So what does that mean? What is a covenant and why do they need to be renewed? It’s a long story…
What is a covenant?
A covenant is a legally binding agreement between two or more people. Perhaps the covenant we are most familiar with is the one we call a marriage. It sometimes creates a new legal entity, as in marriage. Each person in a covenant has privileges… and obligations.
God has always worked in covenants. Although he brings many one-off blessings into our lives his intention is always relationship and that can usually best be described in terms of a covenant. There is a cryptic verse in the prophecy of Hosea that seems to suggest that God entered into a covenant with Adam right back at the beginning.
But, like Adam, they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me. Hosea 6:7
Covenants depend on ‘faithfulness’. Of both parties. God was and always is faithful to his covenants; mankind consistently ‘deals faithlessly’ with him. Only one man ever kept a covenant with God perfectly and he stands surety for all who put their trust in him.
One of the most famous covenants is often known simply as ‘The Covenant’. Although more than one covenant operated on the lives of the Old Testament people whenever the Old Testament scriptures refer simply to The Covenant it points to Sinai and the Covenant between God and the people of Israel.
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now, therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Ex 19:4–6 NKJV.
They gave their full-hearted consent; three times, in fact. The story has magnificent highs and terrible lows. As a high they built a beautiful sanctuary for God; as a low they behaved ‘faithlessly’ and were condemned to 40 years in the wilderness. When they came to the borders of the promised land Moses called them together and delivered his final admonition. That kind of mass community gathering effected by a call is called a convocation’; the word simply means ‘to call together’. Moses’ purpose was simply to present again the terms of The Covenant, to remind Israel of God’s faithfulness and of their obligations. They were faced again with a choice. They must choose again to serve God as his people and a holy nation.
God had built traditions into the priestly instructions given in the book of Leviticus. There were to be a series of annual ‘convocations’. Some looked backwards and some looked forwards.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Lev 23:1–2 NKJV.
Israel was called to her great convocations by the sound of silver trumpets.
“Make two silver trumpets for yourself; you shall make them of hammered work; you shall use them for calling the congregation and for directing the movement of the camps. Num 10:2 NKJV.
a call to Renew the Covenant
Now we can’t provide the silver trumpets but we can provide a day to gather together in the presence of God to remind ourselves of the terms of a New Covenant and of our obligations in it. If you can, do come and join us and let’s listen to the voice of God together and support each other in our trembling resolve to avail ourselves of the grace to live in the power of this New Covenant.
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