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Tuesday: The Book of the Covenant — 9 Comments

  1. When I was lecturing at Avondale College (now Avondale University) you could walk into the library at any time and find students at the photocopier. In fact, photocopying was so popular among the students, that the faculty used the meme, "I have photocopied, therefore I have learned!" as a descriptor for students who had large piles of photocopied material, often unread. Nowadays, I guess students just collect URLs on their phones as evidence that they have done serious study. I used to have a bit of fun with my students when I marked their papers and looked at their references. I would ask them why they had chosen a particular reference and often the answer was rather evasive.

    The Israelites had a bit of a relationship with the Book of the Covenant. At times it was lost and had to be rediscovered. At other times it was treated as a holy object. The Torah was held in sacred regard and carried though the streets with pomp and ceremony. It was chanted (sung) in the Synagogue. They wrote pieces of it on papyrus and wore it in little boxes on their foreheads or upper arms. They were told to do this in Deuteronomy:

    And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes. — Deuteronomy 6:8

    You shall put these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall tie them for a sign upon your arm, and they shall be as totafot between your eyes. — Deuteronomy 11:18

    The real problem was that the sacred scriptures and commandments were seen as objects of worship. Apparently some of them missed the bit: "You shall put these words of mine on your heart and on your soul;".

    Seventh-day Adventists have the potential to rely on the objects of our belief rather than the experience. About 180 years have passed since we have formed into a church and is it possible that we are resting on the work of our forefathers and the doctrines (objects) they discovered, rather than turning our beliefs into a living experience.

    The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive. Deut 5:3

    This verse could very well apply to us, the living church today.

  2. I have observed that everything in existence has an intrinsic/assigned purpose; though not necessarily obvious to man, especially as it relates to physical/material matter being part of or used as means to convey/promote spiritual Truth.
    Through the study of the book of Deuteronomy, I have learned to look at the Law with fresh eyes. Yesterday, Phil used the metaphor - "Door to a larger room" - to depict the purpose of the Law; the written law, as recorded in the book of Deuteronomy, just being the 'door' that, after 'the act of entering in/doing', reveals the essence, the deeper meaning behind/embedded in the law's written word - 'the larger room'; it takes faith to stay within this 'room'.
    This depiction of the mystery of the Love of God - using material aspects of life fitting man's sensory disposition to reveal spiritual Truth - is why we are given the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the depths and breadth of our Creator's Wisdom and Truth.

    When God declared/revealed Himself to be the One who brought Israel out of Egypt - then the center of worship of false gods, empowered by the religious systems of all the known world - He set Himself apart and above all that the world knew or related to as 'God'.
    God chose Israel, offering to enter with the descendants of Abraham into this Covenant with Him - the Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is within - to be their God. He offered Himself as the Authority to establish His rules, ordinances, religious observances and judgments.
    A Covenant agreement with the 'Creator of Heaven and Earth and all that is within' is still available to be entered into by those living today. There are still plenty of false gods glamouring for out attention and allegiance, so I do not see it to have been made easier to believe now, but 'Christ has now lived and become the 'surety' for the human race', and this gift is only available for us who are alive now.

  3. I was amazed and encouraged to discover the LORD's present truth right after Moses repeated the Ten Words.

    I discovered that it was always the LORD's intention that His Words were to be written in our hearts.

    New King James Version Deut 6:6
    And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
    Deut 5:28-29; Deut 11:18; Ps 37:31

    The Holy Spirit through Moses combines the Ten Words with total devotion and love for the LORD, from our heart, mind and actions. Deut 6:5

    Jesus Christ repeated this concept, He said "If you love me, keep My Words"
    John 14:15; John 14:21,23; 1John 5:3;
    He also said:
    Matt 7:24. Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

    If we really truly love the LORD - heart, mind and actions will always be combined.

  4. In this passage from Deuteronomy 5, verse 6, while brief, sums up the great mercy and power of God exercised on behalf of these very people, some of who were born long after those great events, and should have given them a greater sense of God's goodness toward them, and inspired them to follow the Lord with all their heart and walk in His ways. What follows this verse cannot be divorced from the truth contained in that verse which is a brief reminder of all God had done for them, which should have given them perfect trust in all He said He will do for them from that day forward. In Psalm 100:3 we read: “It is He that has made us, and not we ourselves”. Most think of God making Adam, and forget that each of us was formed by God, and that every advantage we may enjoy is from HIM. Every breath, heartbeat, and thought are because of His power exercised on our behalf. Every success, prosperity and blessings come to each of us individually from the Fount of every blessing.

    In offering His Covenant, God speaks to ME, and my blessings are from God directly, and not simply “fallout” of blessings given to someone lower on the family tree. God is a personal God, which even small children should be taught to realize. God does not give us some sort of “hand-me-down” covenant, but it is fresh("new", Heb 8:8) and personal for everyone who wishes to enter into a covenant with their Creator and Redeemer.

  5. It is true that berit is Hebrew for covenant. However, it is well worth digging below the surface of to the deeper unpacking of berit and the root words it is derived from and associated with. If you go deep enough you will encounter something much more 'organic' that intersects with another Hebrew word - hesed: loving kindness also translated sometimes as covenant-faithfulness. But here too, this word is merely the doorway entrance into a much wider realm of relational experience that is more reflective of a couple who are deeply in love (eg Song of Solomon). Or similarly the experience of the bond between a parent and a child where the parent has devoted themselves to providing everything that child needs to grow and thrive - and in that space both delight and enjoy each other's company, losing themselves in that shared delight.

    In light of all of this, the notion of "obligations", while somewhat 'technically' correct according to a certain aspect of dictionary definition, once again so easily carries things in entirely the wrong direction according to the more typical notion of this term. More organically, 'obligations' are simply inherent necessities that are essential for a certain outcome. If you want to enjoy a relationship, there is 'stuff' that needs to be 'in place' in order for that relationship to be enjoyed. You don't have to have or do that 'stuff' - you are free not to. But if that stuff is absent, there simply won't be the relationship that otherwise could have been.

    As we re-explore Deuteronomy afresh this quarter, I would invite you to join me in exploring the 'organic' experience that, although contingent upon the 'stuff' we talk about using technical terms, is at the same time deeply and profoundly experiential ...

    • Thank you so much for your daily insights and deep study to gain them. They have really opened my eyes to see obedience, law and justice/punishment differently. It’s opened my eyes to see God’s character more purely and deeply. It’s so beautiful! I understand the ‘organic’ nature of it now and it compels me to love God more deeply. Praise God for the Holy Spirit working through you and for you choosing the path of Life so the Holy Spirit can work through you!

      • Thank you taking the time and effort to share your experience (testimony) Heather. I join with you in praising God for what you are experiencing as a consequence of 'seeing' His character more purely and deeply. You are so right, God's nature and character is so beautiful and when we begin to see this, it does "compel" us to love Him more deeply - a kind of compulsion that is born of deep desire, not a sense of obligation.

        May what you are experiencing be contagiously caught by others around you that they too may share in the joy of what you are entering...

        God bless you deeply on your further journeying with Him...

  6. Did God know man would sin before He created us ?? I just noted in that Ellen White quote she said, the father and the son had united in a covenant to redeem man IF he should be overcome by Satan.. I thought God knew everything before it happened ?

  7. When WE live our life within a covenant something extraordinary happens. Our parents and grandparents live on in US. WE live on in our children and grandchildren. They are part of our life. We are part of theirs.


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