Sunday, 22 August 2021
I've been wanting to write about this one verse since last week. God is speaking to Abraham (who is still Abram) at the age of 99. In Genesis 17:1, God tells Abram, "Walk before Me and you will be blameless." Then God says in the next verse, "My heart's desire is to make My covenant between Me and you, and then I will multiply you exceedingly much."
In the Hebrew (transliteration) V'Et'na V'riti, Bayni U'Vaynecha; V'Ar'be Ot'cha, B'Me'od Me'od.
Now I would like to give you my translation. But first, a little explanation. There is nothing in the Hebrew text about "heart" or "desire." The word "Etnah" is simply "I will give, put, or set in front of" you. And, what is God giving? His "Brit" or covenant. God is making His decision to be connected. It is a covenant of grace. Then the Hebrew says "between Me and between you." The final phrase uses the word "Me'od" twice. "Me'od" can be translated "more." It means "much" or "add on to whatever else there was before "Me'od." When a word is repeated in Hebrew, it is how we express superlatives, such as "great, greater, greatest. This is God, multiplying Abraham through His greatest covenant, more and more.
Now my translation itself ... "And I will give My covenant, between Me and you, and you will be the object of My great and abundant multiplication."
That covenant given to Abraham is not some different covenant from what we have today in Yeshua. Yeshua perfected, or completed, the Abrahamic Covenant.
Galatians 3:6-9 Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," know then that those who have faith are children of Abraham. The Scriptures, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the Good News to Abraham in advance, saying, "All the nations shall be blessed through you." So then, the faithful are blessed along with Abraham, the faithful one.
Finally, a closing word about our first Congregational Declaration. The first sentence of the last paragraph reads ... "We covenant to hold each other accountable to living godly lives." What's the value of that? Let's get into it.
The two greatest commandments are to love God and to love each other. They are eternally tied to each other in Scripture, to the point that it is impossible to do one without the other.
1 John 4:20-21 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.
Godly love is always done through covenant. Some people might say (I'm not pointing any fingers here), "Marriage is messy, so let's just live together and avoid all the mess." That has sin all over the face of it. Others might say, "Congregational life is messy, so let's just visit and avoid the mess." They also are missing God's blessing. God has a blessing for those who obey Him, and He is not mocked. We need each other so that we can hold each other accountable and receive His blessing.
When we visit Israel, we go with a simple message, "You are not alone. We love you and are with you." After 15 years, our friends and ministry partners in Israel are starting to believe we mean it. How much better to have that same message right at home to our friends and ministry partners. "You are not alone. We love you and are with you." Let the Shalom of those words wash over you. Selah.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,