Friday, 6 November 2020
Title: “Those who fear Him, who keep His covenant”
By: Ps. Cheng Cheung

Psalm 103:
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.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
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]

每日灵粮
星期五,2020年11月6日
标题:敬畏主的人将遵守祂的约
作者:张祯祥传道
翻译:陈月妃姐妹

诗篇103篇
17但耶和华的慈爱、归于敬畏他的人、从亘古到永远.他的公义、也归于子子孙孙.
18就是那些遵守他的约、记念他的训词而遵行的人。

这些经文对我们作为信徒来说是意义重大的。上帝不仅在旧约时期就为我们预备了救赎计划,而且还透过许多的盟约逐步的揭示了这个救恩计划的细节。这些盟约强调了神非常重视那些被祂所拣选的子民与祂的关系。祂期待更详尽地了解我们。这得从挪亚说起。

创世记9:8-17记述了挪亚之约,所涉各方及其记号。其中的条件包括身为儿子的顺服,忠心地爱那创造主,谦卑地服事及尽责的管家。然而,就如第一个亚当一样,挪亚最终成为一个忤逆的儿子,他的裸露带来了羞辱。与挪亚的盟约表明了,给人一个新的起点并不能解决人类的困境。上帝放弃了吗?没有。

当我们来到亚伯兰时,我们看到了两组的三个应许。给予亚伯兰个人的前三个应许(创世记12:1-9),专注于大国,祝福和名声。第二组的三个应许说道,上帝将祝福那些祝福亚伯兰的人,诅咒那些轻视亚伯兰的人,最后,亚伯兰被告知,地上的万族都要因他得福(1-3节)。亚伯兰所享受的祝福是他与耶和华的关系中忠诚和忠心的体现。换句话说,当他对上帝更具信心时,上帝会更加与他亲近。

亚伯拉罕的应许集中于后裔和土地上。当许多以色列人,也就是亚伯拉罕的后裔离开埃及时,上帝已经实现了第一个应许。现在,祂即将给他们迦南的土地,但是,在这之前,需要有另一个盟约。这样做的目的是使以色列人能够享受祂即将给他们的祝福,并成为其他国家的祝福。通过摩西之约(或西乃山之约),上帝使用犹太人以成就祂对亚伯拉罕,犹太人,乃至全世界的神圣应许。他们会回应吗?

在出埃及记19章中,西乃山之约产生了。第5节和第6节提出以色列人要对耶和华这个伟大君王完全的忠实和顺服的关系。只要以色列人遵守盟约中的条款–忠诚和顺服–耶和华一定会遵守盟约,并向他们显露—永恒的爱和恩慈。每当我们在诗篇中看到这个词时,我们都会清楚地想起上帝对祂子民的盟约义务。

撒母耳记下第7章是下一个盟约(大卫之约)的主要篇章。这神圣的应许分为在大卫在世时要成就的应许,及大卫死后要成就的应许。前者记录在第8节到11节上:(i)大名,(ii)以色列作为上帝的子民享有安稳的住所,(iii)大卫脱离仇敌的扰乱。后者记录在第11节下至第13节和第16节:(i)永恒的王朝,(ii)永恒的国度,和(iii)永恒的国位。

我们作为当今时代的信徒,这一盟约对我们的意义是显而易见的。这应许就是将来有一个永恒的国度,耶稣,也就是大卫的后裔,将成为这个永远的君王。可悲的是,犹太人根据这个应许,他们还在等待一个弥赛亚或是所应许的世俗的君王和国度的到来。救主就在那里,在他们眼前,但他们却无法认出祂。

在大卫之后,上帝兴起了先知们来指出以色列人未能成为成功的守约者。先知们指责犹太人,并揭露了一个事实,那就是他们逐渐远离了在西乃山之约中所定义的与上帝和彼此之间原有的关系。因为他们违反了圣约,众先知宣布上帝将制定一个新的圣约,那就是祂不但是个信实的神,祂所救赎的子民也要信实。

耶利米书31:31-34
31耶和华说、日子将到、我要与以色列家和犹大家、另立新约。32不像我拉着他们祖宗的手、领他们出埃及地的时候、与他们所立的约.我虽作他们的丈夫、他们却背了我的约.这是耶和华说的。33耶和华说、那些日子以后、我与以色列家所立的约、乃是这样.我要将我的律法放在他们里面、写在他们心上.我要作他们的 神、他们要作我的子民。34他们各人不再教导自己的邻舍、和自己的弟兄、说、你该认识耶和华.因为他们从最小的、到至大的、都必认识我.我要赦免他们的罪孽、不再记念他们的罪恶.这是耶和华说的。

我们为这项新的约定赞美上帝。尽管以色列人失败了,但祂并没有放弃我们。的确,通过祂的先知,他们预言了一个新约的建立,其中也包括外邦人。上帝对我们这些不配的罪人是多么的仁慈。祂的慈爱比生命更好。

祈祷:
天父,我对于你的忍耐与宽恕深深惊叹。虽然我选择了自己的方式,但你宽恕了我。尽管我反叛,但你赦免了我。纵然我违反了你的道德条律,但你饶恕了我。

如果我曾经是旧约中的以色列人,我可能也不会遵守盟约。然而,尽管我唾弃了你的爱,你却宽恕我,并设立了一个又一个的盟约,证明了你的慈爱。

感谢你让我对盟约及你的慈爱有了全新的理解。

奉耶稣的名,阿们。

[取材自从神的盟约看神的国度]

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