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)
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.