Covenant 4 – Celebrating the New Covenant

The aim of this devotional study is to consider and commemorate the New Covenant in Christ.

Scripture

Luke 22:14-20

14  And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  15  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.  16  For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

17  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves.  18  For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  19  And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  20  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

 Observation and Reflection

Note: This last Passover meal Jesus celebrated with his disciples the evening crucifixion.  The feast was instituted by God (Exodus 12) after God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt, when the Angel of Death killed the first-born of the Egyptians but “passed over” the Hebrews who smeared the blood of a lamb on their doorposts.

  1. Reflect on Jesus emotions and comments before instituting the Lord’s Supper as symbol of the New Covenant. What do you understand in each of these phrases? (v15-16)
    1. “I have earnestly desired”
    2. “to eat … with you”
    3. “before I suffer”
    4. “…until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (see also v 18)
  2. Jesus and his disciples ate a Passover Lamb with unleavened bread that evening and had wine (among other traditional food and herbs). Can you recall the symbolism in these?
  3. What is the symbolic significance of Jesus instituting his New Covenant Sign (“the Lord’s Supper”) in the evening when the Passover meal was celebrated?
  4. Reflect in Jesus’s institution of the Lord’s Supper. What does each of these symbolically refer to?  And what does it mean for you? (v19-20)
    1. “he took the bread and… he broke it”
    2. “he gave it to them”
    3. “This cup [what was in it?]”
    4. “Is poured out for you”
  5. What do you understand in the phrase “the New Covenant in my blood”? (v20)
    1. What covenant does it replace?
    2. Why does it require blood? [You might want to revisited the previous blog sessions on Covenant to recall]
  6. Why has this single meal become a symbolic element in Christian worship world-wide? [hint: consider verse 19]

Application and Prayer

Prepare communion elements for yourself, or if you can do this with your family or a close friend it would be better. [Unleavened bread/ wafers is ideal because of the symbolism: Jesus’ sinless body was broken].  As you partake of the Lord’s Table together, pray through each element:

  1. Thank God that He gave Jesus’ body
  2. Thank God the His Body was broken on our behalf, so that you can be healed
  3. As you eat declare that He is Your Bread of Life
  4. Thank God that Jesus Blood was poured of for the forgiveness of your sins, and that you are reconciled to God because of it.
  5. As you drink declare that this blood is the fulfillment of covenant requirements on your behalf, and that you identify with the death and resurrection of Christ. The life is in the Blood!
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Covenant 3 – The Old and The New

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on Paul’s comparison between the Old and the New Covenant.

Observations

2 Corinthians 3:6-18

6  [God] has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

7  Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8  will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9  For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory.

10  Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.  11  For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.  12  Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,  13  not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end.

14  But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away.  15  Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.  16  But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.  17  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

18  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Observations and reflections

Context:  Paul contrasts the New Covenant in Christ to the Old Covenant through Moses.  It is helpful to consider announcements of the two covenants as in these two cases

Exodus 31:18  And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

Jeremiah 31:33  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God, they my people.

  1. Read through 1 Corinthians 3 and make a comparative table
Old Covenant New Covenant
Letter ?
Kills ?
Ministry of death ?
On stone ?
Temporal glory ?
Ministry of condemnation ?
No glory ?
Shame of fading glory ?
  1. What does Paul mean with the phrases “ministry of condemnation” and “ministry of righteousness”?
  2. Jeremiah’s prophesy promised “the law within them… [written] on their hearts”? [Jeremiah 31:33] How?
  3. What was the basis of the Old Testament? (What was the conditions of the Old Covenant or Pledge?) How was it managed?
  4. What is the basis of the New Testament (or the New Covenant) according to this Scripture? How is it managed?
  5. What does Paul say about the glory between the Old and New covenants? What does that mean?
  6. What is the sign of the New Covenant at work? (v17)

Personal reflection

In which ways can you identify the following in your relationship with God:

A. “condemnation”: a feeling of being in trouble when you are found to behave wrong.

vs “righteousness”: a sense of being tested and approved of, being found acceptable

B. “law on stones”: measuring yourself based on what you are taught in Mosaic Law

vs “law on heart”: testing your motives based on the conviction of the Spirit

C. “ministry of death”: fear of failing God’s standards and threat of hell

vs “ministry of life”: anticipation for Jesus’ return to receive the fullness of our salvation – life with God forever

D. “veiled by Moses”: all you know about God is what he expects through the knowledge of the Law

vs “freedom in the Spirit”: a relational knowledge of God’s heart and will through the Holy Spirit.

Application and prayer

Considering your answers above, pray to God for a revelation of the New Covenant in Christ, assuring God’s satisfaction and our forgiveness and righteousness based on His shed blood.

This worship song will greatly enhance your time of prayer and reflection. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvLxZEU02uI]

Covenant 2 – Bound together in life

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the meaning and making of covenant.

Scripture

Genesis 15:1-18

1  After these things [after Abraham delivered his nephew Lot by warfare] the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward.”  2  But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”  3  And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”  4  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5  And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”  6  And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7  And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8  But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9  He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10  And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11  And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12  As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.  13  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15  As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16  And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17  When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  18  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land…”

Observations and reflection

Note: A covenant made in blood is a pledge or treaty between two parties (such as strong friendships, political agreements etc) which implies the binding of two people together in partnership; the shedding of blood symbolizes the gravity of the agreement, pointing to the death of the one who will break it.

  1. God met with Abraham. How did He introduce Himself to Abraham, and what promise does that imply? (v1)
  2. Abraham had two very basic concerns which he brought to God’s attention (v3, v8)
    1. What was God’s promise regarding these two things? (v5, v18)
  3. Abraham sought security of the promise. How did God grant security? (v18a)
    1. In simple words describe what God did during the covenant ceremony.
    2. What did Abraham do during this ceremony?
  4. Usually in such a covenant ceremony the lessor party would walk between the cut animals to indicate that if the terms of covenant is broken, it will result in death.
    1. Who walked between the sacrifice in this instance?
    2. What does that reveal about God’s character?
    3. What does that reveal about God’s covenant with Abraham and his offspring? [hint: Who died 2000 years later on a hill not far from there?]

Personal reflection and Prayer

The substitutionary death of Christ was ultimately the price God paid on behalf of man’s breaking of covenant with Him.  In that way God made peace between us and Him.

  1. Consider the very personal motive and content of the covenant God made with Abraham (an heir and property to leave as inheritance). How does your relationship with God compare to the authenticity and intimacy of Abraham relationship with God?
  2. This Text began in a vision where God made a very personal, covenantal commitment to Abraham. Have you ever had such a vision or dream where God spoke to you? Recall those moments and reflect on those conversations. (If you have never had such an encounter – ask God for such a meeting).
  3. Consider God’s part in this relational initiative – from beginning to end He initiated everything.  How does that compare to your view and experience of God?
  4. Pray about your covenant relationship with God in Christ in light of God’s covenant with Abraham.
    1. Thank God for initiating and fulfilling this covenant relationship you have through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ our Lord. (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
    2. Ask God to reveal Himself to you as He did to Abraham (in Genesis 15:1).
    3. Now as Abraham did, in sincerity and forthrightness bring your deepest desires and fears to God, then wait for His answer.
    4. Before you go on with your day, renew your loyalty and devotion to Him. You might do this by asking Him what is His heart or what are the things He desires most. Wait for His answer and pray about that.

Covenant 1 God’s Initiative

The aim of this devotional bible study is to consider a covenant relationship initiated by God.

Scripture

Genesis 3:6-21

6  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8  And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9  But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10  And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

11  He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

12  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13  Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14  The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

16  To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

17  And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

20  The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

21  And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Observations and reflection

  1. Man’s response to sin:
    1. What was the immediate realization of Adam and Eve after their sin? (v7)
    2. What was their response to this realization? (v7b)
    3. What was their response to God and His presence after their sin? (v8)
  2. Notice God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin in these sections, then give a descriptive word or phrase for that section:
    1. Verses 8-9
    2. Verse 13
    3. Verses 14-19
    4. Verse 21
  3. Can you identify these responses of Adam and Eve’s own sin? (note the verse)
    1. Vulnerability
    2. Covering Up
    3. Shame
    4. Withdrawing
    5. Blame-Shifting
  4. Consider verse 21.
    1. For God to cover Adam and Eve in animal skin, what first had to take place?
    2. With your understanding of God’s Old Testament Law, what do you think happened?
    3. In the Old Testament, why were animals slaughtered in response to human sins?
    4. With your understanding of the whole Bible, why do you think God covered Adam and even in animal skins? (apart from the physical benefits)
    5. Who made life and relationship with God possible?
    6. Can you see resemblance between this verse and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? How?

Personal reflection and Application

This section retells the first account of animal deaths, and more specifically animal sacrifice, where the animals died vicariously for human sins and Adam and Eve got covered in the animal’s innocence (righteousness).

  1. Typically when you mess up (sin), how does that make you
    1. Relate to yourself?
    2. Relate to other people?
    3. Relate to God?
  2. In which way can you relate to Adam and Eve’s responses to their own fallibility (vulnerability, covering up, shame, withdrawing, blame-shifting?)
    1. Reflecting on God’s gracious response to Adam and Eve (verse 21), what would be a better response?

Application and Prayer

God slaughtered animals so Adam and Eve did not have to die for their sins, and can continue to have relationship in peace with God.  Their life and relationship with God was based on the merciful substitute God provided.

Consider your (habitual) fallibility and God’s generous provision for forgiveness and salvation In Christ Jesus. Give thanks to God’s initiative for His relationship with you, and bring all feelings of shame and guilt into the light.