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Promises, Promises…  Covenants for today

September 17, 2017 | Pastor Bruce Plummer | From the series: Covenant

This is part one of a three part series on the subject of covenant. That probably sounds too theological or boring or just unfamiliar, but covenant, or the lack therof, is the primary reason for mistrust, brokenness and trouble in our world. Find out what covenant means, how it’s supposed to look and how to restore or make one and find new security and trust.

Listen to the Sermon

Sermon Notes

Mistrust is sown into our lives from a very young age.

When I was a young boy,  I went to a community movie showing at the middle school, with my two mischievous cousins, Peter and Mark. I think that I had spent the afternoon playing with them at their house, had dinner thanks to Aunt May, and walked with Peter and Mark to the very large, imposing middle school. I don’t remember ever doing anything that big before. There was a noisy foyer to walk through after passing these two large wooden doors. My rather worldly cousins led me to some seats to watch the movie. But then, after the movie was over, they thought it would be so much fun to ditch me and see what I would do. And here I am, alone in this noisy foyer, it just dawned on me what they did. And I remember being panicked and alone. I started to cry. This kind stranger, a woman, got it out of me that I was in trouble somehow and gave me a dime for the payphone (yes, that was the only kind of phone for that situation), stayed with me while I called my Mom (thanks for making me memorize our phone number, Mom) and stayed with me until Mom came and picked me up.

When I was in trouble, who did I call?  I called on Mom because we had a covenant relationship. I didn’t know that word yet, and she may not have understood it at the time, but my folks, Mom and Dad, made a covenant with me when I came to them. “You’re our son. We’re your Mom and Dad. Through thick and thin, happy and sad, we’ll always love you and always be here for you, even when presented with the unexpected.” Was there any question that Mom would come for me?  None. I trusted her and Dad to be there.

What is a “covenant’?  You probably don’t use that term in everyday conversation unless you’re in the legal field where it has meaning in a legal sense.

What is a covenant in a Biblical sense?

  • A covenant is a relational promise of the most serious nature, made before God or with God, that pledges loyalty, security and resources to another in every present and future circumstance, whether known or unknown.

Who makes covenants?

  • The most impressive are those between God and man, where the much greater (God) makes a covenant with the much lesser (man).

The still powerful covenants are made between the greater (parents, adults) to the lesser, most often to children who are lesser in age, experience and knowledge.

And very powerful covenants are those made between equal parties, as in marriage.

All of those are made before God, as in God is a Witness and an active participant in every covenant. And you likely won’t make but 3 or 4 covenants in your lifetime, depending on how you look at it.

Can covenants be broken? Yes; but only with grave consequences.

Let’s get to the Scriptures, Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

 

God had made a covenant with the nation of Israel. Yes, there were other covenants that God made with Adam and Eve, with Abraham, for example, but this one mentioned here was made between God and the entire Jewish people.

Note a few things:

  • For one, God was the initiator of this covenant. It started when God made a miraculous way for the nation, all of them slaves in Egypt at the time, to simply walk out of Egypt, well supplied, on their way to the Promised Land, geopolitically known as the nation of Israel today. God said, “I’ll be your God and you’ll be My people.” Follow my ways of living, worship and trust in only Me, and things will be only better and better for you. He initiated it.
  • Secondly, there was a part for God to play in the covenant and there was a part for God’s people to play.
  • Thirdly, there was room for error on the human part, to a point. God was never going to be unfaithful or less than perfect at any point. But people blew it, within the relationship. There was sin, and built into the covenant there was a way to get the relationship right again after wrongs were committed.
  • But fourthly, there was the possibility of breaking the covenant. Not on God’s part, of course. But humans, if they persistently and completely walked away from God, rejecting Him and the part they played in the covenant, they could render it broken.
  • And fifthly, it had terrible consequences when it was broken. After Israel, as a nation, broke the covenant they had with God, everything spiraled downward. They lost territory in conflicts and wars. The people were taken captive to live among other nations. And what remained of the Promised Land was the rubble of once beautiful and modern cities. It took generations to regain any semblance of that old state and it was never the same.

But God speaks here of a new covenant. One, again, of His initiation. And even more of His provision, His resources, to make it viable.

He promises to forgive our sins and long term wrongs.  And then He promises to write His Law on our hearts, as in, give us the inclination to do our part in the covenant, be obedient to Him to our benefit. Then He promises closeness of relationship, so that each one of us can actually know Him by the Holy Spirit in us. And it applies the same to every person, every person no matter their status or anything, from the least to the greatest, can enter into this covenant with Him. And it was all arranged for by the sacrifice that God made Himself. This is the blood of the New Covenant, Jesus said.

So what do we do?

  • If you haven’t entered into covenant with God, you’re missing everything. Because trust is based on covenant. Will someone really be there when the chips are down?  Most people end up thinking I can only rely on myself, self reliance, without God. How is that working? Have you found your limits yet?
  • If you have a covenant with God, with a spouse or with children or with parents, are you playing your part in keeping the covenant?  Supplying loyalty, security and resources in every present and future circumstance?
  • Have any of you broken covenant or are considering breaking covenant?  Repent.

Our society is a mess simply because of such a lack of right covenant making, coupled with so much covenant breaking.  Breaking up of marriages and families, abandoning and rejecting, even abusing, spouses and children.

So let’s restore trust by restoring, refreshing or making covenant.