THE COVENANT

lord's covenant
lord’s covenant

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WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES A STONE TABLET MAKE?

” NOW IF YOU OBEY ME FULLY AND KEEP MY COVENANT, THAN OUT OF ALL NATIONS YOU WILL BE MY TREASURED POSSESSION.” EXODUS 19 :5-6 (lord’s covenant)

MANY SCHOLARS CALL THE NEXT FEW CHAPTERS THE MOST PIVOTAL SECTION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. THE ISRAELITES, CALLED BEFORE A TREMBLING AND SMOKING MOUNTAIN BY LOUD TRUMPET BLAST, WERE ABOUT TO RECEIVE SOMETHING UNIQUE IN ALL HISTORY: A STONE DOCUMENT TO BE DEPOSITED IN THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF FURNITURE IN THE NATION, THE ARK OF THE COVENANT. WHAT MADE A STONE TABLET SO VALUABLE? THE “COVENANT” IT SUMMARIZED WAS SACRED, SIGNED BY THE FINGER OF GOD HIMSELF.

AND YET SOMEONE WHO SIMPLY TURNED TO EXODUS AND STARTED READING THE CONTENT OF THE COVENANT MIGHT HAVE TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING ALL THE FUSS. THE COVENANT BEGINS WITH THE FAMILIAR TEN COMMANDMENTS. IT PROCEEDS FROM THERE TO RULES ON CURSING PARENTS AND KNOCKING OUT TEETH, ODDLY MIXED IN WITH RULES ON INTEREST RATES AND COOKING YOUNG GOATS IN THERE MOTHERS’ MILK. WHAT IS SO SPECIAL, AFTER ALL, ABOUT THE LAWS AND INSTRUCTIONS DESCRIBED HERE?

SINCE WE DON’T NORMALLY COMMUNICATE ON STONE TABLETS TODAY, THE QUESTIONS, “WHAT MADE A STONE TABLET SO VALUABLE?” MIGHT BETTER BE REPHRASED, “WHAT MAKES A PIECE OF PAPER VALUABLE?” SEEN IN THAT LIGHT, TODAY’S SOCIETIES, LIKE THE ISRAELITES’, STAKE AN AWFUL LOT ON CERTAIN PIECES OF PAPER. (lord’s covenant)

CONSTITUTION (lord’s covenant)

RESTING IN A HELIUM-FILLED BRONZE CASE IN THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, THE U.S. CONSTITUTION IS ARGUABLY THE MOST VALUABLE SINGLE PIECE OF PAPER IN THE ENTIRE COUNTRY. AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE IT CAN BE LOWERED INTO A FIREPROOF, SHOCKING SAFE. BUT DOLLARS ALONE BARELY HINT AT THE CONSTITUTION’S VALUE; ITS REAL IMPORTANCE COMES TO LIGHT IN A MARBLE BUILDING DOWN THE STREET, WHERE THE SUPREME COURT HEARS HUNDRED OF LEGAL CASES.

EACH CASE HAS CLIMBED UP FROM LOWER COURTS THROUGH AN ARDUOUS, EXPENSIVE PROCESS AND ONLY ONE DECISION REMAINS. WHATEVER THE SUPREME COURT DECIDES WILL RULES AS THE LAW OF THE LAND. THE SUPREME COURT BASES ITS DECISION ON ONE FINAL AUTHORITY: THE CONSTITUTION. IF THE NINE MEMBERS JUDGE A LAW “CONSTITUTIONAL” THE LAW WILL STAND. IF NOT, IT WILL BE OVERTURNED.

FOR ISRAEL, THE COVENANT BECAME THEIR CONSTITUTION. DETAILS OF THE LAW CAME OUT IN THREE MAIN PLACES: HERE AT SINAI (EXODUS AND LEVITICUS), DURING THE WILDERNESS WANDERING (NUMBERS), AND ON THE PLAINS OF MOAB (DEUTERONOMY). THE COMPLETE LEGAL CODE EXTENDED FROM THE GRAND SWEEP OF NATIONAL POLICY TO PETTY DISPUTES OF LIVING TOGETHER. GOD WAS SHAPING AN ENTIRE CULTURE FOR A GROUP OF HOMELESS PILGRIMS. IN ALL, SEPARATE COMMANDS ORDERED THEIR POLITICAL, SOCIAL, AND SPIRITUAL LIVES.

LORD’S  COVENANT

OTHER NATIONS WERE HAUNTED BY THE UNPREDICTABILITY OF THEIR GODS. WHO COULD TELL WHAT WOULD ANGER OR PLEASE THEM? BUT BECAUSE OF THE COVENANT, ISRAELITES KNEW EXACTLY WHAT GOD REQUIRED AND WHERE THEY STOOD BEFORE HIM. THEY HAD A BASIS FOR TRUST AND SECURITY AS A NATION.

FOR ISRAEL, THE COVENANT ESTABLISHED ITS BIRTH AS A NATION. GOD SAID HE HAD CHOSEN THE JEWS AS A TREASURED POSSESSION (EXODUS 19 :5-6). HE WANTED A NATION UNLIKE ANY OTHER, A MODEL SOCIETY CENTERED AROUND A COMMITMENT TO HIM. HE NEEDED A PURE PEOPLE, KEPT SEPARATE.

THE NEXT FEW BOOKS OF THE BIBLE SPELL OUT THE OBLIGATIONS, BUT ALSO THE REWARDS, OF BEING GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE, HIS “FAMILY”. IF THEY OBEYED, THE ISRAELITES WOULD LIVE FREE FROM DISEASES, THEIR CROPS WOULD GROW BOUNTIFULLY, THEIR WOMEN WOULD GIVE BIRTH TO MANY CHILDREN, THEIR ARMIES PROVE VICTORIOUS–IN SHORT, THEY WOULD ENJOY UNPRECEDENTED NATIONAL WEALTH AND SECURITY. THE COVENANT DEFINED THOSE BENEFITS– ALL PART OF BEING BORN AS THE CHILDREN OF GOD.

MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE (lord’s covenant)

MARRIAGE IS FAR MORE THAN PIECE OF PAPER, SURELY. IT INVOLVES LOVE AND TRUST, SEXUALITY, THE THOUSAND DETAILS INVOLVED IN TWO PEOPLE SHARING LIFE TOGETHER. BUT IN THE EYES OF THE LAW, MARRIAGE REQUIRES A PIECE OF PAPER. THE DOCUMENT MAKE FORMAL AND LEGAL THE MOST INTIMATE, PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP HUMAN BEINGS EVER HAVE.

LATER, THE PROPHETS HOSEA, JEREMIAH, AND EZEKIEL WOULD COMPARE THE COVENANT TO MARRIAGE. THEY POINTED OUT THAT ISRAEL’S TREATMENT OF GOD AMOUNTED TO ADULTERY, AND THEY CALLED THE NATION BACK TO ITS ORIGINAL COVENANT. THE LAWS LISTED IN DETAIL ARE MERELY THE FORMAL EXPRESSION OF A LOVE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GOD AND HIS PEOPLE.

PIECES OF PAPER DEFINE THE BOUNDARIES OF A RELATIONSHIP, BUT IN NO WAY THEY CAN EXPRESS IT ADEQUATELY. YOU CANNOT GET AN ADEQUATE PICTURE OF LIFE IN A COUNTRY BY READING ITS CONSTITUTION’S DRY PROSE, NOR CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THE MYSTERY OF MARRIAGE BY STUDYING A CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE. IN THE SAME WAY, THE LAWS AND RULES IN THE BOOK OF THE COVENANT SURELY DO NOT YIELD A COMPLETE PICTURE OF LIFE IN A NATION BOUND TO GOD. BUT THE COVENANT, AND THE CONTEXT IN WHICH IT CAME, SHOW MUCH ABOUT WHAT GOD DESIRED FROM HIS FOLLOWERS.

LIFE QUESTION (lord’s covenant)

DO YOU OWN ANY VALUABLE PAPERS THAT EXPRESS A KIND OF “COVENANT” ? IF YOU DREW UP A COVENANT BETWEEN YOURSELF AND GOD, WHAT WOULD IT SAY? (lord’s covenant)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQqT_zirQpJJewIeXcH-snQ/featured?view_as=subscriber

 

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