Volume. XXIII, No. 30
Sunday, 18 January 2009


Building A Covenant Home (Deuteronomy 6) - Part 1


INTRODUCTION

Statistics show that many Americans claim themselves as Christians, but ironically, the majority of those who claim to be Christians only go to church once or twice a year. Almost all Americans celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ and enjoy their turkey party and family gatherings, but many who celebrate thanksgiving do not know why their forefathers celebrated the first thanksgiving. Though many in America celebrate Christmas, many do not bother to mention the name Jesus or Christ during their period of celebration and prefer to greet each other with “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christ-mas.” This is also happening in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other once Christian nations as well.

 This tragedy has already happened in Europe, America and even nations like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The tragedy of God’s people being apathetic about passing down the knowledge of God to their next generation is that God’s people slowly forget the covenant that God made with them! We should never allow this to happen in our church and in our homes! Israel is God’s covenant people because God made the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Now, we Gentiles are grafted to be a part of this covenant because we whom are in Christ have become God’s chosen people through Jesus Christ our LORD. As Paul said in Ephesians 2:12,13: “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” But being a covenant people comes with obligations to fulfill, an obligation of not just coming to church for worship, singing, praying and presenting your tithes and offerings, but an obligation to build a covenant home! Such responsibility, naturally, lies heavily on the shoulder of the head, and members of the home have a part to play as well.

 How do you build a covenant home and how do you fulfill those responsibilities within the covenant?

 

FIRST, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF THE COVENANT THAT GOD MADE WITH YOU! THE PURPOSE IS TWO-FOLD (6:1-3)

 That God’s people may be a light unto the Gentiles! (6:1)

 How are God’s people a light to the Gentiles? Read Genesis 12:2,3 where God first made the covenant with Abraham. God said, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Note that there are two parties being mentioned that would be blessed. One is Abraham and his descendents, and the other is all the families of the earth. How is all the family of the earth blessed? Prophet Isaiah shed more light regarding this promise in Isaiah 49:6, where he says, “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” For the very same purpose, all those who have trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and are born again in the Spirit have become a covenant people or spiritual descendants of Abraham! And for this purpose, God made a covenant with His people so that His covenant people would be a blessing or a light to the Gentiles and be HIS salvation by witnessing to the world! My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ: How are you functioning as a light to the Gentiles in a Covenant Family? Be a covenant people first before you can build a covenant home! Now, what is the second purpose of God making a covenant with His people? 

 That God’s people may fear Him, live and be blessed! (6:2,3)

 Genesis 12:2, says, “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great”. In other words, God’s people are not only a blessing to the Gentiles but they shall be blessed and be great too! This corresponds with Deuteronomy 6:2,3 which says, “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son\'s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.”

 Verse 2 says, “FEAR the LORD…thyself and thy son’s life may be prolonged.” What does it mean? When a Christian Fears GOD and keeps all the statutes and commandments of GOD, He is definitely a blessed individual.  For “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). So? Because when a person applies God’s wisdom in his life, he would not live like a fool, waste his time and talents, and he is unlikely to get into unnecessary troubles and turmoil of life! Therefore, his actual life span may be lengthened or prolonged! That is one of the reasons why we are also commanded to honor our parents, so our days may be prolonged because the same blessing is conferred when we obey our godly parents. Verse 3 says, “it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily”. The blessings of God sometimes may or may not be physical and material prosperity when one FEARS HIM and Keeps His commandments! But nothing is more precious and, should be sought after by Christians, than the spiritual blessings that one can have in JESUS Christ! So, the two purposes of God making a covenant with His people are: 1) God’s people may be a light to the Gentiles; 2) God’s people may be blessed physically or spiritually. Now, you already know the purpose of God making a covenant with His people. Now, before you CAN BUILD A COVENANT HOME, you must REVIEW THE COVENANT WELL.

 

SECOND, YOU MUST KNOW THE PREMISES TO THE COVENANT! (6:4-6)

 Why Must you know the premises or propositions to the covenant? Just like you would normally read an agreement or contract that requires you to sign, you would want to pay close attention to what God wants YOU to know in the remaining passage. So, what are the premises to the covenant that God made with His people? There are three PREMISES or PROPOSITIONS to the COVENANT: THE FIRST PREMISE IS, THAT GOD IS ONE LORD! (v.4)

 First Premise to the Covenant (v.4)

 There are three major monotheistic religions in the world: Christianity, Islam, and Jewish Orthodox. Only the Christians believe that God is ONE in three persons or what we call the doctrine of Trinity or Triune Monotheism. Now, those who object to the doctrine of Trinity would often argue that the word ‘Trinity’ is not found in the Bible, therefore the doctrine does not stand! It is true that the word Trinity is nowhere to be found in the BIBLE, but neither are the words: ‘rapture,’ ‘demon,’ ‘excommunication,’ and many other words that define our Christian doctrines. One theologian observes, “….the statement the Lord is one certainly does not contradict the truth of the Trinity. In fact, it establishes that truth. The Hebrew word speaks most literally of a compound unity, instead of using the Hebrew word yacheed, which speaks of an absolute unity or singularity (Genesis 22:2 and Psalm 25:16).” How about the word ‘GOD’? Is it not singular? How do we explain that God is ONE in THREE persons? This too is not a problem at all. Because the name ‘God’ here used is Elohim in Hebrew which is grammatically a plural word used as if it were singular. Martin Luther rightly says regarding the word Elohim, “….we have clear testimony that Moses aimed to indicate the Trinity or the three persons in the one divine nature.” So, there is really no problem with the doctrine of Trinity which we believe that: God the Father, God the Son (or OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST), and God the Holy Spirit are equal in Essence, Glory and Power! They Co-Existed throughout in Eternity Past and Co-Created the Heavens and the Earth and Carried out and Accomplished the plan of Salvation for Mankind! This very first premise to the Covenant is extremely important because this is one of the most important foundations of our Christian Faith, without it, there can be NO Covenant Home! Now, you already know the first premise to the covenant, that is, GOD IS ONE LORD! Now, Verse 5 tells us about the Second Premise to the Covenant, that is: 

 Second Premise to the Covenant (v.5)

 GOD DEMANDS US TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL AND MIGHT! (6:5) WHY? Because you are commanded to LOVE the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might! This commandment, in fact, is not only a Premise to the Covenant but also a Summary of all the commandments and Statutes of God! When the Pharisees and Scribes came to tempt Jesus and asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30) It is the ‘FIRST commandment’ because if you do not LOVE GOD, then it is useless for you to obey all other commandments of GOD! On the other hand, if one loves the LORD with all his Heart, Soul and Might, then everything ELSE would naturally fall into place. But, how do I love the LORD with ALL MY Heart, Soul and Might? Albert Barnes explains what ‘heart,’ ‘soul’ and ‘might’ clearly to us this way: “The “heart” is mentioned as the seat of the understanding; the “soul” as the center of will and personality; the “might” as representing the outgoings and energies of all the vital powers.” This kind of undivided, wholehearted love and loyalty should be cultivated, promoted, and taught in every Covenant Home and Carried forward into the Worship service when the family regularly come early, and not late, to worship each SUNDAY MORNING! You have already heard of the first two Premises of the Covenant, they are: GOD IS ONE LORD and the other is LOVE THE LORD WITH ALL OUR HEART, SOUL AND MIGHT! The third and the last Premise to the Covenant is: THAT THE COVENANT IS MADE IN YOUR HEART! (6:6).

 Third Premise to the Covenant (v.6)

 Just now we said that “heart” is the seat of the understanding. And interestingly verse 6 says, “these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart”. In other words, God made a covenant with His people in their Hearts! The covenant is not made with stone tablets but on the table of the heart as Paul reveals to us in 2 Corinthians 3:3 “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” Now, what does this mean to us? It means that it is the Holy Spirit who writes the covenant in our hearts: Ezekiel 11:19, “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:” And ONLY the HOLY SPIRIT can regenerate and convert a person. In other words, a person is not saved by keeping the covenant or by upholding the outward religiosity, but by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who can write the covenant in tablet of heart upon those who come to Christ in Faith. Now, in order to build a COVENANT HOME, you must not only know the premises of the covenant but also the condition of the covenant.

 (This article will be continued next Lord’s Day)

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

Kitchen Rosters - Team Leader: Sis Suzane Lim

Helpers needed to wash up dishes & to clean dining area/kitchen after fellowship lunch

This Year’s Family Bible Camp “Conference” will be held at the Stone Mansion. Volunteers for Camp Committee required. If able to help, please see Dn Edwin D’Mello

Daily Manna available on literature table. Please take a copy

 

LOOKING AHEAD:

Family Bible Camp Conference at Easter, 10-13 April 2009.

 

PRAYER ITEMS:

Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev John & Mrs Christine McKenzie; Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements,  Rev Stephen Khoo, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Tommy Brooks, Yew Shing Chan, Colin Creaser, S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Winston Selvanayagam, & Hans Ziegelmann; Mr Yeom. Grandpa Ki; Auntie Oei; Sisters Mabella Booth, Nita Chong, Annie D’Mello, Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Fiona Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden, Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; & others in affliction.

Missions - Cambodia: (Rev Stephen Choi, Glory BP Church, Phnom Penh), Pastors & believers in Laos, Pakistan & India; Kuching Ministry (Teo family).

Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Pr H S Lim

Pastor Ki: future ministry & his family

Journey Mercies: Ps David Weng & family (Indonesia); Dn David Yeo & family; & Sisters  Mary Ting (Adl) & Ethel Chung (HK); all others who are travelling.

Pastor Weng: ministry & family in Hope BPC

Outreach to Mandarin speakers in Adelaide.

Job - Bro Cong Pham; Sisters Marion Chan, Tabitha Heah & Judy Li.

BPCWA (Perth) - God’s guidance & wisdom.

Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe (Perth) -  Wisdom and guidance.

Sis Suzane Lim (Acheh) - Protection & guidance

Hopefuls in Singapore organising a fellowship on Sat, 24 Jan

Drought in Australia: more rain

 

PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING:

Journey mercies: Ps Ki & family; Bro Winston &  Sis Christabelle Selvanayagam (Adl); Ps Weng & family (S’pore); Dn David Yeo & family (Melb); Sisters Catherine Teng, Sally Teng & family (Sibu); Mary Ting (Sabah); Mr Laurie Brown (Perth) & all others who have travelled.

Church activities: E-Ministry; Joy & Maranatha; Session Meeting; Shorter Catechism Class; YAF Bible Study

Granting of Australian Permanent Residency Visa: Ps David Weng & family

 

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063