Posts tagged ‘covenant’

Hijacking the Rainbow

So one thing that annoys me is when words are redefined or symbols are changed from what they were first intended to be. This is especially true when some person or movement takes something that God has set aside as a reminder of His goodness and covenant promises and flips it on its head into something opposite of what God intended. Me example would be taking the word “Christian” and the symbol of the cross and letting it be used by Westboro Baptist Church.

But there is another example that is permitting our society. Please don’t misunderstand me here. If a person or group of people want to have a symbol, they are free to do so in our nation where free speech is protected. But when someone takes something God-ordained and uses it to symbolize that which God calls and abomination, then it is a direct affront to, and a mocking of, God Himself. Read this short passage and try to guess what I am referring to here.

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” (Genesis 9:9-17 NKJV)

The scene is this. The judgment of God has fallen on sinful mankind and everyone has suffered judgment via flood. As a symbol of the covenant Jehovah makes with Noah, God designates the rainbow (the first one ever seen) as symbolic of His promise to never again use a worldwide flood to judge sinful mankind. In doing so, it would also be a reminder of the reasons that flood judgment came in the first place.

What society is doing now, by making that same rainbow a symbol of the homosexual movement, is to say the following things.
1. Mankind is showing a lack of the fear of The Lord.
2. Mankind is saying that they do not believe that God will judge sin. In fact, they are daring Him to do so.
3. Mankind is saying that we, as fallen, sinful people, have the authority to determine what is good and evil. We have erred in the same way as Adam and Eve when they decided they could define good and evil for themselves.

So does that mean we hate people because of who they sleep with? Of course not! It means that I love them enough to warn them of the dangers of mocking God and presumptuously assuming for themselves the authority to decide good and evil. It means I love them enough to tell them that God only wants what is best for them, and that His warnings are not arbitrary, but designed for their protection.

But the time has come for us to say “no” to the hijacking of the symbol of God’s covenant. The time has come to tell the world that the rainbow is symbolic of the judgment of God that sin will inevitable bring. But such judgment is not something that any of us must endure, for Jesus Christ has taken upon himself that penalty in our place. Come to Christ in full surrender, submit to His lordship, and escape the wrath to come!

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Our Covenant Keeping God

Throughout history, Jehovah has always dealt with mankind according to covenants. He is a God of order, and does not rule in an arbitrary or capricious manner. Rather, He lets us know the conditions of His covenant so that we know what His promises are and can then exercise faith in His Word to us. Thus, Jehovah establishes covenant relationships and has signs to serve as a reminder of that covenant. Unfortunately, due to the divisions of our Bibles into Old and New Testaments, there is a common misperception that there are only two covenants. In fact, there are three covenants contained in the Hebrew Scriptures and one in the Greek Scriptures.

The first covenant, one that is still in force, is the Noahic covenant. It was established between God and Noah after the flood.

“And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth. Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. (Genesis 9:9-13 NKJV)

I am thankful that this is in effect, as another worldwide flood would be a bummer. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow, and still occurs today. In Hawaii, it occurs on a daily basis! This covenant is also one that is unconditional, and was entered into after Noah sacrificed an animal on the altar in worship. Thus it was established by the shedding of blood.

The next covenant I want to consider is the Abrahamic covenant. In this one, God covenants with Abraham to give his descendants through Isaac possession of the land of Israel perpetually. Jehovah also promised that through Abraham’s seed (Jesus) all nations will be blessed. This covenant is also unconditional, and is still in force. In fact, those of us who have been reconciled unto God by His Son are those who are part of “the blessed.”

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18-21)

Again, there were no conditions listed, and the covenant was sealed with a blood sacrifice.

The next covenant was the Mosaic covenant, made between Jehovah and the nation of Israel. This covenant was conditional unlike the others. It is within this covenant that most of the Bible is given. This covenant was given at Mount Sinai and was in force until John the Baptist (Luke 16:16). The covenant, though perfect from God’s side, was beyond human ability to fully keep. It was designed to be temporary, and served to condemn the world under sin. The sign of the Mosaic covenant was circumcision. This covenant was fulfilled at the cross when Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant with the shedding of His own blood. While the Mosaic covenant has been fulfilled and is not in force, but in no way does that negate the Noahic or Abrahamic covenants.

The current covenant is the covenant of Grace. It was also initiated by the shedding of blood, but this time by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The sign of our New Covenant are both internal and external. Internally, we experience circumcision of the heart at baptism (Colossians 2:12), and externally we show the covenant to others when we partake of the elements of communion on the first day of the week. What is the significance of this? It is that we are in covenant relationship with Jehovah God, whose nature is that of a covenant maker and keeper. He is not going to change His mind and decide to cancel our covenant. We are secure in Christ. No one is ever lost because God abandoned them or lost them. Jesus doesn’t fire people; they quit on Him! His part of the covenant is completed. We only need to accept the offer of salvation as He has prescribed, and walk in covenant obedience to Christ.

Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21)

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Circumcision Via Baptism

Circumcision By Baptism

Under the Old Testament systems in the Patriarchal and Mosaic covenants, there was a sign instituted between God and Abraham that would show who truly belonged to God. This sign was called circumcision and was instituted by God, because no man would ever have thought of this.

and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. (Genesis 17:11 NKJV)

But circumcision is no longer a requirement today. It has been replaced by baptism (amen) as stated by the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Colossians chapter 2.

In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11, 12 NKJV)

In former times, circumcision was a sign between man and God, but under the New Covenant, it is that and so much more! For Abraham, the circumcision of the flesh occurred after faith, so Romans 4:9-12 says he was justified by faith before the circumcision happened. But in baptism, the saving faith by which one is justified before God happens simultaneously with immersion.

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God. (Romans 2:28, 29 NKJV)

So now, instead of a sign on our flesh, God uses baptism to mark or hearts permanently as His. This is a mark that only God can see. Someone can say they have the mark, but only God knows if they are true or not. At is why their praise is from God, and why we need to be satisfied with little or no praise and recognition from men. We must learn that only God’s approval matters in the end.

When people witness our baptism, they are not just watching as a soul is saved. They are seeing a circumcision take place. By salvation being a public thing, we are telling all who see it that we desire to be in covenant relationship with Jesus. Like it said in Colossians 2, as we participate in the death, burial and resurrection at baptism, we enter into the covenant that His blood was shed to inaugurate for us. And because of the faith we have in the “operation of God” that is transferring us from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of the Son, our faith and obedience combine to spiritually mark us and set us apart for God.

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The Family Seal

There are many seals out there. I don’t mean aquatic mammals or elite Navy commandos. I’m talking about seals like the Great Seal of the United States, or a family crest. They usually have a theme to them with a short phrase or two that succinctly states the organization’s mission or the family’s focus.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he lets us know what is on God’s seal. In a way it is the family crest for His eternal family.

However, God’s solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil.” (2 Timothy 2:19 NET)

One unique feature of our family crest is that with the two statements on it reflect God’s side and man’s side of this covenant relationship. The first one is about God. He knows those who belong to Him. By this, I don’t think it is just saying that God has the master membership list of the saved. In itself, there are two facets of that.
He is very much aware of who we are, with our strengths and weaknesses.

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13, 14 ESV)

In addition, He has a personal relationship with each of His children. He knows us intimately, the way a husband knows his husband. His love for each of us is so deep that He sent His Son to die for us while we were enemies (Romans 5:8)

Next comes our part of this kingdom covenant. It says that everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from evil. It does not say that we are to be prosperous. It does not say that we are to feel good. It says that the main characteristic of our lives must be that we are going in the opposite direction that was the story of our former lives.

Jesus was very straightforward about this in Matthew 7.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

“But I thought we are saved by faith, not by works!” that is true, in context. As I said in a prior post, talking about faith apart from obedience, is to take it out of context. In reality, faith cannot exist alone. Without obedience it is dead. More precisely, a lack of obedience means faith has died. That is why Jesus will appear a second time for those who obey him!

So this family seal shows both sides of the relationship. God intimately knowing and loving us, and our response of repentance and obedience. It is not optional. It is the test with which we can examine ourselves and se if we are in the family of God!

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Have You Prepared A Room?

Jesus and his disciples had come to Jerusalem, as the Law required, to eat the Passover together. He knew this Passover would be the last he would share with them, and desired a place apart from the crowds which followed Him everywhere, where He would have intimate time to share what was to be the first Lords Supper meal. Mark describes it this way:
“And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.” (Mark 14:13-16 ESV)

Just like with his disciples today, Jesus desired a special place in which to commune with us and participate in a memorial feast. Our hearts must be a room prepared for His presence.
Our hearts and minds need to be focused on Christ and what He has done for us. This is not something that will just happen on its own. We have to be intentional about it. By our preparation we show that this is quality time, where we can slow down and meditate on Him and the sacrifice of love that was given for us.

With the preparation completed, Jesus was able to take time to establish the feast that would symbolize the sacrifice that is the basis of our fellowship together. He would show them symbols that would soon be a weekly reminder so they would never forget.

And so it is fitting that the church, brought together by the covenant pictured in the bread and fruit of the vine, would also be born in an upper room. The disciples returned as directed to Jerusalem to wait for their enduement with power from on high.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
So there they were in the upper room in one accord, praying for the promised Holy Spirit. This same Spirit was the one that the Lord had promised would lead them into all truth (John 14:26).
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1, 2 NKJV). What had begun I. A room now filled the entire house, and would soon fill the earth. The truth would go forth, the Spirit bearing witness with signs and wonders to the authenticity of the message they were bringing (Hebrews 2:4). How fitting that the room that witnessed the establishment of the meal that would serve as a reminder of the covenant we have with Christ would be the place where the church was born and the Apostles would receive the Holy Spirit that would lead them into all the truth that would sustain her. And that truth is with us today, in the New Testament that was written through them.

So as you prepare your inner room, like that first upper room, for the Lords Supper, meditate not just on the new and everlasting covenant in His blood, but upon the communion that we have in that covenant and the Apostles doctrine that we have received in the New Testament for us today. Make your heart furnished and ready for communion with Christ.

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