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Guarding God’s Covenant Of Love

Genesis 15:18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

Smack in the middle of Genesis we read of a covenant that God made with His beloved servant, Abram. The LORD promised to give Abram and His descendants a beautiful and bountifully productive land that was to be their sole possession.

Before examining how Abram responded to God’s promise, it might be worth refreshing our minds as to what a covenant is. Today, we mostly engage in making contracts, not covenants. Both are binding agreements. Contracts are made from equal bargaining positions, and both parties are free not to sign the contract. A covenant is also an agreement. However, covenants in the Bible were usually not between equals. Rather, they follow a pattern whereby one ruling authority sets the standard or terms for the lesser party to agree upon. For example, King David made a covenant with the elders of Israel in Hebron before the LORD in 2 Samuel 5:3. The covenant was based on their knowledge that God had appointed David as king and the elders as David’s subjects.

The great majority of occurrences of covenants in the Old Testament are the covenants that God made with men, as in the case with Abram. A cursory look at the verbs used in the Old Testament surrounding the employment of covenants between God and another clearly indicate that God, not man, is the sole initiative in covenant making and fulfillment. For example God says, “I will establish my covenant” (Genesis 618), “He declared to you his covenant” (Deuteronomy 4: 13), “My covenant which I commanded them” (Joshua 7:11) and “He will not forget the covenant which he swore unto them” (Deuteronomy 4:31).

God’s people are to “enter into”(Deuteronomy 29:12) or “join” (Jeremiah 50:5) God’s covenant. They are to obey (Genesis 12:4) and observe carefully all the commandments of the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:6). The covenant calls Israel to ‘love the LORD thy God will all thine heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). God’s covenant is a relationship of love and loyalty between the LORD and His chosen people. Obedience to God’s commands and voice will lead to abundant blessing and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Man’s response, in conjunction with God’s grace, contributes to covenant fulfillment.

Genesis 15:8 And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

Abram does not question God’s ability to do what He promises, but He requests a sign for what He believes that God is able to do. His request is motivated by faith. In Biblical times, covenants were ratified in blood. Thus, God tells Abram to bring the nominated animal sacrifices to an altar and arrange them in accordance with His command. It was customary for both parties to the covenant to pass between the sacrifices to signify their agreement to the terms of the covenant. Yet in this case, God alone passes through the animals, indicating that He is binding Himself by a solemn oath to fulfill the covenant.

Genesis 15:11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

The “fowl” are the birds of prey. They were the vultures, buzzards and other carrion-consuming birds that sought to steal the sacrifices that Abram was offering to God. But there is a greater symbolic meaning being played out here. The birds of prey represented the unclean, ungodly nations that sought to steal from Abram and his descendants the promises God had laid out in His covenant. They would attempt to relentlessly distract God’s chosen people, persuading them to take away their allegiance to the Almighty.

And Abram’s response? Scripture tells us that Abram drove them away. He was just as relentless and determined that the birds of prey would not rob him of the promises God had given him. He drove them away with force and vigor. No other would take possession of what was rightly and divinely his.

Today, God has made a new covenant – which is primary to the believer’s life. God promises in this new covenant that man be joined to Him in a loving, eternal relationship made possible through the death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. God has promised to redeem all who put their trust in Christ, and He has sealed and confirmed that promise to us through the deposit of His Spirit in our hearts. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, He has become our Heavenly Father, and we His most precious children.

This is a covenant that our enemy, seeks to rob us of. The birds of prey come to steal and destroy what God has gloriously promised to us. Let’s, like Abram, be vigilant in protecting what God has given.

For all the promises of God find their yes in Christ Jesus our LORD (2 Corinthians 1:20). As we remain steadfast, trusting and acting upon in His promises and holding fast to His covenant of love, no weapon formed against us by the enemy will prosper or be able to separate us from God’s love – ever.

About Jennifer Woodley

Jennifer is an Australian freelance writer who lives in a small rural town in sunny Queensland. She is passionate about encouraging others on their journey with Christ through writing and mentoring. Jennifer is a school chaplain, wife, mother of three adult sons and loving grandma of one adorable grandson. More of her writing can be found at www.inhisname6.com and www.faithwriters.com.

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One comment

  1. Jennifer,
    Such truth and conviction – thank you for sharing this message with all of us.
    God Bless~

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