Covenantal Relationships

press to zoom

Because of our vision, who we are, and where we live—we are often asked to speak or teach about Israel.  And while there is much to be said about the Jewish people and the Land, ultimately the goal of such teaching must not be Israel itself, but a deeper understanding of God’s character and faithfulness. We see it this way: in order to demonstrate strength, there must first be weakness; in order to demonstrate abundance, there must first be a lack; in order to demonstrate justice, there must first be injustice. In the same way, Israel is the great example of unfaithfulness through which God has demonstrated to us His covenantal faithfulness.

Israel began as a single family under Abraham that grew into a people, and God swore to Abraham that He would be faithful to them. If God is still faithful to that first family and nation, then you can believe that He will be faithful to your family and to your nation. But if God is no longer faithful to this family and nation, what guarantee is there that He will be faithful to you, your family, or your nation? When it comes to Israel and the Jews, as long as the world argues about who was chosen or not, or whether or not the Jewish people are deserving of God’s blessing, we miss the simple fact that the story of Israel is a story of God’s grace—of his undeserved love and faithfulness. If we miss this, we are missing a fundamental aspect of the character of God.

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

– Matthew 24:45-47

His lord said to Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord”

– Matthew 25:23

So the foundation of everything is God and His faithfulness. But next is the question of our response to His love and truth. In these passages, Yeshua shows us that our faithfulness is the key to our inheritance, because faithfulness is inherent and central to God’s character. When we say that God is a God of covenant, we are essentially saying that He is a God of faithfulness. It is His faithfulness to His covenants that gives us eternal assurance of our salvation through Yeshua’s sacrificial death and resurrection. And it is through His faithfulness to us that we know He will be forever faithful to His covenants with the Jewish people as well.

Since God is a God of faithfulness, He also demands faithfulness—not only to Him, but to one another in the Body of Messiah.

Faithfulness is the Foundation

Until today, the oldest and most established of covenants made between two people is the covenant made between a man and a woman in marriage. As human beings, marriage is our opportunity to express God’s quality of faithfulness by putting it into operation in our own lives through a life-long commitment. And when a man and a woman get married, their families also enter into covenantal loyalty with one another as well. For example, while the father of the groom does not have an actual covenant with the father of the bride, their relationship then becomes one defined by covenant through their children.

The same also applies in regard to the New Covenant made by the blood of Yeshua. If I have a covenant with Yeshua, and you have a covenant with Yeshua, then you and I are connected by covenant. When we understand this, we can then adopt a covenantal attitude of faithfulness toward one another.

How it’s Done

We first begin by extending love and grace to all as Yeshua did. But a relationship does not begin until trust is reciprocated in response to that love and grace. Trust is developed when we consistently demonstrate to others that their blessing and success is a priority for us–at times even higher than that of our own success. (Phil 2:3) Then once trust is established, faithfulness must be intentionally developed. This takes time: no one would consider a person to have demonstrated any significant level of faithfulness after being married for just a few weeks!

It is in this stage that we put into practice the two primary principles of covenant: loyalty toward people and integrity in our actions, which includes keeping right attitudes toward authority and order. We also must learn to communicate in a way in which our words build trust. We “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) making sure that every word “is good for edification” (Ephesians 4:29) without any gossip, so that “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother ” (Matthew 18:15).

Finally, a history of faithfulness then provides a background for cooperation, which after many years can become a powerful testimony to the world. Such a testimony would add credibility to what ministries and their leaders stand for and teach. Yet the true “power potential” of covenantal relationships has yet to be witnessed in its fullness through generational transfer.

A Formula for Unity

The people of Israel were not formed in a day, or even in one lifetime. He is “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of Israel:” it took 3 generations before God bestowed a new name on the Abrahamic clan (Israel); and it took another 8 or 10 generations before the Mosaic covenant gave further covenantal definition to the nation now comprised of millions. Today, as the international body of Messiah, the same holds true for us.

As we pursue and develop relationships based on covenantal principles, these relationships will naturally include a covenantal connection to the physical and spiritual children of our ministry relationships. These children will grow up having principles of mutual love, grace, trust, faithfulness, accountability, and cooperation demonstrated for them throughout their lives. If this is done right, the next generation will willingly inherit and continue the relationships started by their parents with the goal of demonstrating those same principles for the next generation. And with each passing generation until Yeshua returns, the body of Messiah grows into greater and greater unity through the shared understanding of our covenantal connectedness with each other.

In summary, covenantal relationships can be summarized by this simple equation:

Covenantal Relationships = (Your Success + Our Togetherness) + Generational Transfer