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Summary: Telling someone "God loves you" seems trite and meaningless. Too many people act as though that's his job. But I have respect the agnostics you say it's presumptuous to believe a Supreme Being would care about us. They get it. The idea that God would

Introduction:

What do the following have in common?

• A man & woman lighting one candle

• A man & woman exchanging rings

• "Dearly beloved we gathered here in the presence of these witnesses...."

They're all part of a wedding ceremony. Middle eastern people in the Bible, from Abraham to Paul, were as acquainted with covenants as we are with weddings. The Greeks and Romans did not have covenants. In fact, when the OT was translated into Greek the first time, they had to use the Greek word for “will” or “testament” to translate the Hebrew word for covenant. Since our society was shaped by Greek and Roman cultures, we don’t know much about covenants either.

A covenant is a comprehensive agreement between two participants with clearly outlined parameters and promises; a mutual understanding between two people that voluntarily bind themselves together. Covenants could be between equal partners or between a powerful king and a weaker person.

Thesis:

God chose to bind himself to humanity in a covenant to express his love for us. We need to understand God’s grace in binding himself to us in a covenant so we can experience the full power of his covenant.

Key Question:

What is involved in a covenant ritual? And what makes God’s covenant with us so important?

I. THIRTEEN PARTS OF THE COVENANT RITUAL (OPTIONS, USUALLY NOT ALL USED AT THE SAME TIME)

A. The Exchange of Robes (sharing of identities)

B. The Exchange of Weapons (sharing of enemies)

C. The Exchange of Belts (sharing of assets and strengths)

DAVID & JONATHAN (1 Samuel 18:3-4 (quickview)  NIV p. 281)

And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

D. The Animal Sacrifice (visual aid for the vows)

E. "The Walk of Death" (more intense visual aid for vows)

GOD & ABRAHAM (Genesis 15:1-18 (quickview)  NIV p. 13)

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

"Do not be afraid, Abram.

I am your shield,

your very great reward."

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

Then the word of the LORD came to him: "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"

9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."


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