“YHWH, Elohey Yisrael, there is none like You, Elohim, in the heavens or in the earth, keeping covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.” 2 Chronicles 6:14  (Darby)

Keeping Covenant – Who keeps promises these days?  Not me.  I’ve broken quite a few in my time.  I suspect that you have too.  Who among us is consistently reliable?  Who among us has never failed to keep his word?  I can think of only one – YHWH Elohim.  When Solomon stood before the temple and began his prayer of dedication, only one came to his mind – YHWH Elohim.  But we all knew this, didn’t we?

Perhaps it would be instructive to look a little deeper into the idea of keeping covenant (shomer habrit).  The verb shamar means more than “keeping” a promise.  It also means preserving that promise, guarding it, watching over it carefully in order to sustain it.  It is the original verb of stewarding (Genesis 2:15), describing the assignment of the first couple.  It is also used to describe observing or maintaining.  Solomon does not simply mean that God never breaks His word.  He means that God takes whatever measures are necessary to insure His word is never violated, ignored or disobeyed.

But you will say, “Wait a minute.  All kinds of people disregard God’s promises.”  Yes, they do – temporarily.  God will insure that in the end His word is fulfilled, His promise is kept.  If this means that those who consistently oppose His covenant must be removed, then He will do what is needed to keep His promise.  It is inevitable.  He has said so.

“Consume chaos in a person.”  Shamar.  The effect of keeping a promise is to destroy chaos.  Every godly promise kept redeems the world.  Every promise broken opens the door to confusion and disorder.  A promise kept devours the impending turmoil of the enemy.

Of course, Solomon had specific promises in mind.  He praised YHWH for the beriyth, the covenant, the alliance, the agreement that made Israel a beneficiary.  There are many covenants in Scripture.  Some are permanent.  Some are not.  The beriyth that made Israel God’s chosen people is a permanent one.  Why?  Because God made the promise to Himself.  Dictionaries that imply “the covenants made between God and humans defined the basis of God’s character in the Old Testament” are not quite correct.  The critical covenant is with Israel, not with humankind.  Israel plays a role in the redemptive plan that no other nation and no other people can play.  Solomon knew that.  David knew that.  The sooner we figure that out, the easier life will be.  Paul certainly had that in mind when he addressed the Gentiles about being grafted into the root (and not the other way around).  THE PROMISE KEEPER – YHWH Elohey – keeps His word with Israel.

Sometime in the second or third century, the early church fathers turned the promises upside down.  They removed God’s promise to Israel and replaced it with a “promise” to the Church.  This exegetical shift has precipitated untold confusion and terrible ethnic discrimination.  Even today Christians are likely to believe that Jews must convert to Christianity in order to belong to God’s Kingdom.  What would your understanding of the Bible become if you read it according to the unbreakable and eternal covenant of God naming Israel as His beneficiary?  How much Scripture would have to be reconsidered?  How many doctrines would have to be re-evaluated?  The beginning of that process, if it is going to begin at all, is a simple question:  What did YHWH Elohey promise?

Topical Index:  covenant, promise, keep, guard, shamar, beriyth, 2 Chronicles 6:14

Comments
  • carl roberts January 2, 2011 at 7:36 am

    Standing on the promises of Christ the Lord,
    Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord,
    Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword,
    Standing on the promises of G-d.

    Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
    Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
    Resting in my Savior as my all in all,
    Standing on the promises of G-d.

    “Through Him we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of G-d.” (Romans 5.2)

    THE PROMISE KEEPER – YHWH Elohey Hallelujah!

  • Gayle Johnson January 2, 2011 at 8:54 am

    This idea is so foundational, that I cannot believe people do not consider it. But, most of us have seen that puzzled look by others with whom we attempt to discuss the subject. Within the last few months, I have heard it stated from the pulpit that to believe in the Messiah, ‘Jews convert to Christianity’ and my whole being wanted to stand up and shout, “Stop saying that!”

    “The effect of keeping a promise is to destroy chaos.” This is a statement that we should commit to memory. It is so true in reality, as is the opposite: Not keeping our promises creates chaos. This seems to be a pretty clear representation of how we should exhibit the image of the Creator.

  • Roy w Ludlow January 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

    It is always good to be reminded as to how Faithful God is, in spite of my failings and unfaithfulness. Just reread Genesis 1-5 this morning and it is full of how faithful God is when man whom He made is unfaithful.

  • ANTOINETTE (Canada) January 2, 2011 at 9:46 am

    HI SKIP,
    JUST WANTED TO KNOW WHERE I CAN GET A COPY OF THE BIBLE THAT YOU USED FOR THIS TW.
    IT SAYS IT’S DARBY, BUT I CHECKED THE 2 Chronicles 6:14 VERSE IN THE BLUE LETTER BIBLE AND IT IS NOT THE SAME WORDING. THEY USE “JEHOVAH”.
    THANKS, ANTOINETTE

    • Skip Moen January 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

      Well, you’re right. It isn’t quite Darby. It’s Darby modified by me to get the right proper nouns in place. Sorry.

  • Greg January 3, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Hi Skip,

    I have some questions regarding the following statements:

    STATEMENT: The critical covenant is with Israel, not with humankind. Israel plays a role in the redemptive plan that no other nation and no other people can play. Solomon knew that. David knew that. The sooner we figure that out, the easier life will be. Paul certainly had that in mind when he addressed the Gentiles about being grafted into the root (and not the other way around). THE PROMISE KEEPER – YHWH Elohey – keeps His word with Israel.

    RESPONSE: I completely understand the Abrahamic Covenant; Mosaic Covenant along with many other covenants mentioned in God’s Word including the NEW Covenant. I also believe “to the Jew First” and then to the Gentile with respect to the Great Commission [MK 16:15] and [ROM 1:16]. However, I may be misunderstanding your intent when you say, “The critical covenant is with Israel and not with humankind”…. this appears to diminish the significance of the New Covenant in my opinion. For GOD so loved the WORLD…. (please elaborate).

    STATEMENT: Even today Christians are likely to believe that Jews must convert to Christianity in order to belong to God’s Kingdom.

    RESPONSE: This is probably due to a lack of understanding on my part regarding Jews, but Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [JN 14:6]. Therefore, as a Jew (or Gentile) we accept the final works of Christ on the cross and believe that he died for our sins. Are we not Christians if we now believe that Christ died for us regardless of our heritage?

    Thanks again, for taking time to elaborate.

    God Bless!

    Greg

    • Skip Moen January 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Let me elaborate just a bit. I am glad you see the ethnic orientation of the covenant with Abraham and Moses (I do not mean that these covenants apply ONLY to Jews, as Sha’ul correctly argues in Romans 4). However, it looks like you have left out the context of Jeremiah 31, which Yeshua quotes in his pronouncement of the “new” covenant (I have written a lot about this somewhere). Notice that this passage is about a “new” covenant with Israel and Judah, not with everyone. God does not vary His plan. To the Jew first is always the way. We are grafted into that arrangement. So, to be followers of the Way (and believers that the Jewish Yeshua is the promised Jewish Messiah) means that the world is still to be reached through God’s adoption of Israel as His people. Who makes up that people is a different question!

      I am not quite sure what you mean by “final works of Christ” but I would want to remind you that the death and resurrection are the guarantee that the re-newed covenant will come to pass. The death and resurrection are not the END of the story. They are the beginning of the end.

      • Greg January 4, 2011 at 9:39 am

        Skip,
        My apologies, I should have been a little more detailed in my response. I simply mean that his death and resurrection conquered sin. Praise the Lord, this is NOT the end but the beginning for all who believe in Jesus.

    • Michael January 4, 2011 at 8:17 am

      “Are we not Christians if we now believe that Christ died for us regardless of our heritage?”

      Hi Greg,

      Implied in your statement is that Jesus was a Christian, but I think Jesus was really just a Jew.

      And I think Jesus was more concerned with our behavior than our belief systems.

      • Skip Moen January 4, 2011 at 9:13 am

        “just” a Jew? That’s interesting. There are many days when I wish I were “just” a Jew. Imagine being physically connected to the people God chose to bring His redemption to the world. I’m glad to be adopted now, but I missed so much not being born into that world.

        And you’re right. Greg’s comment does imply that Jesus was a Christian.

        • Greg January 4, 2011 at 9:59 am

          Implications are often confusing (especially in written form) where it is sometimes difficult to properly convey a specific point. Obviously, Jews do NOT have to convert to Christianity in order to be saved. They simply have to BELIEVE in the ONE who GOD sent. If it makes you feel more comfortable you can simply insert “The Way”. Obviously, Jesus was not a christian because Christianity did not exist at that time.

          @ Michael…was Jesus really “just a Jew” or was he not so much more? Was he not a part of the Trinity who stepped down from his glory to “bridge the gap” between fallen man and an unapproachable Holy & Righteous God. It is my belief that he was concerned with our Heart more than our behavior (actions) or belief system (religion).

          Hence, Matthew 5:28, when Jesus said, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

          • Skip Moen January 4, 2011 at 10:38 am

            Lots to comment on here, but it will have to wait for a bit. I am swamped with trivia – and server problems.

          • Michael January 5, 2011 at 12:55 am

            “@ Michael…was Jesus really “just a Jew” or was he not so much more? Was he not a part of the Trinity who stepped down from his glory to “bridge the gap” between fallen man and an unapproachable Holy & Righteous God.”

            :-) Greg…yes in my view Jesus was “just a Jew,” but he was the Jewish Messiah, Son of Man, and Son of God as well.

            By “just a Jew,” I meant that Jesus was not a Jewish Christian.

            As something of a Catholic myself, I cannot imagine that Jesus thought of himself as part of a Trinity, and since he did not have much contact with gentiles as far as I know, there was no gap to bridge between him and the Jews.

            That was Paul’s mission IMO.

            I think your actions are a “reflection” of your heart and that Jesus was not really talking about adultery per se.

            Rather Jesus was making the point that, because thinking about adultery is a sin, to judge other people is wrong, because we are all sinners.

            Clearly there is a big difference between thinking about adultery and commiting adultery.

          • Greg January 5, 2011 at 10:56 am

            @ Michael…interesting thoughts and opinions. :-)
            I have thoroughly enjoyed our discussion on this subject.

            You stated, “As something of a Catholic myself, I cannot imagine that Jesus thought of himself as part of a Trinity”

            Consider these scriptures…

            John 6:46 – No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.

            John 8:19 – Then they asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

            John 14:26 – But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

            It seems to me that Jesus KNEW exactly who He was and what His purpose was by evidence of what HE spoke in scripture…

            Mark 8:31 – He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

            You also stated, “and since he did not have much contact with gentiles as far as I know, there was no gap to bridge between him and the Jews.”

            I agree with you however, I never mentioned bridging a gap between Jews or Gentiles. He was sent to save the world (mankind). Hence, John 3:16 – For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever (Jew, Gentile, you and me) believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. I am so thankful to be a Whosoever and I’m sure you are also.

            I must disagree with you on your final point, “Clearly there is a big difference between thinking about adultery and committing adultery.”

            The 10th commandment from God states…

            “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

            The definition of “covet” is to wish, long, or crave for (something, esp the property of another person). Clearly a thought cultivated in the heart before action is ever committed.

            I believe that God clearly has shown us that he is interested not in our works; our capabilities; our achievements or anything else but our Heart. Without a humble and broken heart we will fall short of God’s plan for our lives.

            Matt 15:18 – But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean.

            When I repent I ask for forgiveness for every thought; every deed and every word. Only then can I come before a Holy and Righteous Throne with confidence.

            Thank you Michael for taking time out of your schedule for this discussion. God Bless you my Brother!

            Greg

  • Ellen de Winnaar January 4, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Oh, how awesome He is! I have broken so many promises to Him, But He is FAITHFUL FOREVER.
    He is my Promise Keeper. Thank You Lord Almighty! Thank you Skip for bringing a new Name for Him to my attention. Bless you.

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