Covenant: berit (Strong’s 1285)
Sounds like: b’reet
In the beginning humanity made some stupid choices. And God in His great love wanted to rescue us. Throughout the Scriptures YHWH makes covenant promises with His people. He makes these covenants to save us, and He promises never to forget them. His word is as solid as a rock. When God makes a promise He keeps it!
But if from there you will seek YHWH your God, you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to YHWH your God and listen to His voice. For YHWH your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers, which He swore to them by oath.
And what are these covenants? It all starts with a promise made to Noah:
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
This is a promise that God gives without asking anything in return from His people. This Covenant is a one-sided promise from God. He will never again fully destroy life by the waters of a flood… no matter how horrible we behave. He will save us!
But all the following Covenants are a little different. They are relationship Covenants. God promises delightful things IF His people follow and obey Him. God’s covenant that He announces to Abraham is one of these relationship covenants:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, YHWH appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come.”
So God tells Abram (now renamed Abraham) that he will be a Father of many nations, and that kings will come from him… BUT Abraham and his descendants must keep God’s covenant. “Keeping the covenant” meant following and obeying God’s will.
Years later God makes a covenant with Moses and the Israelite people:
Then Moses went up to God, and YHWH called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Again the Israelites are told to fully obey God and keep His covenant, and if they did that then they would be as God’s “treasured possession”. God assigned them to be a holy nation of priests; a nation that would show God’s will to the world.
The next covenant YHWH makes with His people is directed at King David:
2 Samuel 7:11b-16
To David: “YHWH declares to you that the YHWH himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he will be my Son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me ; your throne will be established forever.’ ”
YHWH promises David that his kingly line will last forever! In response David calls out to God and ends his prayer like this:
2 Samuel 7:27-29
“YHWH Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign YHWH you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign YHWH, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”
Psalm 132 reinforces this covenant between YHWH and David:
YHWH swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke:
“One of your own descendants I will place on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them,
then their sons will sit on your throne forever and ever.”
For YHWH has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying,
“This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it.
I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food.
I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.
Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my Anointed One.
I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.”
But do David’s descendants keep YHWH’s covenant? No. No, they break the covenant almost immediately. YHWH’s promise, however, was that He would raise up an offspring from David. And that offspring YHWH would establish the throne of his kingdom forever. However the Psalmist writes, “If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne forever and ever.” But this does not happen. David’s throne breaks… because his descendants break the covenant with God. They become corrupt, evil and self-serving.
But God does not break His promise to David. YHWH brings back David’s throne through His Son, the Mashiach, the Messiah, the Anointed One. This Anointed One would usher in a New Covenant, which the Prophet Jeremiah spoke about, hundreds of years after King David’s reign:
The New Covenant
“The days are coming,” declares YHWH “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares YHWH
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares YHWH.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know YHWH,’
because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
What is this New Covenant that God says he “will make with the people of Israel after that time,”? After what time? When will YHWH’s law be written on our minds and our hearts?
God promises a Messiah from David’s line to be a salvation for the people. Is Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah? Is he the one God sent to be the new King from the line of David?
Yeshua in all humility never called himself King. Other people call him King. In fact his enemies even call him King. Yeshua, rather, called himself Son of Man (human) and Servant. He did not call himself King, because “king” in his day would conjure up certain images in the minds of the people, which was not how Yeshua saw himself. This was a new kind of King that Yeshua was presenting… a servant king. So, to highlight this new kind of kingship, Yeshua in his final Passover meal serves his twelve disciples:
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
Yeshua, gently shows, that he is the fulfillment of the Passover. As a sacrificial lam, through his shedding of blood, sins would be atoned and the New Covenant would be fulfilled. And what was the New Covenant?
I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Yeshua fulfills this by dying on the cross… but before he was sent to the cross he announced this covenant with his followers:
Yeshua: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you do know Him, for He abides with you and will be in you.”
If you love Yeshua and keep his commandments the Spirit of truth will reside in you. Yeshua promised it! It is a covenant that he makes with his followers and it fulfills the new covenant that Jeremiah spoke about. The Spirit lives within us, but if we do not love Yeshua it will wither. If we do not follow the commandments that Yeshau left for us, the Spirit will fade.
Paul also spoke of the New Covenant:
2 Corinthians 3:3-6, 17
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life… Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
We are all to be ministers of the New Covenant, guided by the Spirit of truth that Yeshua promised. And in that promise we find our freedom!
So the covenants are a really great way to show YHWH’s plan from the very beginning. After the flood He promised never to wipe out the earth again. Then He promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. From those nations YHWH promised that the Israelites would be a nations of priest through which YHWH’s plan would come forth. But it’s the promise to David that brings forth the most beautiful and hopeful news to His people. A new anointed king would eventually come to be salvation for all the people.
This new king would descend from Abraham, and he would also be a descendant from the line of David. This person would be a new king that would bring forth the New Covenant, where the Law would be written in our minds and on our hearts. How would that happen? Yeshua promised that the Spirit of truth would dwell within us. For those who put their faith in Jesus we are carriers of God’s Spirit. It is a truly holy and beautiful gift. And that Spirit, promised in the covenant, that is within us….
…that Spirit is freedom! Freedom from the stupid choices humanity made way back in the beginning that started the whole world in a spiral of corruption and greed and self-importance. God made covenants with humans to get us out of the bind we made for ourselves. And those covenants, ultimately, opened the door to freedom. Freedom from all the guilt and shame that tethers us to this world. Seek out God’s promises. He wants you to to experience that great joy! Reach out and take it all in!
Next week: Appointed times/Festival