16-1-3 The Covenant of God

The Epiphany of the Lord

God’s Covenant, My Dear Congregation, today’s reading contains a promise to us! Now God has made several covenants with all flesh, with Abram and his descendants and with the Gentiles. What are the obligations on us?

Eph. 3: 2 to 6: [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

So we are to be fellowheirs.

Originally the covenant was between God and all flesh, between God and the Earth:

Gen. 9: 9 to 17[9] And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; [10] And with every living creature that [is] with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. [11] And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. [12] And God said, This [is] the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: [13] I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. [14] And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: [15] And I will remember my covenant, which [is] between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. [16] And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that [is] upon the earth. [17] And God said unto Noah, This [is] the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

So God’s original covenant was with all people and even with all animals. The waters shall no more become a flood and destroy all flesh (verse 15).

Then in Gen. 15: 18 to 21 God made a covenant with Abram since he had believed in Gen. 15: 6 that he still in his old age shall have descendants as many as the stars of heaven. For that reason his descendants shall possess all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates (verse 18), the land of ten other tribes!

This covenant was still one – sided. It was a promise that Abram felt God had made him for his faith with no other obligation on Abram’s part. However, in Gen. 17: 2 God again reminded Abram of the covenant but this time he asked something in return, the circumcision (Gen. 17: 10 to 14). It appears that the circumcision was meant to be a tool in bringing on Abram’s fertility. This is discussed in Speculations On The Birth Of Isaac.

On the basis of this covenant the descendants of Abraham felt entitled to kill all others in the area between the Nile and the Euphrates. For example:

Deut. 7: 1 to 6: [1] When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; [2] And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: [3] Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take into thy son. [4] For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. [5] But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. [6] For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.

Pretty rough, isn’t it? The Good Christian Martin Luther could not believe what he read there and he translated instead of ‘utterly destroy them,’ ‘ban them,’ and instead of ‘nor shew mercy,’ he translated ‘don’t do them any favours.’

So, St. Paul declaring unto us, that we, the ‘Gentiles’, shall be fellowheirs in today’s reading (Eph. 3: 6), is a great privilege on one hand, but it is also an obligation to not suppress or use other fellowheirs.

Suppression can happen directly by force of arms, but it can also happen due to cultural or religious domination. Did you realise, the word culture contains the word cult? Does it matter today whether there are English soldiers on patrol in India? Does it matter who controls Hong Kong? Do not the people living there do exactly what the English soldiers would force them to do, were they there, i.e. produce consumption goods and services to the West?

The Beatles, probably the most envied people in the West, went to India in search of happiness and many Western people followed their lead. Multiculturalism is not just eating rice and kebabs.

But these people want to live like us. But they can’t and we shouldn’t. If all people in the world would consume as much energy as we do and produce as much carbon dioxide, I have to point out, that the promise in Gen. 9: 11 was that the waters shall not be a flood again and all flesh be cut off. But much will and not only by flood.

How can we expect a peaceful society to develop, if we allow the priests of the bull – god of whom there is an image standing outside the Wall Str. stock exchange to promote survival of the fittest only? Promoting ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ instead would allow us to respect the unemployed and to minimise the work needed to supply our society with moderate needs and to distribute this work fairly. To minimise the work needed we could produce quality products, meant to last and we would save resources, energy for production and transport and carbon dioxide produced by this energy consumption. Instead we produce low quality goods to keep everybody employed and to secure income for production companies.

God cursed men to work:

Gen. 3: 17 to 19: Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.

but he took this curse back!

Gen. 8: 21: And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart [is] evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

So we are free to enjoy the blessings of technology! Isn’t a company who tries to find new markets in other countries or tries to ‘create’ new markets like a husband who says to his wife, ‘Darling, now that we have the new dishwasher why don’t you go to the neighbours and see whether you can do the dishes there? I don’t have any use for you here anymore.’

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Amen!