What is the Covenant? Part 2

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

 

In Part 1 of this series, we showed how the term, “old covenant” (or, “old testament”) related only to the specific covenant given to Moses and the then formed Nation of Israel.   The Scriptures mention other covenants as well.  Before we dive into those, we have to first define this term, which in Hebrew is berith, and Greek, diatheke.  The Latin is testamentum.  The King James Bible (1611) has both testament and covenant for words in Hebrew and Greek.

If I may be allowed to quote from work a Professor of mine edited: “The etymology of the word is uncertain. It may be related to the Akkadian word burru which means “to establish a legal situation by testimony with an oath” (CAD baru, p. 125); but some (O. Loretz, VT 16: 239-41) tie it to the Akkadian word birtu “a fetter” which is a derivative of the word meaning “between.” L. Kohler claims the word was related to the root brµ which has to do with the food and eating involved in the covenant meal (JSS 1: 4-7). The root is nowhere used as a verb in the OT nor is any other derivative of this root used, but the action involving covenant making employs the idiom “to cut a covenant” (Gen 15:18; etc.), that is making a bloody sacrifice as part of the covenant ritual, Kohler then would have the animal eaten in the covenant meal” (Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, Harris, Archer, & Waltke).  The article is rather detailed and shows the extremely voluminous works on the subject.

Be that as it may, when we survey the occurrences of the word itself, it is a form of a pact, or contract, or treaty.  Often times blood is associated with it.  Commandments come with it as well (stipulations).  There are promises for honoring it, and penalties for breaking it.  When we come to the total occurrences of the term, well over two hundred times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and over a hundred in the Greek (ESV has 319 total), we can see that this is an important term.  Indeed, foundational for understanding biblical mentality.

The very first occurrence of the word in the Bible is Genesis 6.18, “But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee.”  This is a covenant between God and a man named, Noah.  Presumably the readers understood what this word meant, as well as Noah.  So, in the following verses god “commands” Noah to bring animals with him on the Ark, and Noah obeyed.  If he didn’t, he would die.  If he did, he would survive the holocaust and live (a little while longer).  In other words, the covenant is made with the assumption that Noah would eventually die (as all do), and so when we read threats like this: “you will die” and “you will live” we must understand that life and death are here spoken of “living longer than you would if you disobeyed.”

The second time we see this word is again between God and Noah, “And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you” (9.9).  Now, according to the biblical story, Noah and his three sons with their wives repopulate the earth.  And, of course, Noah is a descendent of Adam.  This is what makes this passage interesting, because “your seed” is directly alluding to the promise God made to Eve: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (3.15), which many understand that through the genealogical descendents of Eve, One would come who would bruise the head of the corrupt deceiver, the “beast-serpent”.  Therefore, it is very important that the “seed” continue.  God could have destroyed all flesh, but did not because he promised Eve that in time the One would come.

Now, this brings us to an interesting point, for many think that God established a covenant with Adam (though without using this actual word).  Hosea 6.7 reads, “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me (ASV).”  All the ingredients that make a covenant a covenant are there in the first chapters of Genesis with Adam.  I tend to think that this is a plausible view.

As God establishes his covenant with Noah, he himself promises that he would no longer decimate all mankind with a flood (which makes it very hard to view this as a “local flood” since those have been devastating mankind for thousands of years).  The Yellow River Flood in 1887 China killed an estimated 9,000,000 people.  It is hard to estimate that 9,000,000 people even existed in the days of Noah (1,656 years between Adam and Noah).  Some estimates based on statistical population computations (don’t ask) bring the number to around 50,000. Other estimates to over 1 billion.  It is not a great feat, mathematically speaking, to get the 7 billion total population today from three women (Noah’s sons’ wives), if we take the years from the time of the flood to 2017 AD.  Nonetheless, the Ark story was a success and we are here today.

Apart from that small digression, if God made a covenant with Adam, a great deal (“all but eight”) perished of Adam’s “seed.”  Yet, the covenant was kept; man did not entirely perish.  I don’t think we appreciate the magnitude of how many were killed in this flood due to their sins.  The covenant appears to be made in order to preserve mankind.  In other words, a covenant is established by God on an oath that he himself takes, binding himself to it for the benefit of mankind.  He swore that a “seed” would come from Eve.  He had every right to destroy all of the creation that was his to begin with.  Yet, before he does this he makes a covenant with Noah and preserves the Seed.  It is through covenant that God saves mankind in spite of mankind.  A covenant, then, is the demonstration of a merciful God who is not obligated to show mercy, yet does.  To signify his mercy, he establishes a covenant which is not for his benefit, but the benefit of mankind.  A covenant will always have a tangible, visible signa reminder.

And, this, of course is what we get in the Story of Noah: “And God said, This is the Sign of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: My bow I have given in the cloud, and it hath been for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.” (9.12, 13).  And, in verse 15 the bow is for a “remembrance”.

The first things we should take away from this is that God establishes covenants.  Covenants are pledges, or oaths.  They are accompanied with a visible sign so that whenever seen, it should serve as a reminder of the covenant.

Up to this point, we have not really seen any “blood” involved.  However, if one takes into account that Eve was taken from the side of Adam, blood must have been involved.  When God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of an animal, blood must have been shed.  Likewise, when Abel offered his animals, there must have been blood.  Finally, in the vast annihilation of the population of Mankind, there was certainly blood involved.  In each of these instances, a sacrifice was made.  Indeed, “And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8.20).  The blood of mankind was shed in order to preserve mankind.  In return, the blood of animals was shed in response to God’s mercy (as with Abel for the offering God provided for Adam and Eve).  So, blood was involved.  It will continue to be involved as we go on in this series.

 

What is ‘The Covenant’? Part 1

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

      “Covenant” is not a term we use in ordinary communication.  We much prefer to use “testament” or “contract.”  “Testament” has entered into the English speaking world through the King James Bible of 1611 and the Book of Common Prayer (1662).  Covenant sounds witchy, like a coven.  It carries with it an overtone of a blood ritual or something.  The English word, “covenant” is an old word that simply means, “agreement” or “meet agreeably” (to convene).

     The Latin Bible (405) has the word testamentum for the Hebrew and Greek terms, berith and diatheke, respectively.  The English Standard Version (2001, from the RSV, 1971) uses the word “covenant” 319 time in both the Old and New “testaments”.  This is an unfortunate division on our “Bibles”, old and new testaments, for the suggestion is that everything from Genesis to Malachi is old covenant, whereas everything in the new testament is, well, new covenant.  The Scriptures themselves did not use these artificial divisions, and neither do I.

     In the Scriptures, we have “the word of God”, “the Scriptures”, “the Law”, “the Law and the Prophets,” etc.  The term, “old covenant” (or, in Latin and older English Bibles following the Latin, “old testament”) is never used to designate Genesis-Malachi as such.  Genesis-Malachi is the Hebrew Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets and the Writings (LPW from here on out).  In fact, this is the designation give by Jewish nomenclature: the TaNaKh (Torah, Neviim, Ketuvim – Law, Prophets, Writings).  Numerous examples can be given if required.

     In fact, for this scholar, I think that the Christian division of our Bible can imply a bit of racism, historically speaking.  I am not one at all that succumbs to every pitter patter of crying “racist” like the unhinged Leftists are in this country, so do not get me wrong here.  I am not at all trying to be politically correct.  I do, however, wish to be biblically correct, and where a designation such as this stands in the way of a better understanding of our subject matter, then be rid of it!

     This is first point is actually a very important, fundamental one.  When, for example, I am reading, Zephaniah, the Prophet, I am not reading the “old testament” in terms of Bible-speak.  In terms of Bible speak I am reading, well, the Prophet Zephaniah!  Now, Zephaniah, may he be forever remembered, was a Prophet around the time of 641-610 before our common era (B.C.E., or as Christians use, Before Christ –somewhere around the 15th century).  He was not an old testament Prophet any more than he was a new testament prophet.  He was a prophet that spoke and wrote before the arrival of Messiah Jesus.  He was a Prophet from the nation of Israel, which was established by the old covenant.

     Now, the first time we find this phrase, “old testament” or “old covenant” is in the Blessed Apostle Paul.  In his letter to the Corinthian assemblies, he wrote, “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away” (3.14).  And, in the context, it is quite plain as to what he means by “old covenant” for he wrote, “Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was…” (3.7, see also verse 13).  Verse 15 hammers away any doubt as to what Paul meant by old covenant: “Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read…”  Not when Judges is read, or Jeremiah is read, but when Moses is read.  Particularly Moses’ words which were “engraved on stone.”  This is the “old covenant.”

            In fact, and this may shock modern readers, this is the only place we find the term ‘tes palaias diathekes’ (the old covenant) in the entire Bible!  Imagine that.  Our entire Bible has been split right in two by a designation found only once.  And, in that designation only Moses is referred to!

            Now, of course, we have not yet defined what a “covenant” is, be it old or new.  So far, we are interested only its usage as a phrase found in the Scriptures, in the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures.  There is only one other book in the Greek Scriptures that clearly alludes to what Paul called the old covenant in the way in which we are focused: Hebrews.[i]  In that book we find the peculiar phrase, “the first covenant” (8.7, 13; 9.1).  And it is, all agreed, in reference to the law-code of Moses, for it speaks of the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and its priestly worship (the words of Moses in Exodus-Deuteronomy given to the young nation of Israel).  The author of Hebrews uses only the adjective, “first”, but he uses a Perfect verb in Greek to describe this covenant: it has been made old following that with a Present adjectival participle, is old.  The Perfect tense in Greek is strong past tense.  It also brings out the fact that what has been done in the past is the current status in the present.  This is brought out, then, by the participle (which is descriptive, but highlights no “time” except in relation to the main verb).  If, say, the Atari game counsel has been “made old” (a while ago), then it is still old presently (no one uses it, it’s outdated).  Accordingly, then, to the author, the “first covenant” (the one made with Moses) has been made old (some time in the past), and because of this fact, it’s present status is what it has been made to be: outdated, no longer in function, not made any more, not in production).  A retail-store word would be, “discontinued.”  I’m in retail, and I come across this daily.  A customer picks up an item (we have one left) and wants another, but we can’t get it anymore.  It’s been discontinued (it still is, it is discontinued – it’s present status).  Quite frustrating to the consumer, but there’s always EBAY.

            It may be remarked as well that the use of the numerical (ordinal number) designations of “first covenant” and “second” (8.7) is not a commentary on the chronological (though that is involved), but on the comparison of the two covenants the author has in mind.  The first covenant compared to a second covenant.  If I have two credit cards in my hand and I say, “this first card needs to be shredded and we will only keep this second one” I am not at all saying, “this is the first credit card I ever had, and this is the second credit card after that one.”  It may be the case that I have many credit cards, but I am only talking about these two, this one (the first in my example) and that one (the second in my example).  Scholars understand this point simply because Moses’ covenant was not at all the first covenant in Scripture!  And, by that token, the “new covenant” (which we have yet to consider) was not the second one.  It is the last one.

            From this brief analysis it is a settled matter that when Paul or the author(s) of Hebrews (which has the influence of Paul) spoke of the “old covenant” or “first covenant” or the “covenant that has been made old and is, in fact, old as a result of its being made old sometime before” the author wrote, is in reference to Moses’ covenant (the Mosaic Covenant).  Not Jeremiah, and certainly not HaggaiHaggai was not “that which has been made old”.  Genesis has not “been made old”, either. From this, we have established that the old testament is not Genesis-Malachi.  The old testament is in the Hebrew Bible, but it is not the whole Hebrew Bible.  It is particularly in the words of God to a man named, Moses, and made with a group of people to be designated as a nation: Israel.  In our second part, we will explore the instances this word occurs in the Scriptures.

[i] This is not at all a negation of the fact that the old covenant is not designated by other terms in the Scriptures.  My only focus here is the term associated with the word, “covenant”.

The Power of Images

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

 Kind of sexy, huh?  It’s the first recorded meal.  “And she took, and she did eat, and she gave” (Genesis 3.6).  The image in the picture, and in much art is that it was an apple.  One of my favorite Aerosmith songs is ‘Adam’s Apple.’  In that oldie but goodie, Steven Tyler belts out:

conscience was related
man he was created
lady luck took him by surprise
a sweet and bitter fruit
it surely opened his eyes
well she ate it
lordy it was love at first bite
well she ate it
never knowin wrong from right.’

The fact is, and has been noted several times, we do not know what the fruit was, what it looked like (it was shiny).  But, the image stuck.  It seems that we got the idea of an apple from a second century Jewish translator-turned-Christian (blame the Jews) named, Aquila Ponticus.  It’s harmless.  It’s been used to show people that what they ‘think’ is ‘in’ the Bible, isn’t.

Another misconception (I am going to cover three of them), is that of a talking snake.  How many times have we heard that only a moron would take it literal that Eve was talking to a dad-gum snake.  I mean, come on, people!

  More sexiness and naughty bits.  I suppose a better picture than this:

I don’t know.  Regardless, this image is very popular.  We see the word, “serpent” in Hebrew and think, “snake.”  More Steven Tyler:

‘even Eve in Eden
voices tried deceiving
with lies that showed the lady the way
at first she stopped turned and tried to walk away
man he was believer
lady was deceiver
so the story goes but you see
that snake was he
she just climbed right up his tree.’

Tyler is tongue in cheek here, of course, and I won’t explain that to you.  These were things discussed in the seventies over a bottle of wine and a doobie when your parents were on a date for the night.  The image of a nude woman, a snake, and eating something forbidden has all the recipes for an erotic novel (and that’s kind of Tyler’s point).  Now, where were we?  Oh, the snake.

Well, let’s look at the text: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made” (Genesis 3.1).  The word in Hebrew for “serpent” is, indeed, used for what we call, “snake” (nachash).  Ophis is the Greek word, which has a long history in mythopoeic tales in the Ancient world.  Yep.  It’s a snake.  From this we move on.  But, I was taught better.  Something’s not right.  A snake is a creature made in Genesis 1.25 says, “And God maketh the wild animal of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind.”  In the Greek, the term for “creeping thing” is “reptile”.  It’s not a cow.  Psalm 148.10 says, “The wild beast, and all cattle, Creeping thing, and winged bird” (numerous examples can be shown).  The point is, a “creeping thing” is so because it “creeps upon the dirt” – on its belly.  It’s not a “beast” or “wild animal.

Now, let’s read the text again: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made.”  The Hebrew text is literal here: The serpent.  Not serpents.  Not a serpent, but the serpent.  It was not a “creeping thing that creeps upon the ground” and made to “produce after its own kind” like snakes and lizards.  This particular serpent was a beast.  It was “more crafty” from all the other beasts the LORD God made.  There was only one of them.  God made him.  He was crafty.  He had no mate.  He was not a snake.  He was not a cow.  We don’t know what the heck he was, but we for sure know that he wasn’t a dad-gum snake!  If evolutionists can believe in talking (grunts) of a chance organism-becomes-hominid, then I don’t have much of a problem with a certain creature, a unique creature, that could talk.  I do have a problem with a “talking snake”.

But, check this out.  After this serpent-beast thing does what it does, God curses it: “And Jehovah God saith unto the serpent, ‘Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all the cattle, and above every beast of the field: on thy belly dost thou go, and dust thou dost eat, all days of thy life.”  Now, some think that here this beast (again, not a snake) is made to become a snake, and is the reason we have snakes today.  Well, no.  But, this serpent-beast is made to go on its belly; it’s reduced to one of the creeping things that creepeth along the dirt.  That does not make it a snake.  Second, all the other beasts, cattle, livestock, animals, creeping things, birds, seeds, whatever, are made to reproduce after their own kind with their own kind.  This beast, however, has no mate.  It was a unique and crafty beast (singular) “from all the beasts” (plural) God made.  There was no female counterpart.  When this thing died, that was it (“all the days of your life”).

Finally, one last false image from Genesis 3 must be smashed.  Eve was not made from the rib of Adam.  

 The Hebrew text, again, simply says, “Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam: and when he was fast asleep, he took one of his sides, and filled (closed up?) up flesh underneath it.”  Now, yes, the Hebrew here can mean a rib.  Hopefully one seasoned with this:

It’s actually a beautiful image.  God made a man, and from that man made a woman (same identity, same substance, made in the same image).  I mean, God made Adam from dirt, does that mean dirt rule over Adam?  Hardly.  Then neither should it imply that woman being made from man means man is over the woman intrinsically speaking.  The woman was made from what God “took” (what he “took” was his “side” – something inside because Adam’s flesh (sarx) had to be “closed up”.  Maybe this is where we must get in touch with our inner-femininity comes from….I’ll stop.

The point of all of this is that images tend to add to the actual text.  When we try to imagine Man and Woman in a garden, we only have our own settings to do this.  When we image one of our ribs, and throw in an apple and a talking snake, the picture starts looking, well, rather ridiculous.  And that’s exactly the kind of thing doubters do to this historical account of our origins.  The fact is, we have a text.  I don’t know what Adam and Eve looked like.  How tall they were.  I don’t know what language they spoke.  I have no clue what the crafty beast-serpent looked like, either.  I have no idea what kind of “fruit” they ate.  I do not have any idea whatsoever what the Garden looked like, or how the topography was, the atmosphere, etc.  I can use my imagination based on how I perceive “garden” “fruit” “man” and “woman” today, and then use that to construct what those things sort of, maybe, possibly were.  But, my mental picture (image) is just that: an image, not reality.  I wasn’t there.  It’s going to be blurred to some extent.  I have no idea what the first animals, beasts, fish etc., looked like.  I suppose, to some degree at least, a dog is a dog.  But, the first pair of caninae, the sub family of canidae?

I don’t know.  But, how does not knowing mean that “and God made all the beasts of the dirt after their kind” is false?  That would simply be very bad logic: “Causation A is x.  B is the result of Causation A is x.  We do not know Causation A is x.  Therefore, we do not know B.”  If that were the case, the whole issue of “reasoning backwards” based on “present data” (causative reasoning) is moot.  Science goes out the window and that would be bad for making combustible engines and the formula C3H7NO2  which would be bad for skateboarders!

Yeah, I have a problem with talking snakes, and a rib for woman, and an apple tree (I like apples!).  I don’t have a problem with Genesis, however, as an explanatory non-fiction source of ultimate origins of all that we see.  I have a problem with looking at my dog, A.J. and thinking, “God made him.”  Well, no.  Not directly.  A.J. is a spin off from a spin off from thousands of years of spin offs from what we “label” or “categorize” canidae (a Latin term for “of the dog” that someone, somewhere, used when naming that thing somewhere at some point in time – just like Adam did when he arbitrarily “picked” names for things).  Why not call a dog a “booboozambick”?  Oh, sorry, it’s not Latin….it’s not scientifically correct.  Okay, canine it is.  Whatever.  I’ll take the imposed term (imposed by who?).  I mean, we got to call it something, right?  Anyhow, it’s late.

It’s Not Over til It’s Over

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

“Thus can be understood the special place Barth assigns to the history of Israel. It is there, and not in China or elsewhere, that God has spoken. When Professor Edward J. Carnell of Fuller Theological Seminary asked if God could be encountered in reading Confucius, as some Chinese might claim, or in Mozart, whom Barth loves, Barth replied in effect that whatever might be encountered in other sacred writings, it is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“Barth thus stresses the history of Israel as no modernist ever can. Salvation is of the Jews, and the culmination of their history is Jesus Christ and the empty tomb. In opposition to the liberals Barth insists that the apostles did not preach “the historical Jesus” (of Renan or Harnack) nor did they preach “the divine Christ” (Bultmann), but rather the one concrete Jesus Christ our Lord” (http://gordonhclark.reformed.info/special-report-encountering-barth-in-chicago/).

I recently read this from Clark and, aside from the great article as it concerns Barth, one statement his me like a diamond bullet in the forehead: “Salvation is of the Jews, and the culmination of their history is Jesus Christ and the empty tomb.”  Jesus ended Israel’s burden under the legislation of Moses.  Having done so, he set Israel free to seek after Christ.  If any Jewish person living at that time sought after Christ, they knew that this would bring them into direct opposition with those who demanded the obedience of the Laws of Moses (as they are stated) plus Christ.

 

Paul made this known in his letter to the Roman congregants, many of whom were Jewish.  To follow Christ meant to turn ones back on the outward duties demanded by the Nationalists.  To follow Christ, the fulfillment of all the righteous requirements of the Law of Moses (Romans 8.4), meant that the “Law of Christ” transcended and superseded Moses.  It must have been an offense to many hearing, “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself” (Hebrews 3.3).  The Gospel was not “faith in Jesus plus works of Moses”, but “faith in Jesus” which sprouts “fruits of the Spirit.”

The covenant made with Moses by the then people of Israel was cancelled when Jesus inaugurated a new covenant.  Yet, the promises made under the previous were not at all made void, but rather now by Messiah they can be fulfilled.  Watch this in Hebrews: “Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later…” (3.5). Was faithful.  Whose house is it when the author wrote?  “but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope” (3.6).   The new people of God, joined together with those who lived in Moses’ house while it was (Hebrews 11.1-ff).  Moses was faithful and did all that God told him to do.  But, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel has come and set aside Moses as if to say, “I’ll take it from here, Moses, my son.”  To which Moses would reply: “You got it!”  The historical birth that Israel under the covenant of Moses gave us is Messiah. For that, we must always be debtors and in support of those who call themselves followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  That God brought forth a new covenant in Jesus does not at all dismiss our love for those of the Jewish Faith.  Rather, the new covenant demand of “love” tells us the exact opposite, even if they oppose our faith in Messiah, even if they are enemies (“love your enemies” ring a bell?).

Paul said this 2000 years ago: “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3.24).  He spoke this as a Jew.  When “Christ came” and died, was buried, and rose again and ascended, “the law” ceased being the guardian. “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (3.25).  Faith has come.

There was a horrible time of affliction when the Romans finally crushed the City of Jerusalem in the war from 66-70 (and a few years beyond) A.D.  National identity was lost.  This was the main feature of the Mosaic covenant.  Without such a city and temple, the old rites could not be performed.  Yet, very clearly, the promises made to Israel as found in virtually every one of her Prophets’ pages, were left unfulfilled.  Did the word of God fail?  One of the promises was that through the Messiah (often called, “the Branch” and “the Root” in the Prophets) would enlarge the nation of Israel by joining them together with the other nations (the Gentiles).  However, this would be accomplished only by instituting a new covenant (as found in the Hebrew Prophet, Jeremiah).  The new covenant made obsolete the old boundary created by the Nationalism of Moses’ covenant.  This, in turn, allowed for the inclusion of the nations “through the body of Christ” (the body and blood of the new covenant).

Let me put this in contemporary terms.  Let’s say that India and its religion of Hinduism were the people of God.  In order to become a person of God, one had to join the Hindi Faith and associate themselves to the Nation of India, following their rites, practices and laws.  Now, let’s say that you, an American, want to be a person of God.  Are you willing to go through all of that?  Or, rather, wouldn’t that be a barrier?  “Thanks, but no thanks.”  Let’s say you want to be Muslim.  Sharia Law.  Let’s say you want to be a person of God in Christ: faith that Jesus is LordLove your God with all your heart.  Love your neighbor.  Pretty light.  If your faith is genuine (a true gift from God), you’ll notice that new desires arise in your heart (fruits of the Spirit).  You’ll start acting in ways you didn’t in the past, “putting of the old man and putting on the new.”  It just comes.  The life you live in the flesh is no longer yours, but Christ is living in you by the Spirit, altering your conscience.  Not bad.  I don’t even have to chastise myself.  He does it for me.

Imagine hearing the Good News as a Roman: you have to be circumcised, you have to go to the Temple three times a year, you have to do this, and that, and always realize that you are not really one of us because we were born this way, so, in some sense, we are superior to you.  Jesus obliterated that.

Covenantal racism is defined by the Nationalism of Moses.  It is most explicitly found in Ezra 10.10: “And Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have broken faith and married foreign women, and so increased the guilt of Israel.”  The solution: “…Separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.”  Imagine that being applied in the Church (the House of God, Israel, who is the Church) today.  Did Paul ever say “divorce your unbelieving husband”?  Nope.  He said the opposite.  “Are you a Persian Christian?  You can’t have an English Christian wife!”  Nope.  Nationalism (the house of Moses) died when Jesus rose from the dead.  This is proven by the fact that Peter received a vision of the nations, and that God had pronounced them cleanThis is proven by the fact that Paul’s labors among the nations set the foundation for that which has been and is being to this day carried out: The Gospel to “every tribe, language, nation and people.”  Paul may not have been able to see from a map makers point of view how many nations actually were in existence during his day.  I mean, you had Britannia, Caledonia, Sarmatia, Lusitania (that’s just the west).  Germania Magna, The Parthian Empire, and the “silk route” east towards the Kushan Empire and the Han-Empire of China.  The Huns had what is now Russia.  What about South America and North America?  They were inhabited as well during that time, and so was Central America.  What, God has no knowledge about these folks?  No ambition of finding them out and announcing: Good News!  To limit the vision and promises of the Prophets to their time and their concepts of geography is, well, just a shame.  Maybe we should see the world as the Holy Spirit saw it, sees it.  Maybe as we appear to learn more about how big this “planet” actually is, it would broaden our understanding of just how big God is.  Israel’s Messiah was not just for Israelites under Moses.  He is for the whole world.  Wherever you step your foot on “dirt” (which is terra in Latin, ge in Greek, eretz in Hebrew, and eerde, eorpe, ertha  or erde from which we get “earth”) is the stuff of Creation.  “Dirt” (earth) is wherever it is found.  What was limited in the mind of the biblical authors expanded over time as more was learned “about those people, over there.”

My point is, would such a limited, Nationalism as Moses’ House was ever be able to take on such a world?  The New Covenant answered: no.  That covenant was geared to bring us to Christ, and Christ has come (and shall come again!).  The Presence of Messiah, the man from Galilee that can relate to all mankind because he is one of us, also is Logos, the Eternal Son, God Himself.  A human being sits at the right hand of the Father (and that’s hope for us!).  A human being, who looks just like one of us in form and identity, is also the Nature of God Himself (and that’s good for us!).  The human being, Jesus of Nazareth, by sitting at the right hand of God tells us that God (of whose Nature He also Is) is not finished with us.  He saved one of us and raised him from the dead, so when you see one of us broken, frail, shattered human beings you can tell them: it’s not over, yet, so long as you have Today and as long as you have Breath.  Here, let me help you….