My wife, Trina, and I celebrated forty-three years of marriage this past year. (And what a miracle she has stuck with me for that long!) The day we got married is one I won’t easily forget. Standing at the altar of Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., I waited as my bride walked down the aisle, and once our ceremony was over, we would embrace a covenant that would last a lifetime. Each time I look at the unbroken ring on my finger, I am reminded of that.
But unfortunately, we live in a culture where many couples treat marriage like a contract with fine print to be signed. Marriages casually end over catastrophic arguments and decisions realized; however, marriage is more than a legal agreement; it is a covenant reinforced until death parts us.
The same goes for the covenant God reveals and promises to the people He loves.
What is a Covenant?
A covenant is much different than a contract. While the latter has an ending date, a covenant is permanent.
A covenant covers your entire being, wrapped up in your identity and destiny, while a contract is tied to a specific skill or monetary amount. It is based on mutual trust, believing that you will keep your word and I will keep mine. However, contracts are quite the opposite. They are built upon mistrust.
Throughout the Bible, we read and learn about how God connects with humankind through the covenant.
Old Testament Covenants
In the Old Testament, God made a promise or covenant with specific people or people groups. In each circumstance, a circumstantial witness was required to vouch for the conditions of the agreement. For example, in some cases, a gift was given in exchange for the promise. In more extreme cases, a sacrificial animal was killed and cut in half, and both parties would walk between it to seal the agreement.
But in very significant instances, God revealed a sign that He would keep His covenant with His people.
Signs of God’s Covenant
“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.”
Genesis 9:11, NKJV
God made a promise to Noah and all mankind that He would never destroy all flesh by water again. And through that covenant, God revealed a bow in the sky to remind us of that.
“Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: ‘As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.’”
Genesis 17:3, NKJV
God declared that He would make Abraham’s descendants a special people and multiply them greatly. To reinforce this promise, God told Abraham to look to the stars in the sky for the generations after Him would outnumber them.
“’When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.’”
2 Samuel 7:12-13, NKJV
God would establish David’s family as the royal heirs to the throne of Israel, and from his household would come forth the One who would reign forever. David’s rule on the earthly throne was a sign of remembrance of what God promised him.
“Therefore say to the children of Israel” ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.’”
Exodus 6:6, NKJV
God promised the people of Israel freedom from slavery. He also declared that they would be redeemed and become His chosen people. God proved Himself faithful in this covenant by delivering the many plagues to Egypt.
God’s promises don’t end when the Old Testament does. Jesus breaks forth to reveal a new covenant that will change the world from this point on.
A New Covenant Has Come
Throughout His teaching, Jesus reveals that God is doing a new thing.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.’”
Matthew 26:26-29, NKJV
Jesus’ blood will be the means of providing something that has never been available before – a covenant of eternal life and fellowship with God.
The Covenant of Eternal Life
Death is sorrowful, but because of Christ, we can have hope.
I often implore my family members not to weep or grieve too deeply when my time comes to transition into eternity. I am merely exchanging the house I live in for a new one. During this time, I am leaving behind a physical body that fades away and taking on a new heavenly body that will last for eternity.
In 2 Corinthians 5:8, NKJV, Paul says, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”
Because of the beautiful gift of eternal life, we can joyfully participate in Christ’s communion, thanking God that we shall one day live with Him forever.
The Covenant of Fellowship With God
Looking back over my life, the one thing I treasure the most is my relationship with God. Not only did Jesus make a way for us to talk to God wherever we are, but God also responded to us!
Through our new covenant with God, we can walk with Him, talk with Him, lean on Him, and invite Him into every space of our lives. As we connect our hearts with Him, we receive His peace and wisdom that exceeds all understanding.
Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, God created an opportunity for us to commune and have a relationship with Him. This is something to celebrate; we can have true communion with God!
God’s Covenant In a Broken World
We live in a cultural climate that can feel heavy and uncertain. As we embark on a declining economy, heated political season, and fear of surfacing viruses, we, as Christians, can live without stress and worry because this earth is not our home. We have a better place of residence where our Heavenly Father sits on a throne of sovereignty and righteousness.
But what if you don’t see God answering your prayers or moving on your behalf? If this is the case for your life, I appeal to you to reexamine whether or not you are truly living a surrendered life for Christ.
I challenge you to make a daily decision to walk with Jesus in every aspect of your life. Consult Him in your thought life, your family life, and your work life. Ask Him to make His place at the center of every relationship. Petition Him to guide you in every moment of every day. And remember, every decision you make will either enhance or hinder your fellowship with God.
Christ’s death on the cross and the shedding of the blood is a sacred sign that He sealed God’s new covenant. This perfect covenant is available to each of us because of God’s love for us.
Unlike earthly promises that end with inconsistencies, busyness, and ultimately death, our covenant with God never ends because, in Him, we find life eternally.