Eternal Covenant Chapter 7

Preaching the Word of God

God’s People .. Chapter 7… God’s Covenant

if you will obey my commandments and keep my covenant, you will be my people

In the book of Exodus, after God had delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, He tells Israel, I am the Lord your God, the One who has rescued you from slavery in Egypt. This is the first part of God’s tri-part formula states. I will be your God, you will be my people and I will dwell with you. God had told them earlier, if you will obey me and keep my covenant you will be my people, a special treasure and that He would make them a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

This was initially an Old Testament promise to Israel, but later it becomes a New Testament promise to the church as God makes the following statement you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people that belong to God (my people). You will declare the praises of God (your God) who called you out of darkness (the world) into His (presence) wonderful light.

This promise culminates in the book of Revelation where John states, I heard a loud voice saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them. He will be their God and they will be His people.”

God is a Covenant making God and spoke to Israel about this desire for a relationship with them when He brought them from Egypt. God is unchanging and He still desires a relationship with man. As we march through the Bible we see this covenant desire unfolds, finalized with our current relationship “in Christ” spelled out by God’s prophecy in Jeremiah as God states, “This is my covenant I will make with the house of Israel, declared the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. They will be my people and I will be their God”. This is the condition of the church. We are His people, He is our God, and He dwells with us in the form of the Holy Spirit. This is the current position of the church, born-again believers.

Earlier, we saw that the Law was given to the nation of Israel through Moses after they were set free (delivered) from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The Law contained instructions (ceremonial and moral) on how to relate to God and instructions (civil) on how to relate to others.

In the New Testament we find Timothy stating that “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures (the Law), it was able to make you wise unto salvation by faith in Christ Jesus. Also that “all Scripture is from God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that those who believe will be equipped for God’s good work.” Not only does the Law point us to salvation in Jesus but it also teaches us how we are to live after we are saved.

The message of the  New Testament is in agreement with the Old Testament’s purpose. It makes one wise unto salvation and it trains the believer in righteousness. As Jesus said, the whole Law (Bible – Old & New Testament) can be summarized with the commandments to love God with a whole heart and love others as self.

God gives us a shadow (an example or type) of what a nation of priests (the church) would look like by setting aside the tribe of Levi to be priests and administer the ceremonial law. God tells Malachi that the purpose of His covenant with the Levites was to bring them life and peace. His covenant called for reverence from them. Initially, they greatly revered Him and stood in awe of His name and that they passed on to the people all the truth they received from Him. They did not lie or cheat; they walked with Him, living good and righteous lives, and they turned many from lives of sin. The priests’ lips initially guarded knowledge, and people went to them for instruction. The priests were the messengers of the Lord Almighty. God said, initially that this was true of the Levites, but not now! Now, generations later, you have left God’s paths. Your `guidance’ has caused many to stumble into sin. You have corrupted the covenant I made with the Levites.

God is telling the people in the days of Malachi that they were breaking the terms of the covenant made earlier through the Levites. Have we the church become like the Levites that  Malachi is speaking of causing others to stumble?

We might examine ourselves to see if we are like Israel’s priests in the days of Malachi. This statement that God gave Israel in Malachi applies to us, the New Testament priests. In Hebrews chapter eight we find that after Israel breaks (violates) God’s covenant, God then reveals the “New Covenant” through Christ that applies to all mankind.

The purpose of this study is for us to understand what the covenant requires and evaluate our lives and see if we are living in agreement with God’s covenant relationship.

Earlier the Lord had said to the priests: “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. I am your father and master, where is the honor and respect I deserve? You have despised my name by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. You have defiled them by saying the altar of the Lord deserves no respect. Instead of giving your best as sacrifices, you give blind, crippled, and diseased animals as sacrifices. This is wrong. When you don’t give God your best, why should God show you any favor at all? I am not at all pleased with you, and I will not accept your offerings. You dishonor my name with your actions.

A priest’s duty includes his intercession with God for the people (prayer), communicating God’s desires to the people (proclamation), and, leading in worship. The Bible states that they (the priests) shall teach His ordinances and law to Israel; they shall put incense (prayer) before Him, and whole burnt offerings (total commitment) upon His altar.

Israel refused to be obedient to God’s calling and He rejected them. God rejected Israel because they had rejected Him. This was no surprise to God. He is all-knowing. Just as Christ was crucified before the world was formed was God’s plan (mystery) for the restoration for man’s disobedience. The benefactor of this restoration plan was the church, instead of Israel.

This mystery “of Christ and the church” was concealed until Israel rejected Christ. God then fulfilled the prophecy “and I will say to [them which were] not my people, Thou [art] my people; and they shall say, [Thou art] my God.” We, the church, are the new priesthood. We are God’s people. In the book of Romans, speaking of the church, Paul states, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”

In the New Testament, we find God making the same statement to the Church that He had made to Israel in the Old Testament. He says to the church (believer), you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

In other words, God is telling the church that they are His people and He is their God and He (the marvelous light) dwells with them in the form of the Holy Spirit. As a Priest, we should pray, proclaim, and praise God.

God’s People Pray to Him!

A priest represents the people before God. He prays and intercedes on their behalf. As priests, we are to come boldly before the throne of grace to find grace and mercy in time of need. In the Old Testament, the priestly duties included the burning of incense in the Holy Place. This was symbolic of the prayer of the priest for the people of Israel.

The priest entered the Holy Place and burn incense both morning and evening. However, before they could enter the Holy Place (come into God’s presence) they had to shed the blood of an animal and wash in the bronze laver as an act of worship recognizing God as the giver and sustainer of life.

Prayer is a very important duty of man. Yes, we can come boldly, but we have to come in a manner prescribed by God. Israel had to come in faith and so do we. A prayer is an act of faith and an act recognizing God and His power.

The Bible states, Without faith man, cannot please God. We must believe that God is and that He rewards those who seek Him. Our first act of recognition should be a prayer of faith seeking forgiveness and eternal life (salvation). We are acknowledging that He is the giver of life.

Jesus illustrates this when He tells the parable of the “Pharisee & Publican”. In that parable, the publican cries out to God, “Lord please have mercy on me a sinner.” Jesus said the one who asked for mercy went home justified. God’s Word states “that if a person will confess his sins God will be faithful to forgive us.” Just as the Pharisee went home unjustified, there are many today that are not justified before God. These are the ones spoken of in chapter one of Romans when God said “they are without excuse.” They were condemned because they refused to give God thanks.

In Christ, we have redemption (forgiveness) through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Jesus has redeemed us by His blood. He has paid the price and purchased us. Just as the priest had to wash in the laver before they could enter God’s presence, we must have washed in the “blood of the Lamb” before we can come boldly before God.

As believers, we have been set aside (sanctified) for God’s work just as the priest of the Old Testament. Just as a priest was concerted by the blood for service, we are to be consecrated by the sprinkling of His blood. The Old Testament spoke of the priest’s right ear, thumb, and toe being sprinkled with the blood. We as believers are to be washed in the “blood of the Lamb.”

God’s People Proclaim Him

Our actions speak louder than our words. The only Bible someone may read is our actions. People compare our actions with our words. An illustration of this fact is shown by the following example:
Police observed a man who had stopped at a red light sitting and beating his steering wheel while shouting at the person in the car in front of him. He was doing this because the car was slow to move as the light turned green. when the police stopped the car and started to arrest the man, the man asked the police was it against the law to beat the steering wheel and shout. The police responded by saying I am not arresting you for that behavior, but I am arresting you for stealing this vehicle. The policeman told the man that he was oblivious that the vehicle must not be his and therefore must be stolen since there was a Christian symbol (fish) on the trunk and a” Jesus” sticker on the bumper. The policeman then said the man’s behavior indicated that he could not possibly be the owner of the car.

Question to consider: Does our behavior match our profession? We are to be set aside for God as a zealous and holy nation, a royal priesthood. Does our behavior line up with our calling?

We are to be a holy nation, a people called from darkness to light. Let us get rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Let us be done with hypocrisy and jealousy and backstabbing. Let us crave pure spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your salvation. Let us cry out for this nourishment as a baby cries for milk.

Elsewhere the Bible states Let us follow God’s example in everything we do. Let us live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among us. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes are not for us. Instead, let us continually be giving thanks to God.  We are to be holy in everything we do, just as God is holy. For he has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

One visible role of a priest in the Old Testament was to offer animal sacrifices before the Lord and to also wash publicly in the bronze laver each time before entering the “Holy Place”. The Holy Place represented entering the presence of God. The New Testament tells us as a priest we are to visibly turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God.

The following are two Old Testament examples of how the “Priestly Covenant” was lived out by the Levite priests. In both cases, the Levites took the side of God and carried out His wishes.

In Exodus after the nation of Israel worshiped the “golden calf”. Moses asked the question “Who is on God’s side, let him come over.” The Levites responded and came over to God’s side with Moses. Then Moses said, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. The children of Levi did according to the word of Moses. There fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

In Numbers, we see another time that the Levites turn away the wrath of God. Some of the men defiled themselves by sleeping with the local Moabite women. These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, and soon the Israelites were feasting with them and worshiping the gods of Moab. Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the Lord’s anger to blaze against his people. The Lord issued the following command to Moses: “Seize all the ringleaders and execute them in broad daylight, so my anger will turn away from the people of Israel.” Moses ordered Israel’s judges to execute everyone who had joined in worshiping Baal of Peor. Just as Moses was saying this, one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into the camp, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people. When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this he took a spear and thrust the spear through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach. God stopped the plague against the Israelites, but not before 24,000 people had died.

Just as the Levites were faithful in the above examples, we are not to conform to this world, but to be transformed as God renews our minds. This transformation happens as we make our lives become living sacrifices to the Lord.

God’s People Praise Him

We praise God by walking in the light. If we walk in the light we will not fulfill the lust (activities) of the flesh (darkness). We are to Be careful how we live among our unbelieving neighbors, so that they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God.

Jesus said we are to be light unto the world. We are a chosen people. We are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation. We are showing others the goodness of God, for he called us out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

God’s challenge to Israel still stands. “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand or perform. It is not up in heaven, don’t have to go to heaven and bring it down. It is not beyond the sea, – you don’t have to cross the sea. The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it. “Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death. I have commanded you today to love the LORD your God and to keep his commands, laws, and regulations by walking in his ways.

What is the duty/purpose of man? Solomon says ”Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man”.

As we study the Bible we will see that Israel lost their saltiness. They lost their zeal for the lord. They lost their testimony and eventually, they lost their first love. Have we?

Jesus says to the church in Ephesus. I have this complaint against you. You have left your first love. Turn back to me again and work as you did at first, .listen to the Spirit and understand.

Let us return to our first love, Jesus! Let the following be said about us. “The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.”

Previous Page                                                                                                   Next Page

Visits: 23

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *