The Core of Covenant

The Core of Covenant

In my devotional time this year I’ve been reading Walking With God Day By Day: 365 Daily Devotional Selections from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. It’s been great, and every now and then the Doctor puts something so well I feel compelled to share it. In this case, an unpacking of ‘Covenant’, or, at least, a helpfully simple articulation of what is at the core of this biblical theme.

God has made certain promises. So what is the great central promise that He has made in the covenant of grace? He has promised to be a God unto man“.

Hence, in Exodus 6:7 we read: “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God

Lloyd Jones underlines the idea that “The greatest thing a human being can ever say since the Fall is this: ‘God is my God’

We see this theme throughout Scripture.

Jeremiah 32:33, This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 34:23-25, “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken. “‘I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18, which is rich with alllusion to and quotation of the Old Testament;

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”[a]

Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”[b]

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”

In Hebrews 8:10, “This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” comes as a direct quote from Jeremiah, in the centre of an extended summary of the glorious High Priesthood of Jesus.

Things culminate, as so many threads through the Bible do,in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 21:3 we read “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them“. Of this beautiful verse Lloyd Jones writes “That is the final state. So you see that is the very essence of God’s promise in the covenant of grace – that what had been broken by sin and the Fall was going to be restored“.

I would perhaps summarise the core of ‘covenant’ thus: God creates a people who will say for ever, ‘God is my God’, and as part of the unfolding of that, the renewal of all things (hinted at through the Old Testament, e.g. the Ezekiel image) demonstrated and inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. As Ian Paul writes in his very helpful commentary on Revelation, “the full revelation of the final redemption of the world calls forth God’s direct speech in unambiguous terms. God’s making everything new is entirely consistent with his character as Creator, making the world new ex nihilo in the beginning, and continually seeking to do a new thing in the redemption of his people, whether that is forming his people anew in the exodus or doing ‘a new thing’ in their return and restoration from exile (Isa. 43:19). The new thing God will do is the same new thing he has been continually doing since the beginning of time“. Amen!

From the earliest pages of the Torah to the closing chapters of Revelation, this thread of covenant runs. And it is glorious, from the very mouth of God, as by the power of King Jesus and the presence of the Holy Spirit everything is made new, death is undone, and the restoration of all things unfolds as intended. And the core of the covenant is simply that thread, that God will our God, and we will be his people. At the heart of God’s activity is an invitation from something to something. From death to life. From stagnant sin to beautiful renewal. From loneliness to family. From fear to peace. From knowing nothing, to knowing God, and being fully known.

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  1. Geoff

    Excellent,
    Thanks. While his language is of its time MLJ sermons on line remain fresh and edifying.
    It seems that swathes of the church don’t recognised the substance of the Covenants.
    Keller, who has admitted to being influenced by MLJ, nailed it for me when he said that the crescendo question of the OT covenants that played out in “he loves me, he loves me not” unconditionality/conditionality of covenants, which is it?: The answer is both. Both are fulfilled by God alone in Jesus Christ.
    This week our church looked at, preached and mid- week group, Psalm 91.
    In context, following 90, it is a covenant Psalm, of being brought out of captivity, exodus delivery with echoes of Passover shelter.
    But key is the dwelling abiding in God
    V 2 –
    -My refuge
    – My for tree
    – MY GOD

    And v 9 because you live in God
    V 14 because you know Him (know his name)
    And trust him (holding fast in love to him)
    God will
    1 be with him in trouble
    2 rescue
    3 and honour ( call “My people”) nb that is my comment in brackets
    4 satisfy (longings and enjoyment
    5 through salvation
    6 long, length of days, eternal life dwelling with God

    NB Psalm 90:7 live with the Holy One & the unfailing faithful loving God Psalm 92:2

    Motyer points out that this is a great part of what NT words “in Christ” mean.

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