Monday, September 22, 2008

just passing through

Deuteronomy 29

As Moses winds down his address to the people of Israel chapter 29 talks a lot about the covenants. Several times in verses 9-14 Moses references "entering into a covenant" with God. For a Jewish person this imagery was literal. This was the method of those who made covenants: they would set up a demarcation on one side and a demarcation on the other side and those entering into the covenant would "pass through" between the partitions. Jeremiah 34:18 references this "passing through" in connection with a broken covenant in which the leaders of Judah, the priests, officials and people of the land passed between the parts of a slaughtered calf. Moses addresses the people of Israel standing before him and warned them about the covenant that they were about to enter into with God.

You see in just a few days God would part the Jordan river and the Israelites would pass through the Jordan in the same way that they had passed through the Red Sea as they had escaped Egypt. God had kept his promise that he established when they "passed through" the Red Sea and he would keep this covenant which he would establish when they "passed through" the Jordan River.

Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." (1 Corinthians 11)

The new covenant is established with Jesus sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice is validated at the resurrection. Romans 6 says that at baptism we are united with Christ's death, burial and resurrection. When you split the water and "pass through" you are entering into a covenant with God. One established by Jesus death, burial and resurrection. An agreement, a new covenant entered into by faith.

Back to Deuteronomy chapter 29. Verses 23 and following describe what happens to those who abandon the covenant; "The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur - nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Adman and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger."

Sounds like another place that is described as one of torture, one of burning sulfur, a lake of fire. And who will experience this place? Those who abandon the new covenant.

May we be faithful and not abandon the new covenant which was established by God through Jesus death, burial and resurrection and into which we enter into when we pass through the waters of baptism.