An Everlasting Covenant
Genesis 9:8-17; Psalm 25:1-9 ; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:9-15
Evil is its own punishment. It is destructive to life. It must be contained. It must be isolated. Evil must be ultimately destroyed. It cannot coexist with love. Nonetheless, God requires human beings to cooperate with Him in the eradication of evil. He has provided the vehicle in which this is to occur but we must enter the vehicle that He has provided and there we must remain.
The vehicle which God has provided is His covenant relationship. God made promises of protection and care to people who will come into a relationship with Him based on conditions that He sets. Few people listen to God. Fewer still believe Him. And fewer still obey Him and follow through on the conditions which God sets.
There was a time when the whole world had corrupted itself and turned against God. It was necessary for God to flood the earth in order to purge the evil and protect the continuation of life. Noah had to believe God and cooperate with Him. God tasked him to build an ark in which to protect a select population of the earth. He required him to do so when no one on the earth up to that time had ever witnessed a flood. Noah acted on faith and obedience while enduring great ridicule.
The covenant which God made with Noah preserved and extended life on the earth but it did not eradicate evil. Very soon after the flood Noah’s family fell back into disobedience. The covenant relationship was quickly compromised. God kept His part of the covenant and is still doing so to this day:
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. (Genesis 9:12-15)
Because of man’s continuing disobedience God was required to institute an everlasting covenant that would secure eternal salvation to all those who would enter into this covenant by faith.
Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you– not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. (1 Peter 3:18-22)
As the Apostle Peter has written the first covenant prefigures the second. Thus, it is important to grasp the meaning of the first in order to gain a more thorough understanding of the second. The second covenant offers a better promise but God’s requirements must still be met. We must enter into the covenant. We do so by faith in the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin. We must remain in the covenant through repentance and the continual washing of His blood. That is why we observe Lent. It provides a practice session before the big game.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:14-15)
As we remain in communion and a covenant relationship with God we cooperate with Him in the eradication of evil. If we reject Him we fall quickly back into sin. Now is the time of fulfillment. Now is the time for God to reign in our hearts. Now is the time to believe that the kingdom of God has come near.