“The Bible is not a revelation of God’s power; instead, it is a revelation of His Love…” from “Love, Live and Enjoy Life” by Dr. Creflo Dollar.
Many of us are familiar with words like, “to make a contract” but strangers to the covenant in our churches today. Before I can distinguish the differences between, “A Marriage Contract” or “A Marriage Covenant“, I have to begin searching in God’s Word for the foundation of covenant.
“According to a report by the Barna Group, one out of every five adults has never been married. Of those who have married, one out of three has been divorced at least once.” In addition, the report revealed that “the divorce rate among born-again Christians is identical to that of non-Christians!” That is a startling report, when I was looking at the evidence, in understanding covenant.
I started my detective work in the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words. The Hebrew word for “covenant” is berit. It embraces one of the most important theological concepts in the Bible in general, and in the Old Testament (Covenant) in particular. It is found a little over three hundred times and is translated “covenant” in all but a few cases. The underlying sense of “berit” is that of a “binding agreement,” or “relationship,” usually drawn up with a solemn vow. I found that in most cases of looking at Bible references that the “covenant relationship“, was between God and His people. In other verses, the relationship of “covenant” was between the people and God or between people.
With Resurrection Sunday coming this week, as believers in what Jesus did for us on the cross, we can’t be strangers to our understanding of covenant relationship.
How long are you going to go thru life without understanding God’s promises—His covenant is with you. We are part of the Abrahamic Covenant. We are heirs, as Issac and Jacob were. Satan’s role in your covenant is to keep you from developing a “Covenant Attitude”. Ephesians 2:11, 12 speaks to the issue of being “strangers” to the covenant.
Verse 12, “REMEMBER that you were at one time separated (living apart) from Christ [excluded from all part of Him], utterly estranged and outlawed from the rights of Israel as a nation, and strangers with no share in the sacred compacts of the [Messianic] promise [with no knowledge of or right in God’s agreements, His covenants]. And you had no hope (no promise); you were in the world without God.”
Might you be a stranger to the covenant when reading this blog about “A Marriage Contract” or “A Marriage Covenant”? If that is your case, then according to Ephesians:12, you are without hope. You are in bondage if you don’t know about covenant; you’re without expectation. How can you expect success in your marriage, if you are “strangers” to one another? You both won’t have any expectations; no hope! And as in marriage, how can you have success if you are without God’s promises; no hope or expectations? The church is about to get an understanding in the next few blog discussions. That’s my expectation.
Go to Genesis 12:1-13 to look at God’s promises to Abram (the Abrahamic Covenant). God tells Abram to,” leave his place of birth, your relatives and your father’s house, to the land…” Is there a mystery coming next? ‘I am not going to tell you now Abram, I will show you later (verse 1). Now here comes the promise of God, instilling an attitude in Abram of expectation and hope.
Verse 2, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others].”
God had given an “empowerment” thru His covenant or Promise to Abram; His blessing and anointing. By Abram getting the blessing, it would lead to results in relationship. Covenant will also work in famine (Genesis 12:10). There will be famine in “A Marriage Covenant”. If you haven’t experienced one, trust me you will. Look at Genesis 13:1:
“SO ABRAM went up out of Egypt, he and his wife and ALL that he had, and Lot with him, into the South.” Verse 2, “Now Abram was extremely rich…”
Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord–it makes [truly] rich…” In “a marriage covenant“, the same should apply, even in famine.
“Okay, I am starting to get understanding about “Covenant”, but what is a “Contract”?
According to Webster’s NEW UNIVERSAL UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY, “Con-tract n. 1. an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified. 2. an agreement enforceable by law. 3. the written form of such an agreement.”
There is an important clue to be found in Webster’s definition of “contract” and God’s definition of “covenant“. There is something missing in “A Marriage Contract” or “A Marriage Covenant“; it has to be, “relationship and love“. Those can be missing in a contract and in most cases, never even apply. Those words can’t be missing in Covenant. The same can be said with God’s Covenant on our behalf, for we are from the “Seed of Abraham”; we are “joint heirs” (Hebrews 3:6, 14; Romans 8:17); Relationship and Love.
Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.”
We therefore are “joint heirs” of the Abrahamic Covenant through Abraham’s “SEED“, not seeds; the SEED is Jesus Christ. Remember where your strengths come from. God gives us the “POWER to get results” in relationship. NO relationship, no LOVE; no “covenant relationship“; no LOVE.
Today, when we make and sign a contract between ourselves and a representative of another party, we have a binding agreement and recognized in a court of Law. In Genesis 15, God makes a “covenant” with Abram and, “[Abram] believed in (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to) the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness (right standing with God)”. BUT Abram said, Lord, I need some evidence or something that will show me, “by what shall I know that I shall inherit it [the Covenant promises].” (Genesis 15:8). Abram was not doubting what God had promised him, he was just seeking a fuller explanation and assurance of the details. All we need in today’s society is a signed piece of paper. God in His grace granted Abram’s request, by means of a most remarkable ceremony.
The ceremony not only confirmed the covenant promise, but was instructive at the same time. The provision of righteousness and full salvation is God’s gift of grace to man, but it would be costly to God. The curse of sin can be removed only by sacrifice, in the shedding of blood. Abram knew about sacrifices and practiced them, but now God stressed its necessary connection with His promise. One each of the five acceptable sacrificial animals (cow, sheep, goat, pigeon, dove) was to be killed by Abram and laid at the altar. The slain animals were placed in two rows, one bird in each, along with a half-portion of each of the other animals. This arrangement was evidently intended to conform to the custom of the day, when a covenant was made between two parties; each would pass between the two rows, as a sign that he was bound by a contract. (Genesis 15:9-11). This was a “blood covenant” that never can be broken.
Did you ever have a best friend when you were a kid and you wanted to make a pact; you would be friends forever? You might have each cut your fingers then put them against each other and said, “We are now blood brothers; friends for life”. That’s when we were just kids. I was telling this account to my wife and she asked me, “Did you ever go through that ritual with a best friend?” My answer, “Not that I remember”. Did Abraham rememberthe blood?
God has His part to do in the Covenant Promises and we have our part. I’ll look at our part in the Covenant next, in Genesis 26. I will also be investigating “The Child of the Promise [Covenant]” and, “The LOVE connection in “A Marriage Covenant“.