Friday, 6 November 2020
Title: “Those who fear Him, who keep His covenant”
By: Ps. Cheng Cheung
17 But the loyal love of Yahweh
is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to their children’s children,
18 To those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his precepts.
These verses are significant for us as believers. God not only planned our redemption from way back in the Old Testament, but also progressively revealed the details of that salvation plan through covenants. These covenants underscore the point that relationship with His chosen people is most precious to our Lord God. He wants so much to know us intimately. And it started with Noah.
Genesis 9:8-17 describes the Noahic covenant, the parties involved, and its sign. Obedient sonship in faithful, loyal love to the creator God, humble servanthood and responsible stewardship were the terms. However, like the first Adam, Noah ends up as a disobedient son whose nakedness reveals shame. The covenant with Noah shows that being given a fresh start and a clean slate is not a sufficient remedy for the human plight. Did God give up? No.
When we come to Abram, we see two pairs of three promises. The first three promises (Genesis 12:1-9) given to Abram as an individual, focus on nationhood, blessing and a great name. A second group of three promises says that God will bless those who bless Abram, will curse those who slight Abram and finally, Abram is told that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through him (verses 1-3). The blessings Abram enjoyed were the manifestation of a faithfulness and fidelity in his relationship with Yahweh. In other words, God would draw closer to him, as he exercised more faith in God.
The promises to Abraham focused on descendants and land. As the Israelites depart Egypt with a multitude of Abraham’s descendants, God had fulfilled the first promise. Now, He was about to give them the land of Canaan, but first, there needed to be another covenant. The purpose of this was to enable the Israelites to enjoy the blessings that He wants to give them and to be a blessing to the other nations. Through the Mosaic (or Sinai) covenant, God was using the Jews as His instrument to fulfil His divine promises to Abraham and the Jews, to the entire world. Would they respond?
In Exodus 19, the Sinai covenant came to be. Verses 5 and 6 propose a relationship of complete loyalty and obedience of Israel to Yahweh as the great King and promised blessings. As long as the Israelites kept their part of the agreement – loyalty and obedience – Yahweh would surely keep His part of the agreement and show them hesed – loyal love and lovingkindness. Every time we come across this word in the Psalms we have a clear reminder of God’s covenant obligations to His people.
2 Samuel 7 is the key chapter in the next covenant (Davidic). The divine promises are divided into promises to be fulfilled during David’s lifetime and promises to be fulfilled after David’s death. The former promises are listed in verses 8-11a: (i) a great name, (ii) a firm place for Israel as the people of God, and (iii) rest for David from his enemies. The latter are listed in verses 11b-13 and 16: (i) a lasting dynasty, (ii) a lasting kingdom, and (iii) a lasting throne.
The relevance of this covenant for us, as believers in this day and age, is clear. The promise is there will be an everlasting kingdom, and Jesus, David’s direct descendant, will be the eternal king. Sadly, based on this promise, the Jews were awaiting a Messiah or promised secular king and kingdom. The Saviour was there, right before their eyes, but they could not recognise Him.
After David, God raised up prophets to call attention to the failure of the Israelites to be covenant keepers. The prophets confronted the Jews, and exposed the fact that they had gradually slipped away from a proper relationship with God and one another, as defined by the Sinai covenant. Because they had violated the covenant, the prophets announced that God would put in place a new covenant in which not only would He be faithful, but His redeemed people would be faithful too.
31 Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke,… 33 For… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. …34 I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
Praise God for this new provision. Despite the failure of the Israelites, He did not give up on us. Indeed, through His prophets, they prophesied the establishment of a new covenant which includes Gentiles as well. God is gracious to us undeserving sinners. His lovingkindness is better than life.
Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father, I marvel at Your patience and forgiveness. Though I choose my way over Yours, You forgive. Though I rebel, You forgive. Though I break Your moral law, You forgive.
If I had been one of the Israelites of old, I would probably not have kept the covenants. Yet You forgave and instituted one covenant after another covenant, promising Your lovingkindness, despite the way I spurned Your love.
Thank You for a fresh understanding of covenant and lovingkindness.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
[Factual material from God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants]