Covenant and Lamentations
“He remembers forever his covenant”
Today’s readings: Gen 17:3-9; Ps 105:4-9; Jn 8:51-59
Today we read about God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen 17:3-9). We learn seven fundamental aspects about covenant.
· First, the covenant is initiated by God (Gen 17:2).
· Second, after God informed Abram that He will establish His covenant with him, Abram prostrated himself, and God continued to speak to him (Gen 17:3). We must have a posture of humility and surrender to what God wants to happen. This allows God to continue with what He has in mind for us.
· Third, a covenant with God gives us tremendous blessings, beyond our wildest imagination, even beyond human capability (Gen 17:4-6).
· Fourth, God intends His covenant with us to be an everlasting pact, being passed on to our descendants through the ages (Gen 17:7).
· Fifth, the covenant allows us to possess the land (Gen 17:8), which is God’s intent. God renews the face of the earth through us. God restores paradise through our work.
· Sixth, we have our part to play. We need to respond, and that is, we must keep our part of the covenant (Gen 17:9). We obey God and do His will.
· Seventh, in all these, we always realize who we are in covenant with, and that is God the Almighty, and because of who He is, we are to walk with Him and be blameless (Gen 17:1-2), that is, be holy as He is holy.
One problem in all this is that we are not divine, and our thoughts and ways are so far from God’s. Thus, even as His commands to us are often plain and simple, we easily misunderstand, and thus go astray. In Jesus’ encounter with the Jews, they continually misunderstood him (Jn 8:51-59). They did not understand his point about keeping his word and never seeing death, about Abraham seeing his day, and about his being I AM, that is, God.
We indeed might find it hard to understand God’s ways if we do not have the mind of Christ. So God points us to our covenant, bringing us to Lamentations during this time of Lent. But many do not understand or see what God is doing.
· There are those who say they are blameless and so have no part in the collective guilt of Christians and the church in the world, and so have no need for Lamentations.
· There are those who understand what repentance is, but who cannot appreciate the much deeper purpose of God in bringing us to Lamentations.
· There are those who say let us get Lamentations over with and just move on, not pausing to learn the lessons God wants to teach.
· There are those who have no problem professing to obey God, but cannot appreciate the need at times to be purified by fire, through trials and even persecution.
Regarding our covenant, from the words of the psalmist, we should realize four essential aspects (the 4R’s) about our own part in the covenant.
· First, we must realize that covenant is about a relationship with God. In this relationship we are to “constantly seek his face” (Ps 105:4b).
· Second, covenant is about remembrance. We so easily forget God’s bountiful blessings and thus turn away from Him, whether in times of abundance or in times of misery. What we need to constantly do is to “recall the wondrous deeds he has done, his signs” (Ps 105:5).
· Third, covenant is about repentance for sin and infidelity. We so easily forget that our part is to be blameless, so that we will not undergo His punishment. We must be ever mindful of “his words of judgment” (Ps 105:5b), and in seeing how we have transgressed, know that repentance is the way back to restoration.
· Fourth, covenant is about reliance on God. The psalmist tells us to “rely on the mighty Lord” (Ps 105:4a). God has His wondrous plan for us, which is why He entered into covenant with us. We simply need to allow Him to show us the way to go, to obey Him without reservation, and to trust fully in Him. God is our one true hope.
Action: Consider how you are failing to realize what God is doing through our period of Lamentations. That in itself is something to really lament about.
Prayer: O Lord our God, you rule the whole earth, and you remember forever your covenant through a thousand generations (Ps 105:7-8). We are now the beneficiaries of your covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and with your people Israel. But this time our covenant is ratified by the blood of your very own Son Jesus. What a great and wonderful gift our covenant is. Grant me the grace to realize how truly blessed I am, and what a great privilege I have been given. And help me to respond in faithfulness, hope and joy. Amen.
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)