In Nehemiah 10, the people are agreeing to a covenant. A covenant is something we see many times in the Bible. A covenant is also known as a partnership, an alliance. I always like to consider it as a promise which outlines a relationship’s boundaries. When we look at a covenant between God and His people, we can see that it is a spiritual agreement.
The process of entering into a covenant is interesting. It was something pagans participated in, as well as the Jewish people. First, it is important to note the pre-ceremony actions. This is a time when the different sides discussed terms. We see this happening in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham. There is also a time of representative selections. With regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, God and Abraham were the representatives. During the covenant process, there is typically an exchange of belts, weapons, or robes. Then there is the walk unto death part of the process. This is where the people walk around the sacrifice and basically say, “Do so to me as has been done to this animal if I break this covenant.” We see God doing this with Abraham in Genesis 15:17, as the smoking fire pot and flaming torch pass through. There is a pronouncement of blessings and curses, an exchange of names, and a covenant meal to share as part of the covenant sealing process. We cannot forget the seal of the covenant, where we have a sign of the covenant that will be remembered. For Noah, it was the Rainbow. For Moses, it was the Sabbath.
It is awesome to study about covenants, but it is most important for us to understand these covenants with the vantage point of the New Covenant. Remember friends, we entered into a New Covenant. Jesus is our representative (Son of Man), God’s representative (Son of God), and He was the sacrifice (Lamb of God). He took off His robe of glory to come to us, and we now have His righteousness (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus’ walk unto death was His walk from Gethsemane to the Cross. The sign of the New Covenant is a circumcised heart (Romans 2:28-29). As you share in the Lord’s Supper, and one day as you share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you are sharing the covenant meal. Today, thank God for the New Covenant, and most important, for our Representative and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
It is so easy to get persuaded into things. So often we can see some stats or fancy rhetoric and things start to look attractive. Beguiling speech gets the best of us. We are charmed into believing things after a few minutes of conversation. There are moments when one minute we are holding tight to our beliefs and the next minute we are misled into standing for something else.
In the Letter to the Colossians, Paul addresses the false teachings that invaded the church at Colossae. A church that stood firm for years, a church founded on the firm foundation of Christ, was starting to drift toward these falsehoods. The Jews were trying to get circumcision, food rules and festivities to be followed, though they were not from the teachings of Christ. The Gnostics were sharing something totally different. People were picking and choosing a little of this and a little of that instead of sticking with Jesus.
Soon rather than it be said that Jesus is Lord, it became Jesus is a Lord—One of many, rather than the One. Jesus went from everything to something. How easy it is for us to be misled and persuaded. What can we do? Hold fast to Christ. Be sure His Word is your plumb line. With the Bible as your standard, you can stand against what is persuasive, attractive and charming. When you are fixed on Him, it is difficult to be misled. When you hold tight to the Truth, you are less likely to believe the lies.
I say this in order that no one may mislead and delude you by plausible and persuasive and attractive arguments and beguiling speech. – Colossians 2:4 [AMP]
Most people name Paul and Peter and two of the most influential people of the early church. If you read too fast, you might miss a time when Paul actually opposed Peter. In Galatians 2, Paul wrote about the situation. This opposition was because Peter changed, he was turning back.
Peter was accepting the Gentiles. He was spending time with them, eating with them. Then there came “the party of the circumcision,” those who would not be too keen on the fact that Peter was hanging out and accepting the Gentiles. When they came on the scene, Peter started to back away from the Gentiles. Paul saw this change in behaviour and he basically held Peter accountable.
We cannot love one group, and then decide that we will not show love and grace with another group. We cannot be kind to some people, but chose to not be kind to the rest. Jesus didn’t say we could pick and choose who we would treat decent, nor who we would allow to hear the gospel.
God does not show partiality. God loves all people. If we are aiming to love people like Christ loves people, we will not be selective. Truthfully I know that we typically have some built in reservations. We are taught to avoid certain types of people, to not associate with some groups. We are raised to leave people out. Yet God tells us to let everyone in. He forgives all. He loves all. We need to embrace people as He embraces. There is no turning back.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:4-7 [NASB]