God promised Abraham he would become a great nation that would be a blessing to all nations. In order to be a blessing, Abraham’s offspring were called by their God to be “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). Priests represent God to the people and that was Israel’s calling to the world as they lived in covenant under God’s rule. In their light the nations would see Israel’s God as the Blessed One who blesses. Priests also represent people to God and that too was Israel’s calling under God’s rule. They were to hold all nations before their God for blessing.
In this covenant calling Israel foreshadowed Christ. He is the Royal Priest who gathers to himself a new covenant people who are a blessed with every spiritual blessing in him. And also a blessed people empowered by the Spirit to become a royal priesthood for the blessing of all nations.
This new covenant priestly calling is ours. We represent our God to all people as we live before them in the blessing of our Father in Christ by the Spirit. And we also represent all people to our God as we hold the world before our Father within the sphere of his promised blessing. This we do in union with the Father’s Son through the intercession of his Spirit within us.
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father,
to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
God made a covenant with Abraham promising to bless him and make him a blessing to all. The Lord proved faithful to this promise. At the end of Abraham’s life we read, “The Lord had blessed Abraham in every way (Genesis 24.1). Abraham was blessed with material prosperity and an heir along with the promise of a future inheritance for his offspring. However, the primary blessing for Abraham was relationship with God himself. He was called the friend of God and walked with his friend in close relationship even after failing badly. In this love relationship he was truly blessed.
Paul tells us that in Jesus the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3 :14). Jesus, the messiah, is himself the true seed of Abraham who was cursed so that we might be blessed. And, in union with him, we are truly blessed as we now receive the promised Spirit and enjoy God himself as our blessing.
Through the indwelling Spirit Father and Son make their home with us. And by the Spirit we are lifted up into the communion of Father and Son. Sharing in the Father’s love for his Son, we cry Abba Father by the indwelling Spirit of adoption knowing that our Father has bound himself to us in covenant love. He has done so in such a way that he will never let us go. Even if we fail him, his love for us will never cease.
We are truly blessed!
While the whole world was turned away from God he turned towards one man, Abraham. He made a covenant with Abraham promising to bless him and make him a blessing to the nations. This covenant promise was a freely-given and undeserved relationship of blessing. Abraham didn’t do anything to merit such a promise. God’s covenant relationship was an act of his free grace. It was unconditional.
God made this unconditional covenant of promise with Abraham and his offspring, Israel. He promised that they too would be blessed and a blessing to the nations. But was the covenant with Israel unconditional? There were many laws that Israel must obey to enjoy blessing. Nevertheless, the basis of this covenant with Israel was the unconditional covenant of promise with Abraham. And Paul makes the point that the law that came 430 years after Abraham was a temporary measure that does not annul the unconditional covenant of promise.
The covenant God proved faithful to his unconditional promise by sending his Son into the world for us. The Father’s Son was the faithfulness of God towards us in saving action. He was also our covenant faithfulness towards God for he lived before his Father as us. And now we put our faith in his faithfulness so that in him we are the faithful ones before our Father. Faithful, not through our own faithfulness, but only through the faithfulness of Jesus.
The covenant God also proves faithful by sending the promised Spirit into our hearts. He does so that we may live faithfully in union with Jesus through Spirit enabled transformation.
It’s all unconditional grace!
God entered into a covenant of love with Israel promising to be faithful to them always. Even when the people were unfaithful the Lord went on loving them with unfailing love. His promise was repeated over and over in all Israel’s history “I will be your God and your shall be my people” and he kept to his promise. For the covenant promise was fulfilled by unfailing love not by legal obligations.
The story of God’s covenant with Israel shows that we humans cannot be faithful as covenant partners. For that reason the God who is love made a new kind of covenant with us not like the one he made with Israel. In this new covenant God keeps both parts of the relationship himself. His own Son comes as God among us fulfilling his part to be our God according to his covenant promise. At the same time, Jesus also fulfils our part. He is the true man who was faithful to God on our behalf because he lived as us before his Father. In him we are faithful to our calling as God’s covenant partners. Not faithful because of our own faithfulness to God, but only because of the faithfulness of Jesus.
God’s Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus’ faithfulness and also joins us to Jesus, the faithful one, so that we share in his faithfulness to the Father. And so, our life in the new covenant does not depend on our faithfulness but rather on the faithfulness of the covenant God through his Son for us and his Spirit in us. This makes the new covenant “better” by far.