On God’s Promises, Oaths, and The New Covenant
Facilitated by Pastor Joedy
God is a faithful and good, perfect God who would never break His promises. In fact, it was God who made the first promise. The concept of a promise was originated from God.
But what is a promise? The word in the Greek means to announce or to profess something – ‘I promise I will-‘, ‘Next year I will-‘; It engages the speaker and the listener that ‘I will-‘, with a future connotation. When we promise we speak to ourselves, or to others. Disappointment comes from the promises we don’t keep.
There are certain advantages to promises, and especially God’s promises. When promises are made, they are powerful because (1) they create anticipation for the things to come. ‘Behold, I will deliver-‘, ‘Behold, I will’. Promises are powerful because (2) they create hope and consolation; Promises encourage people, if even for a moment. If they don’t encourage people, promises (3) provide people with direction, and/or confirm a person’s vision. Promises create anticipation, just as much as (4) they create excitement, and satisfaction when promises are fulfilled. All in all, and especially when promises are fulfilled, (5) they change lives.
Israel was waiting on a promise of God – the arrival of the Messiah; had they responded rightly to the Father, had they seen Christ as the Messiah, they would have experienced all of the above – anticipation, hope, encouragement, direction, excitement, and, most of all, satisfaction in God’s goodness, changing their lives.
In Christ Jesus, all the treasures of heaven and the table of blessings are free for you to take hold of His resources. Christ has made you a child of God, a co-heir. And, sure, this would give us boldness to claim what we need specifically, but it would also have us living in gratitude of what God has already fulfilled through Christ.
If there are promises, there are oaths. What’s the difference? A promise is a statement, and an oath is a confirmation of the promise that was made. In the book of Hebrews we see that though a promise was already made by God and though that ought to be enough for us, He showed how serious He was in fulfilling His promise by swearing an oath to Abraham, telling Him among other things that he would be a blessing to the world. He swore an oath – an oath is made and involves a higher power. The promise maker promises to the recipient, but in an oath, the promise maker promises in the name of a higher power – and because there was nobody greater than God, He swore upon Himself that He would fulfill His promise to Abraham.
Furthermore, an oath is reassuring. Why is this? The word in the Greek means ‘to bind one’s self to what was promised’; or to put a limit that states that the promise maker would not go beyond what He has promised.
God bound Himself, and even if He is unlimited, God ‘limited’ Himself by way of focused commitment to fulfill His promise, to Abraham. He said He can and He will, and surely He did. God’s promise was assuring enough but God was determined by way of swearing on an oath. He promised to save mankind, and He sent Christ. And He who sent His own begotten Son, He can, and He has, and He will fulfill His promises to us.
There are promises, there are oaths, and there are also covenants. The New Covenant was different from the Old Covenant because it did not involve man’s performance; The Old Testament is full of promises that would be fulfilled based on if man followed the Law, or disobeyed. But the good news is that this Old Covenant is a transitory Covenant, which leads us to seeking the New Covenant, by way of emphasizing that we simply cannot make it on our own.
The New Covenant would not be like the Old Covenant because it says we would be blessed, not because of our performance, but because of Christ’s finished work. In the New Covenant, if we were to actually work, the work would be for us to believe in Christ, who established it.
The promises were given to Abraham by the grace of God. Abraham believed in the promises of God, and it was accounted to Him for righteousness. However, what Christ did was that He authored our faith, and not only did He establish our faith but He also made a way for our sin to be separate from us, that we would be proclaimed righteous – The Work of Christ made us righteous, and just as Abraham believed, all we need to acquire said righteousness is to believe in Christ, who paid such a price for us to have it!
Let’s go back, because we didn’t really talk about the connection of a Covenant – simply put, the Covenant enforces the promises and the oaths. The Covenant puts the promises and the oaths into action. And this is why it’s important for us to observe Communion – for here, we are reminded of the Covenant, the Contract, the Treaty established by Christ. The Covenant is a Pledge, an Undertaking, a Bond – So many synonyms, but we would like to see one in particular; A covenant is a warranty.
How do we understand warranties? We see them nowadays in the light of products we buy – warranties state coverage, repair guarantees, and the like. They also state how long they would offer said free services – Some products have months, and some longer term appliances and products have decades of warranty. But praise God, because the warranty we have in Christ opens our eyes.
In the Old Testament, we are told of the Old Covenant which, again, is dependent on man’s performance – do good, and be blessed, and disobey, and be cursed. In the olden times, covenants would be commemorated by way of cutting animals into two, and the people involved in the said covenant would walk through would ‘bind’ themselves by way of walking in between the halves. To see how committed people would be in making covenants, it’s no wonder that in some prayers, people would remind God of covenants made. Not that He forgets, but rather, we are reminded of the promises in our crying out for the remembrance of the Covenant.
Pastor Joedy says that this is what we do when we do Communion – in the process of remembering the Covenant, we remember His promises. In the communal meal we remember what Christ fulfilled on the Cross. We remember Christ’s finished work, and we recall all of it in full detail – not merely doing it out of blind obedience, but in full appreciation of His promises, in full appreciation of His New Covenant.
Thank You, Jesus!
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