Sermon Notes on the Old Covenant
5 January 2014
We are having a ‘Covenant service’ on 26 January. People are dissatisfied with the Baptist concept of membership. The intention is to put the meat back on what it is to serve God together.
This first of three sessions of teaching is on Covenant as we find it in the Old Testament.
The bible has an Old Testament (old covenant) and New Testament (new covenant).
Our God is the living God. From the outset of the Old Testament we find that God makes covenant with His people. At the beginning, God walked with Adam in the garden – it was about relationship. God doesn’t ‘need’ us, but in creating us, God’s intention was that we relate and interact with Him.
The Hebrew word covenant is ‘Berith‘. It means a bond – it is a bond relationship. Marriage is the most usual example – the 2 become one flesh, bonded together in the covenant of marriage. David and Jonathan also covenanted together making their hearts as one.
Covenant is 2 way – God devoting himself to the people with whom He makes covenant.
The covenant the prophets most refer back to is the one made at Sinai with Israel. God is Holy and He initiates covenant with His people. There is nowhere in the Bible where man initiates covenant.
Exodus 19:3 to 6. Also quoted by Peter of the church. God’s initiative and sheer grace – lavishing grace and calling the people a treasured possession.
The partners in this covenant are unequal. God is God but the people are wayward. Almighty God and us, the creature. Exodus 19: 10 to 13. It sounds tough. God is saying please come near, but be careful how you come!
God sets the terms of His covenant. Exodus 19: 20 to 22.
We have a tendency to reduce God to ‘our dear daddy’ in the hope that we can manipulate him to our ways. But God is an awesome God.
God’s covenant on Sinai cover all aspects of life, and He calls for holiness. Is that harsh? God loves goodness, and delights in the pleasure, joy and cleanness of goodness. So also in the New Testament there are 2 great commandments, and Paul says love is the fulfilment of the law. For example, with us – how do we react when our children are spontaneously good? It brings delight!
God loves goodness. He is a holy God. He is good.
Words are important. Jesus is the living word of God, and in Him all he promises of God are ‘yes and amen’. We too can bind ourselves with our words.
Exodus 24: 3 the people said ‘everything the Lord has said we will do’, and as we know, ‘obedience is better than sacrifice’. Yet within 8 chapters, Israel has gone back on its side of the covenant. Moses was angry, and God was angry. Yet what we read is that God was and is merciful. The Hebrew word for mercy ‘chesed’ speaks of loving kindness and is often related to covenant. Moses breaks the tablets, but God gives them another chance.
God never breaks covenant, He is always there to restore covenant relationship.
So what is our responsibility? To honour God – who He is.