July 14, 2019

New Covenant 2019

A Covenant with Creation


This year we have been learning about covenants. We have discovered…

--A covenant is an agreement… not really.  It is much more than a simple agreement.

--A covenant is a contract…yes, but… it has more substance than a contract.

--A covenant is a promise… still more.

--A covenant is an oath… yes, but that’s not all.

--A biblical covenant is person in a superior position; usually God, granting blessings on a person in an inferior position. But it is more than the blessings that are granted.

--A covenant is the creation of a relationship. That’s it! But it’s even more than that

--Within the relationship there is a new identity. Because a person is in a covenant, it changes who they are… it gives them a new name… a new identity.

--But within this new identity there are… expectations. Words are exchanged both ways. There are commitments created between the two. These words create a bond.

So, a biblical covenant is… The creation of a new relationship by exchanging binding words which provides blessings along with commitments. 

This is what I love doing. Digging deep. Learning more than just the surface concepts. We are grasping amazing theological truths! Bam. Thanks for allowing me to dig a little deeper into covenants this year. 

Speaking of digging deeper… I have reworked our Seven Elements. 

Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant – v4.4

1) Covenants create relationships by giving identity. 

2) There is a superior person and an inferior person in a covenant. 

3) Valuable blessings are granted from the superior to the inferior. 

4) Binding words of commitment are exchanged. 

Subpoint… Covenants are often renewed! 

5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant. 

Subpoint… Meals are involved in Covenants. 

6) There is an associated symbol to remember.

7) New Names and new Places are created. 

That is what we have been learning for the last six months. Once again, thanks for those six months.

=======

This morning, I want to go back to the beginning. I want to explore creation with our current understanding of covenant. The question I want to ask this morning is… Did God create a covenant with creation? The first time the word “covenant” is used in the Bible it is Noah’s Rainbow Covenant. Now, that we have a clearer understanding of what a covenant is, let’s go back and see if there is a covenant in the beginning. The word is not there. It is not contained in a few sentences; which is typical.  Does our definition work? Are the Seven Elements present in Creation?

Let’s begin reading…

Genesis 1:1-2In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

The earth was formlessness. The earth was void of identity. No name. No place. No purpose. No commitments. No covenant. 

Genesis 1:3-10And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 

Words are spoken that named the void… Light, Day, Night, Heaven, Earth, Seas. That which was void now has been given identity. The void has been given place. God’s binding words spoke covenant with Creation. There is creation of a new relationship by binding words… There is identity in covenant. This is working. 

Let’s keep reading…

Genesis 1:11-18And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights- the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night- and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 

Not only do words create identity. Words create blessing. Vegetation, trees, sun and moon are created for blessing. They are good!  They have been given commitment. There are jobs… expectations… The creation of a new relationship by exchanging binding words which provides blessings along with commitments. What was void has now been created in covenant to be a blessing and to accomplish a purpose! 

Genesis 1:20-25And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens." So, God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds- livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 

Blessings are given by the superior… but also an expectation from the animals… to fill the waters of the sea and the creeping beasts to fill the earth! There are jobs; expectations. The creation of a new relationship by exchanging binding words which provides blessings along with commitments. There is a covenant with the animals.

Now watch us

Genesis 1:26-31 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So, God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

Humans were created with blessings and purpose. There are jobs; expectations of care for creation. The creation of a new relationship by exchanging binding words which provides blessings along with commitments. Our definition certainly leans toward calling it a Creation Covenant! 

Let’s think about the Seven Elements as we read Genesis 2.

=======

Genesis 2:1-3Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it, God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. 

The seventh day is holy. The seventh day is symbol!

6) There is an associated symbol to remember… 7th Day!

Genesis 2:8-9 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

Another symbol… Tree of Life and a place is named!

6) There is an associated symbol to remember… Tree of Life (continues as a symbol to the end of scripture)

7) New Names and new places are created…Eden

Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." 

Blessing, purpose, expectations, commands…

3) Valuable blessings are granted from the superior to the inferior… eat of every tree – live in the Garden of Eden! 

4) Binding words of commitment are exchanged… work and keep and don’t eat of the other tree.

Genesis 2:18-24 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So, the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 

I’m going to stretch it a bit here. Ready for a stretch? The rib was the first cutting of a covenant. 

5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant… Adam’s rib (stretch) 

So, all the Seven Elements are found in Genesis 1 &2! 

Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant – v4.4

1) Covenants create relationships by giving identity. Man & Woman; Adam & Eve

2) There is a superior person and an inferior person in a covenant. God and humans

3) Valuable blessings are granted from the superior to the inferior. Garden 

4) Binding words of commitment are exchanged. Blessing of creation & work and keep

Subpoint… Covenants are often renewed! 

5) A sacrifice cuts the Covenant… Adam’s rib (stretch) 

Subpoint… Meals are involved in covenants. 

6) There is an associated symbol to remember; Tree and 7th Day

7) New Names and new places are created. Adam, Eve, Eden

Bam. My conclusion… There is a Creation Covenant! 

=======

So, someone says… “So what?” Someone says “Why do I care?”

Here is why we care… Adam and Eve broke the Creation Covenant when they ate of the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. The creation covenant was broken… which broke many of the blessings of creation; creation was broken.

Genesis 3:17-19And to Adam the LORD 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.  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."

Hosea 6:7But like Adam they transgressed the covenant…

We live in a broken creation. But we are looking forward to creation being restored. In hope we expect the covenant of creation to be renewed. Covenants are often renewed. That is why it matters to us. We hope for the renewal of the Creation Covenant!

Romans 8:19-23For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

The creation covenant will one day be renewed! When our bodies are redeemed, creation will be renewed. The covenant creation will be glorious again! I, like creation, can’t wait! 

Tim Stidham

July 21, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ