What makes New Year’s resolutions so unreliable? Perhaps it is because a resolution is an agreement I make with myself, but sadly I am very unreliable and readily willing to make a compromise with myself. What makes a New Year’s Covenant different? I’m making a binding contract with God. Whilst I may be unreliable, He is not!
They say that a New Year’s resolution is doomed to fail quickly if it had not been carefully considered and planned for before New Year’s, so perhaps we should be making plans for a Covenant with God before the clock struck midnight last Saturday. Thankfully God’s Covenant with us began before the beginning of time, and it is everlasting on his side of the bargain, so it WILL succeed.
Moses gathered his people to renew their side of the Covenantal agreement with God, just before they entered into the Promised Land. (Deut 29). He reminded them of how they were to live and worship in the Promised Land, and of God’s goodness to them whilst in the wilderness for 40 years. Then on their behalf Moses renews the covenant:
12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deut 29:12-13)
The covenant is simple – God will be their God, and they will be his people.
We know that God will keep his part of the agreement, but how about us as we stand on the dawn of a new year?
The consequences for covenantal failure are clear:
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
What a dangerous situation to be in… thinking you are right with God but choosing to go your own way! But isn’t this just what the majority of our neighbours think? “God is good, God an me are mates, so it’s all going to be good!” To be honest, isn’t this what we all sometimes think?
But what happens when I’m not good by God’s standard? Gulp. This is where God’s New Covenant is unique. God’s new covenant is through the blood of Jesus – he has paid the price for my covenantal failure. God’s wrath and curses (Deut 29:20) poured out on Jesus. God knows I’m prone to wandering, and deserve this consequences outlined in this covenant. But the consequence is wiped clean by Jesus.
So, I too want to renew the Covenant with God, not so that I may go on sinning, but to remind me of the price that has already been paid for my waywardness, and so direct me to right living for the year ahead.