I really do appreciate all the responses that came in after the first post of this topic "Living in God's Covenant," they were really encouraging. But one response that caught my attention was the one with questions in it. It reads thus "In today's world, we tend to think of a 'covenant' as an agreement which we can break if the other party breaks it first. Is that the way God’s covenant works? Or are they different from human-style contracts?” The answer to these questions will be the basis of the concluding part of this topic.
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no-one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will sincerely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchanging things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it flourish, so that it yields sees for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
From what we are reading in these two passages, it is very clear that the covenant of God does not take the pattern or form of what we have as covenant in the world today. But the covenant of God as He swore to them in the Bible days are still in effect till today and are fulfilled in the lives of those who have been able to keep the covenant of God.
We know from the things we have learnt in the first part of this discuss that a covenant is a two-way legal agreement; there is the one who has made the covenant and there is the one to whom the covenant has been made (the benefactor of the covenant). The one who has made a covenant has a role to play by fulfilling the promise he has made and then the benefactor of the covenant needs to ensure that he is worthy of receiving the promise that has been made.
With this foundation laid, we will try to look at the criteria that needs to be meet for God to make a covenant with man, and what needs to be done to retain the covenant of God over our lives and generations after us. But we need to bear in mind that the Lord does not change and His words will never go unfulfilled and so are His covenants. So if we are not yet beneficiaries of the covenant of God, that shows that we are yet to meet up with the set criteria that grants us eligibility to those covenant that God has made with man.
Genesis 17: 1-2
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”
When we consider the story of Abraham, the first time the Lord appeared to him and made a covenant with him was in Genesis 12, and the Bible recorded that Abraham believed the word of the Lord and without questioning, he obeyed God’s instruction and left his father’s household. A little while later the Lord appeared to him again in Genesis 15, this time around Abraham had a little score to settle with God, he could not understand how he will be a blessing to many nations when he didn’t have a child. And so he asked God for a child, and the Lord promised him not just a child but told him that if he could count the stars in the sky, then so will his offspring be. At this Abraham believed and it was credit to him as righteousness.
But by the time we get to Genesis 17, Abraham’s faith was beginning to take a down turn; he had accepted his wife’s proposal and self orchestrated the promise of God by having a child out of God’s promise with his wife’s maid servant. And so God seeing what he had done, though not annulling the promise told him he needed to do more if he was to enjoy the promise for his life. We see God speaking to Abraham saying, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” There was now the need for Abraham to have a blameless walk before the Lord. This clause was never mentioned in Genesis 12 or 15, but after the situation of Genesis 16, then there came a need for caution.
We will also notice that the Lord issued additional instructions to Abraham as a constant reminder of what he needed to do and who God had made him in order to strengthen his trust in God and prevent him from walking contrary to that promise that God has established for his life. First the Lord changed his name to reflect his new status as a father of many nations, and then the Lord told him to circumcise himself and his entire household just as a constant reminder of the covenant that exist between him and God.
Now we should understand that God had to take these measures not because He doubted His ability to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, but to keep Abraham constantly reminded and not again walk in sin that contradicts the fulfillment of God’s promise in his life. The manifestation and the continuity of God’s covenant with Abraham was a fact that God will not jeopardize, that is a truth that can only be annulled by Abraham’s misdeeds.
In order to consider God’s criteria for choosing those He makes covenant with, I will like us to consider this simple illustration: It is impossible for me as a person to see someone I do not know and I have never meet and promise such a person a million dollar. Even if I had a million dollar to give away, I will first consider my family, relatives and close associates who might have one form of need or the other to help. I will not just go on the street and pick a stranger to give money to, whom I do not know and I have never meet.
Same is the case with God. For God to enter a covenant with any man there must have been a pre-existing relationship between such a man and God. Even though nothing was said about Abraham prior to the encounter of Genesis 12, yet in Isaiah 41:8 God refereed to Abraham as His friend. Noah was another man with whom God made a covenant, let us have a brief view of the man named Noah prior to his covenant days.
But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.
This is the account of Noah.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
So we see that God didn’t just pick that man Noah from the blues to do all that He did in his life. Noah had established a relationship with God over time by distinguishing himself from the people of his time and walking blamelessly before God.
David was another man God established his covenant with, when we look through the life and times of David, we will see a man who held the Lord in high esteem. By the strength and power of God, David had killed a lion and a bear with just his hands without anyone but God to hold on to. And so among the whole pack of the army of Israel, it was that small ruddy boy David who understood that they were not just any legion of army, they were the army of the Lord that could not be defiled by uncircumcised Philistines. Saul the anointed king didn’t know this, David’s older brothers totally forgot this fact about themselves, but just this small handsome boy David knew the strength and ability of God based in his relationship with God and his past encounter.
This happened because David has been in contact with God a long time before the battle. 1 Samuel 13:14 reads: “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”The man refereed to in this passage was David who was a man after God’s heart and whom the Lord had appointed king over Israel long before the time of the battle with the Philistines.
In order to have the Lord enter into a covenant with you that is forever binding to Him to keep and which for you is a ground for expectation and a sign for future excellence, then you need to be in a relationship with God.
In our present generation I am sure that a lot of people will wonder if God still enters into covenant with man. Well His covenant of old contains it all and are still in effect, binding to God to keep till this very present generation and beyond as long as the earth tarries. Deuteronomy 7:9 reads: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his command.” The covenant of God is binding to only those who truly love God and keep His commands. So before we close the curtain we will look briefly into what it is to keep God’s covenant.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but of God.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves in Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
In our generation today, those who will retain the promise of God to Abraham in their lives are those who are true sons of God through their faith in Christ Jesus. Sons born not by human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God through their receiving and believing in Christ Jesus. If you belong to this category of people then I congratulate you so much. You have entered into the category of people who are eligible to enjoy the covenant of God.
In order to retain that covenant and enjoy the full benefit of what you have received you need to keep the covenant by keeping the commands and laws of God. This is also made very easy through Christ Jesus who lives in you as you live not by the law of sin and death but by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Roman 8:3b-4 “And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the flesh.”
In order for Abraham to fully enjoy the benefits of the covenant God made with him, he needed to walk before the Lord and be blameless. For Isaac to continue in that covenant, he also needed to follow in his father’s footsteps and walk blamelessly before God. Each time Moses spoke the promises of God to the children of Israel there was always a condition to meet for that promise to be fulfilled and that was to keep the commands, decrees and laws of God. In our present day, the instruction has not changed. In order to enjoy the unchanging nature of God’s covenant then we need to develop a righteous relationship with God, we also need to walk before God and be blameless. Then we will receive the full benefits of God’s promise and still have our eternity secured.
For more on God's covenant you can please get the book "The Covenant of God" by Aderinsola Obasa. To do that please click the link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/300350