Genesis 9:13 | The New Covenant

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God the Creator is a “Covenant” making God. So what does that mean for you and me? Why are the covenants of God important and do I have any responsibility to God because of them?

11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:11-13 ESV

The Hebrew word for covenant here בְּרִית is used hundreds of times in the Old Testament text but it is used first with Noah and his family at the start of the flood. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines Covenant as an agreement between two parties obligating themselves to certain ways of life. However the Covenant between God and Noah’s family here is very one sided. It is more of a promise from an all-powerful God that never again would He destroy all life with water in the way that was just completed when Noah stepped on that Ark. This covenant is not a contract or a simple promise. It is a binding unalterable truth given by a King and Ruler to a powerless subject. A contract might be between two people who have business and both enter into the deal as relative equals. God’s covenants to man are not like that.

Noah’s covenant one of the first of many from God does not even require any response from man other than to be reminded and to know who God is and where we stand with Him. God out of his own mercy promises to never flood the world again and then God gives a sign the rainbow in the sky for men to remember forever who God is and what He has said he will do.

14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Genesis 9:14-15 ESV

God has made other covenants and the one that currently applies to us today was first announced by the Prophet Jeramiah. This covenant like the one to Noah is a promise from God to man where God is promising to act on our behalf for our benefit.

31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeramiah 31:31-34 ESV

This “New Covenant” that God is promising is one where he will write onto the hearts of his people who he is and everyone covered by the covenant will have a relationship and know who God is. This covenant will be for people of simple means and people of powerful means.

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13 ESV

God has accomplished this New Covenant by sealing His people with His Holy Spirit changing who we are with a new heart that comes from Him. This could not be accomplished until Jesus the change agent of the New Covenant completed his ministry.

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15 ESV

Jesus when he died fulfilled the temporary placeholder covenant from God. The new covenant that God set in motion at the very beginning is now in full effect. God having paid for our sins with the death of Christ is able to give to us, His children with His Holy Spirit and effectively remove our old dead hearts of stone and rebellion.

24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:24-29 ESV

This New Covenant is so powerful and so effective that through it people from the greatest to the least can be saved to live eternally with their Creator. But this covenant must be entered into unlike the covenant with Noah. God in his mercy gave a promise to all people that never again would He flood the world. This new covenant requires that individuals agree to a baptized life clothed with Christ by way of the Holy Spirit transforming the heart. Salvation stands before every man, woman, and child. A transformation and new life await. Will you too submit to Christ and be God’s child transformed into the new covenant?

Genesis 3:17 | The Curse with a Promise

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Genesis chapter three is a pivotal entry into the history of creation. It is the event that changed the course of mankind and explains why the world is the way it is today. Without Genesis chapter three it would be impossible to understand the evil and hardships of this present world. What happened then that directly links to now is that the first man and woman living in a perfect habitat broke fellowship with their Creator. Two people without a care or want found the one thing that was off limits and started a rebellion that is still ongoing today.

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:2-5 ESV

Why is there evil in the world? Why is life hard? Why is there death? Why are so many relationships difficult or strained? Why is there war? Why would a loving God create such a world that we see today? The answers to these and many like them are found here in chapter three as the consequence of what happened on that day at the beginning of the created world.

As a result of what our grandparents Adam and Eve did on that fateful day God leveled out three curses one to each participant in this first transgression. I will cover the First curse to Satan and Third curse to Adam in this post and leave the second curse to Eve for another time. The Third curse that was leveled that day was on Adam and this curse impacts all of the created world.

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19 ESV

In this curse there are three parts that impact humankind in general and make up the order of the fallen world we live in. First is that Humans would live in pain and hard work all the days of our lives. The ground will not give to us without work and perseverance. Even then what we work for will be fraught with thorns and disease. Imagine the created world that God had looked at in the beginning and saw as good has now become a source of pain and toil for all that live in it.

20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. Ecclesiastes 2:20 ESV

Second Humankind will face death itself. We once were created to live forever with God in the perfect world, but now it is a guarantee that we will return to the dust from where we came. I can’t imagine the weight of such a concept on Adam since before this moment death would have only been an abstract idea and not a reality in the perfect world that God had created.

For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23a ESV

Third this curse impacts more than just Adam and Eve it impacts all of creation including the universe itself. The weight of sin and rebellion to the Creator is so serious and is so destructive that the entire universe has fallen. A sun that was created to live forever will one day fail. We see evidence of the failure when looking out into the universe and see stars that have exploded causing destruction in all directions. A current fear of mankind is that one day an asteroid could crash into this planet ending all life. What had once been created for perfection and eternity is now temporary.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:20-22 ESV

However devastating this curse was to Adam and to everyone reading this post the First curse God made was to Satan and in this curse we find the present hope we have Christ.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

There are two curses in this section that we should take note of. First is the curse that all animals must endure along with everything else. Have you ever wondered why God made the mosquito? They are irritating and they carry disease. Why would God have looked at the mosquito and thought to himself this is good? The result here is that animals and insects are all under the curse. Whatever their original purpose they are now only twisted curse infused replicas of the original. Animals were not originally created to kill and hunt each other. There was no death before these curses.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. Isaiah 65:25 ESV

Second and take note of this is the promise of God to undo the harm Satan intended. Through the offspring of Eve God will strike a crushing blow to Satan’s head and while the blow will be painful to the offspring of Eve it will not be fatal to this future person of promise.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 ESV

This curse to Satan is a promise to us that God would restore what was broken. The curse that God laid out is actually a blessing because this present world must be destroyed in order to create a new heaven and new earth free from the broken relationship that was caused here in chapter three. Without the curse and the eventual destruction of what had once been perfect we would live on forever in pain and toil forever struggling without a relationship with our maker.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23 ESV

We live in a brief moment of grace that God has provided in this cursed and dying world. Turn from your rebellion against God and seek salvation in the promised savior. Our hope and our future lies only in Christ and the restoration he provides from what happened to creation so many years ago.

Acts 1: The Promise has Arrived!

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Acts is the second half of the Gospel of Luke and primarily concerned with the actions of the apostles many of whom were direct disciples of Jesus in the gospels. In the conclusion of Luke and in the start of Acts we see the disciples soon to be apostles waiting for something unknown and unimaginable.

3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts 1:3-5 ESV

Jesus has spent time with them and convinced them of his resurrection. Jesus has restored Peter and given him charge of the church (John 21:17)

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17 ESV

Jesus has been promising the Spirit to the disciples before his death and after the resurrection but God through his prophets has promised the Spirit to be in those who love him long in advance. While Jesus who is God in the flesh is powerful and amazing he is still finite in the sense that men are limited to time and space. The Holy Spirit will not be bound to those finite constraints. Jesus as always is allowing God’s prefect plan to unfold right in front of the disciples.

26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:26-28 ESV

God is going to do what we are unable to do ourselves and that is transform our hearts. He will put into us his Holy Spirit who will act on our hearts and transform our desires and hopes. In anticipation of this big day Jesus has asked the apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for Him to act.

Before Jesus ascends there is an interesting interaction recorded here in Acts. It is great example of how the disciples still did not understand the plans and power of Christ to build the eternal kingdom. Jesus has just told them to wait for the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem but their questions pick right up where they left off in their thinking before Jesus died.

 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8 ESV

Jesus are you now going to destroy the Romans and restore Israel to power? This is what the disciples think they really wanted from Jesus. It is why Judas betrayed Jesus (John 13:29). It is why Peter was ready to go to war when Jesus was taken (John 18:10-11). But that was not God’s plan. God’s plan was not to enrich Judas or send Peter to war. God’s plan is grace and mercy here and now. God’s plan is to save mankind and restore our relationship with Him. God’s plan is just as he said through Ezekiel hundreds of years before to change the heart of men.

Acts 1:8 is the gospel charge from Jesus to the disciples once the promised Holy Spirit arrives and the same charge stands true for the church of today. It is a promise that Luke uses here “you will be” in the same way that Luke recorded Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross “you will be”. Jesus makes a promise about God’s plans and passion for saving mankind.

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43 ESV

 

8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 ESV

Will you be part of that promise to witness to anyone and everyone through the power of the Holy Spirit living inside?