Marriages deteriorate. Neighbours strive against each other. Factions compete for power. Nations war. The world rages.
A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. Typically, a stronger party covenants to protect a weaker party, and a weaker party covenants to help a stronger party. In a marriage covenant, a husband covenants to protect his wife, and his wife covenants to help her husband.
Many scoff at that idea today. And the term, covenant, has fallen out of mode in contemporary society. It shows. Marriages fall apart. Families are broken. Society moves towards selfishness, distrust, and chaos, which is the direct result of mocking the concept of covenant, particularly marriage covenant.
Covenant in Creation
God has designed the created world to be held together by covenant. God said to Noah after the flood, “Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). He repeated something similar in Jeremiah 33:19-22. Autumn follows summer because of God’s covenant. The sun will set tonight because of covenant. Friday will stop and Saturday will start because of covenant. God holds the created world together by covenant.
God expected our first parents, Adam and Eve, to uphold covenant. In fact, Adam and Eve’s marriage was a covenant. Adam covenanted to be Eve’s protector and provider, and Eve covenanted to be Adam’s helper. In covenant together, they were to rule over the Earth by covenant. Out of the man’s rib, God created Eve. God put Adam into a deep sleep, and Adam provided the rib that made the woman. Adam was the provider. When God created man and woman, God named them together, not man and woman, but man (Gen. 1:27). Man, Adam, was the covenant head. As covenant head, Adam named the woman, Woman, and then later named her Eve (Gen. 2:23; 3:20). Adam and Eve married in covenant, and Adam was the covenantal head. Today, when a man takes a wife, she takes his name. Why? Because marriage is covenant, and man is the covenant head.
Covenant Violated in Creation
Chaos ensues when covenant is broken. Why do families fall apart? Why do marriages fail? Why is society moving towards chaos? Because our society scoffs at the idea of covenant. What I have just said is perceived to be a relic and throw-back. To many, it’s a joke. And when it is scoffed at, chaos surely follows.
When Adam and Eve violated their covenant, chaos followed. Adam failed to lead his wife, so the serpent led her. Eve failed help her husband, so she became slave to an animal, the serpent. God designed Adam to lead Eve by covenant, and God designed Adam and Eve together to rule over creation by covenant. When they broke covenant, the creation, the serpent, enslaved Eve and then Eve led Adam. The created order was reversed, and chaos followed. Covenant violation literally turned the world on its head.
The same happens today. When covenant is despised, homes fall apart. Society deteriorates. Chaos prevails over peace. Shalom ends.
The home should be the place where covenant is taught. When a husband and wife uphold covenant, they teach each other about covenant. They also teach their children about covenant. They teach an onlooking world about covenant. When they scoff at covenant, their children don’t learn about covenant. Chaos prevails. Shalom peace ends.
God the Upholder of Covenant
Covenant violation is severely wrong. It’s very bad. God entered into covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. The covenant ceremony between God and Abraham was very severe. God had Abraham cut a heifer in half, cut a female goat in half, cut a ram three years old in half, cut a turtledove in half, and cut a young pigeon in half. The animals’ halves were placed on two sides so that there was an aisle in between all the halves. God caused Abraham to sleep, and God moved down the aisle between the halves while Abraham slept.
That covenant ceremony typified other ancient ceremonies, with one exception: in typical ceremonies both covenant partners would have walked between the animal halves. In this case, only one did. Only God did. Abraham slept.
The typical covenant ceremony communicated that the partner who violates covenant should be cut in half like the animals. It was severe. In the ceremony of Genesis 15, God was saying that He only will die if either party violates covenant. He would take responsibility for Himself and for Abraham and Abraham’s offspring. If God violates covenant, God dies like the animals. If Abraham violates covenant, God dies like the animals. God would rather die than have the covenant deteriorate.
Christ died. Christ, God in human flesh, died on the cross because we are covenant breakers. Everyone has violated covenant. Everyone has brought chaos into the world by breaking covenant. Christ was slaughtered on the cross just like those animals so to restore covenant. God would rather die on a cross than see covenant deteriorate. God, in Christ, gives us covenant love. Our covenant Head shed His blood for us. He offers us covenant protection, security, and forgiveness. By faith in Christ, we are heirs of God’s covenant with Abraham (Gal. 3:28-29).
Blood Covenant is the Answer
With all the brokenness in the world, God invites us into covenant. Our rebellious nation attempts to bring us into chaos, but we withstand chaos because we are hidden in Christ by His covenant. The same is true of marriages, our families, our churches, and our communities. The first step to restoring trust and shalom is to admit our own covenant violations and trust Christ’s sacrifice to restore covenant. Then piece by piece we rebuild shalom by offering covenant to a chaotic and rebellious world. Only by Christ’s covenant may we truly usher in an age of peace.
With covenant, marriages flourish. With covenant, neighbours live in trust. With covenant, society lives is unity. With covenant the world lives at peace. May God be quick to usher in the full realization of His blood covenant! Come Lord Jesus, come.