WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 12, 2010
MAKING A COVENANT
(Living in covenant with GOD)
In Exodus 20, verses 1-17, GOD instructed the newly freed Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai, as to how HE wanted them to live their lives from that point forward. This critical list of spiritual and moral instructions came to be known as “The Law”, “the Decalogue”, or more commonly, “The Ten Commandments”. It was a covenant by which the Israelites were to govern their lives in the land which GOD was about to give them.
In Exodus 24, verses 1-8, we see them accepting GOD’s new covenant as it had been given to them, through Moses. However, man could not then, and quite frankly, cannot now, abide by such a covenant, because our sin continuously interrupts our relationship with GOD on a daily basis. That is why, ultimately, it took the life of CHRIST to restore our lost relationship of friendship with GOD. GOD sent HIS SON JESUS to usher in to us, a new covenant. This covenant is far superior to the old covenant that was carved in stone some 1500 years earlier, and given to Moses. This covenant ushered in by CHRIST, is to be engraved on the hearts and minds of mankind forever, and is intended to make it possible for us to restore a right relationship of friendship with GOD.
The old covenant laws were given to us to reveal our sins and to show us just how far we really are from GOD’s excellent standards. In that respect, the old covenant could only condemn us for our lifestyles. The New Covenant, by contrast, brings forgiveness through CHRIST JESUS, and thereby, can only save us in spite of our lifestyles. It is, quite literally, a covenant of “salvation” that can only be given to those who voluntarily accept GOD, in all HIS fullness.
In the Greek, the word used for “covenant”, in all normal secular applications, is “suntheke” (soon-tha-kay), and it is “an agreement between two equal parties or entities, on equal terms”, i.e. a marriage, or a business deal or partnership. However, in New Testament Scriptures, the Greek word that is always used for “covenant” is “diatheke” (dee-ath-ay-kay), and it is “an agreement that is actually along the terms of a “devised will”. In other words, only one party draws up the terms, and the other party can either accept or reject the terms, or inheritance, that is offered. They cannot change or alter any of the contents within that will.
The choice of this word, (diatheke), is understandable, because we, as human beings, cannot enter into an equal partnership with GOD, and cannot be on equal terms with GOD for obvious reasons. We are only able to make a voluntary decision to accept, or reject HIS covenant offer, and cannot alter, or change HIS terms in any way.
Even in the secular world, we know that a will does not go into effect until the person who wrote it has been proven dead. JESUS, WHO is our HIGH PRIEST, first died on the cross for our sins, then, re-entered into Heaven itself, bearing HIS OWN blood to present to our FATHER GOD, as a sacrificial atonement for all those sins, past, present, and future. And with HIS sacrifice, HE purchased eternal salvation for all mankind in general, and all Christians in particular, once, and for all time. In short, JESUS is the mediator of the New Covenant that was activated by HIS OWN death.
In CHRIST, we are freed from the futile search for salvation by works, or by obeying “The Law”. We are now free to express the reality of a salvation that one can receive only “for free”. GOD is too rich to sell it, and all men, no matter how endowed with earthly riches they are, is still, too poor to purchase it.
The Ten Commandments paint a lovely vision of a just and moral society that man can never realize without spiritual intervention from GOD. In those commandments, and, in CHRIST, we see exactly what GOD is like. By obeying them, our lives here on earth, becomes undeniably better with each passing day. However, it is only through our acceptance of CHRIST JESUS, while we are yet living here on earth, will we be able to obtain eternal life in Heaven, with the GOD WHO sees us, and desires exceedingly, to save us, from ourselves.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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