Covenant

word_picA Covenant bond is most likely relatable in the context of marriage, yet also a word we don’t use today. However, with the failure to use that term over the past few hundred generations, we’ve also become laxed in holding ourselves and other’s accountable for the covenant relationship values we still seek today. Covenant oaths and rituals may have changed over the centuries, but the heart of what covenant bonds meant to God and man are still true for relationships today. The most important covenant is between God and us, followed by marriage covenant, then family and friendship covenant. Covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, redeem us and guarantee us eternal life in Jesus. He is a covenant keeping God who desires to be in relationship with people. Sadly, over time, though we have lost sight and raw understanding of true covenant and have become awakened to a lost generation of brokenness, divorce, loneliness and lack of commitment to our spouses and friendships. A covenant friendship holds most of the same principles as a marriage. According to “Blue Denim and Lace,” by Dr. Jack Hyles, “A friend should be as carefully chosen in the will of God as husband and wife.”

Not to be confused with the Old Covenant (Old Testament), which was more contractual and legally binding, the New Covenant (New Testament) is all about the heart. The Old Covenant or contract was sealed on paper, but the New Covenant is sealed in the heart and much more binding than a contract. “In Him, you also, when you heard the word of truth, the good news of your salvation, and [as a result] believed in Him, were stamped with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit [the One promised by Christ] as owned and protected [by God],” (Ephesians 1:13 AMP) A contract was enforced by the law, whereas the new covenant was enforced by the Spirit of the living God, driven by God’s own Spirit. The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation threads a chord of covenant between God and His people. Covenant is the key to unlock the Bible. When we read the Bible as a law, a separation will exist between God and us preventing proper relationship. Although the old covenant is made void in light of the new, we can be too legalistic and miss the heart of what God is doing today!

Until Jesus came to fulfill the New Covenant through His own blood, the Old Covenant preached of the law. It was much harder to keep the old covenant, and consisted of a blood sacrifice, usually a pure, innocent animal. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them,” Genesis 3:21. When sin entered the garden through Eve’s deception and Adam’s disobedience, they recognized their nakedness and vulnerability was introduced. The Lord made garments for them to cover up, animal skins no less! We see the plan of redemption as early as the Garden. To Adam and Eve, animal skins covered their nakedness, but the shed blood of the animals covered their spiritual nakedness. This was a foreshadowing of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus carrying guilt for humanity. We die to old covenant ways and rise up in Christ, clothed in His righteousness, not animal skins. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents],” Leviticus 17:11.

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Covenant keeping people require a perfect heart. We will never be perfect people, but we can have pure hearts. David was an adulterer and murderer but the Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart. “But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do,” Acts 13:22. In the Amplified Bible, that same verse ends with the words, “…who will do all my will.” That means there was a purpose for David’s clean heart – he would be able to carry out the plan of God, not because he was a perfect person, but because he had a covenant heart. He went on to be one of Israel’s finest leaders.

We will focus more on the New Covenant for purposes of tying in how this relates to us in this generation. Covenant works in two ways. One, it is a relationship between God and man and two, it should reflect the relationship between us and others. Covenant is relative and redemptive. It is spiritually liberating! There is a power and freedom in being in covenant with someone else that essentially sets your soul on fire! You are empowered to see the plan of God fulfilled in the world around you, are fought for, chosen and sacrificed for. If our earthly relationships are to be a reflection of God’s covenant love to us, then shouldn’t we all feel fought for and chosen? That’s sadly not the case in this generation. We are too lazy or don’t have time to cultivate such relationships and isn’t that the dilemma of today-too many broken people with no real confidence or security to fight the spiritual forces that come against them alone? If we truly understood covenant more, there would be much less divorces and broken friendships.

In his sermon, “Covenant Relationships Keep Love Turned on,” Danny Silk breaks covenant down as being intended to help us become free. He goes on to say that we have limited each other to performance. If one party does this, then they are accepted, however if one party starts doing something the other doesn’t like or is uncomfortable with, the hidden terms of the relationship are jeopardized and eventually broken. There is a standard we expect others to live up to in order to stay in union with us. At that point, their struggle or fear becomes scary and we pull away and put our guard up to protect ourselves. This is the exact opposite of covenant relationships. In Covenant, your guard is down, you are willing to risk, sacrifice and literally lay your life down for the other person. Their needs take center stage always. Covenant is not about the other person. It’s about you keeping your love turned on no matter how they act. Through covenant, we are called to draw closer to the other person in struggles, and sacrifice our own ideologies for their success. Jesus was not afraid of covenant. He was not afraid of our failures or what other people were going to think. All He knew was covenant and to offer up His own life for our benefit. This is what we are called to do, as well.

Let’s take a look at Ruth and Naomi. Naomi had lost her husband and 2 sons and tells her daughters-in-law to go back to their countries. One goes and one stays and displays covenant heart. “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do the same to me [as He has done to you], and more also, if anything but death separates me from you.” When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more,” Ruth 1:15-18. Covenant loves with a love we have only learned from the Father. In Kris Vallotton’s sermon, “Covenant Relationships,’” he explains it as something your heart knows but your mind can’t wrap around! Covenant entails two major components: passion and sacrifice, not to be separated. Covenant means I have come to die for you! This generation confuses camaraderie with covenant. In camaraderie, there is a common root of an enemy. You befriend someone because they have similar interests as you, commonalities or most likely because you have a common enemy. These are all false and empty relationships that will never succeed. Camaraderie without covenant always requires an enemy.

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Paula White talks about the personal benefits of covenant in her sermon, “Covenant Relationships.” If you are going to lead in covenant, never let anyone follow you that can’t see where you are going. Covenant is the melting of two souls into one. Covenant means you see what I can see, hear what I can hear and speak what I speak. Isn’t that what we are called to do with our Father, be led by His voice in every step we take? Then, as commanded, shouldn’t we be doing that here with each other? When you walk in harmony, in total unity, not only are you going in the same direction, but you are also linked up arm in arm. Visually, White shows herself being linked up with another woman from the audience. Together they are linked and walking harmoniously, but it’s a shadow of their hearts being one now. One will put a thousand to flight, two will put 10,000. Once you are connected by the heart, you can move together, going in the same direction. God doesn’t give everyone His heart; He gives His heart to every shepherd to impart to those around him/her the will of God. Back to the ending of Acts 13:22 that states, “…who will do all my will,” it’s the shepherds, the messengers that will take this message of covenant to the world. Not everyone will heed. God covers us on every side, except our backs. This is because He wanted us in covenant! When you are walking in the same direction, linked in covenant, you are now completely surrounded, protected! The other person can see attacks coming you may not be able to, and as covenant partners, they will instantly lay their lives down to protect you! No enemy can divide true, committed covenant!

“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:1-4, NIV). In the NKJV version, verse 1 uses the word knit, …”the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…” Going back to Dr. Jack Hyles, Blue Denim and Lace, he shares that the knitting of one soul to another is being “made one,” as in the relationship of Christ to the Church and a husband to a wife. He goes on to say, “…when God gives one a friend, he knits their souls just as really as Christ was knit to the Church and as the husband and wife are knit to each other.”

This kind of friendship led those around Jonathan and David to speculate that they were gay or carrying on a sinful relationship, but that wasn’t true or tolerated in their time or ever in Gods kingdom! Jonathan and David carried the covenant relationship that was God ordained and reflected the relationship of God with Jesus and Jesus to man. They walked together in the same direction with their souls as one. Covenant drives you to love harder, reach out and motivates you to want to change the world around you! There is so much to be said about Jonathan and David that could take volumes, but we will share with you our own covenant story.

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We were at a point where life was good! But you can only go so far in life without a divine connection. Nothing could have prepared us for all God was pouring out on us. It took God joining the two of us together to fulfill our lives in a way we never expected. We experienced life with new depth, meaning and purpose. We were no longer just living, but now living to build the Kingdom of God together and produce something we knew we couldn’t apart from each other. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples,” John 15:5-8.

There’s supernatural power and intimacy in covenant relationships. Our hearts toward each other deepened unlike any other friendship we had known. God was removing us out of the realm of the world’s perception of friendship and into the supernatural realm of how He originally ordained friendship to be, covenant. Our generation doesn’t think of covenant, let alone friendship as necessary, but throughout the Word of God, the thread of covenant is knitted tightly through sacrifice, risk and everlasting commitment.

Bishop TD Jakes, in his YouTube Video entitled Jonathan and David, says covenant is indescribable. He goes on to offer that it is “passionate and intimate because you bear a fruit coming out of your union.” Essentially you are on the verge of producing something you could not produce apart from each other. This is where things get risky. We knew our souls were tied together and our destiny’s entangled in each other’s. There is a pure intimacy in covenant that the world has either abused or ignored out of fear, but not without consequences and hindrances on our generation.

Former Miss America, Author and Evangelist Cheryl Salem explains that Covenant is intimate and you can’t maintain several covenant relationships as it takes dedicated time, effort and energy. You may have more than one, but some are at different levels of friendships. “We are the temple of the Holy Ghost and we are made up like the temple, outer court, inner court, doorway into the holy of holies and then the ultimate where covenant is made, Holy Of Holies. Not everyone can be in our holy of holies. Only a few have this kind of ability and trustworthiness to be allowed this deep in our hearts and lives. It’s up to us to keep the unholy out of our holy lives,” Cheryl emphasizes.

Covenant to us means we take every aspect of our friendship to God first and that we remain committed to each other. How He commanded us to love each other as He loves us is how we portray love and commitment to each other. And it is a commitment we don’t take lightly and work at daily. However, we don’t consider it work since it is pure love. We sacrifice, risk, lay our lives down for each other daily and cover each other. “No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends,” John 15:13. Historical scriptures tell that David and Jonathan did not miss an opportunity to reaffirm their love for each other every time they saw each other. We use that as our example. We do not let the sun go down every single day without praying together, praying for our husbands and children, our extended families and friends, our Church and this world, our friendship and our calling from the Lord. Through trials and struggles, we grow closer, not further apart. We don’t allow division or differences to take residency in our friendship. We are looking to the men of God here to redeem us back to the garden. The men of God do have that powerful presence and display the masculine heart of God as we look to them for protection, but the heart of the home, the heart of the garden was filled with femininity. It was Eve who entered sin first, disrupting the perfection between God and man. Since God redemptively brings all things back full circle, what if it’s redeemed Eve, this generation of covenant-making women that will restore things back, that the thread to surviving end times and thriving in these last days is covenant, relationships, and unity!

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