If you are new to us, you will quickly notice that we are two months into a twelve-month project that we are enjoying as a church family. We have called it the 2020 Bible Project, in which we are following a Bible-reading and video-watching schedule that is familiarizing us with the over-arching storyline of the Bible.
Even if you are just joining us, there is no need to catch up. Just go to our website at www.southwest.org (or there are hard copies in the foyer), click the link, and merge into the story. In fact, this is a great week to get started, as we just finished the book of Exodus, and will begin fresh in the book of Joshua this coming week.
Meanwhile, here in our weekly gatherings, we have committed to base our teachings around previous week's reading plan. My prayer is that our time together is useful to everyone, but you can really maximize your experience if you are reading along. Join us!
The final chapters of the book of Exodus tell us what happens right after God delivers the famous Ten Commandments to His people, Israel, through His servant Moses. It is both tragic and hopeful, and introduces us quite dramatically to an aspect of God that is both understandable and horrifying - especially for those of us who really, really like our picture of God to only include His grace, forgiveness, mercy, and redemption. Today we walk into a tension that God feels, that we will also feel.
To grapple with this tension, we need to understand what the Bible means by a word that we have read a lot in Genesis and Exodus, but do not use much: Covenant.
Simply put, a covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. However, it is not merely a legal binding, but a relational one. So, when a legal contract is broken, a penalty is incurred. But when a covenant is broken, it damages a relationship. It is less "business arrangement" and more "marriage".
This is no small thing. When God made a covenant with Israel, He introduced a novelty into the world that had never been seen. A community founded on nothing more than a relationship based on faith and loyalty. They are community based not on land or nationality, but upon fidelity to a mutual relationship.
What will God do when a covenant based on mutual fidelity meets one-sided infidelity?