At the end of 2017, I preached two sermons on key concepts that help us see the Bible’s storyline more clearly. The first focused on holiness and the second on glory. In this sermon, we will study a third idea: covenant.
In one sense, a covenant is easy to understand—it’s similar to a contract that two parties make with each other, each agreeing to fulfill his side of the agreement. In biblical contexts, though, it’s different, and significantly more important.
God—the Creator of the world—has condescended and taken our hands and made covenants with us. It’s remarkable to consider.
In Genesis 15 we have an unusual story of God’s covenant ceremony with Abraham: it involves animals cut in half, God walking between the dead animals, etc. It sounds weird, but it has enormous implications for us.
God recognized the inability of Abraham, Israel, David, or anyone to keep the covenant, but he gave the covenants in anticipation of the One who would keep them perfectly. On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
Here’s the point: no one who ever made a covenant with God kept it, except Jesus Christ. He’s the better Noah, the better Abraham, the better Israel, the better David. He kept the covenant perfectly, and when he offered himself on the cross, his body was broken as a sign that God had established the final covenant that was based not on our faithfulness, but on his. He is the faithful covenant-keeping God who walks between the slain animals. He offers himself as the guarantor of a better, once-for-all covenant.
For that reason, today we live under the perfect covenant, sealed by the blood of the Perfect Lamb, and we trust absolutely that he will be faithful to the covenant. In return, he calls on us to honor the covenant in our obedience, even though we so often fall short.