Covenant Vows

Today’s post is from Theology for Women, but this article is good for all husbands and wives to read.

Covenant Vows

By Wendy Alsup

A covenant is a binding agreement. Our world acknowledges a myriad of secular covenants, particularly in the financial realm. Financial covenants, like a mortgage or business partnership, aren’t to be entered lightly, and it is good that there are serious consequences to those who break such financially binding agreements. Economies can fail when parties default on such agreements, particularly en masse.

Secular covenants give us a tiny glimpse of the importance of spiritual covenants. The covenant vows of Christian marriage are a serious thing. We stand before God, friends and family as our witnesses, and repeat vows to another person. In sickness and in health. For richer and for poorer. Til death do us part. The ordained minister of the gospel speaks a final word of blessing and warning, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”

But in the 1970’s California became the first state to pass no fault divorce laws. What God had joined together became much easier for man to put asunder without Biblical cause or process. Soon, believers who benefit from God’s faithful covenant with themselves began taking advantage as much as unbelievers of the government’s easy path to undo such covenant vows.

Marriage vows are not the only covenants we make with another. My denomination takes the vow of church membership quite seriously. I covenant with pastors, elders, and other church members to pursue the purity and peace of my church. I covenant with them that they can count on me, and they in return covenant that I can count on them.

I’ve made covenant vows to my children as well. When I chose to bring them into this world and not give them up for adoption, I committed, at least in God’s and the government’s sight, to protect and provide for them. My commitment to my children feels a lot like God’s to Abraham in Genesis 12-17. God took both sides of the vow with Abraham. He would fulfill His covenant with Abraham because God was faithful, not because Abraham was. Similarly, I bear the heaviest weight of my covenant with my children. They may rebel, but I will remain their mother. They may run from me, but I will pursue them nonetheless. To do less would be to abdicate my responsibilities in their lives.

We tend to make covenant vows, particularly the marriage kind, in the filtered sunlight of a warm (but not hot) spring day. We make them as the sun shines and the flowers bloom. Loved ones smile warmly around us. And the ones with whom we are entering covenant welcome us toward them.

But the shining starts of our covenants aren’t the point of these covenants. They aren’t the reason for these covenants. The vows we make in front of God and family in our white dresses and tuxes, with filtered spring sunlight illuminating our pictures, aren’t for these days. The sweet days of filtered sunlight and happy smiles don’t require binding agreements to keep folks together. No one has to twist your arm to love your spouse, care for your child, or persevere with your church on such beautiful days glowing with the warmth of new hope and promise for the future. No, covenants aren’t for those days at all.

Read the rest here.

El Shaddai: God Almighty {Reblog}

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

 

If you cannot view this video for any reason, click here to read the lyrics.

El Shaddai: God Almighty

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

 

If you cannot view this video for any reason, click here to read the lyrics.

A Little Introduction to #Covenants

Shared from Desiring God.

A Little Introduction to Covenants

We end the week talking about covenants. Yes, covenants. We need to. In the words of one recent book on the topic, “the covenants are not the central theme of Scripture. Instead, the covenants form the backbone of the Bible’s metanarrative and thus it is essential to ‘put them together’ correctly in order to discern accurately the whole counsel of God.” Those words are from Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum (see Kingdom, 21; God’s Kingdom, 17).

Covenants are a sort of skeletal structure, and we must put them together rightly. To explain covenants and how they work, I called Dr. Don Carson. On occasional Fridays I call him up as part of our relationship with our friends at The Gospel Coalition. Carson is the co-founder and president of The Gospel Coalition, and also the editor of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which is the study Bible version of what we’re doing in these occasional Friday podcasts.

So what is a covenant, and how do they hold our Bibles together? Here’s Don Carson to explain.

Christians know, of course, that the Bible is made up of two testaments and they may wonder from time to time where the word testament comes from. It comes from two passages in the New Testament, one in Hebrews and one in Galatians where actually the word is properly rendered covenant. It would be easier, it would be more accurate to speak of the Bible as having two covenants: the old covenant and new covenant. Of course, we have inherited the term testament, so we will continue to speak of the Bible having two testaments, but the notion of covenant shapes an awful lot of how the Bible is put together rather than testament.

Again, we should begin in Genesis 1–3 in the garden of Eden. The word covenant isn’t used there. But one of the striking things that we have already seen part of about Genesis 1–3 is that those chapters lay a kind of seed bed of notions that are developed in much richer detail farther on in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t talk of God as King in those chapters. But he is clearly reigning. The Bible doesn’t talk about the church in those chapters, but there is the beginning of his own elect, covenant people. The Bible doesn’t really talk about blood sacrifice in those chapters, but nevertheless, the covering that God provides for Adam and Eve depends on the death of an animal. The Bible doesn’t talk about the Trinity, yet you have these strange expressions like, “Let us make man in our image” (Genesis 1:26).

Read the rest here.

Something Old, Something New

From GraceThruFaith, Part 1 of 2.

Something Old, Something New

Part 1 of 2 in the series Old and New

From GraceThruFaith

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley


“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, O God.’”
(Psalm 40:6-8, from the Septuagint translation. Attributed to Jesus in Hebrews 10:5-7).

People who don’t think of the Bible as one message for everyone, but see the Old Testament as the part for the Jews while the New testament is the part for the Church miss out on a lot. They don’t see that while the two parts of the Book are obviously different they are also tied together.

The Old Testament explained how the Israelites were supposed to behave while the New Testament takes some of those behavioral imperatives and presents them in the spiritual sense to show us what we’re supposed to believe. If you look closely you’ll find that things that obviously call for external, physical, and national behavior in the Old Testament often become internal, spiritual and personal beliefs in the New.

Read the rest here.

The Covenant Relationship

This Bible study article by Jack Kelley from GraceThruFaith goes along well with my Marriage Triangle series which is published at The Relevant Christian Magazine (TRC). You can also read the articles here.

The Covenant Relationship

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:3-4)

The making of a covenant was serious business. It was the strongest bond known to men, and had both business and personal applications that extended even to the descendants of the two parties involved. A covenant was typically solemnized by great ceremony and ritual, some of which is mentioned in the passage above. All in all it went like this.

First, several animals were cut in half and arranged along a path. Their purpose was to symbolize the penalty for breaking the covenant. The two men entering into a covenant relationship walked between and around the animal parts in a figure eight. (An eight on its side is the symbol for infinity.) This was to show that they understood and accepted the penalty and that the agreement committed them forever. (When God entered into His covenant with Abraham, promising him an heir and giving him the Promised Land, He was the only one who walked between the animals. This meant that only He was bound to the terms. There was nothing Abraham had to do. In fact, God put him to sleep so he couldn’t participate. The land was given to Abraham and his descendants unconditionally and in perpetuity (Gen.15:9-21).

Read the rest here.

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The New Covenant Fulfilled

This is from J. Vernon McGee’s Thru the Bible commentaries.

The Last Supper 18
Photo credit: Flickr.com


And when He had taken some bread and given thanks,
He broke it and gave it to them, saying,
“This is My body which is given for you;
do this in remembrance of Me.”
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying,
“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”

—Luke 22:19-20

The Lord took two of the most frail elements in the world as symbols of His body and blood. Bread and wine—both will spoil in a few days. When He raised a monument, it was not made of brass or marble, but of two frail elements that perish.

He declared that the bread spoke of His body and the wine spoke of His blood. The bread speaks of His body broken—not a bone broken but a broken body because He was made sin for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21).

I do not believe He even looked human when He was taken down from that cross. Isaiah had said of Him, “…his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 523:14); and “…there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2).

For centuries the Passover feast had looked forward to the Lord’s coming and His death. Now He is in the shadow of the cross, and this is the last Passover. The Passover feast has now been fulfilled.

We gather about the Lord’s Table and search our hearts. What we do at this Table is in remembrance of Him. We look back to what He did for us on the  cross, and we look forward to His coming again. “For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

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