Jesus is your covenant friend. The Christian life will wear you out if you don’t understand it. Many Christians are pushing themselves to exhaustion, when the energy of Another should propel them.
Many Christians are hanging on to the words of self-help books on how to be a better Christian. Some are “practising Christians”, and some are not. They dither between trying and giving up. Feeling like hypocrites, and finding no joy in prayer or Bible reading.
They do it in the hope that God will notice that they are trying. Deep down, they know they are not good at it. They’re afraid of God, and go to Church because they don’t want to go to hell. They have developed a pseudo relationship with God, turning to intercessors, like a Mary, an angel, or a saint. How it must grieve God.
If you are one of these Christians, then you have never heard the rest of the gospel.
WHAT IS A COVENANT
“Covenant” is a concept that we understand very little about today. The english “covenant” means only to agree. The Hebrew “berith” means a lot more, it is a binding obligation. It is the backbone of the Bible, and the gospel.
God and Jesus Christ cut the ultimate covenant, between them, at the cross. This covenant involves us, but it does not depend on us. See more Crucifixion, why so bloody?
In Biblical times, any representative had to be of the same blood family as those he represented. In the western world today, life begins and ends with the individual. Remember the story of David and Goliath? David represented Israel, and Goliath represented the Philistines.
Note! Jesus was born as one of us, blood family, to represent the human race. Jesus was 100% man and 100% God.
The parties make a solemn affirmation. Subsequently, the covenant partners called upon God to be the witness.
Note! Jesus came to die for us, and God is the witness to it. Jesus last words at the cross “it is finished“, was the affirmation.
This contains the responsibilities of each party, and the benefits for each party.
Note! Promise and responsibility of God. Mark 10:45 “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Our benefit: “John 10:10 That they might have life, and have it more abundantly.”
When they were cutting a covenant, they slew animals. They laid the carcasses out on the floor, and the two parties walked in the blood, in vivid symbolism.
Note! Jesus himself was the sacrifice when he shed His blood for us, at the cross. The whole world took notice.
The two covenant parties cut into their arms, and the scars from the wounds were the seals that they were covenant partners.
Note! Jesus carries the scars of the nails in his hands and feet, and of the spear in His side.
The word friend has become cheap in Western society. In Biblical times it refered to covenant partners. This explains the friendship between God and Abraham. “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?” (2 Chronicles 20:7).
Note! We are called covenant friends of Jesus too, because of the New Covenant. John 15:15 “I have called you friends.”
Every covenant ended in a meal, drinking from the same cup and eating from the same bread. Partaking of another.
Note! This happens at the Holy Communion, when we drink from the same cup and eat from the same bread.
Sometimes there was an enduring memorial, a monument, set up. Other times they would change the name of the place to reflect the covenant that was made there.
Note! The cross is the memorial of the crucifixion at Golgotha.
A NEW FAMILY
God, in His love for us, has called us into a covenant relationship with Himself. A friendship in which God and humanity are bound. This is the gospel, the New Covenant.
At the core of the covenant that He made at the cross is “God is Love.” 1 John 4:8-10 “God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”
Robots does not make good covenant partners. God chose to create us with free will to say no to Him. God in himself, is fulfil. Yet He longs to share His love and His joy with His creation.
“God is love.” He does not have love, something that may or may not be present. Something that can change, increase, or decrease. Love is His nature. To say that you have a reservoir of water is in a different category than to say that I am water.
God’s lovingkindness is in the context of Him keeping the covenant, when we put every promise to the test. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
A SCARY GOD?
Without a covenant God would be scary to us. Imagine life with a God who does not love us, and don’t even like us? A God who knows every thought and motive of our hearts, and is plotting our misfortune?
But, nothing can be further from the truth. David knew that God’s love for his people is a gift that never stops giving. Psalm 23:6 “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life.”
AGAPE, NOT EROS
The original writings of the New Testament, is in Greek. It only uses the word “agape” for love, and never “eros”. This is important, because “eros” has our english meaning for love. It is a love repulsed by what it perceives as ugly, or lower than its own standard.
Furthermore, the beloved has to earn the love of the lover. It is a love liable to fade with the fading beauty of the beloved. The lover gets distracted by the arrival of a more beautiful beloved. A shaky foundation for any relationship.
LOVE THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
Amazingly, only the word “agape” appears. At best, it compares with the love of a mother for a newborn child, it keeps on giving.
God’s love for us originates in who He is, not in how lovable we are. It reaches out to the spiritually ugly and those who are out of harmony with Him. It reaches out to the enemy and those who seek to destroy Him.
Wouldn’t you want to know more about a Friend as great as this? Jesus wants a covenant friendship with you.
This is the real gospel. It is the love of God that changes people. John 8:32 “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free”