“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants” (Genesis 17:1-2 NLT).
Dictionary defines “covenant” as a formal, solemn, and binding agreement; a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. Some describe covenant as an agreement between a stronger party and a weaker party. The stronger party provides everything the weaker party needed to survive, in exchange for something the stronger required from the weaker party.
On other hand, a marriage vow between a husband and a wife is also considered as a covenant. In any cases of a survival, the husband takes the role of a protector to his wife, and the wife as a helper to her husband (Ephesians 5:25, Genesis 2:18). Keep in mind that according to the scripture, the wife is a weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7), and also, the husband is the head of the wife.
The word “covenant” in the Biblical context is that God, who is superior to man, initiated the everlasting covenant. God designed this covenant for man’s benefit. The easiest way to explain God’s covenant in the Biblical context is to understand the principle of “Big brother defending Little brother from bullies.” It goes like this: Big Bro made a covenant to Little Bro that whatever the case maybe, Big Bro will always defend him from all bullies. Big Bro promised that as long as Little Bro trusted him, he will never be touched forever again by bullies, because Big Bro will take care of business. The important point here is that the only thing that the older brother wants from his little brother is to trust him, nothing else.
God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham that He would be his God, and that He would also be the God of his countless descendants. When God initiated this covenant, He was painting a picture of the future to Abraham. To his limited mind, Abraham was unable to foresee that this covenant is a progressive one. As their partnership goes stronger as time goes by, the covenant becomes better and better. Nevertheless, God was unable to reveal the magnitude or the totality of the covenant to Abraham for he was incapable to comprehend the depths of His covenant.
Therefore, slowly but surely, God guided Abraham to walk and grow in the obedience to His Word. God had to change his name Abram to Abraham. Multiple angelic beings from heaven had visited him from time to time. God had to show Abraham the stars at night, and the sands of the dessert as numbers of his descendants. These were God’s ways of imparting trust in His covenant to Abraham. As a result, Abraham reflects on the reality of his descendants as he observes the infinite numbers of bright shining stars at night. The same as he kicks in the sands of the desert blazing over the heat of a wasteland. But there was a time when God can’t hide His plan from Abraham (Genesis 18:17). God had to recognize their partnership, and that He also trusted him.
In God’s heart, the future of this covenant is the triumph of His plan to redeem the fallen man from the evil one, and to restore His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, restoring His fellowship to His creation that once lost. Nevertheless, God had to partner with a man of faith who will obey His Word without question, a man of faith who will believe in His Word, a man of faith who will never be shaken against all odds when faced with all impossibilities because he trusts in God. And for many generations past, God had finally found a man that He can consider to partner with – Abraham the faith man. He was pleased to have him. For without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is (Hebrews 11:6).
God, however, required Abraham to serve Him and live a blameless life. In other words, to establish this covenant, God has to remain the Almighty God for Abraham as Abraham has to walk before Him and be blameless. In short, as long as Abraham does his part in the covenant, God will do His. Yet, God remained faithful to His covenant although Israel (His people) lived unfaithful. In spite of their unfaithfulness, God’s character, His personality didn’t change a bit. God remains their God. He waited patiently for them to return to be His own people again. What an Awesome God! Who can fathom the depth of His judgment?
Throughout the Old Testament chronicles, God has established that He is the ever faithful covenant keeping God. He never changes His mind or His Word. He kept His promises though His people violated the term of the covenant and failed to live according to His will. Still, God had shown His mercies toward them. It’s so amazing how God’s goodness endures forever even to generations and generations of disobedient.
The Old Testament had shown the blessings of this covenant to the nation of Israel. There had never been in the history of military warfare that a nation was feared by its enemies and all surrounding kingdoms. The world had to pay tributes after tributes to Israel’s kings, and blessed this nation of the wealth of the earth, and fear and awe are in every one’s heart at the mention of the name of the God of Israel. God’s covenant has prospered Abraham’s descendants in all aspects of life, spiritually, physically and materially. Once they became a nation to be feared with. God had blessed them exceedingly.
“Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 106:1 NKJV)
As a matter of fact, along with mercies and goodness, there’s the everlasting love and forgiveness in God to win His people back. An excellent real life illustration is the love-life of the Prophet Hosea. The Book of Hosea mirrors the heart of God in bringing back the salvation of His people. The unfailing love and ever faithful to His covenant, God once again rescued His people from His coming judgment. Hosea beautifully penned his obedience to the Greatest Lover of all:
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them” (Hosea 3:1 NLT).
God knows that man is a failure, but His everlasting love, mercy and grace, man has given a chance to become a winner again. In 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” The context of the word confess in this scripture is repentance. True repentance is making a commitment to surrender our self to the obedient of the Word of God. This scripture is never to be taken like a dishwasher machine. Wash a dish and use it again, wash a dish and use it again, wash a dish and use it again. I heard a group of a so called “Christians” who call 1 John 1:9 as a “the Rebound.” They profess “once saved, always saved.” According to them, you can go ahead and commit sin, but don’t forget to rebound. It was a license to commit sin. No wonder I don’t see any character of Jesus in their lives, because they justify every sin in their life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).
Many of us have been asking ourselves: How can we know that a person is a believer of Christ? The apostle Paul gave us one of the obvious physical manifestations of a child of God – He becomes a new creation. A changed life, changed heart, and a changed of vocabulary – a new tongue. The life of Christ will show in your life.
As the covenant of God progresses, additional prophets of God emerged and declared God’s decrees, repentance and obedience to His Word. Not until the new covenant was established by the blood of Jesus that God Himself dwelt in the very heart of a believer. The new creation man and God become one in the spirit. The believer in Christ becomes a new creation, a new being. The Spirit of the Lord now dwells in him, and God’s Word is written in his spirit.