A Good Contract
December 13, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
“A contract is only as good as the person who signs it.”
A friend who runs a business said this in the context of a discussion about God’s covenant in Scripture. Covenant is a vital component in our relationship with God. “Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3) is offered through covenant promises. Those promises are ours in Christ because he fulfills the stipulations of the covenant. He says on the night he was betrayed, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28, cf. Eph. 1:7).
As much as our relationship with God is rooted in covenant, my friend’s statement is still true. A contract, or covenant, is only as good as the person who signs it. If God was unfaithful and untrustworthy, we would have no hope of salvation, no matter how many promises God makes. On this side of the Cross, however, we hardly even question about the reliability of God. But what do we do when we come to doubt the trustworthiness of God? What brings assurance?
The faithful followers of God in the 7th and 6th centuries BC certainly wrestled with these questions. Like Jeremiah, they were first hand witnesses to the moral decay of their nation, the “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). They received the prophecies of God’s judgment and watched their fulfillment as Babylon destroyed the temple and left Jerusalem in ruins. This faithful remnant will know why their nation has suffered such devastation. “Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God and worshiped other gods and served them” (Jer. 22:9).
A covenant is only as good as those who sign it. Israel had forsaken their covenant with God. Is there any hope left for them? Is there any reason for God to have pity on them and still uphold his end of the covenant?
Into this context the short, poetic book Lamentations speaks. Possibly penned by Jeremiah as he wept over the destruction of Jerusalem, Lamentations gives us a window into Old Testament spirituality that rested in the covenant keeping God. The writer acknowledges the covenant sinfulness of the people. The fault was with them, not God. He mourns the devastating judgment that fell on Jerusalem. But in a most unexpected turn, the writer expresses hope, giving us some of the most beloved words of the Old Testament.
He writes, “This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam 3:21-23). The character of God. The foundation of hope. You see, even the Old Testament saints understood that the covenant promises were not contingent on their covenant faithfulness, only God’s faithfulness (see God’s cutting of the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15 and God’s promise of restoration after covenant failure in Deuteronomy 30). The covenant is as good as the one who signed it, the never-failing, never giving-up, always-loving, ever-merciful God.
Tragedy can lead us to lose hope. Following the lead of Jeremiah, though, we can call to mind the faithfulness of God, which undergirds the covenant promises he has made. God’s promises are as good as he is.