COVENANT KEEPERS OR
“This is what the Lord has commanded: A man who makes a vow to
the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it.
He must do exactly what he said he would do”
Covenant breaking is hurting the western world big time. Covenant breaking weakens patience, perseverance, honesty, courage, and all other virtues. History tells us that immorality was at its highest when the Roman Empire fell. Covenant breaking is immoral and sinful and we need to stop this soft-soaping of sin.
Marriage break-up is the worst type of covenant breaking as it puts a curse on future generations. It weakens the whole structure of marriage and eventually leads people to reason why they should get married at all.
Many in our western churches oppose preaching against sin. They dismiss it as being negative, condemning, and unloving. They say it makes people feel uncomfortable and the offerings may be affected. With this view point, sin rages on unchallenged and hell enlarges its gates.
Eventually, someone has to tell the patient who has been diagnosed with a malignant tumor that they will die unless they get the necessary treatment. Time is of essence. Is warning someone that their house is on fire and they need to get out unloving? Warning contains a strong element of loving concern. I am certainly not an advocate of hellfire and brimstone preaching that has no tears, love, or identification with people. But, let’s face it; someone has to spank the disobedient child for continuing to play with the matches.
The aftermath of covenant breaking in marriage is a fire that continues to burn for years. It breeds jealousy, vengeance, anger, rejection, and hurt, as well as weakening the whole structure of marriage, both present and future. The nation is as strong as its families and marriage is the foundation of family. The nation is as strong as its morals and covenant breaking destroys morals.
USA leads the West with the highest divorce rates. The saddest part is that the church attendance rate in the USA is much higher than most other western nations. This means that there is something radically wrong with the church’s stand on moral righteousness in America today. To put it plainly, failing to expose the sin of covenant breaking and failing to urge repentance amongst the clergy as well as the congregation, has not worked. And it will not work. Loving people and yet ignoring the sin has no redemptive value.
The prophet Joel warned, “’Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; Let them say, “Spare your people, O Lord, and do not give your heritage to reproach, the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is there God?’” (Joel 2:17).
Indeed, it is time to cry out to God. We have become an embarrassment to the name of Christ. We should be blushing with shame.
The death knell on marriage being a holy institution is final when wimpy flat-footed amoral judges, governors, senators, and leaders in the church have the audacity to permit same-sex marriages. How spiritually bankrupt have we become? How far can a nation go away from the Holy God who has blessed us with so much? How much more of this unclean, vile, defiance of His holy ways will God stand? Surely we are hurtling towards His judgment. God will have to judge us or else apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. We are without excuse.
There are more Christian sermons preached, more Christian TV programs and radio stations proclaiming God’s Word every day than most other nations would hear in a life time, yet, we are still unmoved and unrepentant.
WHAT IS A COVENANT?
According to the dictionary it is: a compact, a contact, a solemn agreement, a vow, a formal sealed agreement, a promise.
WHAT IS A VOW?
According to the dictionary, it is…
1. An earnest promise or pledge that binds one to perform a specific act or behave in a certain manner.
2. To promise or pledge solemnly.
GOD REMEMBERS VOWS
There are many Scriptures in the Bible regarding vows.
When Jacob was fleeing from his brother’s wrath, God appeared to him in a dream. Following this dream he raised up a pillar of rock and made a vow to God. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will surely give a tenth to you’” (Genesis 28:20-22).
God heard this vow and never forgot it! Many years passed and God reminded Jacob of his vow. In Genesis 31:13 we read, “’I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to me. Now arise, get out of this land, and return to the land of your kindred.’”
GOD KEEPS HIS COVENANTS
Genesis 9:13-15, “’I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.’”
God made a covenant with Abram that He would give him the land, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…” Over 400 years later, God heard the groanings of the children of Israel in Egypt and He “remembered his covenant” (Exodus 2:24).
The Blood of Jesus
God calls the blood of Jesus the “blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20). We can thank God that He keeps His covenant, and yet how easy it seems for us twenty-first century Christians to break our covenants. I believe that God sees covenants as sacred and, come what may and no matter what the cost, they should be kept.
Those who keep His commandments
Daniel prayed, “O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant and mercy with those who love him, and with those who keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4).
CONSEQUENCES OF NOT KEEPING VOWS
During King David’s reign there was a famine that lasted for three years. David sought the Lord to find out the reason. God told him that it was because Saul broke the covenant which the children of Israel made with the Gibeonites. This had happened many years previously, but God did not forget the covenant they made. David went to the Gibeonites and asked them what he could do to make atonement for the broken covenant. They asked for seven of Saul’s descendants which they hanged. Only then did the famine cease. You can read the whole story in 2 Samuel 21:1-9.
Read the tragic story in Judges Chapter 11 of the unwise vow that Jephthah made and which cost him his daughter. This true story reveals how men in Bible days fulfilled their vows, no matter what the cost.
Jonah evidently had not paid his vows to God, but after three days and nights in the dark belly of the whale, he finally decides it is better to pay his vows and cries out, “I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
The Brotherly Vow
Amos prophesied the words of the Lord, “For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood. But I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre, which shall devour its palaces” (Amos 1:9).
This brotherly covenant was made hundreds of years before by Solomon, king of Israel, and Hiram, King of Tyre. (1 Kings 5:12) It seems that instead of offering protection to the fleeing Israelis, they rejected them. But God took note that they broke a vow that was made hundreds of years previously.
WE MUST REPENT OF COVENANT-BREAKING
Covenant-breaking is listed with the 22 sins of Romans 1:29-32. Verses 32 says, “Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death…”
Covenant-breaking is a serious sin. We must repent and humble ourselves before our loving and merciful God. We must never forget that God’s loving forgiveness is entirely based on sincere repentance. If we will not repent, we will surely hasten the judgment of God.
We are all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14, although we do not always obey. “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
SACRED ABOVE WORDS
The marriage covenant is not an ordinary covenant. The wedding ceremony begins with the words, “These vows are sacred above words…” The name of God is liberally invoked to bear witness to our covenant in most Christian marriage services. Because we make our marriage vows to each other in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, they become holy and should not be treated lightly. It is serious business to invoke the Trinity into our vows.
VOWS ARE MADE TO BE KEPT
You must not break your word!
“This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said" (Numbers 30:1-2 NIV).
You must perform what comes out of your mouth!
“If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin… Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth” (Deuteronomy 23:21-23 NIV).
Did you not say, “God brought us together in marriage?” Did you not covenant to “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse; for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish; ‘till death us depart, according to God’s holy ordinance”? Does not God call your wife “the wife of your covenant?” (Malachi 2:14). The real man of God will stick to his covenant which he made before God and man.
You must fulfill your vows!
“Praise awaits you O God in Zion. To you our vows will be fulfilled” (Psalm 65:1 NIV).
“Make vows to the Lord your God and fulfill them” (Psalm 76:11 NIV).
You must not go back on your vow!
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools: fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? …Therefore stand in awe of God” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7 NIV).
REPENT ON BEHALF OF THE NATION
Like Daniel, let us pour out our hearts to God and repent on behalf of our nation. Daniel confessed, “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from your precepts and your judgments… to us belongs shame of face…we have sinned, we have done wickedly!” (Daniel 9:5-19).
May God help us to repent for ourselves. Let us repent on the behalf of our nation, whether we have been guilty of breaking covenant or not. May God move mightily to cleanse us so deeply that covenant-breaking will no longer be heard of in the midst of God's people.