Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Table of Covenant Revelation

Praying in the psalms this morning, as is my habit, this passage became my meditation as I went to the Table of the Lord.
The LORD is good and upright;
therefore He shows sinners the way.
He leads the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.

All the LORD’s ways [show] faithful love and truth
to those who keep His covenant and decrees.
Because of Your name, LORD,
forgive my sin, for it is great.

Who is the person who fears the LORD?
He will show him the way he should choose.
He will live a good life,
and his descendants will inherit the land.

The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear Him,
and He reveals His covenant to them.
My eyes are always on the LORD,
for He will pull my feet out of the net.
(Psalm 25:8-15 HCSB)
First, notice that it is out of His goodness that the Lord shows us His way. Being a sinner does not disqualify anyone from receiving it (or else we would all be in trouble). The real qualification is the humility of faith — believing God. Those who are humble are teachable, but pride and arrogance keep one from being able to receive anything from the Lord.

God entered into covenant with Israel, offering them many wonderful promises and benefits (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14). All who kept that covenant — the way of the Lord — would enjoy those promises and benefits. For God always keeps His word, and when He commits Himself, as He does in covenant, to show His “faithful love” (Hebrew, hesed, steadfast love and mercy — covenant love!), He will move heaven and earth to reveal it. It is out of this great love and mercy that He forgives sin.

Who is the person who “fears the Lord?” To fear the Lord is to live in awe of Him, to love and trust Him with all our hearts. To honor what He honors and hate what He hates, to treasure His favor above all things and avoid His displeasure at all costs, to take pleasure in His word, His will, His ways and His works. (Psalm1is another way of describing this, and its benefits; see Two Paths.)

To those who fear the Lord, He will reveal the path they should choose, the one that will lead to a good life, and their descendants will inherit the earth, the blessing of peace and prosperity in the land. He will reveal His secrets to them and they will see His covenant promises fulfilled on their behalf.

Israel was meant to receive all these blessings and benefits, not only to enjoy for themselves, but to reveal and extend the salvation of God to all the world. The problem, though, was that she kept turning away from God and needed to be delivered from the terrible exile she had brought upon herself.

That was a big problem, but God had a big solution. Very early on in the story, God promised a Messiah, an Anointed King who would come and not only rescue Israel but also gather in all the nations as well to enjoy the pleasures of God. This Messiah was revealed, historically, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the only one who ever faithfully fulfilled every obligation of God’s covenant with Israel. By His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, He destroyed the works of the devil and defeated every power that stands against humanity — not only for the Jews, but for all the nations of the world. It is not only the taking away of sin but also deliverance from the power of sin, and from every enemy of spirit, soul and body.

It is that victory we find portrayed in the Table of the Lord. Jesus’ body was given and His blood shed on our behalf and for our benefit. In it, the new covenant between God and His people, foretold in the Old Testament (see Jeremiah 31:31-34), was instituted.

At the Table of the Lord, our eyes are always on the Lord Jesus the Messiah, who has pulled our feet out of the net. The secret counsels of God and the new covenant He has instituted with us are revealed in the signs of the body and blood of King Jesus.