Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Seasoned Covenant

“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  Matthew 5:13-16 (MSG)

Overcome with grief, He fell to the ground in a garden called Gethsemane. Distress, anxiety, fear—Jesus experienced human feelings before His appointed death. His tears, His sweat, His blood poured forth, salting the earth. Our Lord’s significant season of purpose lay before Him, but this plan of salvation originated in another garden named Eden. 

God’s created ones turned away from His direction, selecting a selfish way. Sin entered into God’s beautiful creation in the garden of Eden as Adam and Eve chose poorly. Even though God expelled man and woman from the lust garden, He immediately devised a plan of deliverance to be fulfilled at the right time and place for all of sinful mankind (Genesis 3). And God continued to remind His people of His perfect plan throughout the years. 

After Noah and his family were saved from the devastation of the flood, God sent His promise of faithfulness in the form of a rainbow. The bow, a sign of the covenant visible to all of creation, reminded God of His purposed plan of trust (Genesis 6-9). Even though a covenant is a pact between two parties, God knew His people would struggle to keep their portion of the agreement so He pledged Himself to man, taking the weight upon Himself. And God continued to remind His people of His faithfulness throughout the years. 

History discloses numerous treaties between nations and pledges between individuals. Scripture reveals examples of covenants between God and man. In the Ancient Middle East in the cutting of a covenant, the sacrificial ceremony of cutting animals in two was performed to demonstrate what would happen to anyone failing to uphold their end of the bargain. A treaty, a pledge, a covenant was binding and to cut covenant meant to shed blood. All parties involved in an agreement understood the arrangement would be honored at the expense of their own lives. 

After offering land to the nomad Abram (later known as Abraham), God went a step further and purposed to cut a covenant with him. Abram prepared the sacrifices of animals and birds as God instructed, cutting the animals in two and leaving the birds in tact. The sun then went down and Abram fell into a deep sleep of terror and great darkness. He watched as God, symbolized as a smoking oven and flaming torch, cut the covenant or passed through the pieces. Only God entered the covenant, requiring nothing from Abraham (Genesis 15:9-21). He planned to abide by the covenant and eventually die in the place of His creation because He knew they wouldn’t uphold the covenant. And God continued to remind His people of His plan of salvation throughout the years.

Down through the ages God continued to watch over His people Israel. Eventually He made a covenant with King David, promising his seed would sit upon his throne, ruling as king over an everlasting Kingdom. He gave the rule over Israel forever to David and his descendants by a covenant of salt (2 Chronicles 13:5). Because salt had an enduring quality, Middle Eastern ceremonies used salt to seal treaties or agreements. Treaties issued from the hope of trust, so to give someone your salt signaled trust. God’s covenant of salt with David meant God was trustworthy and David’s descendants would sit on his throne forever (2 Samuel 7). And God continued to remind His people of His everlasting covenant throughout the years. 

And God’s favored creation, His people, continued to violate the covenant throughout the years. Even while God remained faithful, human hearts embraced sin, turning away from the covenant and searching for security in anything but Him. Something had to be done about their transgressions—someone would have to die. 

As He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew the time to fulfill the plan of salvation drew near. The divine human living life like us would experience all of our pain and sorrow. The world’s wretchedness would be laid upon His shoulders. Jesus would die in our place. Of course, He suffered anguish. So He prayed to His Father for strength while salt poured forth from the fluids of His body (Matthew 26). Our loving Savior willingly resolved to lay down His life for us—a trustworthy sacrifice offered to complete the covenant of salt.  

Immediately after His prayer of surrender, the Lord Jesus Christ arose in confidence, believing His future rested in the hands of His Heavenly Father. Turning His thoughts away from His terrifying surroundings, Jesus gazed into the loving heart of His Father, faithfully committing to the salvation plan. Time to fulfill prophecy!

As He journeyed to His execution, beaten, bloodied, and bruised, Jesus carried the sins of the world (yours and mine) upon His back while also carrying His own cross (eventually Simon of Cyrene helped Him carry the crossbeam because of His failing strength and severe wounds). The sacrificial Lamb of God offered up His own body and shed His blood for you and me, and salt poured from His wounds. Truly His death exemplified a gracious God devoted to His people. This covenant-making, covenant-keeping God proved His faithfulness. 

An achieved sacrifice, a fulfilled covenant—what more could God do? Unbelievably, He didn’t stop at death. He had more to offer His people. Stay tuned next week for a miracle that would have even the rocks crying out..........

For more information about what happened to Jesus between the Garden of Gethsemane and the cross, read the gospels...Matthew 26-27, Mark 14-15, Luke 22-23, John 18-19

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