The making of oaths and treaties in ancient times was far more serious than it is today. When anyone swore an oath and broke it, the penalty was severe, even death. I cannot help but wonder how different our world would be if promises and vows had more significance. Not unlike Bonhoeffer’s “cheap grace,” we now have vows made with fingers crossed behind our backs.
He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” So that place was called Beersheba,because the two men swore an oath there.
Lack of trust is at pandemic proportions, the real core to our inability to make a vow or promise and keep it. We have all been betrayed so many times, we do not believe the word of others. Either we need lots of evidence or the cost for breaking trust must be so high that everyone is put in a fear position to uphold the agreement (hence, the Cold War).
Of course, those fear-based promises usually have loopholes and everyone is busy trying to find them.
Marriages have become the thing of mistrust and loopholes as well. I find it amusing, the angst over same-sex unions, while cheating, divorce, and secret lusts rage in society. How often are the ones who rail against the sins of others, forget their own?
A covenant is a binding oath, a promise that cannot be broken. An agreement with God, the acceptance of Christ as the Messiah, is on that level.
I forget this sometimes. I dishonor the agreement. I don’t hold up my end of the bargain, the treaty, the contract. In a secular world, if I broke a contract the number of times I have broken covenant with the Christ, I would be sued or forced to pay large sums of money or put in jail. But my contract, thanks be to God, is with Grace. And I get more chances to make it right.
I give “lip service” to my trust in God, but I’m afraid I don’t build my foundation on it. I am swayed and battered by the storms of life and I lose sight of trust I promised to have in God. I know intellectually that God is faithful and trustworthy, but still I stumble.
Sensitize me to Your Presence today Lord and give me courage to speak trust in the face of all circumstances. Help me build a Beersheba today, to remember my promise.