A New Covenant 2019
The Christmas Covenant
Throughout this year we have explored Covenants. We have examined the major covenants of the Bible. Let’s quickly review…
--Original Creation Covenant – Although not called a covenant, all the pieces parts of a covenant are found in the creation story. God established a covenant with Adam and Eve to care for the newly created world. They were to have dominion over the animals. They were to be the image of God in creation. The earth was a precious place to live in the original creation covenant.
--Rainbow Covenant - After the destruction of the earth with a flood, God made a covenant with humanity and with the animals that he would never destroy the world again. The Rainbow is the symbol of God’s oath.
--Abraham’s Covenant – God cut a covenant with Abraham by passing through the sacrificed animals. This covenant promised that through Abraham’s descendants the entire earth would be blessed!
--David’s Covenant – David would be a house to the LORD. There would be a son of David ruling on the throne forever! David was promised that a son would be King forever. A David descendant will rule forever!
--Mosaic Covenant – God delivers his people from slavery. Through the Passover and the Red Sea God creates a nation. God provides a people for his son to be born into. The Law of Moses rules for 1500 years. Leading to…
--The New Covenant – Jesus dies on the cross to cut the New Covenant. A covenant where the LORD dwells with his people. The New Covenant creates family; kingdom; temple; servants; and becomes the radiant bride of Christ! The New Covenant builds the body of Christ; the church! We are His people!
We took a sneak peek into the last covenant…
--The Renewed Creation – We are promised, one day, we will live in the renewed creation forever.
That is what we have been spending our sermon-time doing this year. We have learned a lot. Let me speak for myself… I have enjoyed our study into covenant.
But what I want to do this morning, is put all of this together in what I am calling the Christmas Covenant. Threads from all these covenants are woven together into the Christmas Covenant. “Wow, that sounds exciting!” All the biblical covenants come together in a Christmas Covenant. It is like the perfect Christmas present. Looking for that perfect gift? Here it is. The Christmas Covenant; the best present… ever.
First, we need to establish that Christmas is a covenant. Throughout the year, we have been working on the key elements of an effective biblical covenant. I have reordered the seven to make them more sequential. Here is version 5.1… I suspect the final version.
Seven Elements of an Effective Biblical Covenant – v5.1
1) A superior party blessing an inferior party.
2) Binding words exchanged between two parties.
3) A sacrifice which cuts the covenant.
4) Blessings granted/given.
5) A new relationship between the parties.
6) New names and places.
7) Symbols, created to memorialize the covenant.
We know what we are looking for. First, let’s see if Christmas creates a covenant.
Let’s begin with the words sang by the angels to the shepherds.
Luke 2:8-18 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
1) A superior party offering blessings to an inferior party. – An angel standing in the glory of the LORD; superior party brings good news of mega-joy to the shepherds, which rightly represent all humanity; the inferior party.
2) Binding words exchanged between the two parties. The angels sing an oath, binding words; a promise… Peace to humans. I like the Yoda translation…
YLT Luke 2:14 “Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men -- good will.”
The Incarnation is a promise of Peace to all of us. The birth of Jesus oaths good will towards all humans! Binding words are spoken by the representations of the LORD… There will be Peace!
3) A sacrifice cuts the covenant. Where is the sacrifice? No blood is shed. This is interesting. Ever seen a birth? There is blood.
Luke 2:7 And Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The sacrifice of God, the Son, becoming human… being born of blood, being humbled to birth in a barn. From the glories of heaven to an animal’s dwelling; a barn… sacrifice cuts a covenant.
4) Blessings granted. The shepherds get to see the baby… Savior… Christ… the LORD! Once again, the shepherds are us. We get to see God! As baby… as human… as God on earth… as one of us. What a glorious blessing… God demonstrates life!
5) A new relationship between the parties. Certainly, there is a new relationship. We have God as one of us. Never has that happened before… God is us!
6) New names; new places. The city of David; Bethlehem; a manger; Mary; Joseph; This place and these names become special! Earth is blessed!
7) Symbols, created to memorialize the event of the covenant. Listen to these verses again…
Luke 2:17-18 And when the shepherds saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. (The shepherds begin the traditional symbols that have come down through the ages to today; like nativities) And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
The symbol of manger… baby… cloths… shepherds… angels… is the second most powerful symbol of God’s love. The first being… the cross.
The seven elements are all there…words and blessings and relationships and places and symbols… if it walks like a covenant and quacks like a covenant, it’s probably a covenant.
Now let’s get to the fun part of the sermon. Let’s start pulling the threads of the tapestry of all the covenants being found in the Christmas Covenant! This is a great metaphor… a tapestry of covenant forms the best present… ever.
Let me pull threads from the Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus to show the weaving…
--Original Creation Covenant –
Luke 2:14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"
Peace on Earth – glory to God – God being pleased with us – Sounds like the Garden.
--Rainbow Covenant -
Luke 2:16And the shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.
You know a manger is just a fancy word for trough. If there were a trough there were animals. What? Animals witness the birth of God? Connections to the Rainbow covenant God made with the animals… “OK that one is a bit weak.”
--Abraham’s Covenant –
Matthew 1:1-2The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac… skip a few… and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
Matthew wants us to know that Jesus is a child of Abraham!
--David’s Covenant –
But Matthew also wants us to know Jesus is a descendant of David…
Matthew 2:1-2Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
Matthew 2:10-11When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Presents are given to kings! David’s son will rule forever!
--Mosaic Covenant –
The Moses covenant is a bit harder to find…
Matthew 2:12-15And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son."
Jesus went to Egypt and was called out of Egypt. Just like Moses!
--The New Covenant –
Matthew 1:20-23But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).
Jesus cuts a covenant. Inside the covenant is forgiveness of sins and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Incarnation is promise of the Indwelling!
--The Renewed Creation –
We have not gone to the Gospel of John. Listen to his incarnation story…
John 1:1-16In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
From his birth we all receive grace upon grace. This grace upon grace leads us with confidence to know that one day all things will be renewed!
Let’s put the treads pack together into the tapestry of the Christmas covenant.
Jesus was born as the promise of peace on earth. Jesus came to fulfill the rainbow promise. He was born the promised son of Abraham to bless all the families on earth. He came as the Davidic King to rule over the earth. He came as the new Moses to deliver us from bondage so that we live in the freedom of the Spirit who dwells within us. Jesus came to bring the world grace upon grace.
That is the best Christmas present… ever.
December 15, 2019
Los Alamos Church of Christ