Sermon Notes

SBS    Sermons    Note 11/05

Sacred Covenants

Reading: Genesis 15 & Hebrews 8

Covenant: The dictionary defines the word 'covenant' as a formal agreement or contract drawn up under seal between two or more parties.
Covenanters: Adherents of the National Covenant of the Solemn League & Covenant in the 17th century in Scotland in support of Presbyterianism.

The Old Testament tells of several covenants the Holy One of Israel made with man. This morning we will examine a few which are everlasting.

The first everlasting covenant recorded in Scripture tells of how the Almighty saved Noah and his family after destroying the earth by water.
Gen.9: 8: And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9: And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10: And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11: And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12: And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14: And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16: And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17: And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
This covenant means that no matter how devastating future floods may be, they will never again be world-wide. In addition to this fact we are introduced to the Almighty's grace in the saving of those who believe and trust in Him.
Genesis:6: 8: But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Grace is, in fact, the basis of all covenants between Yahweh and the believer. Grace is not a New Testament phenomena as so many Christians think. The Almighty's grace has existed as long as He has. It is one of His characteristics.

The next everlasting covenant Yahweh made was with Abraham and his descendants, to give them the land of Canaan. This covenant was confirmed with an oath! That is why the land of Israel is called the Promised Land.
Gen.15: 18: In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying. Unto thy seed, have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river Euphrates.
Gen.17: 7: And I will establish my covenant between me and thee (Abraham) and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8: And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Gen.26: 3: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee (Isaac), and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father.
This promise doesn't only include the physical descendants of Abraham, but also those who place their faith in Abraham's Seed, that is - Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Gal:3: 16: Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
Gal:3: 29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Shortly before Israel entered the Promised Land, Moses the servant of God reiterated this divine promise:
Deut.1: 6: The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
7: Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
8: Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
The promise was repeated to Joshua and recorded again in the Psalms.
Josh.1: 1: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying,
2: Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.
3: Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses.
4: From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.
Psa.105: 7: He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth.
8: He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations.
9: Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac;
10: And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant:
11: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance.
For more information see The Everlasting Covenant.

Incredible as it may seem the Promised Land of Canaan was simply a small token, of what the Almighty had in store for Abraham and his Seed (Yeshua). The LORD'S promise went much further than the land stretching between the Mediterranean and the river Euphrates. The 'real promise' encompassed the whole world and finally the entire new universe!
Here is proof of this astonishing fact!
Rom.4: 3: For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness...
13:For the promise, that he should be the HEIR OF THE WORLD, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.
Notice that this promise is to those with faith. Indeed the true children of Abraham are the children of faith. This number will include all who put their faith in the promised seed, Yeshua the Messiah. The physical descendants of Abraham who do not have faith in Yahweh are, reckoned as the 'children of the devil.'(John 8:33-44) Whereas the true children of Abraham are those with faith in the Saviour.
Gal.3: 29: And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Yahweh, the Almighty God of Israel also made an everlasting covenant concerning the Priesthood. It is a covenant which will find fulfilment in the millennia to come. It is made with a special brand of true believer; one who displays the kind of dedication and zeal for Yahweh's law which was exhibited by Phinehas the grandson of Aaron. The story tells of blatant, illicit sex - open fornication and whoredom - being committed in absolute defiance of divine law and before Moses, Aaron and the whole congregation of Israel! Here are the astonishing details.
Num.25: 1: And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
2: And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
3: And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
4: And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel.
5: And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.
6: And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
7: And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand;
8: And he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
9: And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.
10: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
11: Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
12: Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
13: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.

Blatant, illicit sex is being committed in the same way in this generation. Sin is rampant - even in the churches! Who will speak out?   Who dare speak out? Homosexuality,   Fornication and Adultery are now commonplace and increasingly applauded. God is looking for warriors of Truth like Phinehas. Do you have the courage to boldly speak out against sin?

Ponder this question: What prompted the Most High to make these covenants? Why did He select Noah, Abraham, Moses and Phinehas for preferential treatment? The answer is: these great men demonstrated their faith in the Most High by obeying His commandments. They wanted to be like the Most High and to do His will. That's why the Almighty God made agreements with them.

2Peter 2: 5: And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
Gen.26: 1: And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
2: And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
3: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4: And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5: Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
6: And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:
In these days obedience is frowned upon by millions of Christians, who incorrectly suppose that obedience is an obsolete requirement which is replaced by faith. Or that obedience displays a lack of faith! The very opposite is the case. Obedience is the outcome of living faith. Obedience is faith in action. Indeed, without obedience faith is dead: and without faith, obedience is impossible. James chapter 2 makes these points clear. For further information see Lesson 4  &  Faith.

7. The New Covenant

We hear a lot these days about the 'new covenant;' about how the Most High, supposedly, found fault with His laws and instructed His Son to nail them to the cross! Have you ever wondered what the 'new covenant' is; and what its requirements are? Why is it called the new covenant? Who are the parties concerned? What's new about it? Let us now find out. To begin with I will read the passages which tell of the 'new covenant'
Jer.31: 31: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put MY LAW in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34: And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
These thoughts are taken up by the writer of Hebrews where we find these words about the 'new covenant:'
Heb.8: 7: For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
8: For FINDING FAULT WITH THEM, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL and with the HOUSE OF JUDAH:
9: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
10: For this is the covenant that I will make with the HOUSE OF ISRAEL after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

From these passages we learn the following facts:

I Repeat:

Both covenants are made between Jehovah and Israel.
In the New Covenant Yahweh's law is inscribed on the true believer's heart and mind.
There is no change in the law.
The only change is the place where that law is written.
In the Old Covenant the the Almighty's law was written on tablets of stone.
In the New Covenant it is written on the true believer's mind and is reflected in obedience.

In the New Covenant the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, cleanses the repentant sinner. Though farm animals (lambs, rams, goats and bulls) are not used in the New Covenant, the law which requires a repentant sinner to approach God's throne with 'faith in the blood of a Lamb' still applies. Only now, it is faith in the blood of Yeshua the Lamb of God!
For further information see SBS booklet Animal Sacrifices... Are they Necessary?

Strange as it may seem, the New Covenant is not yet fully implemented. We know this from the fact that believers - young and old - still need instruction. But when the New Covenant is fully operational then "they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest."

Everlasting covenants have everlasting signatories (parties to the covenant) and everlasting signatures or signs. These signatures or signs call to remembrance the covenant between the parties concerned. These signs are as enduring as the parties and the covenants themselves.

The Rainbow
The rainbow tells us that a total destruction of the earth by water will never happen again. As in Noah's day the Almighty will offer grace and mercy: and some - albeit a few - will believe and be saved. Every time you see a rainbow think of that fact and ask yourself: Am I like Noah or am I behaving like the vast majority who perished in the waters of the flood?
Gen:9: 16: And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

The Sabbath
Having accepted salvation by faith, the next steps are obedience, sanctification and holiness. That is the purpose of salvation, that we overcome sin and become holy as Yahweh is holy.
The weekly Sabbath is the everlasting Sign of sanctification; a process which, by the power of the Holy Ghost, results in the re-creation of a sinner into a saint.
The Sabbath is referred to as a 'perpetual covenant' between the true children of Israel (those who have put their faith in Yeshua (the promised Seed of Abraham) and the LORD God of Israel.
The Sabbath is the divinely ordained SIGN of the everlasting covenant. For more information see the True Sabbath Day.
Exo.31: 16: Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
17: It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever.
Ezekiel 20: 12: Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a SIGN between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them
19: I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgements, and do them;
20: And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a SIGN between me and you, that ye may know that I am the LORD your God.

We live in a world of increasing unbelief, disobedience and greed. There is no slackening of the pace of deterioration. Every news bulletin tells of worsening morals in every country. Yahweh gave mankind laws to cover virtually every department of human activity; but comparatively few want to obey them. To most people divine law is irrelevant and unwelcome. And yet the commandments were written by God's own hand! Oh what a tragic paradox, that the Creator Himself, the Giver of Life, is ignored, disbelieved and blasphemed!
Exo.31: 18: And he (the LORD) gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.
Deut.9: 10: And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God...

The Almighty's Law is Perfect
Yahweh's law is perfect. It always has been. To suggest that it was 'imperfect' is to insult Him. Yahweh's law is the most effective tool an evangelist can use to identify sin and point souls to the Saviour. It is not possible to convince a person that he/she is sinning without reference to the law of God.
Psa.19: 17: The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
1John 3: 4: Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

The Almighty's Law is Eternal
Not only is the Almighty's law perfect, but it is eternal. It will outlast the present universe.
Psalm 111: 7: The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.
8: They stand fast for ever and ever,
and are done in truth and uprightness.
Matt.5: 17: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18: For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19: Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

The Almighty's Law is to Salvation
Obedience is the only reliable evidence of faith. When questioned about the way to eternal life, the Saviour referred his enquirer to obedience.
Matt.19: 16: And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
17: And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God:
but if thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS.

Disobedience: the Cause of Earth's Myriad Ills
Isa:24: 5: The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.
For more information see Divine Laws.

As in the days of Noah, the Almighty is calling for people to repent and be saved. Grace, mercy and salvation are offered free of charge! For more information on these vital offers, see Salvation.

These are questions we should regularly ask ourselves. Day and night we should be weighing the issues of life; constantly assessing our own performance to make sure that we do not let our salvation slip away because of sin. Believe me, it is important.
I'll end by quoting a beautiful Divine invitation:

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live;
even the sure mercies of David.

(Isaiah 55:3)

SBS   Sermons

Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
February 1999