Postcards: Our covenant- making God
A covenant speaks of a deep binding agreement – a giving of self and not just our abilities, advice or resources. In Jesus, the One who limited Himself and came as a servant (Phil 2:5f) we see how willing God is to give Himself to us so that we can enter our true home with God as our heavenly Father.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
God created this world for the purpose of having a personal relationship with mankind. In His written word to us (2 Tim 3:16) we find opening words that speak of great blessing (creating a world for us) and finishing words that also speak of God’s willingness to bless, despite our rebellion and failure (John 3:16; Rev 22:14f).
(In the beginning) God = ‘Elohiym’
‘Elohiym’ is the plural form of ‘El’ (God), and speaks of the supreme God who is more powerful than any man made or demon- initiated god. Note Gen 1:2 and John 1:1.
There are two pictures behind this word ‘God’, with the first being an ox head which symbolises strength and power. Think of a barren field during a drought, and then imagine trying to dig the field with a spade. Now think of an ox pulling a plough and we see strength and power in action. God is the author of all strength and power.
A second picture behind the word ‘God’ is that of a Shepherd, which speaks of authority, guidance and protection. In Numbers 6:24 we read, “The Lord bless you and keep you.” The word, ‘keep’ speaks of being hedged in as in protecting a flock with a fence, and also speaks of watching over. Although this word ‘keep’ is not used in Job 1, we read that Job’s life was ‘hedged in’ (Job 1:10).
Think of some of the difficult situations that you have gone through. Now capture the pictures above (strength and power like an Ox and the authority, guidance and protection of the Shepherd), and remember how willing God is to help us. He is, “The God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.” (Psalm 77:14). When Job was going through incredible hardship the greatest help he found was when God reminded him of just who God is (Job 38:4-12). When in difficulty, start with who God is! He knows the stars by nature and composition (Ps 147:4), and the number of hairs on your head (Mt 10:30). Note also that God rejoices over one sinner that repents (Luke 15:32). God knew of every time you and I would get things wrong, yet still rejoiced when we were born again, knowing that we were safe and in a place where His love, grace, mercy and power would nourish and uplift us as adopted sons and daughters. God has always been there for us, we just didn’t know it.
In reading Titus 1:2, Eph 1:4, 1 Peter 1:19-20 and Rev 13:8 we get insight into God’s thinking before the world was created. What do we see? Sacrificial love (1 John 4:8ff).
“In the beginning God created.”
The word ‘create’ comes from a root meaning, “to fatten the seed.” A seed goes into the ground and is nourished and waters and explodes with goodness. In a modern-day setting, think of an empty house being filled with good things and we get the idea of how God created in order to bless us.
Let us continue to pray for our lives to be open to God’s leading and that our heavenly Father directs our paths (2 Thess 3:5). The word ‘direct’ (kateuthaniai) speaks of guidance and straightening the path we travel and even when we get it wrong God will come in and, in great love, challenge us to straighten our lives out and raise our face to look into His.
Aquinas (an early church father) once said something along the lines of, “An arrow does not have the knowledge to shoot the target, so it needs an archer. In the same way God is our archer as He directs us to an end or purpose.” Unlike an arrow, we do have a certain amount of knowledge and ability and need to let God shape and mould us. As we learn to lean on Him (a picture behind the words ‘faith’ and ‘trust’) we become established in the soil of His promises (like a tree planted in a really good place) so let’s be encouraged to seek Him every day before all else. Be blessed!