OUR COVENANT, Part 1
October 4, 2019
It has been several years – 14 years, in fact – since I last shared on the nature, the meaning and the significance of Covenant, and the fact that we are Covenant beings, living in and under the Covenant that Jesus made for us with His death and resurrection, and the blood He shed on our behalf.
My understanding has grown a lot during these years, and it is time for us to launch into it again. What many folks miss out on is the fact that even America was founded under a covenant made between our early settlers and the Lord Jesus Christ. That covenant was expanded and became the core of the founding of our Declaration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, and the Bill of Rights. I won’t get into the covenant that formed the United States – not now, anyway – because we first need to understand the enormous difference between a contract, an agreement, and a covenant.
Today, and in the weeks to come, we're going to take a first track as we first delve into the nature of covenant within the biblical and historical concept, and then, in the weeks to come, demonstrate how the whole nature and makeup of covenant became the foundation for America as a nation. Unfortunately, the idea of covenant has been totally lost in our modern society; and about the only time we even hear the word used is in the legal jargon of attorneys.
Covenant is something much more than a binding contract, and the use of the word in today's legal profession completely loses the intent and purpose of covenant within its historical and Scriptural context.
Let me illustrate by first giving you the current definition of covenant as most people in the legal profession see it.
Encarta gives us the following:
Covenant, in law, promise,
usually under seal, that a certain act shall be performed or shall not be
performed, or a solemn declaration under seal that certain facts are true.
Covenants are used most often in deeds. An express covenant is an express
declaration of intention by the parties to the deed. An implied covenant is
inferred by the law from certain words in a deed; for example, the law holds
that implied in a lease is a covenant that the lessee shall quietly enjoy
possession of the demised premises as long as the terms of the lease are
honored. A similar covenant is implied in absolute transfer of property.
A covenant may be collateral, that is, purely personal to the original parties; or it may run with the land, so that it can be enforced at the instance of the subsequent owners of the property, although they were not parties to the original covenant or agreement. Covenants also fall into many other classifications. In the United States covenants affecting title to real estate are usually expressed in the form of warranties.
Now, let's take a look at the history of covenant going back to Creation, and how the original picture of covenant was based in God's love for His people.
It's important to understand that the power of covenant is in blood. Let me explain.
Consider Creation. When God created man, He created him in His image and likeness, imbued him with his nature and makeup, and gave to him the same creative power inherent in His nature, and instructed him to "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth."
In Genesis 1:28, we are further told that "God blessed them..." The Hebrew word here is "barak", and the connotations of this word extend well beyond the traditional concept of "speaking well of someone," or "pronouncing good." That word, "barak," brings with it an empowerment, an authority, the ability to carry out and fulfill that which is good, that which is excellent, that which brings a betterment -- a wholeness -- to one's existence.
What you speak well of or bless, therefore, brings the empowerment of the blessing.
In so doing, the Lord made man to be virtually exactly like Him. I condition the description with "virtually" because in every respect save one, Adam and Eve were like the Lord. The one exception was that they were not -- and could not become -- THE supreme rulers of the universe. Their domain, and their dominion, were relegated to the earth as a whole.
Adam and Eve had the ability to speak things into being, and whatever they spoke was so. Genesis tells the following:
Genesis 2:19: "And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof."
Out of Adam's mouth, therefore, came the empowerment and creative ability to speak the character and nature and makeup of each animal species into existence. Just as God spoke the world into existence, Adam spoke the nature and makeup of animals into existence.
It may seem that I'm going around a 40-acre field, but laying this foundation is critical to our understanding of true covenant.
Now, consider the implications of the fall when Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. I won't take time now to revisit our previous discussions on all that transpired with that act in terms of its consequences to the human race, other than to touch on a single aspect.
Prior to eating of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were unclothed in the natural sense. They wore no clothing, no covering of any kind, and there was absolutely no sense of embarrassment or shame or wonderment. Ever wonder why? The answer is quite simple. They were clothed in the righteousness of the Lord. They were clothed in His presence. The fact that their bodies had no clothing or natural coverings was irrelevant because the environment of the Lord was total protection.
The act of eating of the fruit of that tree instantly separated them from the presence of the Lord and His covering. A dawning came in their realization for the first time that they had no covering. Moving past the discussion that ensued between them and the Lord to their eviction from the Garden of Eden, we read again:
Genesis 3:21: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."
Implicit in these words are the fact that the Lord had to kill animals in order to make these coats. The Hebrew word used in this passage is øBò ('or): the same word that is used for leather, or the skin of an ox (e.g., cowhide). Thus, the Lord slew an ox (or oxen) to make these coverings, shedding the blood of the animal.
It is the first time in scripture where we have evidence of blood being shed. The Lord has just spoken to the Serpent and said that "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise ( shuph [cover]) thy head, and thou shalt bruise ( shuph [cover]) his heel."
The Hebrew shuph translates out in several different ways as we see it used here in the Genesis 3:15 passage. The word, covenant, is not used in this instance, but you can see the beginnings of it.
The first evidence of covenant, and its significance, really begins in Genesis 15. Most of you who read these Coffee Breaks are already well aware of Abraham, and how the Lord called him -- first at approximately age 50 -- to leave the land of his fathers (Ur of the Chaldees) and follow him into a new land. Abraham obeyed, but his first obedience was partial because he took his whole family along. They got as far as Haran -- some 600 or so miles to the northwest of Ur (in modern-day Syria) -- and settled down.
later, the Lord spoke to Abraham the second time (see Acts 7:2-4) and
instructed him to leave his family and follow Him into a land "which
I shall show thee." This
time -- except for taking
pass. Abraham is pretty firmly ensconced in
Genesis 15:1, Ampl: "Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great."
By now he is in his eighties, and having any abundant compensation and great reward is almost meaningless without an heir who will profit by it, so Abraham says to the Lord,
"Lord God, what can you give me seeing I am [going on from this world] childless, and he who shall be the owner and heir of my house is this [steward] Eliezer of Damascus."
The Lord quickly responds and says to him, "This man shall not be your heir; but he who shall come from your own body shall be your heir."
Then the Lord takes Abraham outside his tent on a very clear starlit night and instructs him to "Look now toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to number them. Then He said to him, So shall your descendants be."
And Genesis 15:6 tells us that "Abraham believed in [word of] the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness."
The Lord then proceeds to tell him, "I am the [same] Lord God that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it."
So far so good. Abraham by this time was well aware of the significance of covenant. To inherit is to have heirs. At his age, having children is rare, if not impossible, so he says to the Lord -- within the framework of covenant thought, "Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it."
Now we're going to see the enactment of covenant.
The Lord instructs Abraham to bring Him "an heifer of three years old, a she-goat of three years old, a ram of three years old, and a turtledove and a young pigeon."
The animals are slaughtered, their carcasses divided in two parts and laid out with each half facing the other. One bird was placed on one side, and the other bird the other side. (I don't have time -- and it isn't relevant to this discussion -- to get into the significance of each of these animals or birds, and their spiritual implications.
We'll save that for some later discussion.) Suffice it to say that the halved carcasses were placed far enough apart that Abraham could stand between them and the Lord could pass between them.
The significance of this IS relevant since the parties to this covenant would be standing and/or walking in blood as the covenant was struck.
Next week, we'll pick it up at this juncture and before we continue with the covenant the Lord cut with Abraham, I'll show you just how covenants were struck and what ancient history tells us about the cutting of covenant.
Then I'll show you how the Lord fulfilled his half of cutting and enacting the covenant. I use the word "cut", by the way, purposefully, since this is the word that occurs in the Hebrew text concerning covenant.
and direct obedience to the Word of the Lord always produces tangible and
In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available on video using ZOOM. If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-only call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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