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The descendants of Jonadab son of Recab have carried out the command their forefather gave them, but these people have not obeyed me.

~Jeremiah 35:16

Lesson6-image001Materials Needed: Whiteboard or easel.

Notes to the Leader: This is a study that can offer a lot of areas for discussion. The act of keeping one’s word is an attribute of leadership that each Christian should demand. However, this is a study about God keeping His promises and the corresponding response from us.

God keeps His promises. Then we, as God’s people, should have a corresponding response to God (our behavior). The beginning of the study may seem redundant. However, each of us is offered the choice to accept or reject that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Good decisions are always informed decisions. It is very important to spend time on the promises our great God has made to each of us. So this study will review the seven covenants made by God to His people.

All people have had both good and bad experiences with people making promises. This study offers ample opportunity to let people share their experiences. When sharing, question the group on how they felt after the experience (good or bad) and how that experience changed them (good or bad).

Introduction

What is a covenant?

  • Webster 1989 (1st definition) – a formal, solemn, and binding agreement.
  • American College Dictionary 1947 (1st definition) – an agreement between two or more persons to do or refrain from doing some act; a compact; a contract.

What do you notice about these two definitions and the impact of society and time?

  • There seems to be a de-emphasis on the responsibilities of behavioral change. It is not the contract or covenant itself that should be the focus but the resulting benefit to all parties.

What is still missing from both of these modern day definitions?

  • There is no mention of the inevitable penalty for breaking the contract or agreement.

Section One: Covenants From God

The seven covenants are as follows:

  • The Adamic Covenant (Genesis 2:16-17)
  • The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:8-17)
  • The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15:9-21)
  • The Second Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17:1-14)
  • The Mosaic Law (Covenant) (Exodus 19:1-8; 20:1-8; 24:1-8)
  • The Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:9-29)
  • The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:5-16)

Have your group read each covenant and answer the questions below.

What was the behavioral change or responsibilities within each covenant?

What was the penalty?

  • Obedience (not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; death.
  • Never again would all life be destroyed by a flood; this was a one sided unconditional promise from God.
  • Abram’s descendants would become a great nation in the Promised Land: Unconditional.
  • Abraham would have descendents; again, unconditional.
  • A promise to make a kingdom of priests and a holy nation from those who would keep the Law; the penalty was not to be part of this nation.
  • For those who would worship God and remain His people, He would protect them and their land; to turn away would bring disaster.
  • God’s kingdom would be established forever and that Christ would be the fulfillment of the covenant; eternal separation would be the penalty.

When you reflect back on these covenants, what can you conclude about God? About mankind?

  • God is interested in us. He has chosen to keep active throughout history.
  • It is mankind’s actions that continually separate him from God.
  • God punishes those who ignore His covenants and commands.
  • God also stands behind those who are faithful.
  • However, God is patient in His dealings with mankind.
  • Mankind is consistently poor in keeping any agreement with God (with each other also).
  • Therefore, a Christ can be the only answer to saving mankind.

Section Two: Deep Thoughts

Commentary to be discussed with group: There are those who say we have a loving God and, therefore, He would not banish anyone to an eternity of pain and suffering. By the many covenants that God has made, one could conclude that we do have a God of infinite patience and love.

Why are we to believe that some who do not follow God’s Law (covenants) will still be saved? Won’t He save us again and again?

This is the thin ice of Scripture. First, God, through Christ, has removed all of the excuses. We do not need to be separated. God has changed the covenant from one with a nation (Israel) to a personal one, by which each person must now choose to accept Christ or not accept Him. Hence, the responsibility for our behavior, our actions also becomes our own. God is infinitely patient, but the burden of acceptance and faithfulness remains ours. Scripture reveals, however, that those who continually reject God’s offer, will not benefit from God’s patience and grace.

Salvation is a gift but it is also a choice!

What is the behavior in today’s covenant that God expects from each of us today?

  • To first, understand that we are all separated from God with no knowledge of how to find Him.
  • To recognize that separation from God is serious and dangerous.
  • To believe that Christ, through God’s unselfish grace, removes our sinfulness through His great sacrifice and is the gatekeeper to God’s kingdom. Only Christ knows the way.
  • To place our faith in the miracle of the Cross, the miracle of the Resurrection, and in Christ.
  • To believe so strongly that God’s last covenant, Christ, is our only hope, we will rely on the inner strength of the Holy Spirit to direct us to change our behavior, to seek a relationship with our God.

Section Three: Who were the Recabites

Have someone in the group read Jeremiah 35:1-11

Was Jeremiah’s act of hospitality trickery?

  • There would have been nothing wrong in the Recabites partaking of the wine offered by Jeremiah. Yet, we see here a demonstration of steadfast commitment. In spite of what appeared to be a loosening of their ancestor’s rigid commands, they remained faithful.

Have someone in the group read Jeremiah 35:12-19.

How did God respond to the behavior of the Recabites?

  • God commended them for their actions and commitments to a respected ancestor, Jonadab.

Notes: For more than 250 years the Recabites persevered in their commitment to their vows; the Hebrews offered vows to the Lord through sporadic spiritual renewal, usually maintaining their commitment not longer than a single generation (v.16).

Section Four: Applying this Lesson to Today

How can the lesson of the Recabites help us in today’s Christian Church?

  • The church is in need of believers who are willing to obey God’s Word, even when they are in the minority. The body of Christ also needs members who, in the midst of “a crooked and depraved generation” (Philippians 2:15), will cling to the way of life and the standards of conduct that God reveals in Scripture.
  • In a materialistic culture that sees pleasure and luxury as the meaning of life, our times need people who find joy and satisfaction in trusting and obeying the Lord. Our highest priority must be to make decisions on the basis of the will of God as revealed in His Word.
  • There are still many people whose pledge is as good as their bond, but promises, in general, are more and more lightly regarded. We need to keep our commitments to God, even in the smallest and most mundane instances of life.
    Note to the leader: This is an excellent place to ask the group to share their experiences with people who “do” keep their word and “do not” keep their word. Discuss how these experiences may have helped or hindered their faithfulness.

Use an easel or whiteboard. Ask the group to create a list for the following question.

What are the ways people deviate from consistent obedience?

  • Irregular worship attendance
  • No involvement in the Church beyond Sundays
  • Failure to share their faith with others
  • Do not hold their leaders up to God’s standards
  • Unwillingness to use their talents to benefit the congregation
  • Failure to become part of the congregation
  • Unwillingness to change life’s priorities (fit church in)
  • Leave it to the other person to do (they are so talented you know)
  • Lack of sacrifice (time, treasure) on behalf of the Church
  • No vision or dream for their church
  • Weak understanding of Scripture
  • Do not defend God, Christ, the Church or their faith – hard to tell them from the masses

Bible Truth Being Taught

Spiritual joy is the blessing and the reward of the faithful who believe in their God. Worry and concern are the burden of those weak in their faith who do not know their God.

Our Response

To understand some of the typical ways we might lead lives of disobedience to our God and consider how we can avoid them.

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