Covenantal Relationship

May 23, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
 

A solemn and binding commitment. A pledge of complete loyalty. An ongoing partnership. All of this defines the word covenant. A word we've probably heard before referring to marriage or a promise between God and men, but do we truly know and understand the seriousness of covenant and the depth it requires of Man? Covenant goes far beyond any other commitment and is the more sacred than life itself. Covenant is an endless partnership that cannot be broken. A covenant is an agreement between two parties to be committed in their relationship and it's purpose is ensure faithfulness and commitment to that relationship. It is a guarantee that the relationship will be honored.

The Hebrew culture gives complete definition to covenant on which their faith is based on. The Hebrew word for covenant is B'rit which means to cleanse or make pure, to eat together or share food, a son of the sign, and to prepare a banquet. God is relational. In the very beginning, Adam and Eve had the fullness of relationship as servant, friend, son/daughter bride, but they sinned which caused separation and death and immediately God began the process of restoring relationship with mankind. How did He do that? The unveiling of God's plan begins with the first chapter of Genesis and with the last chapter of Revelation. Through 4 different covenants. The Blood Covenant (Servanthood), the Salt Covenant (Friendship), the Sandal Covenant (Inheritance), and the Bridal Covenant (Marriage.) This is the process the Lord has used in redeeming mankind's relationship back to Him.

1. Blood Covenant (Servanthood). This blood covenant is understood as entering into a relationship of servanthood which requires the shedding of blood. Adam and Eve in effect were in marriage covenant with God and when they disobeyed they in effect handed God a writ of divorce. In response, God sought to restore His highest level covenant with them through a process by first shedding the blood of an animal to make clothes for them. Animal sacrifice by Hebrew culture was a symbol of restoration and purification. Likewise, Noah responded to God's invitation of covenant after the flood by making a blood sacrifice. (Gen 3:21, 8:18)

 
2. Salt Covenant (Friendship) The name of this covenant comes from a practice of Jewish culture where each Hebrew person carried a small pouch of salt when two or more men wanted to enter into this relationship of covenant they would mix their salts together in a bowl, break bread, dip into the salt and eat. When finished they would redistribute the salt into their pouches. At that point, the only way to break the covenant would be to separate each grain of salt again. Since this is impossible, this established bond had to remain forever. God wants to restore the lost friendship and closeness this type of relationship offers. God initiated this covenant by pursuing Abraham and breaking bread with him and giving him a promise, but at the same time still require obedience of Abraham and modeling the servant covenant as well by raising the knife over Isaac. Once you are in friendship covenant, you still remain and continue to be a servant. Abraham was called a "friend of God", but he never stopped being a servant. Also, as Jacob wrestled with the Lord is a picture of friendship covenant with God. The persistence and patience of God is seen as gives us the invitation of covenant, but is so patient in the process of our response. (Gen 18:1-5, 32:23-34)
 
3.Sandal Covenant (Inheritance) The ancient Hebrews used worn out sandals to mark the boundaries of their property. Overtime, sandals themselves came to represent the inheritance concept and is a picture of the son and daughter's relationship with parents. Along with inheritance comes authority and responsibility as well. Moses understood the same symbolism of covenantal inheritance when God commanded him to remove his sandals which was his man-made inheritance and to receive from the Lord a new inheritance of holiness which the children of Israel entered into when they took possession of the Promise Land. David also received the inheritance covenant by inheriting the throne eternally as promised from the Lord. Take for example also the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. Yeshua basically said, "You are already by servant and my friend; now come and be my son." But the young man wasn't willing to trade his earthly inheritance for an increased share in the heavenly kingdom. (Ruth 4:1-13, Exodus 3:1-5)
 
4. Bridal Covenant (Marriage)  The final step in the process of restoration is in the hand of the Bridegroom alone. Marriage is the ultimate fulfillment of all the covenants. God's goal for us is a marriage relationship with Himself, involving complete intimacy. Marriage is the renewed relationship He desires. His whole purpose is restoring mankind back to it's original state i.e the garden in complete and perfect union with Himself. In Jewish culture when a man betrothed a woman. The groom and His father would go to the intended bride's house carrying a betrothal cup, wine and the anticipated bride price in pouch. They would arrive at the bride's door and knock. The bride's father identify the visitor's prior to opening the door and would ask his daughter if he should open the door. If she said yes, they would open the door, the marriage agreement would be made, the wine would be taken (the cup of sanctification) and both families would agree to serve the other. The bride could back out at anytime she wanted, however once the groom's proposal was accepted (the door being opened), he was totally committed and could back out by writ of divorce. Rev 3:20- "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with me." This verse is much more than a pretty picture of salvation. This is the invitation to complete covenant.
 

After the families would work out the details of the marriage, how she would remain pure and how he would plan to support her and prepare a place for her (John 14:2) They would then share a second cup that signified the Cup of Betrothal  which signified a friendship covenant between families, the bride and groom and both fathers would participate. They would then have a meal and at the end they would take the third cup of wine, the Cup of Redemption or cup of Inheritance signifying their shared inheritance together (the sandal inheritance.) This sealed the marriage though the ceremony nor consummation occurred. The groom would then not drink again until the wedding ceremony which is the Cup of Praise which is shared only by the bride and groom during the ceremony.

During communion in the Last Supper Jesus did the 3 in reverse order.. washed their feet (inheritance), ate bread (friendship) drank wine (servanthood) and then the next, Bridal when we meet Him at His return. Come, Jesus, Come! The process of covenant is continual, even once you get to the marriage covenant you still daily have to walk out the servant. As well as friendship and inheritance. It never ends. This is a progression of relationship. Wherever you are, as long as you are committed, you are in the right place. God will ask you to make additional moves toward intimacy with Him, but they will come in His timing and then it's up to us to respond. He waits patiently for us to respond. It's all about relationship!

The first step in each covenant always comes from at God's initiative, the second half comes when man responds, which doesn't always happen immediately. But God always waits patiently for the opportunity to reward His people as soon as they respond to His promptings. The Lord will give us step by step increase of His kingdom in our lives if we choose to walk out our faith. But we must move from basic salvation and enter into true covenant relationship with Him. When we do, He will give us strength, the knowledge, and the stamina to move continually forward. As we show we are faithful with one step, He will show us the next. Whether we realize it or not, like everyone else  on earth we are always in covenant with someone. The question is not whether, but whom?

Covenant cannot take place without relationship. A deep personal relationship is the desire with great intimacy. Intimacy is not cheap and it puts us in a place of vulnerability. Because of this, there must be commitment to go along with intimacy. To every degree of intimacy, there must be a corresponding degree of commitment. Every interaction we make between men is a reflection of the interaction between them. Each action we take will either build up or tear down relationship with someone else. When a people has true regard for covenant living, true trust between relationship can be enable. The same with us and God. Our actions weigh heavy. Without a powerful act of gracious intervention, we cannot be in covenant with God. He is a jealous God. Being jealous for the covenant is actually the highest form of respect for the other partner. If there is no jealousy for the covenant, the intimacy is devalued. Jealousy demands loyalty and avenges any betrayal of covenant. Chesed is the Hebrew word translated for lovingkindness. Chesed is a covenant word and is a very strong word. It means He is absolutely committed to keep His covenant with you. It gives new perspective to Pslams 103:8 "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in covenantal loyalty. Understanding the level of God's commitment and jealousy toward us should give us greater faith to walk with Him, knowing He will never be unfaithful.

Sin is a breaking of covenant. All sin breaks down the relationship and causes seperation. God does not ask us to perform up to a certain level, but He has demanded that we be perfectly loyal and trustworthy to Him and to other people. Repentance is required for reconciliation and restoration. God has invited us into intimate relationship with Him with the assurance of covenantal loyalty.

 It's relationship He wants, as it has even from the very beginning.

 


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