Posted by: forfreedomalone | 13/01/2014

Under which covenant are you?

I don’t know about you, but my Bible is divided into two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament.

There is something about the words “old” and “new” which indicate that one is past and the other is present tense. The “old” is pasted away and the “new” is come. We use these words, in English, to indicate that concept. We do not say that the “old” has yet to arrive, we say it is “old” and, therefore, done with, no longer relevant, not up to date.
So one could understand why so many Christians start reading at Matthew. This is the “new” bit and we only need that, so we’ll start there. This is the bit which is relevant to us. Especially if we are not Jews.

Then the word “Testament” has connotations too. As in Last Will and Testament. It indicates disposal of property according to one’s wishes.

So we might be forgiven for saying that the Old Testament was the disposal of property according to God’s wishes, but, for one reason or another he changed his mind and wrote out a New Testament. We might even be forgiven for saying that under the Old Testament God was leaving his property to the Jews, but, because they rejected Jesus, he is now leaving it to us, who believe.

Unfortunately, although we may be forgiven for thinking these things, we would be wrong on all counts.

God spoke to Moses on the mountain and gave him the Law. He gave it to Moses in Hebrew. Hebrew is the language of the Old Testament and it is, more and more being proved to be, the language of the New Testament also. It was the language of all the Old Testament Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, and Jesus himself. So it would seen fair to me to say, that it is a language we should know something of if we are going to understand what God has said in his word.

The word “Testament” is a Latin word which was arrived at as a result of a mistranslation of the Greek word diatheke.
Diatheke means “covenant” and it also means “testament”.
However, the whole concept of what God was doing through the ages from Adam to Jesus is lost if we translate diatheke as “testament”, it has to be “covenant” to make any real sense.

In Hebrew the word used for “covenant” is בְּרִית (berith)and it is first used in Genesis 6:18 when God tells Noah that he will establish his covenant with him and that he and his family will be protected in the ark. The word “establish” (וַהֲקִמֹתִ֥י) actually means “stand up”. To stand up was to indicate agreement to or on going support of a covenant.

Looking at the desired end relationship of the church and Christ as a marriage, we could see, if we looked backwards, indications that Adam and Eve were in marriage covenant with God from the time of their creation, they were “as they should be”, as God wants us to be. We are desired as the Bride of Christ, the ultimate union, the ultimate relationship and the ultimate fulfilment of covenant. They rebelled, disobeyed and has to return to square one; servants/learning obedience.
But God perused them, he called out for restoration but they would not respond. He then slew an animal to cover them in skins and with that blood he established, or stood up, to his side of the covenant. For the covenant to be settled it required a man to stand up for his side also and this was Noah. Noah was the man who trusted God and with whom God said the covenant was established. They both stood up for it.

Through the course of time God established covenants with man through Abraham, Moses and Jesus. The covenant was not with these people personally, but with mankind generally, but these men were representing the rest of humanity as they stood up and kept man’s side of the covenant.

To the Jewish mind one does not establish a covenant, then over rule it and start again. That is Greek thinking. To a Jew, one would establish a covenant, build on it, expand it and take it to new levels and heights.

If we saw the Old Testament as, what it is, the First Covenant and the New Testament as what it is, the New Covenant we may start to see a continuum, rather than two individual things. We would start to see a building relationship for those who enter into it.

Children begin by learning obedience, they grow and serve in their father’s household, they are faithful and drawn into relationship as sons and daughters and finally are given in marriage.

We are not, at once, in the deepest and more intimate relationship with the father. We have to work our way there by developing relationship.
It is illustrated in the parallel between my, Scottish, and North American cultures.

In my culture when you meet someone you have never met before, who is ages with you or older, they are Mr, Mrs, or Miss. No one would use a first name as this would indicate a degree of intimacy of relationship which does not exist. Perhaps in time, after years of proving yourself a true and trusted friend, you would be invited to use the other person’s first name. This would never be abbreviated as to do that would indicate an intimacy of relationship which does not exist. Maybe, in time, you would be invited to use a shorted version or nickname; but there is never a time when you assume to do so, you have to be invited.

This is strange thinking to North Americans. They see it as cold and unfriendly, but that is because they live at extremes and do not understand subtlety the way we do. It is not at all indicating there is no friendliness between the two parties, it is indicating there is a huge level of respect and an understanding that intimacy has to be earned.

So it is with God. He set in place a covenant to which man responded, He expanded it, man responded and so on until it was completed in Jesus. There will be no further expansion, WE now are asked to respond. We enter into covenant relationship with God through a blood covenant, the blood of Jesus. But, the blood covenant is the covenant of the servant, we have no right to assume the boast of son-ship.
In one sense we are sons, we have been brought into the family of God, but we are little children, learning obedience; we are not ready to be married as the bride. We first need to develop our relationship to the place of the salt covenant (friendship) and then to that of the sandal covenant (inheritance) before we are ready for the marriage covenant when we enter the Bride of Christ.

Many may be incensed at the thought that having accepted Jesus as Saviour and committed to a life as a Christian they would be told they were not in full covenant with the Father, but, from a Jewish perspective most of us will not be, because we have entered as little children (as we must) and have still never learned obedience. We are rebellious and wilful, we go our own way and do not serve our father in dutiful obedience. This is not legalism, it is a loving willing to do as we are bid.

Some of us will have reached the salt covenant, we have learned to be obedient, and we have entered friendship with the father. We know we can come boldly to him and we can address him as Abba. We have been given the law of God but we do not walk in it. We are friends but not fully sons of the inheritance.
Some of us will have reached the sandal covenant, we are walking in the fullness of our inheritance.
But those will be the few, for many are called but few choose.

Do not view the writings of the Bible as “testaments”, or disposals of goods. They are expanding revelations of the covenant God entered into with man in the beginning and to which he is calling you to enter. Enter into the fullness of the covenant, not just into the blood covenant of a servant. .

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