A covenant, as defined in most any modern dictionary, is 'an agreement between two or more persons'. Most people, Christians, even, are very familiar with this definition, and so for years, a covenant has been defined as such. Our forefathers made covenants of this sort, compacting together, agreeing to do one thing, and to not do another. Marriage unions are formed this way. Whether the vows are spoken before a Justice of the Peace, or before a congregation of God's holy people; there is an agreement made between a man and a woman, and a covenant formed before the God of the universe!
As you may have heard before, 'covenant relationship, to one extent or another, is essential to all of life'! Physically ( biologically ), a simple example can be taken from the human fetus, that new life which is formed through the covenantal union ( sexual ) of the aforementioned man and woman, now husband and wife. We all know the story of 'the birds & the bees', so we won't go into all the beautiful ( but x-rated ) details here, but when the sperm enters the egg, and the new child begins to form in the womb of the mother, the necessary elements must be present for that child to grow and thrive. This is covenant, and although some might prefer to use the word relational, or relationship, this simple truth holds for all of life. Without the necessary nutrients, any form of life, as is witnessed everyday, will shrivel up and blow away.
In society today, even Christian society, you may hear covenant described as 'a type of contract; an agreement between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.'
As we are used to thinking, especially in modern-day America, and even
earlier, from the founding fathers, a covenant is 'a solemn agreement between the members of a body politic to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel.',
but biblically speaking, a covenant, while it does include sanctions,
and subsequent blessings or cursings, is not so much an agreement to be
kept, as a life to be lived!
family, while it can be entered into legally, aside from birth, and
usually by agreement, is formed by the union of a husband and wife, and
any children who come from that union. An outsider, one not actually
born into that family, may become a part of that family through the
process of adoption, usually by the agreement of the child's legal
guardians or birth-parents. Although not a part of that family by birth,
the adopted child legally becomes one of the family, and subject to the
covenant, or laws, of that family.
The Removal of the Curse
may have heard it said, 'eschatology matters'; well, it does! We are used to hearing, most often, and even reading, that the
covenant God made at Sinai with the children of Israel, was indicative
of an agreement between Him and His people, whereby He would do certain
things if they did certain others. From this point point of view, that is true: Deuteronomy 28 famously describes what would occur
if God's Law was obeyed or disobeyed. If it was obeyed, kept and
followed, they would receive blessings, and if they disobeyed, they
would receive cursings. Through the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and The
New Covenant, we see things somewhat differently; because of the removal
of the curse, we no longer must fear the curse when we fail to obey
every jot and tittle, as those children did under the first covenant ( Hebrews 8:7 ). If we continually disobey, as many of them did, and fell in the wilderness ( Hebrews 3:17
), we will reap the consequences of what we sow, whether it be a
stubbed toe or a failed marriage, even physical harm. If we do not
continue in disobedience to that Covenant, but turn in repentance, and
live in obedience to that Covenant into which we were born, we will enjoy
the benefits of the blessed Presence of our Creator!
is much the same in our earthly families; when we obey our father and
mother, our progenitors, we reap the benefits and blessings of that most
holy union, but when we fail to obey the covenant of our home, we reap what we sow, in that we will not enjoy
the blessings of our relationship, or covenant. We must realize, even though, that just like our heavenly Father, they still love us
in spite of our failings, and will continue to show familial, though maybe strained ( or is that 'pained '? ) love toward us, in hopes of bringing us back into a blessed relationship with them!
When a man and women covenant together, whether it is simply a contractual agreement, or truly a covenant to become one, the result of that union, as God has blessed it, is children; children who then grow into men and women themselves. The child, however, having no part, in actuality, in this agreement, this covenant, reaps the benefits of the relationship with the parents, and as the child grows, through the choices that child makes, will either enjoy the blessings of obedience, or the consequences of disobedience. As with our heavenly Father, we know that, even when we fail to obey our family covenant ( 'yes, Virginia; I said 'family covenant' ), our parents still love us, even though it becomes necessary either to teach us the right way through the board of education applied to the seat of knowledge, or whether, as the child grows older, the parents simply exercise tough love by allowing their child to reap what they have sowed!
Our Father in Heaven deals with His errant children in much the same way. Although the curse has been reversed, and we now approach our Creator by a new and living way, the cursings and blessings of Deuteronomy 28 hold true as well today as yesterday! Yes, having been born into The New Covenant, and thus members by birth of the family of God, we still undergo discipline, suffering the consequences of our actions, reaping what we sow when we fail to keep the Covenant of our Family. When we live according to that Covenant, maintaining a good relationship with our Creator, we are blessed with all the constituent elements ( all that is needed ) for Life!
The Covenant Family then, whether it is blood related, or Blood related ( by natural birth or spiritual birth ), must adhere to some sort of covenant or it will not survive. I realize that we all fail ( as a human being myself, I can attest to that fact ), but when we do, if we do not founder in our failure, or continue in the same direction, but repent and return to the right path, we may, once again, enjoy the benefits of blessed relationship with our Family. If, however, we continue in our disobedience, and founder in our failure, we will continue to reap the adverse consequences of our action, will become separated from our Family, and will no longer enjoy the blessed Presence of our God and Father!
So as not to end on a bad note; let us always enjoy the covenant Life that we have been blessed with, by maintaining a good relationship with each other as fellow members of the covenant family, and with our Creator, from Whom all life comes!
Charles Haddon Shank