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Monday: The Covenant and Israel — 25 Comments

  1. Ah another chance to extol the virtues of persistent computer systems. Now that is something I am qualified to talk about! A persistent computer system has inbuilt fault tolerance. If there is a hardware or software fault or failure a persistent system should recover in a consistent state. Note that does not mean "no loss of data". it means that in recovery, the data will be consistent. Nowadays many of our computers have built-in persistence. For example, if you are typing up a word document and you have a power-failure, when you start your computer up again, your document should be still there and readable by the computer. You may have lost the last sentence or two that you typed, but the document itself is still intact. (Remember the old days where you could lose the whole document, or the document would come back scrambled.)

    God's covenant with Israel was a persistent one. When they faulted, he recovered them. Again and again and again. When they grumbled, he stood by them. God's everlasting covenant is a persistent system

    The Gospel is our spiritual persistent system. We make mistakes or have a spiritual blackout and God persistently recovers us - if we trust and let him.

    • Doc Ashton, as an electronic engineer I must command you for your analogy on Father God superb fault tolerance that sustain us daily for we are so wicked... and God says to Moses "I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people." Deut. 9:13
      Glory to His name.

    • "God is love", and this is manifested by His longsuffering, yet we, if remaining persistent in opposing His "good, acceptable, and perfect will" in our lives, will be left behind like those who could not enter into His Rest through unbelief(Heb 3:19, Ps 78:41).

    • Yes, beautiful analogy, Brother Maurice.
      However, at the moment, I hate computer systems, and I used to work in the computer support industry for 10 years.

      This week, I have been having all kinds of problems with my personal computer system, and my “tolerance” is very low right now. My computer is capitalizing letters, even when the ‘caps lock’ button is not on, which is making it very hard to just type my password, to access the various other computer systems that I have to got into. I even got locked out of one of these systems this week, and because I’m human, I got frustrated. (Thanks for letting me vent a little.)

      But the solution to my problem is easy; I will have to buy a new computer, eventually. But with God, in dealing with us, His people, the solution is not so easy. But we could help Him out a little, by maybe not being so stubborn.

      God bless.

  2. Opening verse for today, says it all. Even answers last Thursdays understanding of God’s love and justice. Deuteronomy 9:5. Yes going back to Genesis 15 helps us better understand, “the iniquities of the Amorites were not complete”. Genesis 15:16.
    Our reason for being gifted salvation(the promised land) is because Gods mercies are never ending, for those who wait for, and seek the Lord, and find hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-26. And yes for all who turn to the Lord asking for forgiveness and repentance. Hebrews 7:25. We can’t even repent without the Holy Spirit. Knowing this makes it easier to accept the promised land as a gift. In present truth, the promised land is eternal life. Revelation 14:12.

    What role should the law of God play in our lives today? Jeremiah 31:33. Yes I too want God to be my God, and in present truth, His son.

  3. Understandably we constantly use language to try and understand the 'reality' we find ourselves within at any given point in time. And part of how we use language to try and do this is via use of 'metaphors'. But the metaphors are only 'tools' (I am using a metaphor) we are using to try and help us comprehend the reality.

    So it is worthwhile (and necessary) to seek to 'understand' the reality that the metaphors are merely trying to help us unpack. Thus, we don't ignore the metaphor, but realise the metaphor is merely a 'door' into a wider space (I am using another metaphor).

    Take covenant for example. On the one hand you can consider your experience with covenants which will inform the 'default' understanding of covenant that your brain will start with. And it's likely something along the lines of an agreement between two parties - perhaps a contractual agreement with conditions attached and maybe even penalties specified for breach of those conditions.

    But what if we consider that these metaphors are merely an 'in-principle' doorway into understanding/comprehending the wider space of God's higher way/s 'covenant'. Consider Adam and Eve's daily experience prior to Genesis 3. They were living under the essence of covenant even though they had no idea that they were doing so. God was their God and they were His creation - and within that there was nothing but harmonious and 'perfect' days worth of experiences.

    The lesson refers to "law" and "obedience". What are the realities behind these words? Law is merely the constants (consistent cause-and-effect principles) that comprise reality. If you do this, then that will be the outcome every single time. Obedience is merely being in harmony with those constants. Again, Adam and Eve intrinsically did this prior to Genesis 3 without even knowing they were doing so. They just lived a certain way that worked and so they continued doing what worked - until Genesis 3. Seen within the framework of widest reality, this is why and how 'law' (and obedience to - ie, harmony with - law) is so crucial to our experience with God. It is 'simply' how abundant-life-reality operates and exists.

  4. The Everlasting Covenant was progressively revealed to God's people.
    The essence was - I will be your God, you will be My people and I will dwell/live with you.
    The DNA of the renewed covenant is:

    I challenge myself and you to discover these DNA promises/provisions in the covenant given through Moses.
    Where do we find - I am the LORD who makes you holy?
    Where do we find the first time the LORD says I will forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin?
    Where do we find an outline of His lovingkindness to those who surrender their will to Him, and a description of His tough love actions to get them to realize what life is like without His protection?
    Where do we find indications of their mission to share the good news of a powerful, loving and forgiving God?

    • Shirley,
      It comes as a surprise to some when it is discovered that the first words spoken on this earth; "let there be Light", were the first words to reveal God's willingness of "forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin"(Ex 34:7). Given His unerring foreknowledge of what this world would become, His moving forward with earth's creation reveals Him as "merciful, gracious, longsuffering...". How many of us would begin a project we knew would fail of our highest expectations?

      Yes, we know this fallen world brings the goodness of God to light that an unfallen state could never fully reveal. So by first creating Light we see a prophecy and a promise don't we?

    • Hi Sister Shirley,
      My answer is “in the book of Deuteronomy”, you can find the answers to all of the questions you just asked above. I’m not sure if that’s the answer you wanted someone to say.

      God’s blessings to you.

  5. There is much in Deut 9:5 that comes to light. God bears only so long with the persistently wicked before He must remove them. God remembers and keeps His promises. God would use Israel to execute His will upon the nations as He would later use Babyon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome for the same purposes. God's ultimate purpose is saving souls for the Kingdom of Heaven and restoration of earth to a sinless state forever. While God labored for and through Israel, He was not kept from His purposes by their unfaithfulness, as this verse states. Even today, the very stones may cry out.

    What is the role of the law...why is the law so crucial...?

    First, the Law is the covenant with God, being the very foundation of it. The Gospel, which allows us to partake in God's everlasting covenant, exist because the law was violated, and God's purpose by His covenant is to bring every repentant sinner back into perfect oneness with Him(Amos 3:3) as “partakers of the Divine Nature”(2 Pe 1:4). The covenant is not about earthly favors or privileges, but about being no longer in rebellion with the Sovereign and His holy Law. Keep in mind that the law as, given to man in a fallen world, is for helping sinners regain the Divine nature by pointing out both sin and righteousness, and the difference between selfishness and love for God and man. Where selfishness dwells, God cannot dwell, and where God dwells, sin cannot dwell. The Law defines holiness, and to be holy as God is holy(Matt 5:48, 1 Pe 1:16) requires a transformation to take place, and without the Law, sinners would never feel the need and would continue on their destructive course unwarned of their eternal peril.

    As the Law reveals the need, the Gospel supplies the means, through faith.

  6. Can one say, I do not care if you love me - 'just obey'? Can one say 'obey, because I said so'? Man can, but not the Creator who made man. Can one successfully 'obey' God without loving, trusting, respecting Him who 'requires' obedience? Not over a long period of time; man tends to look for 'instant' results when 'investing' obedience and, unless steadfast faith and love carries one's obedience, the person will succumb to doubt and reach for self-help.

    Cliff makes an important point in that our original parents lived under the "essence of the Covenant" prior to Genesis 3. I agree, 'living in harmony with heaven's law is crucial to our obedience experience with God.'
    Therefore, if the essence of the Covenant prior the Genesis 3 as well as the Covenants' purpose after Genesis 3 has been to maintain/establish love for the Creator and our fellowman within us, then I propose one can look at the 'written law' as an expression, a metaphor of God's Love for mankind; as Phil described it - "a door" 'into a wider space depicting/revealing the Love of our Creator.'

    • So, did Eve suddenly stop "loving" God when she went against His will and ate of the forbidden tree? Does God not require obedience without love? Does He demand love?

      What exactly does "thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all..." mean if compared to John 14:15? "Commanded" to love or obey, is there any difference? Or are we not being commanded to "love" as we often define the word?

      • Robert - please consider in response to your questions: 
        That, as humans, we might not be able to comprehend the full extent of the power of God's Law based on Love, and therefore its implications/consequences when we do something which is contrary to the basic concept of His Law of creative, sustaining Love. 

        I see Eve's digression from the Way to be have started as she reflected on a thought planted in her mind for the purpose to doubt God, and commit an act 'contrary to the expressed warning/advice of God'. This was not her own thought, but a thought planted with the intention to separate her from the path of loving devotion and faith, untainted by doubt.
        Whiles contemplating doing this thought's suggested, 'unlawful' act, she gave her heart time to be tempted to consider the reasoning of God's adversary - and found it acceptable. Seen in this context - yes, she stopped to exclusively "loving" only her Creator. 

        When man considered establishing and worshiping 'gods' of their own making, they invested in them the power and authority over their lives. The word 'God' is a title depicting a function. We understand it to be an authority holding powers to influence. Those of us who believe in the Creator God and His Son, our Savior Christ Jesus, have given them consent to direct and influence our lives, accepting His Laws and ways by which He implements His laws. Eve was aware of this, and so was Adam. 

        Matt.5:17; Luke 10:27; Matt.22:36-40 - v.40 "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." The Law in its written form gives as the information how to make evident the power of the law - which is in essence God's Love! 
        Yes, I see the difference in that - 'loving someone cannot be commanded', but to obey someone can be commanded; obeying because of the fear of the consequences the one obeying wishes to avoid.
        You might consider one's 'obedience without love' to be like the one who buried his talent and returned it without increase to the master at his return - Matt.25:14-30.

        John 14:15KJV - One can consider to replace the 'if' in Christ Jesus' advice with: 'when' - 'as you' - or, 'because'; 'when you love me - as you love me - because you love me - you keep my commandments'. 
        1Cor.13:1-13 - I hold that without expressing love and deep gratitude for the gift of Life in response to God's Love, one is considered to be *nothing*, likened to 'sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal; v.13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity/love." 

        • Brigitte, I would propose that the moment Eve acted in opposition(rebellion) to God's command, she made that suggested thought as her own and demonstrated unbelief. We do the same thing don't we? If the three Hebrews had bowed to the golden image, they would have taken sides with the great Rebel against God's "good, acceptable, and perfect will". Scripture tells us: "the soul that sins(1 Jn 3:4) shall die". Sin cannot be compelled, only willfully acted on, whatever the reason. This is why the judgment is of works, not one's claims or intentions(Matt 7:21-23).

          I would also suggest that love is not about feelings or sentimental considerations, but rather, is a practical acknowledgment of what is right and due, as a principle to act upon . Everyone should have our due respect, kindness, courtesy, and sympathy, since this is what we would desire from them as well(golden rule).

          Yes, God is love(same definition, yet not lacking of affection), and has given us life and all that is needed to live with perfect joy and peace. To go contrary to God's wishes, given the reality of Him being The Creator of all things and fount of every blessing, seems unthinkable, yet we do this with hardly a thought. It is our fallen nature and love(agape: regard/preference) of self, but once transformed, we see obedience as the sensible and right thing to do. This will not be based on sentimental feelings(they are often fleeting and capricious), but on the principle of being right/just, and the other party(God and man) as worthy of our highest regard. This due regard also includes warning the unwary or careless of their peril. I like how Ellen described Jesus as treating all people with "reverence", including those who were planning to kill Him. Jesus practiced what He preached, and invites me to "follow" Him.

          Whether we would call it "love", "obedience", "reverence", "due regard", "preference" etc, it must be "commanded" by the Sovereign since anything contrary to this would spoil the perfect peace and joy for all others, and is forfeiting the right to life in God's kingdom(Gen 2:17, Jer 18:4). This love/regard/preference is the very condition for acceptance into the household of God for eternity. The forbidden tree was there to prove the sinless pair, and God's law remains as the true measure for revealing our faith or unbelief by our works/deeds.

          Think of "command" as an appeal, or establishing a standard, since all have been given freewill to comply or not. No one will be forced to accept God's will, nor compelled to dwell in harmony with His government and purposes against their will. God does not take prisoners to heaven.

          • Robert -
            I can see that you still think it is possible that God's Love for mankind can be 'commanded' and responded to with 'love', 'obedience', 'reverence', 'due regard' by the recipient. I do not think man to be willing or capable outside of a, by the Holy Spirit inspired desire to develop a personal, loving and devoted relationship with its Maker.

            Though our interpretations and understanding of Scripture differ, I am certain that both of us will continue to walk our Path by faith in the loving God who rescues mankind through His Love.

            'Bible Hub' is a great source for comparing different translations of Scripture verses. When reading 2Cor.10:5, you will find that true spiritual 'obedience' is founded in 'immersion' rather than 'reaction'.

            • Brigitte and Phil, regarding God "commanding" love/obedience: though it might seem to read as you say on the surface, that is not what I meant or believe. Read my comment for Sunday(10-17-21, Lesson 4) to see a further explanation and why I wrote "commanded"(in quotes, perhaps an * would have been more appropriate).
              You both seem to view "command" as a "do or die" threat/ultimatum being given, but God's commands are simply His way of pointing to the only successful way to enter into the Life which the Sovereign Creator/Redeemer has provided for the good of all. This present world proves this doesn't it? Sin only brings sorrow and death. If God allowed sinners(lawless) to live for eternity, no one would find peace/joy in living. (I am referring to willful, persistent sinning with no possibility of repentance. Given time, every sinner will become a exact copy of Satan, as every saint will become like Christ.)

              Whether command, precept, statute, etc, it is "The way, The truth, The life". There is no other option which will lead to The Life. Only those blinded by selfishness and greed will reject God's "perfect" counsels. Think of this present life as a dark, perilous path, and the Law as lights along the way to guide the traveler to their destination(Ps 119:105, Prov 4:18; 6:23, Eccl 12:13,14).

              As for God being Sovereign, it is not simply about power and authority, though He alone possesses both in the universal/eternal realm(ALL others receive their power/authority from Him[Dan 2:21]), rather, it is more about Him being worthy of this due to His Holy character and His desire/ability to provide the very best for His subjects/creatures. We have NO life apart from God. Period. Also, He is "merciful, gracious, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth(cannot lie), keeping mercy for 1000 generations(this needs further study to really appreciate what it means), forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty...". What more needs to be said of His worthiness to be the Sovereign of all His creation? If running for the office against all possible opponents, all who knew Him would vote for Him and encourage all to "taste and see" for themselves. That's all it would take, as any who know the Lord would tell you.

              Phil, while your 4 observations are not "wrong", they are far short of acknowledging the full reality and seem to be confined to a very limited and rather pessimistic view(which I realize is not your personal view). Outside of the "one LORD", what other being exists who could "fill the shoes" of the "one LORD"? We can barely begin to comprehend what He is doing every moment of every day(and night) since eternity and will continue to do for all eternity, which covers everything that exists. Yes, rebels will perish, but think of it more as them being given the desire of their heart in the fullest sense(Prov 4:36). It is the only way to eliminate their self-inflicted unrest/"torment"(Rev 14:11 if this verse is properly understood). I hope all of this makes sense. If not, it would take a fair amount of time/space to explain more thoroughly.

              Yes Brigitte, Bible hub is my main bookmark and open daily. It eliminates a lot of physical page-turning! "Immersion rather than reaction" is dependent upon one's present state and ability doesn't it? This is a progressive achievement in a sinful environment. Consider the effectiveness of Jonah's preaching, or the difference between the Voice on Sinai vs the (same)Voice on the Mount of Blessings. The audience makes all the difference on the approach. Warnings and reproofs are motivated by Love(Rev 3:19). Understanding advances with knowledge and experience, as climbing a ladder will change one's view and perspective with each rung, one at a time(2 Pe 1:5-7).

          • Hi Robert

            If I consider carefully what you appear to be saying, I seem to find the following:

            1) God is Sovereign because He has the power and authority to be so.

            2) Because God is Sovereign on that basis, He has the right to order things according to His will and therefore gets to choose the way things are and to set the required 'standards'.

            3) Because God is Sovereign, He has the right to command me to comply with the standards he has chosen/set.

            4) I am free to either comply with those standards or not - because "no-one will be forced to accept God's will, nor compelled to dwell in harmony with His government and purposes agains their will". But if I don't comply, then God will destroy me because I chose not to comply.

            Therefore, "God does not take prisoners to heaven" because He executes them first.

            Am I missing or misinterpreting something about what you are outlining?

  7. My friends, Melissa and Chris, just renewed their marriage vows on a sunny autumn afternoon at the ocean’s edge. It was just the two of them and their original officiant from five years ago, and also the shoes they wore five years ago. It was a private ceremony to celebrate how much they’re still madly in love with each other. I was with them on that wedding day ; it was a joyous occasion in a rolling field next to a barn.

    God and Israel made a covenant with each other in a field at the bottom of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:8; Exodus 24:3). In a marriage covenant, you promise to go through times of doubt and difficulty together. To be faithful. Two parties become one and both vow to live for the well-being of the other and not only for themselves. They create a new unity, a new harmonious diversity, a new family. They have a new shared identity. The two share the mystery of oneness while keeping their distinct personalities. Sounds rather like the Trinity doesn’t it? Distinct entities and yet one in unity of purpose and being. In Ephesians 5:28-32 Paul uses the marriage covenant to describe the union between Christ and his church.

    Israel did not remain madly in love. They were unfaithful for 40 years. Moses was re-stating the vows, much like a wedding officiant does today, to ask Israel - standing there in their parents’ shoes that had not worn out, by God’s grace - whether they wanted to renew their national covenant with Yahweh and proceed in unity with Him.

  8. I liked John Herscher's reference of Jeremiah 31:33. God remembers, but I figured this was for our benefit so that WE remember. And accepting this gift of a reminder, makes it pretty clear the role. But my question to this is, aren't we still in the wilderness (spiritually) speaking? I think if weren't in the wilderness we would be home by now. God made it impossible for us to forget as cited in Jeremiah 31:33

    • Yes, Brother Nelson. I agree with you, we are still in the wilderness, a spiritual wilderness, just as Revelations 3: 17-22 tell us of our laodicean status:
      “ 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

      Jesus is talking now, and giving us the solution to the problem to our laodicean state:
      “18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
      19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
      20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
      21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
      22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

      Jesus’ solution may sound hard (or even like a riddle to some), but it’s really not as hard as we make it. It’s all about if we are willing, as someone else said today’s, to ‘living in harmony with heaven's law is crucial to our obedience experience with God’.

      God’s blessings to you all. Happy Sabbath,

  9. I can’t even imagine what kind of stubbornness, wickedness, or sins, as told to us by Moses in Deuteronomy 9:27 “do not look on the stubbornness of this people, or on their wickedness or their sin”. The type that he, Moses, told them caused God to give the lands to them in Deuteronomy 9:5, “it is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

    They had to have done some really evil and wicked things, for God to tell us, “because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out…”. WOW!! (This is not the first time I’m reading this verse, but it feels like it.)

    What is this saying to us, as God’s people? And what is it saying about the “wickedness of these nations” around us? (Remember the Three Angel’s Messages)

  10. Imagine a utopian world, where God says, “l will provide for all your needs, and desires, only thing I want from you is a one-on-one relationship with Me.
    You want a wife, I’ll give you a wife;
    You want a husband, I’ll give you a husband;
    You want children, I’ll give you abundant offsprings, as more as you like;
    You want money, I’ll give you money (all the cattle on a thousand hills are mine);
    You want to be a leader, I can give you that too;
    You want your own business, that’s easy, I can do that too!”

    Isaiah 5:4 says, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?”

    Unfortunately, for a lot of us, even if God gave us everything in my list above, and beyond that, we still would not be satisfied. This is because of wants and desires are not aligned with God’s will and purpose for us. Also, for some of us, our selfishness is really about Control, who or what will have the control over us (I’ll just let you think about that as food for thought).

    But I will say that We were not created for the purpose of fulfilling our own selfish wants and desires. People are always searching for the answer to the question: “What is the purpose of life? What is Truth?” I know that the few people, who are/were able to answer those questions, are not living in selfishness, or as someone else said this week, in “self-seeking and self-indulgence”. Am I saying for us to live like Mother Teresa and others, who gave their whole lives to serving others. No, because we do have to take care of ourselves, from time to time. But we do need to spend more time serving others than we are now, or have been. If we do so, focus of others in need, we may be relived of some of our own anxieties and depression. When we focused on helping others, then you don’t have time to focus our wants and desires, for awhile.

    Try it. Go help someone. Do something simple. If you know of a neighbor, or a friend, that just had surgery and can’t wash their own dishes, you go wash their dishes and clean the entire kitchen for them; I know it makes me feel good when I see my clean kitchen, smile. It doesn’t take a lot to do something good, or to help someone else (serve others). Why not start helping others today.

    Yesterday, I “listened” to one of my clients, whose mother died about a months ago, for three(3) hours. I didn’t know when he made the tax appointment with me earlier this week that his mother has passed away (whom he had personally care of as her caregivers, for 3 years), but he knew that he needed someone to talk to, to listen to him. Did that take too much effort on my part, or too much time out of my day, to listen to him? Sometimes, people just need to know that there’s still some kind of Hope, or that someone cares. I hope I was able to listen to him and give him hope.

    God’s blessings to you all.


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