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At New Year we often make resolutions.
It's now the beginning of March, and I wonder whether anyone is still keeping them?
Also, at the beginning of Lent, we may chose to give up something, or to take up something to help our spiritual preparation: I chose to watch less TV.
Others may use Christian Aid's “Count your blessings”, attend a Lent group or an Easter Messy Church Day.
All these things help us to strengthen our relationship to Jesus as we look towards
Good Friday and Easter Day.
Today we are going to think about some of the promises or “Covenants” mentioned in the Bible:
A Covenant, or agreement, is made between two parties,
Sometimes two individuals – who agree to help each other
Sometimes between two countries who make a pact/ agreement which will benefit both.
Mostly in the Bible, covenants are made between God and a person, and the covenant will almost certainly benefit his family/ descendants or country.
The Covenant means that in return for the people's love and loyalty, he will be their protector and provider.
Noah- Hammer & Nails
Last week's Bible reading mentioned the Covenant that God made with Noah, and the sign of that covenant was the rainbow in the sky- with God's promise that there would
not be another flood.
Abraham - Lamb
The Covenant God made with Abraham was that he would have many descendants, as
many as the stars in the sky, or the grains of sand on the shore- but Abraham and his wife were very old, so this was going to take a miracle, and Isaac was that miracle baby. Through him would eventually come the twelve tribes of Israel...
One of the ways a Covenant was agreed, was to kill a lamb as a sacrifice, and this sealed the covenant between God and Abraham.
Moses- Tablets of stone
With Moses, God got him to go up Mount Sinai and a cloud came down, and Moses was in the presence of God. When he came down people could tell he had been with God.
At the same time, God wrote the Ten Commandments on blocks/ tablets of stone- which summarised the Old Testament laws by which the Jewish people were to show their special relationship to God.
One of the 12 tribes of Israel was that of Levi, and they were specially chosen to be the priests for the nation of Israel, taking it in turns to first serve in the tabernacle, the special tent in the wilderness which could be moved from place to place. Then later the permanent temple at Jerusalem.
Part of the clothing worn by the Priest was a special breastplate, with twelve precious stones on it, each representing a tribe of Israel. Every time he went into the Holy of Holies where God's presence was, the priest carried over his heart, the names of the 12 tribes.
Another Covenant that God made with a chosen person, but which would also include his descendants, was that David should be God's choice of King. From that time, God promised that one of his descendants would always be king- and that has been fulfilled because Jesus came from this royal tribe descended from Judah, via David.
The New Covenant
When Jesus came, he spoke about a New Covenant that was to be established through His blood.
This New Covenant is about loving God first of all, and then loving your neighbours
in the same way you love yourself- all the things you would like done for you, these same things we need to do for others.
If we look at the Five Covenants we have mentioned today, we find that they all remind us of something about Jesus- in fact they were a preparation for Jesus who would bring this New Covenant.
Hammer & Nails
- Noah and his sons built a boat.. Jesus was in the family carpenters business with Joseph. Noah built a safe place for his family; Jesus provides us a safe place from the consequences of sin.
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, and said “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”- Just like the lamb in Abraham's time sealed the covenant or agreement, and later took away the people's sins, so Jesus is God's sacrifice for our sins.
Tablets of Stone
In Moses' time, the commandments were first written on lumps of stone;
Jesus promised that under his New Covenant, God's word would be written by the Holy Spirit upon our hearts.
Each time we read the Bible, sing words of scripture in our hymns and songs, so we store up these words which will help us to live in the way God wants.
If we read parts of the book of Hebrews, we learn that Jesus is a High Priest- he has gone back to Heaven having shed his own blood for our sins. In Heaven our names are written upon his heart, just like the OT Priest had the tribes of Israel on his breastplate.
The Covenant with David reminds us of a King that will reign forever, a descendant of David, and this is Jesus.
This is the New Covenant, that all the Old Covenants were pointing towards, which Jesus made possible through his death and resurrection.
We began by thinking about resolutions and promises made at New Year and Lent- and how long we are able to keep to them.
There are other, more serious promises that we make in life, and in Church life:
Baptism- Parents and Godparents make promises to provide a Christian foundation to the person (usually a baby)
Confirmation We make our own promises to God to live in the way he wants- and next week we are very happy that three people are being confirmed: Samuel,Christopher and Roy- 4pm at Christchurch, Totland (and no evening service)
As well as rejoicing with them, it is a good occasion to review our own Confirmation promises.
Wedding Vows Yesterday I popped in here and met a young couple preparing to be married here in June. Those of us who have married make promises and need God's help to keep them; Sometimes we fail; sometimes others fail to keep their promises to us, and great pain and sadness results for them and their families.
Readers, Deacons and Priests all make promises at Licensing and Ordination services, and with God's help and the support of the congregation, we try to keep them.
60 Years ago, our Queen Elizabeth made promises before God to give her life in service of her country and commonwealth.
So.. we have all made promises.. covenants/ agreements.. and we often fail to fully live up to them, and need God's forgiveness and the opportunity to rededicate our lives- as Christians, as marriage partners, as ministers, lay and ordained.... of this New Covenant
that God has made possible through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Article submitted Sunday, March 04, 2012 & read 469 times.
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