This year has been quite the year so far. First the pandemic. Then George Floyd’s murder and the resulting protests and riots. Now it’s the threat of defunding local police.
The issues facing America and the world are complex. Though I certainly don’t have all the answers, I do know this: Learning to live by covenant is vital, especially now.
As this turbulent decade unfolds, I wonder how much longer we can depend on the American system for healthcare, safety, and provision. Though unsettling to think about, there is good news. Through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are in a covenant relationship with God. And that means we have access to His wonderful covenant promises.
This brings me to the fifth step in ancient covenant-making: the pronouncement of blessings and curses.
Covenant Blessings and Curses
During an ancient covenant ceremony, while the two parties stood in the middle of the sacrifice, each pronounced the terms of the covenant. They declared blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
When a covenant was made between humans, the blessings included protection, provision, and fighting the others’ enemies. The curses included retaliation by the injured party and a vow to become their enemy.
When a covenant was made between God and humans, the blessings included abundant harvests, prosperity, good health, and a fruitful womb. The curses included disease, poverty, famine, and sending a foreign enemy to conquer them.
New Covenant Blessings and Curses
The book of Deuteronomy lists God’s blessings and curses for Abraham’s descendants (Deut. 27-29). Some of the blessings included health, healing, prosperity, safety, and protection. The curses were basically these blessings reserved, such as disease, sickness, poverty, and defeat.
In the New Covenant, we also see blessings and curses. While Jesus hung on the cross, cutting the New Covenant with humanity, He made seven declarations. In these statements, He pronounced the promises of the New Covenant and took the curse of sin and death upon Himself. Through the finished work of the cross, Jesus redeemed believers from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).
The book of Galatians highlights several valuable truths about accessing New Covenant promises. First, believers are considered to be in Christ and thus heirs to the promises made to Abraham. Paul wrote, “In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Gal. 3:14). He also said, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29).
Second, the blessings of Abraham come to New Covenant believers by the Holy Spirit through faith. Let me explain.
The promises made to Abraham were external. If the people obeyed the Law, God blessed them. But if they disobeyed or neglected the Law, God sent curses upon them.
Good news for us! In the New Covenant, believers in Jesus Christ are heirs to the blessings of Abraham but are no longer subject to God’s curses. As I detailed in my book Understanding Your Inheritance in Christ, the blessings of Abraham include healing and health, provision, and protection. These blessings are not accessed by external obedience to a set of laws or principles. Rather, we receive them by hearing with faith.
Paul wrote, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:5).
Three Ways to Appropriate God’s Blessings
I am thankful for the blessings of Abraham and want to share three ways I appropriate them into my life.
First, whenever I have a need, I ask in faith for God’s blessing in that area.
Second, I stand against the devil’s attacks. When God cut covenant with Abraham, birds of prey attacked the covenant sacrifice (Gen. 15:11). But it was Abraham’s responsibility to drive them away. Likewise, we have a responsibility to wage spiritual war against the enemy when he curses us with sickness, lack, or harm. God doesn’t send curses upon us anymore. But the devil certainly does. Therefore, just as Abraham had to drive the birds away, we must drive away the enemy’s attempt to steal our blessings.
Third, whenever a need arises, I wait on the Lord, listening carefully to what He is saying in that situation. When He speaks, I cling to Him and His words in faith, seeking to fully obey the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I stand on God’s promises. Other times I take action by obeying what the Holy Spirit instructs me to do.
A Recent Example
During the coronavirus pandemic, my wife and I tried to stay home as much as possible. I work from home so that was not a major issue. However, from time to time, we had to go out to buy groceries and other necessities.
Each day, we prayed for protection from the virus and took communion. Even so, we did not assume this alone would protect us. We didn’t just confess God as our Healer and presumptuously go anywhere at any time. We stayed sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s inner promptings. We listened to His voice and obeyed.
At times, the Lord gave us freedom to go somewhere. At other times, we sensed His restraint. Who knows whether obeying Him like this saved our lives? But one thing I do know: Yielding fully to the Holy Spirit and following His lead is how every believer is meant to live.
Cling to the Lord and to His Promises
The days in which we live are becoming increasingly turbulent. Now, more than ever, it’s important to walk by the Spirit by hearing with faith.
I want to challenge you: Yield yourself entirely to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to stir you afresh. As you are revived by Him, cling to God and to His numerous promises to bless His children. This is your inheritance as Abraham’s heir.