October 30, 2020
While we are in the midst of this exceptionally contentious political season—one more extreme than we have experienced in our recent memory, and one illustrated by the recent vitriolic Presidential debate—people have become even more divided and dangerously opinionated. People around us, taking to ideological camps, flare in anger and frustration, becoming increasingly blinded to things rational, believing only what “their side” now speaks and does. This blindness of rage and partisanship prevents the beauty and grandness of truth from being experienced, traded for the narrow darkness of opinion and prejudice.
Watching this, the People of God, the prophets of the earth, must—like Jeremiah—weep within as the people of the nations have forgotten to glorify God and have begun to walk in darkness, their feet stumbling on the twilight mountains, thinking they are looking for light that has only turned into gloom and deep darkness. However, it is a sad fact that, unlike Jeremiah, few of us weep, rather even the People of God have joined the worldly chorus of rage as they choose their secular, political camp.
How then are we as the People of God to sidestep such an error and avoid this fate? We do so by once again embracing a political (and so social ) life no longer dominated by a secular philosophy but one that is fully informed by the Covenants we have made with God, so jettisoning identification with party politics alone (which we can see is mere intellectual idolatry).
This present political and social situation is disturbingly new to us, but it is not new to the history of the People of God. Many have had to deal with similar problems, and all have had the same response. It is the answer that Jeremiah proclaimed. At the time that Jeremiah was speaking the thoughts of God to the people, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had already fallen and been taken into Assyrian captivity. Now it was the turn of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. All realized that the Kingdom of Israel’s fall had been due to both a contention with the true worship of God and their trusting in secular political alliances. Now Judah was following the same path, so Jeremiah warned them to remember the Covenants, to center their social and political lives on God and on the commandments to love God and love neighbor.
Recall what he said: “Hear and give ear; be not proud, for the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings darkness, before your feet stumble on the twilight mountains, and while you look for light he turns it into gloom and makes it deep darkness. But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive. Say to the king and the queen mother: ‘Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head.’ The cities of the Negeb are shut up, with none to open them; all Judah is taken into exile, wholly taken into exile.” It is a familiar refrain, one that echoes about us today: hear and give ear: Glorify God and the covenants you have made with him, O people and rulers, or you will lose all that you have.”
Now this obviously implies that today we, as the People of God, should be embracing and calling from our leaders, for laws that allow a life and society that will fulfill the Covenants of God. However, before addressing the practicality of what would appear to be such laws and actions of government, we need to address another blindness into which we have been indoctrinated; and that blindness is the current belief that we should be very cognizant not impose our religious beliefs and wills on others.
This is a subtle, however irrational, belief. It begins with being told that good people desiring the liberty of others, do not impose their will upon other people. This part is true. But then, what follows, is that we are told that if we vote or call for things that are according to our beliefs that we are then imposing our wills on others in the nation. This is the irrational and fallacious statement, and it is a belief that has contributed to the downfall of a Christian-based society. To vote and call upon the leaders of the government with a Christian voice; to prophetically confront the king and queen, with the Word of God, does not control them, it informs them of where I stand. To vote according to the Covenants of God does not impose my will on another. It is merely speaking my mind. Voting is, by definition, the expressing of my opinion. In a democracy, even a Constitutional Republic like the United States, it is those opinions that are to be heard. To be told not to vote according to your calling is an irrational statement.
Realizing this, let us turn to the practicality of Jeremiah’s call. How do I live out the Covenants of God in my approach to God and society? The initial answer is provided by Jesus in his conversation with the rich man told by Luke (18:18). There we read: “And a ruler asked [Jesus], ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”’ And he said, ‘All these I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’”
Many people get hung up on the riches aspect of the teaching here, which is only secondary. The primary aspect is to see how to live a full life: Follow Jesus and live out the Covenant. Most people in this world are like this rich man. They are attempting to be good. Most are also desiring best for others, wanting to help others in this world to live good, full lives.
The problem in this world is not that people are generally bad-actors and wishing bad for others. The problem is with their philosophies of what produces a full and good life. The answer to what is a good, productive, healthy and full life differs amongst the peoples of the nation and the world. However, for the People of God, the answer to this question is clearly located in the Covenants made with God. To live out the Covenants is to live fully. The world’s answers are in the philosophies of the world, which (as history attests) so far have failed.
We do not have the time to get into what these world philosophies each say, since that is a course of studies on it own in comparative religion and philosophy. However, if you are interested in those philosophies that dominate our society today, take a look on YouTube at the lecture “Ideas Have Consequences” by Bishop Robert Barron, where in a brief 50 minutes he is able to summarize the influences of the atheistic, secular, nihilistic, existentialist philosophies of Marx, Nietzsche, Sarte, and Foucault; and how these are now the foundation of much of our thinking today.
But for us, for the People of God—who equally wish the best for each individual and society in the world—what word do we speak to the king and queen? What prophetic utterance do we produce and act upon? We act upon the words of Jesus and the Covenants of God.
Jesus has already informed us about our foundational guidance: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. This is another reason we work diligently for the best of others in this world. A good definition of love is this: To desire and to work for the best of the other person. So, I desire and work for God’s best in this world; because I love God. So, I desire and work for the best of all other people; because I love them. What, then, we may ask, is the best for others? It is what brings them health, fullness, and life. What, we may further ask, brings us and them health, fullness, and life? For the People of God the answers are clear and are outlined in the Covenants.
You may have noticed I say covenants. When thinking of the Covenant, most people think only of the Ten Commandments, as these are the clearest for us; but in truth we live under the guidance of six covenants as we await the seventh covenant. These are:
o The Covenant with Adam
o The Covenant with Noah
o The Covenant with Abraham
o The Covenant with Moses
o The Covenant with David
o And presently, the Covenant in Jesus.
We now await the eternal Covenant relationship of the New Creation. Seven covenants outlining the wholeness of our eternal relationship with God.
In all the Covenants with God we find the answer to a full life, a prescription for health, For in each Covenant God offers a blessing of “fruitfulness”; that is, he offers from His side the possibility of a full and healthy life. So, we see that to live out these covenants and promote them in society is the way of truly loving others, because we are offering to each person in this world fullness of life, prosperity, and fruitfulness. What are these covenants of fruitfulness?
o First, the Covenant with Adam, which was the covenant made in marriage; marriage between Adam and Eve, but more so, between God and humanity. It was a covenant blessed with fruitfulness.
o Next was that with Noah, the covenant with the individual family, and that honoring the sanctity of the family brings fruitfulness.
o Third, that with Abraham and with the individual tribe; honoring God in the tribe will again bring health.
o Fourth, the covenant with Moses was for the nation and its health. It along with the
o Fifth covenant, that made with David for the National Kingdom would spread fruitfulness and heath across the earth;
o Finally, the sixth Covenant is in Jesus. In the New Covenant with Jesus abides the life and health of every person upon the earth.
o The final covenant is yet to come. Eternal life and fruitfulness in the New Creation of God.
So, we are called to keep these Covenants personally, and if we love others, to do all in our power to produce and promote them throughout the world. And, that these would not be some profoundly deep philosophy that only to the elite could understand, God makes it simple and clear in the Ten Commandments. This is why Jesus refers to them when responding to the rich man’s inquiry about living the fullness of life.
These commandments are what we can use as a form of “checklist” to see if what we are producing and promoting is loving and healthy for all. These are questions I pose in addressing rulers, whether addressing them prophetically as to a dictator’s face, or by democratic means of the vote.
The first two of the Ten Commandments refer to the sanctity of God and the Divine Name. These provide the guidance and questions of: Do the laws and principles, the policies and actions of what I am about to promote through vote or voice, encourage or inhibit the recognition of the Holiness of God? In a democracy the person of God votes for what encourages others to recognize the Holiness of God and opposes anything that denigrates that recognition of Holiness.
The third Commandment refers to the Sanctity of Time and the worship of God. Does what I am promoting through voice or vote encourage or inhibit anyone’s ability to worship God? The Person of God encourages the ability to worship God. These first three commandments incorporate the Adamic Covenant.
The fourth Commandment refers to the Sanctity of Parenthood. Does what I am promoting encourage or inhibit the rights of parents and the integrity of the family. The Covenant with God demands the encouraging of the integrity of parenthood and the family. This one incorporates the Covenant with Noah.
The fifth refers to the Sanctity of Life. Does what I am promoting encourage or inhibit the right of someone else, especially the innocent and powerless, to live? Does it promote life, or does it promote death? The Covenant with God demands that we promote life over death.
The sixth—and to an extent the nineth commandment—refers to the Sanctity of Marriage and sexual practice. Does what I am promoting encourage a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality, or does it promote another view or inhibit marriage and healthy sexuality? The Covenant with God says we have promised to promote a Biblical sexuality and marriage.
The seventh and the tenth commandments refer to the Sanctity of Private Property and another’s property. Does what I am promoting encourage or inhibit a person’s ability to have security in their knowledge that property that belongs to them remains with them; and even if others wish to have their property (coveting it) the laws enacted protect the owner’s rights. The Covenant demands that we protect others from anyone, including the governments, coveting or taking their private property.
Finally, the eighth commandment speaks to the Sanctity of Truth. Does what I am promoting encourage or inhibit the establishment of the truth. Now this means the truth of God in Jesus Christ, but also just as immediately, the truth that is being told. We are called to support the truth, which also means we must determine what that is. To a great extent, much of what is around us is propaganda, which essentially means it is a lie. What is in the public media is a lie much of the time. Today we call it fake news, not long ago it was called Yellow Journalism. Those wanting to control the people control the news. We must view all information through the lens of truth, which means we need to look at it deliberately, rationally, and logically. Is what we are being asked to promote or encourage actually a truthful endeavor.
So, we have our checklist, and it is what is set before us as we raise our voice to the rulers of this world and what we use determine our decisions as we mark our ballots in a democracy. These are what we have in mind as we determine what is the response of the Person of God and what will bring health and fullness to individuals and a nation. These are the responses of love. However, if we abandon these, we reap the words of Jeremiah: “If you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD’s flock has been taken captive.” Let not this happen. Let us be one’s that walk in the love found through the covenants.