What happened to the New Covenant?

 

I read the Old Testament sometimes, and it makes me very glad to know that I live under the new covenant of grace and mercy and not the old covenant of blood and sacrifice.  Because there was a lot of blood and sacrifice going on.
 
We see here a scene some time after Gideon heroically delivers Israel from her enemies with a tiny army of 300.  Gideon refuses the kingship offered (but apparently not the lifestyle), saying Yahweh will be king.  Yet he takes up offerings of gold from the people, and sets up his household as the highest in Israel, including a large harem of women to produce his dynastic legacy.
One of his sons by a foreign concubine was named Abimelech (which means “my father is king”).   Abimelech makes no pretense of not wanting power, but would not be the rightful heir with so many half-brothers from “legitimate” wives.  
The people of Israel turned away from Yahweh and worshipped the gods of those around them.  They also turned away from their respect and memory of the feat Gideon had done for them in defeating their enemies.   Abimelech takes advantage of this, and finds supporters for himself.  They finance his coup, and he sacrifices  70 of the legitimate heirs to his fathers power on one stone altar.  The people them choose to elevate Abimelech as king, and that’s where we pick up the story…
 
 When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’

The olive tree and fig tree are both representing Gideon (and by extension his family line).  They were both highly desirable plants, offering shade and good fruit.  Like Gideon, they refused the offer of kingship.

And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’   The grape vine, another highly desirable and productive plant, also refuses the offer.

Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’   Taking refuge in the shade of a bramble (thornbush) is not possible – it is not substantial enough to produce shade.  This thornbush is Abimelech, the thorny,  illegitimate heir of Gideon.  The trees (the Israelite people) will not get any shade or protection from the thornbush they have chosen.  It is worthless for anything except one use – thornbushes were used for fire.  So Jotham, who was also a half brother of Abimelech, declares that this choice will bring about destruction for for the trees making the choice, that all the people will be burned up in the fire brought by Abimelech.

Am I the only one relating this to our times here in America?  Where are the trees and plants that produce shade, protection and good fruit??  They have to exist!!  But it seems we’ve got nothing but thornbushes to choose from.  No matter who we choose, we’re likely to get burned up in the fire.  

Maybe the choices for leadership are simply a reflection of the ones being lead.  Maybe what we’ve become is simply a society of thornbushes, poking and burning each other at every turn.  There is no where to turn to escape the fire, because we are all on fire.  So wrapped up in our us verses them culture.  Or really, our me against the world culture.  Every man, woman and child for themselves.  I heard it said recently, and I’m paraphrasing here, that ‘we are all outsiders now, but with no “inside” to be outsiders of.”  

Where is the “love” in America?   In a nation based originally on Christian values, we have rejected love.  We say that we love, but we don’t.  We elect brambles who do the best job of choosing which groups to pit against one another, whether racially, economically, socially, nationalistically.  Probably because we are a nation of brambles.

I think we are actually devolving from the New Covenant of grace and mercy, back to the old covenant of blood and sacrifice.  Not literally, we don’t offer blood sacrifices at a physical altar.  Our altar is now public opinion, and whatever can get us 50.1% of tomorrow’s vote.  We will sacrifice any and everyone and everything to get “victory” over our “enemies”.   We are moving away from Jesus’ standard of everyone is our neighbor and love of enemies, to a new standard of everyone is our enemy and hate of neighbor.  Our leaders pit one group against the other because that is who we’ve become.   We’ve become so convinced of our own righteousness, every group claiming their own moral superiority.   Every group wallowing in our own self-righteousness, the only righteousness we feel we need.  The righteousness of whatever works for ME!!  We think we are unique in this, that we are living on a higher plane than those who came before us.  But, as Eccesiastes tells us, there is nothing new under the sun.  This has all been done before.   The last line of the book of Judges reads “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  ‭‭Judges‬ ‭21:25‬ ‭ESV‬‬. In THIS day, we’ve rejected our King in America.  Everyone does what is right in his own eyes.
What happened to the New Covenant??


“When it was told to Jotham, he went and stood on top of Mount Gerizim and cried aloud and said to them, “Listen to me, you leaders of Shechem, that God may listen to you. The trees once went out to anoint a king over them, and they said to the olive tree, ‘Reign over us.’ But the olive tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my abundance, by which gods and men are honored, and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree said to them, ‘Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit and go hold sway over the trees?’ And the trees said to the vine, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the vine said to them, ‘Shall I leave my wine that cheers God and men and go hold sway over the trees?’ Then all the trees said to the bramble, ‘You come and reign over us.’ And the bramble said to the trees, ‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you, then come and take refuge in my shade, but if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’ “Now therefore, if you acted in good faith and integrity when you made Abimelech king, and if you have dealt well with Jerubbaal and his house and have done to him as his deeds deserved— for my father fought for you and risked his life and delivered you from the hand of Midian, and you have risen up against my father’s house this day and have killed his sons, seventy men on one stone, and have made Abimelech, the son of his female servant, king over the leaders of Shechem, because he is your relative— if you then have acted in good faith and integrity with Jerubbaal and with his house this day, then rejoice in Abimelech, and let him also rejoice in you. But if not, let fire come out from Abimelech and devour the leaders of Shechem and Beth-millo; and let fire come out from the leaders of Shechem and from Beth-millo and devour Abimelech.” And Jotham ran away and fled and went to Beer and lived there, because of Abimelech his brother.”
‭‭Judges‬ ‭9:7-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/jdg.9.7-21.esv

John Lewis

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2 thoughts on “What happened to the New Covenant?

  1. John, I couldn’t agree with you more. We have chained ourselves again to Old Testament Law and reverted back to blood and sacrifice. We embrace the death penalty, we call for revenge and war as if worshiping idols. At the same time, we exclude foreigners, orphans and the poor, and In doing so, we nail Jesus to the cross all over again.

    It’s truly a sad state of our Christian ethics and values when we have exchanged “law and order” for mercy, love and grace.

    Liked by 1 person

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