The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant. (Psa 25:14)
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Giving Opportunity Message
Last session, we spoke about waiting on Lord, about His set times, seasons and the power that comes from that place of trust. This session, I want to look at the reason for that trust, His covenant.
Covenant is the heart of our salvation. We are saved not because of legalism or because of any conditions on our part, that would works salvation. Instead, we are saved on the basis of God’s word. God is both the author, the giver of the Word and the guarantee based on His Word, the completer of our salvation.
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2)
Notice that He is both the author and the perfecter of faith. What does that mean? The author is the one who writes the story. I have authored a few books and as the author, I am responsible for what the books contain. An authored work is an original work. Each of us is an expression of the author, no two alike. The word translated perfecter or finisher implies not only has God written the story of our lives but He also is involved in working out the storyline. This is the intimacy of a covenant relationship.
Think of this in terms of a marriage. The marriage partners both author the marriage, exchange vows, and also “perfect” their marriage through a process of sacrifices and learning to prefer one another. In this manner the sacrifice of the cross released the power to perfect us in Him. This is the heart of the new covenant.
For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND, I WILL WRITE THEM," He then says, "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE."(Heb 10:14-17)
This is a really powerful verse that unlocks a powerful reality. We see the word perfected again. This is a covenant term which means to consummate. It is the imagery of a marriage that is sealed. The verse tells us that is a consequence of being sanctified. Sanctification or holiness implies a separation from the world unto the Lord.
The Holy Spirit testifies. He speaks on behalf of the covenant as a witness. Like a witness at a marriage ceremony the Spirit attests to the new covenant in our hearts. How does He do this? By speaking to us and through us.
The Apostle Paul describes this as a circumcision of the heart. Circumcision was what marked the Abrahamic covenant. The Brit Chadasha, the new covenant which is a deeper internal covenant is marked by a heart circumcision.
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. (Rom 2:28-29)
This is such a profound reality of the new covenant. Paul speaks of the “Jewishness” of an individual base on the internal heart circumcision. All covenants require a sign of the covenant. Noah had his rainbow, Abraham his physical circumcision and the covenant of Yeshua, a new heart. The identity of “jew” is a connection to the word praise. Judah means praise. So the linking of Yeshua’s covenant to the source of praise being from God and not from man tells us that the covenant has shifted from a tribal-enforced covenant to a God-enforced covenant.
The distinction between the letter and the Spirit also tells us that the covenant speaks through the Spirit and not just through the written words. Think about this one thing, praise from God! What a concept! God shifts from a relationship that requires us to only worship Him to one where He has so transformed us that He can rejoice over us.
This is the heart of the new covenant. It truly bears no relationship in substance to the earlier covenants, even they set the stage for it and are actually fulfilled in it!
"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 5:17-20)
Yeshua tells us that He who is the new covenant, has come to fulfill what was promised in the Torah and the Neviim. He could not abolish it, because it was the Father’s will. Instead He came to reveal a righteousness that exceeds the scribes and the Pharisees. In other words by giving His life as the covenant sacrifice, Yeshua reconnected God with our hearts and a new righteousness came into existence.
This is the transformative reality of the new covenant. It circumcises our hearts, cutting away the foreskin of the self-righteousness that tries vainly to be righteous.
Let’s look a little deeper into this. Look with me at Deuteronomy 10:12-16
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Indeed, heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. (Deu 10:12-16)
The foreskin of the heart is connected to being stiff-necked, or stubborn. It is our pride that must be relinquished to be saved. How many times have we seen friends or family destroy their lives through the unwillingness to be helped? We can all become so stuck in our pride that we can’t see the Forrest through the trees. A heart circumcision of this foreskin of pride through the acceptance of our sinful nature and the recognition that we need to be saved from ourselves is the heart of the new covenant.
Let’s look at the word picture for “b’rit”, covenant. The word comes from the root “barah”. Within the root is the word “bar” which means “son”.
The ancient Hebrew letters begin with a “bet” which is also the beginning letter for the Bible. Bet is the word picture for a house or a dwelling. This is significant because God begins everything with the end in mind. The purpose of creation and of covenant is to dwell.
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.(Joh 14:23)
The second word of the book of Genesis is the root barah which is translated as “created”. A covenant is a creative act. As a result, something new is birthed in the world that didn’t exist before.
The second letter is “reysh” which means head and implies the thinking of a person or the authority. Our thinking reveals and defines our authority. Since the head is at the top of a person, reysh also represents being able to see. Yeshua is the head of the Body, and He gives us perspective that we could never achieve with our head in the world.
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. (1Co 11:3)
The headship of the Kingdom of God is God-Messiah-Man-Woman-Children. This is more than an issue of position but of perspective. The greater contains the lesser. Truly this is the heart of covenant, as revealed in oneness.
And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'? "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."(Mat 19:4-6)
A covenant is a new creation with a new set of possibilities rooted in love.
The third letter of b’rit is the “yad” which is the word-symbol for arm or hand. This tells us that action is involved in making a covenant. No one is in covenant without an action, a choice. What we think of a salvation is the “New Covenant”. Because it has been taught as an escape plan from sin and the world, salvation looks forward to getting out of something. What covenant teaches though and why the teaching is so rare is that salvation is about dwelling with God and with each other. This makes the parallel to the marriage covenant clear.
We don’t get married to escape being single and subject to the lusts of single life. While it true that we can look at things that way, the deeper and richer life begins with the choice to live for one another. This is not a bondage to rules and laws of marriage but an opportunity to fulfill our experience and expression of love.
This brings us to the fourth and final letter of b’rit, the tav. The tav is the final letter of the alphabet. It is the sign of the cross. On its side it is the symbol for an X. It symbolizes covenant, agreement. When we sign our name of the X, we signify our agreement to the terms of what we sign. The covenant mark validates our word in the physical world.
In a similar way, God has signed His covenants with His mark. Next week we will look at the 7 covenants of scripture and see the mark of God.
Activation: A covenant is only as strong as the word of the covenant maker. Ask the Lord to show you where you have weakened your word through breaking it or just not following through. You build the power of your word every day. God only speaks truth. We choose truth or falsehoods.