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Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by Tazman, Aug 2, 2003.
What is a Covanant?
Would it be equal to Marriage?
Is it Breakable?
This is an excellent question because the covenant is the central golden thread, which is woven throughout Salvation History in both the Old and New Testaments. It is the way through which God works with mankind, and so to understand the covenant is fundamental to understanding the whole gamut of the history of Salvation, which the Bible is a witness to.
First of all, I wholly recommend A Father Who Keeps His Promises, God's Covenant Love in Scripture by Dr. Scott Hahn before I go any further. This is a very easy and simple guide to God's use of the covenant in both the Old and New Testaments; Hahn basically has put the Bible in a Book from Adam to Christ, in demonstrating how God has fathered his People through the Covenant.
These are the differences between a covenant and a contract:
1. Determination – At the point of origin, the determination of a contract is different than that of a covenant. In contract, you go back and forth until mutual agreement. Exchange of property is based on mutual agreement. In covenant, the determination is divinely predetermined. God doesn’t send down the terms and ask, “What do you think? What terms would you accept the covenant on?” At the point of determination, a contract has mutual negotiation whereas a covenant’s terms are divinely predetermined and imposed.
2. Obligation – In a contract, the obligations are conditional. If I give you $50, you give me the good; if I don’t, then I don’t get the good. With covenant, the terms are not only predetermined, but are unconditional. You have to do the obligations; if you don’t, then you violate the terms of the covenant (you can violate the conditions, but you’re not really out of it). There’s still an unconditional bond. If Israel violates the terms of the covenant, God isn’t released from his obligation; he’s so bound to the covenant that he’s bound to further obligations of punishment. God enforces the covenant. The law of covenant can be compared to the law of gravity. A marriage is what God has decided. We can determine who our marriage partner is, and here we have freedom, but we don’t decide the terms of the covenant. It wouldn’t be marriage, but concubinage if time limits were put on the covenant. When Israel violates the terms of the covenant, God is further bound to administer the curses of the covenant as faithful witness and executor to/of the covenant. When a spouse says to an unfaithful spouse, “No, you can’t live with me, eat with me, or share things w/ me,” the Church upholds and suggests such. The obligations of the covenant are unconditional.
3. Application – Contracts are limited in application whereas covenants are unlimited. In a contract, whatever terms were stipulated are limited. The relationship b/t the parties is limited to the terms. When you enter into a covenant w/ God, he becomes the Lord of your life: economic, political, and educational. It has an unlimited application that extends out in every direction. If one country makes a covenant w/ another country, economic, social, and political obligations are made. Every area of Israel’s life comes under the covenant. You don’t enter marriage and say, “I’m going to be here most nights, and what I do at certain times is none of your business.” A marriage covenant is unlimited in its application (finances, emotions, physical aspects, etc.).
4. Motivation – Self-interest motivates individuals to enter into a contract. Self-interests are advanced, and a harmony of interests generates contracts. Self-interests are still involved w/ covenants, but what you pledge is more than what you give in a contract. An oath ratifies a covenant wherein you make a pledge of self. The motivation is self-donation, self-sacrifice, and charity … not simply self-interest.
5. Duration – Contracts are temporary and covenants are permanent, and not only throughout one’s life, but also intergenerational. God made a covenant not only w/ Moses but also with those who are under the covenant. The covenant is unlimited in its duration; it is intergenerational. With the marriage covenant, the children embody and show the permanence of the marriage covenant. This covenant has a certain degree of permanence that outlasts the founding parties.
See my study on the covenants at this site:
Thanks for the tip on the covenants. The Davidic Covenant is in outline form as to basic structure of God's plan as to the Millennial Reign of Christ after the Great Tribulation and Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth in Jerusalem. [Micah 5:2; Zechariah 14:17] I have fleshed out some of the Divine truths that are prophecied under all of the O.T. prophets under the topic, "Christ's Regal Millennium."
When people quasi-spiritualize these truths found in the O.T., they neutralize more than half of the major and minor prophets message to the Israelite people first of all and then to the rest of us as God's people.
My regards . . . .
A number of states now recognize Covenant Marriages. Before a couple enters a covenant marriage, they receive counseling and sign a paper that says they may not divorce easily. You might do a web search on Covenant Marriages and the states that recognize them. Each participating state has their own 'rules' and stipulations.
To clarify, these are legal marriages where the couples are more determined to not easily give up! I do hope you'll check this out!
I like the idea but I'm saddened that husbands and wives are now 'disposable'! We all go through changes and hard times, bad health, financial problems and wonderful times too. It's way too easy for people to give up!
An excellent question. Let us add the definition which Scripture gives for a covenant:
Eze 16:8 Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord GOD, and thou becamest mine.
Read all of Ezekial 16 to get the power and beauty of what is being said here. Verse 8 is a description of the JEWISH CEREMONIAL MARITAL RITE.
A covenant is two people becoming one. Marriage is the earthly expression of the union of God in Heaven. God exists as a covenantal Trinity. The Father loved the Word and from the union in love of the Father and the Word proceeded the Holy Spirit ("who proceeds from the Father and the Son")
This is in no way to imply that there was ever a time that the Father existed separate from the Word or the Holy Spirit. It is a great mystery, yet we are given a picture of this in the "one flesh" relationship of husband and wife, who, through that union, bring forth life. In the same manner, the union in love of the Father and the Word brings forth from them both the procession of the Holy Spirit, Who is life and the author of life according to Scripture.
It is, as was said earlier, a relationship not a mere contract in which property is exchanged.
Ray Sutton has a good book on the covenant called "THAT YOU MAY PROSPER - Dominion by Covenant" YOu may read it free at the web site of the Institute for Christian Economics. Sutton's book gives the foundational principles of a covenant. Scott Hahn's work gives flesh and beauty to Sutton's basic framework.
Covenants are entered into by the taking of an oath. Such oaths carry with them self-maledictory sanctions, i.e., a vow that if the oath is broken, the curses of the covenant will fall upon the one breaking the covenant relationship.
Thus, when covenant with God was entered into in the OT, circumcision was a visible statement which said, as part of the oath, "If I should fail to keep all that I have promised to keep, I accept that I will be 'cut off' from God even as this flesh of the foreskin is cut off"
In like manner, as we are baptized, we are making a statement that if we fail to keep all that we have promised to keep in the entering of covenant with God in the NT, we shall be "buried in death" (in hell) just as we are are showing in our baptism. People simply do not realize the deep and profound implications of the oath (sacramentum) which is baptism, for if they did, they would solemnly teach their baptized children of the serious responsibility which came with their baptism and what will happen if they apostatize from it.
Yes, covenants can be broken. Why? Because a covenant is a living relationship. Relationships are created when two minds and hearts are bound together in mutual union. The wills strive to become one. The two seek to please one another. But a relationship can be broken when one chooses his/her way over the desires of the other. In the structure of the covenant, it is always the weaker who seeks to please the stronger, the one in subjection who seeks to please the one who has authority and headship. Thus, it is always the responsibility of the lesser to obey and please the greater. In marriage, this is the wife submitting to the husband in all things
(I can just hear the howls of indignation from the Feminazis!!)
In our relationship with God, it is we who seek to please Him by our obedience to His Law, which is the expression of His will. The Law of any family, whether the earthly, nuclear family, or the spiritual, heavenly family, is the expression of the will of the covenantal head. Those under that headship obey the will. In turn, they are blessed with the love and protection of the covenant head.
Now that sounds pretty sterile, so let me say that all of this works in and out of love. It is love which draws the two towards one another, makes them care for one another, makes their union fruitful. Mere law will not do this. You can, through threats, make someone obey law, but love will elicit willing and loving obedience. This should be our response to our covenant relationship with God.
To see a Biblical picture of the breaking and restoration of a covenant relationship, read the story of the Prodigal Son.
The relationship was broken when the son decided that he would no longer accept in love the will of his father (i.e., the boy gets his inheritance LATER, not now). He went and asked for the inheritance, which was a deep and profound insult in Jewish culture. He not only insulted the father, he then left the father's house for the fields of sin -- sin which surely the father would not countenance the boy involving himself in.
The relationship was severed by the sinful desires of the boy. The father, a picture of our great God, would never have severed the relationship, for like all father's (good fathers) he desired only the BEST for his son and desired to have him near to him and to enjoy the love and fellowship of his son.
In like manner, so our heavenly Father wishes the same. He desires the best for us and wishes our love and fellowship. But alas, how often do we run off to play with our silly earthly toys, or worse yet, go play in the adders's den of sin, thus leaving our Father's house and going to the "far country" where He cannot be because He is holy.
But the boy comes to His senses and repents.
Repentance. A change of mind. It is when we change our wills and hearts and bring our thoughts in line with those of the Father in Heaven. When we do, we also do what the Prodigal did -- we confess with our mouths, thus restoring the relationship. We are given the ring of family authority and the robe of righteousness. and we partake of the sacrifice offered for out sins (the fatted calf -- a sacrifice for sin -- symbolic of the Eucharist) which restores the covenant relationship.
Ray Sutton calls the Eucharist "the covenantal meal par excellance" and points out that in ancient Suzarainity covenants of the Middle East, the covenant was sealed with a meal. There is a deep and rich symbolism to eating together, for that is what families do, and covenantalism is being family. It is also why I see the Eucharist as necessarily being the true Body and Blood of our Lord, If covenant is "one flesh" union with Him, and if sin has ruptured that union, then what better way to establish that union than to truly become one with His Flesh and Blood?
This is such a small amount of the whole. The covenant is indeed the "golden thread of salvation" running through Scripture. It is mentioned over 280 times in Scripture, making it a major theme of the Scriptures. We have numerous typologies, rules for, pictures of, and themes of the covenant in Scripture. It is an exhaustive study, for it is truly rich and deep, but at the bottom of it all lies this singular truth.
Covenant is relationship. And proper relationship to God is indeed salvation.
Cordially in Christ through the Blessed Theotokos,
A covenent is "that which is determined to be", regardless of the intent, the composition, the purpose, or those involved.
Israel's covenants are called eternal ones. [II Samuel 7:13, 16; 23:5; Isaiah 55:3; and Ezekiel 37:25. Generations of apostasy may happen but He will never forsake His own national Israelites. This last prophecy is a Messianic one. Christ will rule in His theocracy and into eternity.
Blah blah blah.
Now that you've had your daily input of Zionism, how about answering the initial question, Ray?
WHAT is a covenant?
Seems obvious to me that you don't have a clue.
GREAT ANSWERS GUYS.
Now we know that God himself can't break His covenants unless we break it first.
If this statement is true, then what are the Conditions of the New Covenant (as told to David) through Christ Jesus?
We know that we can't set the Terms of the covenant, but we can accept the term set by God.
You wrote, "Now we know that God himself can't break His covenants unless we break it first."
Whoooooaaa... hold on there one second friend.
When we break the terms of the covenant, the covenant remains, and God administers the covenant curses. The covenant cannot be broken; only those who break covenant can be broken. The same is true with the law of gravity. If I decide to jump off of a 10-story building, I do not break the law of gravity; I am broken by attempting to defy the law of gravity.
The eternal covenant of God given to Abraham and his posterity [Genesis 17:7] is connected with the everlasting inheritance which is ultimately Christ and His earthly Kingdom of 1,000 years. [Revelation 20:4] The Lord did not lie when He said that from the children of Abraham would come not only nations but, kings which would include David and Solomon [Genesis 17:6]
'If Jesus had been born to any other tribe of Israel than the Tribe of Judah, He never could have been in the regal posterity in which He will one day become King [Zechariah 14:16] over the entire world. [Zechariah 14:9] His royal line is defined in Matthew 1:1-18. The kingly lineage was the tribe coming from Judah the son of Jacob. Vs. 2 is the Greek word, 'Ioudas or ee-oo-das a word with an original Hebrew source. Abraham was the father of all O.T. people of faith as well as us. [Romans 4:3] David and Solomon were the noteworthy kings of ancient Israel. [Matthew 1:6-7] In verse two and sixteen of Matthew chapter one, we have the father Jacob who was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel and in verse seventeen we have the leadership of all O.T. faith, Abraham and David the second king of Israel and then the royalty of our King and Savior Jesus Christ. It will be the lineage from David's body that produced Jesus birth and in the Millennial Kingdom Christ will be elevated to sit on David's royal throne in the Millennial Temple and during the theocratic reign of Jesus Christ on this earth. [Micah 5:2; Acts 2:29-30] The Prophet Micah would agree that up until now Jesus has not been a Ruler in Israel. During the Kingdom Age He will rule over the world.
Revelation 5:5 again documents the fact that Jesus was born of the Tribe of Judah and of the Root of King David and he will prevail not only in breaking the seven seals of the book, but will also prevail as the world-wide King of Israel and also the whole world. [Zechariah 14:9 & 16]
Why will the 'Feast of Tabernacles' be revisited or reinstituted during the Kingdom Age? Zechariah 14:16 indicates that Christ will require the people of the world to visit Him in His royal splendor as He sits on the throne of His father, King David. [Acts 2:30] The reason for the Feast of Tabernacles being part of the liturgy of the Kingdom Age is because it represented the ingathering of the harvest at the end of the growing season. It will be during the Millenium that Christ will be gathering in, by way of worship, all nations and individual families of those nations to adore Him in His imperial and resplendent glory. To refuse His dictum and everlasting covenant will result in a draught to those people. [Zechariah 14:18-19]
You seem impatient to tell us all what a covenant is, so go ahead!
It seems clear to me that you don't even bother reading the thread. I answered your question half way back in this thread.
Go read it please. Covenant is relationship.
In the end we will say the same thing. Don't let the word "Unless" throw you off. God has made plenty promises with men and where that particular generation refuse to continue in the terms of that covenant they were rejected by GOD. Gods covenant remain with those who continued in it. And it was those people who made it to the Promise land, not those who failed to continue in the terms of that agreement.