse altered the understanding of the verse, but I also looked at the Complete Jewish Bible which says, “Indeed, if the first covenant had not given ground for faultfinding, there would have been no need for a second one.” That makes it much clearer that it wasn’t a faulty covenant that God had initiated with man – it was man’s weak human nature, his carnal mind – that made it necessary for the final level of the four covenants to be made available to us. Then God uses verses 8 and 9 to expound on how the failure of man to keep covenant occurred and how He reacted. Verses 10, 11, and 12 outline the substance of the renewed covenant.
Is it just me or are there a LOT of similarities between the substance of this new/renewed covenant and the “old” covenant?
Let’s see now…I have been a Christian since 1972… over forty years…and it wasn’t until a short time ago that I understood what is meant in the last verse of Hebrews 8, right after all of this discussion in that chapter about a “new covenant”…
Hebrews 8:13 (KJV) “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away”
…and then the next verse, Hebrews 9:1 (KJV) “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary,” where “covenant” is an added word.
It didn’t make sense to me that our perfect, all-knowing, all-wise God would make a mistake and have to come up with another plan after Adam sinned; it didn’t make sense to me that our unchanging God would change His mind and decide He wanted to make a “new” covenant with man that would nullify and totally depart from the pattern of the earlier covenants when He says He does not change in Malachi 3:6 (KJV) “For I am the LORD, I change not;” Believe me, I spent a lot of time meditating on and praying for wisdom to discern this correctly!
In the process of “helping” my husband with something he was writing, I learned that the word “covenant” in Hebrews 8 and 9 is terribly misunderstood. (I hope I can explain this the way it is so clear to me in my head!)
First, I looked back at Hebrews 8:2 (KJV): “A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” The key phrase here is, “of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, [MUST be Spiritual!] and not man,” which leads into a description of the high priest and his duties in the physical tabernacle. Then in verse 7, it had always seemed to me before that adding the word “covenant” there didn’t do any real damage to the understanding, but the more I thought about it and looked at the larger context, it became apparent that it limits understanding of what is really being said. But as it says without the added word, “For if that first had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second,” it seems clear to me that it is speaking of the physical tabernacle and how the duties of the physical high priests are being done better by Jesus as our High Priest in the temple which we are supposed to be spiritually. As Romans 12:1 KJV tells us, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” That verse really came to life for me when I read it in the Complete Jewish Bible taken directly from the original where it says it this way: “I exhort you, therefore, brothers, in view of God's mercies, to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living and set apart for God. This will please him; it is the logical "Temple worship" for you.” The comparison between the physical and spiritual became much clearer with those words, “logical Temple worship.”
All of a sudden the words Jesus said after clearing the temple of moneychangers when He was questioned by the church leaders, “… Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” became so obvious that I felt foolish for not ever understanding before that He was saying that His resurrection after three days and taking over as our High Priest who will never die, was moving the covenant from the physical to the SPIRITUAL, just as the physical temple sacrifices etc. are no longer required.
In several passages of scripture we are told that it is our ‘heart condition’ that matters to God, a theme reiterated literally innumerable times as evangelism takes place all over the world using the New Testament as a basis. Often neglected though, are the many times the same message appears in the Old Testament. For example, David speaks of it in Psalm 66:13-18 where he says he did all of the right things required for temple sacrifice and so on – physical requirements - but when he gets to verse 18 he says that God would not have even heard him if there had been iniquity in his heart - Spiritual. And God speaks through His prophet, Isaiah, and tells us exactly what He thinks of correct sacrifices and temple worship (physical) minus the heart (spiritual) to match in Isaiah 1:11-14.
Suddenly, the light bulb lights up – one of those “aha!” moments!
The physical was given so that we could understand the Spiritual !
An illustration of this entire concept of the “old” and the “new/renewed” covenants and how the new is not a separate unconnected entity which made the “old” obsolete, of no value, null and void, can be seen when doing a word study on the various key words, such as: “faultless” in Hebrews 8:7: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.” (KJV) According to Strong’s Concordance, the word “faultless” in this verse is the Greek word # 278 ametameletos am-et-am-el'-ay-tos from 1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of 3338; irrevocable:--without repentance, not to be repented of. Since it was derived from # 3338, I had to follow that back to see how it is described. And on it went but it got quite involved so I am going to skip the long Greek definitions for everything I was led to as I studied and consolidate things.
One thing I noticed was that the Greek word “meta” is part of all of these derivative words and that led me to the word we still use today – metamorphosis. (Strong’s #3339 = metamorphoo met-am-or-fo'-o from 3326 and 3445; to transform (literally or figuratively, "metamorphose"):--change, transfigure, transform) Consider the lowly caterpillar for a moment. The caterpillar hatches from the egg a butterfly laid on a leaf and lives out its life happily munching on the plant where it hatched. It can only eat certain varieties of leaves – a comparison in my own mind of the food of God’s Word that we need to consume to be spiritually nourished. Once it has eaten all it needs to grow as big as it is supposed to (easily compared to God’s timing for each level of His covenant to be accomplished, step-by-step), the caterpillar forms a chrysalis or pupa. I used to think that a caterpillar spun a chrysalis and then emerged, like a spider spins a web, but the caterpillar actually becomes the chrysalis and this is where the transformation we call metamorphosis occurs. While the caterpillar is in the form of the chrysalis, its body is changing – not dying! When all of the forming and changing is complete, the caterpillar emerges as a beautiful butterfly. The butterfly should be seen as a completion of the old, not because the caterpillar was faulty, but because it had its purpose to fulfill just like the levels of God’s covenant have to each be fulfilled so the next stage can be built upon it. The New/Renewed Covenant must be seen as COMPLETION OF THE OLD...NOT FAULTY – just incomplete, which is why Jesus said He came to “FULFILL” and not destroy what God had already set in place.
If one thinks about it, we can’t be born again if we have never been born so that too is based upon something “old” or in existence before the new birth. That reminded me of way back when our kids were young and we had a record of Barry McGuire singing Bullfrogs and Butterflies. And since everything God created has a spiritual application, if one rejects this concept, what does that say about him rejecting God’s perfect creation of which the butterfly is a part? Kill the caterpillar and see if a butterfly is ever produced. Break the cycle and both new and old cease to exist.
Face it, the dynamics are lost if the “old” is discarded.
Butterfly life cycle http://www.thebutterflysite.com/life-cycle.shtml
One more thing came to mind as I ruminated upon this whole panorama of events and promises and covenants, etc. I have heard numerous sermons over the years about how God loves us unconditionally and recently read a short article debunking the same thing. Imagine that. So, I have come to a conclusion about that, too.
God does love us unconditionally – as in no matter what we do He does not cease to love us. And that is the realm in which many people exist. However, He cannot interact with us if we are not abiding in covenant with Him. The very first book of the Bible tells us how God relates to humanity, and that is through covenants, which are simply “religious” contracts. And we know that there is no such thing as a contract without terms and conditions. All contracts/covenants consist of certain elements -
- exchange of valuable benefits...
- terms binding on both parties...
- a penalty for default...
When Adam and Eve defaulted on their part of the covenant God had no choice but to invoke the penalty clause, because He had chosen to bind Himself in that covenant. The very nature of covenants dictates that God had no choice. Granted, God has the power to do anything so He could have said, “Oh well, maybe that is a little harsh – how about if I just ground you two for a week and call it good enough to fulfill the penalty.” But God’s nature dictates that a lighter sentence for disobedience was not an option.
Take a look for a moment, at the difficulties in churches today. False teaching abounds and members are severely malnourished. Character issues like adultery and other sex-based scandals are labelled psychological in nature. Most likely the thief who made off with $600,000 from Joel Osteen’s church safe recently would be considered as having a psychological problem too. The fundamental problem is religious, for lack of a better word. The problems exist because covenants with God are in default. Now consider and just meditate upon the necessity of a penalty to be invoked by God for defaulting on the covenant with Him, and how serious that is. I would guess that I just blew away any fun in your day with that, didn’t I?
It is a very serious matter to have inherited the covenants God made starting with Adam, Abraham, etc. Then we as Christians acknowledge being in covenant with God when we accept His gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus. When we allow our wants, or even what we might consider “needs,” to override our obedience to the Word of God; when we just don’t think about what we are doing or planning to do, and whether it pleases God, we are breaking covenant with Him. God wants that precious relationship restored to His original design which allows us to walk with Him and be His people, and He will be our God. We don’t think of it this way, but in essence, when we are not obedient yet claim to be Christians, we are tugging at God trying to drag Him down to walk in OUR disgusting state. Of course, we don’t accomplish that but we sure do give God a bad name in the eyes of any observers when we say we are Christians and followers of Christ, and even unthinkingly do things or harbor attitudes which are abominable to God.
‘Nuff said. Point made.
Jeremiah 31:31-33 (NAS) "Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
The New Covenant wine is ALL of God’s Word; it is defined by the Word of God…because the God-initiated covenant system where one is built upon and extends the one before it only grows and gets better for mankind as we journey toward the restoration of our intended relationship with God.
Even in the secular world we use exactly the same process every day of our lives…case in point: I was taught the alphabet as a child – and then I learned to put those letters of the alphabet together in certain combinations and make words, etc. I could not make a single word if I had not learned the alphabet first. We dare not think the covenant God made is useless, worn out, abolished, negated, or in any other way trashed just because He told us through the prophet Jeremiah that He would make a “new” covenant with us.
Psalm 105:8 - He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, (NAS)
1 Chronicles 16:15 - Remember His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations (NAS)
Deuteronomy 30:11 - For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. (NAS)
The “old” was physical and the “new/renewed” is Spiritual. The physical was given so that we could understand the Spiritual! Without the old, the dynamics of the new would be lost.
Another one of the popular topics of preaching/teaching these days that seeks to nullify the value of the old covenant of God is the wineskin parable. It is taught that the new wineskin is all that matters.
Luke 5:37-39 (NAS) "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. "But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, 'The old is good enough."
Consider this. Wine is representative, and an acceptable substitute for, blood in the covenant of God. 1 Corinthians 11:25 (NAS) In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
The wine/blood of the old covenant and the necessity of the physical sacrifices, etc. to keep man’s part of it can be compared to the old wine in old wineskins. When Jesus fulfills the part of restoration of the relationship with mankind that God had planned by being the final physical sacrifice, the transition from physical to Spiritual can be compared to the new. It is still covenant with God (wine) but the format (wineskin) is now spiritual. I couldn’t find a place where it said we should throw away the wine from the old wineskin or that old wine could not be put in a new wineskin. And to me, it seems just one more piece of evidence that proves that the physical was given so that we could understand the Spiritual.
And another thing – speaking of learning, when Paul wrote in Galatians 3:24-25 (KJV) “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” he was not saying to forget about the law/schoolmaster. It is helpful to know that in biblical times a schoolmaster was the person who escorted the child to school so he could be taught, not the teacher as we think of it today. This escort had the same place as the law does to us now in that it shows us our need for Christ. To remember the route the schoolmaster taught the child to get to school is equivalent to faith for us. To negate, disregard, or nullify the law is to forget the route. It was up to the child to learn after the schoolmaster dropped him off at school just as it is up to us to learn what God desires of us after we are shown how far we fall short of God’s standards by looking in the mirror the law provides for us.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CEB) So this is the end of the matter; all has been heard. Worship God and keep God's commandments because this is what everyone must do. 14 God will definitely bring every deed to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or bad.
Psalm 89:28-33 (CEB) 28 I will always guard my loyal love toward him. My covenant with him will last forever. 29 I will establish his dynasty for all time. His throne will last as long as heaven does. 30 But if his children ever abandon my Instruction, stop following my rules— 31 if they treat my statutes like dirt, stop keeping my commandments— 32 then I will punish their sin with a stick, and I will punish their wrongdoing with a severe beating. 33 But even then I won't withdraw my loyal love from him. I won't betray my faithfulness. 34 I won't break my covenant. I won't renege on what crossed my lips.
Malachi 3:6 (CEB) I am the LORD, and I do not change; and you, children of Jacob, have not perished.
It has become abundantly clear to me that living outside the requirements of Covenant with Almighty God is equivalent to “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” 2 Timothy 3:5 (NAS). We have no excuse for failing to fulfill our part of the Covenant because “The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.” Psalm 25:14 (NAS) and "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” Acts 17:30 (NAS)
Think about how far the obligations of being a party to Covenant reach, even in secular history, let alone what God requires – we are bound by the nature of Covenant to bless one another because we are not in Covenant with God alone. The other parties are all other Christians everywhere. I don’t know about you, but I have just been convicted of being critical of others…and not just the unbelievers….
“So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.” Deuteronomy 29:9 (NAS)
I was raised in church but always felt like I was missing something. Now the Word of God excites me! My curiosity enhances pursuance of discernment. I have often felt discouraged, but not totally defeated knowing that in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
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