Kevin opened up the service by assuring the congregation of his constant prayers for the Rock church, and his encouragement to "grab ahold of God's coattails" and be willing to go wherever He leads.
But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Hebrews 8:6,8,10
We have the phenomenal privilege of being in covenant with the God of the universe, the Creator of all, the Almighty Lord of all Lords. God offers us a banquet feast if we will only choose to enter into covenant with Him.
What is a Covenant?
A covenant signifies a shared identity between two people, which in Old Testament times was symbolized through several unique steps:
- The exchange of robes
When God came into covenant with us through Jesus Christ, He made him to be sin who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:12 Through his death, Jesus essentially removed his righteous robes and assumed our sinful rags. Such sacrifice allows us to come boldly before God in prayer, knowing that when He sees us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not our sinfulness.
- The exchange of belts
When two people trade belts, it is as if they are giving one another strength. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His " grace is sufficient [for all our needs]. For power is made perfect in weakness." In all situations, God loves us enough to provide us with His grace.
- The exchange of weapons
Because of our covenant with God, we consequently share enemies with Him. Ephesians 6:12 states that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. A spiritual battle for our souls transpires on a daily basis within our own hearts. Thanks to God, we have new weapons to utilize in the battle.
Ephesians 6:13-18 advises: Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
Jesus took on the enemy of death, and He was victorious. Similarly, we must battle a spiritual enemy; with the help of God's weapons, we may also conquer over evil.
- The sacrifice of an animal
God gave us his son as the sacrificial lamb who "takes away the sin of the world." During the covenant process, an animal is split in half with the two pieces laid out side by side. The "walk of death" follows, which is done in the shape of a figure eight around the animal. This must be performed out of sheer obedience to God. Jesus also took a walk of death, and his personal struggle is seen in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed, My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Matthew 26:39 Yet, he ultimately died to self and surrendered to God, just as we are commanded to do. Not my will but yours be done.
- Two people feed each other a piece of the sacrificed animal
Hmmm this appears strikingly similar to the communion process that Jesus established to reaffirm the covenant. Jesus gives us his body and blood as a reminder of His sacrifice for humankind.
- The exchange of names
The final part of the covenant-making process is also the ultimate assertion of a shared identity. When God entered into covenant with Abram, he merged his own name (Yahweh) in with Abram's former name, to form the new identity of "Abraham."
God desires to give us the feast of His banquet. He has given us his only son (allowing us to receive Jesus' inherent righteousness, grace, and even share His identity).