211 3. THE COVENANT

211 3. THE COVENANT - CHAPTER 3: THE COVENANT (Page numbers...

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CHAPTER 3: THE COVENANT (Page numbers are bolded) Chapter Three 35 THE COVENANT 35 A covenant is a contract, an agreement with terms and obligations binding upon both parties. In modern times we validate a contract and make it binding and legal by having both parties sign it. In ancient times covenants were validated and made binding by shedding the blood of a sacrificial animal. Hence, the Hebrew idiom for making a covenant is "to cut a covenant." The blood of the sacrificial victim was called "the blood of the covenant," and when it was shed, the terms of the contract were considered to be in force and binding upon both contracting parties. 35 An example that illustrates this is provided in the Old Testament when God made the covenant of Sinai with his people through Moses. There the contract was finalized by sacrificing oxen, and after the people had agreed to the terms of the covenant, the blood of the covenant sacrifices was sprinkled upon them. (See Ex. 24:3-8 .) 35 By definition, a covenant is a mutual obligation. Therefore it is not possible to have a unilateral covenant, a covenant that involves or binds only one party. A one-sided obligation is simply a debt, or slavery, rather than a covenant relationship. An oath can be one-sided, but a covenant must contain mutual obligation—"if you will do A, I will do B." In the Old Testament period, the covenant between God and his people always had specific terms, and as long as the chosen people kept their part of the contract, God kept his part. However, the reverse was also true, for when the people broke the covenant, God was no longer bound to it either. For example, in 2 Kings 18:12 , God did not keep his covenant obligation to save Israel from her enemies because Israel had already broken her contract by disobeying the commandments agreed upon in Exodus 24:3-8 . God is bound by his own word to keep the terms of his covenants as long as we keep our part of the bargain. (See ; 84:39-40 .) 36 In the Old Testament the Lord told Israel that there would someday be a new covenant—a new relationship between God and his chosen people—superior to that offered through the law of Moses. (See Jer. 31:31-33 .) That promise was fulfilled when the covenant of the gospel superseded the covenant of Sinai at the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like the old covenant, this new and everlasting covenant also has a sacrificial victim—Jesus Christ himself, "the Lamb of God" ( John 1:29 ) and "the Lamb that was slain" ( Rev. 5:6 , 9 , 12 ). The blood of Jesus Christ, shed in Gethsemane and upon the cross, is the blood of the new covenant that, as it was shed, rendered the agreement valid and binding. (See Luke 22:20 ; 1 Cor. 11:25 .) 1 37 Just as Moses put the blood of the old covenant upon the chosen people in Exodus 24:8 to signify their acceptance of the contract, so those who accept the new covenant must similarly take the sacrificial blood of Christ upon them. When we take Christ's blood upon us, when we are washed in "the blood of the
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course REL C 211 taught by Professor Keithwilson during the Winter '11 term at BYU.

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211 3. THE COVENANT - CHAPTER 3: THE COVENANT (Page numbers...

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