Scripture Reading: Genesis 11:10-13:18 / Matthew 5:21-42 / Psalm 5:1-12
God chose to make a covenant with Abram in order to declare His power, provision and promise. The Lord told Abram, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
God was faithful to that covenant, blessed Abram beyond measure and brought redemption to all people through his descendant, Jesus Christ. In Genesis 15, we read of the covenant ceremony between Abram and God. Later the sealing of a covenant involved a 10-step process that created reminders for both parties. These reminders were visible memorials designed to prevent either from forgetting the covenant.
Covenants were at times sealed by the planting of a tree like Abraham had done with the Philistines in Genesis 21. In the very beginning, we see the importance that God placed upon a tree. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God cast them out of the Garden of Eden. God then placed Cherubim with a flaming sword to keep them from entering the garden and eating of the Tree of Life. If they would eat of it, they would live forever in their sin.
God planted a new tree that offered new life to all who would look upon it. Jesus hung upon the tree of Calvary and God gave His very life so that we may live! The cross is a reminder of Christ’s sacrificial death and His gracious gift of life. Instead of an angel prohibiting us from the Eden’s tree of life, the Holy Spirit draws us to the cross’ tree of life.
Stones were also used in covenant ceremonies because of their permanence. The Lord instructed Joshua to pile up 12 stones as a reminder of God’s faithfulness to Israel as they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land. The pile of stones was a reminder to future generations of God’s covenant and keeping power. God also uses a stone to symbolize the power of His covenant with us. Jesus is described as the “Cornerstone”, the foundational rock of the church and redemption.
God also used mountains as covenant reminders. God established His covenant with the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. The mountain was a place of terror as it billowed with smoke, shook violently and a loud, wailing trumpet was heard. The mountain was unapproachable because any man or animal that touched it would die. God made another covenant with man on another mountain called Mt. Zion. It was not a place of terror but a place of mercy. The Law was completed and fulfilled by The Son of God on our behalf. All are invited to approach to find life and hope. God used a cross, a cornerstone and a redemptive hill to give us hope and make with us…an eternal, lasting and New Covenant!