Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Renewal of the Covenant
“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing (2)
The central theme of the Bible, in Jewish eyes, is the contract or covenant entered into between God and the Jewish people. This is indeed a veritable theme for the beginning of a new year. Gen 12 marks a momentous change in the relation between God and man. For the first time since the days of Adam, God stepped in not to punish. But set into motion a new plan for human history. The plan appears in some form in Gen 12, 13, 15-17 as well as in dozens of other Old Testament passages. Rather than trying to restore the whole earth at once, God would begin with a pioneer settlement, a new race set apart from all others. The first mention of this covenant is God’s promise to give Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. God decides to establish a model family in the hope that it and its descendants ultimately will make God and His will known to the world. For thousands of years, observant Jews have inaugurated the Shmoneh Esray prayer, the corner stone of the three daily prayer services, with the invocation “Blessed are you, Lord our God, and God of our fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob.”” Commentators note that the word “God” precedes each patriarch’s name as opposed to “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” to underscore that both Isaac and Jacob did not just accept their father God, but evolved a personal relationship with Him.
God’s initial command to Abraham ‘Lech Lecha’ ‘Go forth’. The Hebrew could mean both go out from your home into the world, and go into yourself. God was teaching Abraham that journeying the world would teach him about himself, and that journeying into himself would bring him, eventually to God. In accepting the commission Abraham showed the intrepid, adventuresome spirit. His motto was “While we live, let us live” We know that only those who accept the challenges can live a creative life.
When Israel fell away from the Law, people received punishment and when they repented and returned to the Lord, they were always forgiven. This cycle of apostasy and punishment, repentance and forgiveness is the constant theme of the Bible. Humanly speaking the covenant God made with Abraham was hard to believe. We must remember that God’s promises are for believing. God tells Abraham: “Look at the heavens. Can you number the stars? So shall your descendants be” There is no possible way that you can have children at that age! It was not Impossible for God. He had learned, for the time being at least that you don’t question God just because He doesn’t make sense. God reckoned it as righteousness and that too by faith alone! The Hebrew word for covenant is berit. The Jewish organization B’nai B’rith means ‘Children or sons of the covenant’.
Prayer: Loving God, we thank you for the privilege to be in a covenantal relationship. Help us to continue that relationship. Amen
Thought for the Day: The followers of Jesus came early to believe that in the teachings of Jesus was to be found exactly this new covenant.
George K. Zachariah, Washington MTC