Go to one of the tourist locations around the world and you might spot enterprising folks offering to inscribe or write your name on a grain of rice. Those who have never read (or those who have forgotten) the verse above, might be excited to have their names printed on a grain of rice by a stranger – and pay for it. Even if it is really of no consequence at all!
In one of the earlier posts, (I think) I had mentioned that there are 100 billion galaxies in the Universe and that each galaxy has, on an average, 200 million stars. I guess I had read somewhere that if you count 2 stars in 1 second, it would take you 95,000 years to count all of them! But God doesn’t need to count them – He created them all. Can you see your own heart? (God can!) You still believe that it exists and beats, don’t you? You believe. If you can believe that, then you are certainly capable of believing that God exists and that He keeps everything beating (running) in all of Creation.
So you see there is a God – God does exist. And He’s not there, but here! He is near…at hand. God speaks through the prophet Isaiah in 41:10 in the Bible…
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
If God promises to uphold you with His hand, you can be sure that He is near. So if you are a Christian, this is enough assurance to bring you through any trial. But if you are not a Christian, let me comfort you by announcing that God our Creator deeply loves you and wants to draw you near to Him. He longs for you to know Him, just as you long for your child to call you Daddy or Mummy. You can change your life for the better forever now…read the post Good News Friday to do so.
Here’s a couplet on family salvation in Urdu (I believe the Lord gave it to me):
Hazaaro Aaftab se Badhkar Roshni Laai Hai; (x2)
Aaj Hamaare Gharaane ne Najaat Paai Hai
Translated, it means:
Brightness Exceeding A Thousand Suns Has It Brought;
Today Salvation Has Our Household Got
If you are praying for the salvation of your family members, you can take inspiration from the above couplet. They say that if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got. So if you keep asking God for their salvation, it means you are operating from a position of “family not saved.” Rather, if you begin thanking the Lord for their salvation, you acknowledge that you trust God’s willingness to save your family/household.
Not convinced? Try this verse:
“If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Luke 12:28
“If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?” Luke 11:11
“Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways.” (Psalm 128:1)
Okay. So you fear the LORD reverentially. You try your best to obey His commandments. But what does God promise to do for you in return? Let us look at the answer one verse at a time.
“When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.”
God promises you that if you honour Him, He will bless your work and the wages you earn. You will be content with your work and your earnings and the tide will be in your favour. Remember, walking in His way (in this verse) includes being faithful in your tithes and offerings. You cannot rob God (read Malachi 3) and expect things to “be well with you.” The Bible clearly warns us, that “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked.” (Gal. 6:7)
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.”
I have personally experienced this. I do try to obey the LORD in all respects. The result is mine to see – my wife is one of the hardest-working and smartest women I have come across (just like my mom!). And when I watch my son ride his tricycle around the table as I type away on my laptop, this verse speaks to me all the more. You realise that the Bible is indeed what it claims to be – the Living Word of God. It has breath.
“Behold, thus shall the man be Who fears the LORD.”
Here, God re-states what He promised in the preceding verses. He tells you that He’s really serious about blessing you by fulfilling these promises. And He wants to convey that to you. Hence the need to have this verse here.
Psalm 128:5, 6
“The LORD bless you out of Zion And may you see the good of Jerusalem All the days of your life. Yes, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!”
God will surely open the windows of Heaven if you walk in the way the He leads you to. In fact, he already opened the windows in a broad sense by sending Jesus and the Holy Spirit!
‘Jerusalem’ here signifies you – your body – your life. ‘Israel’ denotes your family. As Jerusalem is the chief city (not capital) of Israel, so are you the representative of Christ Jesus in your family (even if the others are saved too).
The LORD promises that each day of your life will be a good day. He promises you with good health and a long life – at least enough for you to see your children’s children. I have literally seen this promise being fulfilled by God. A deliverance minister I knew spent most of his energy serving God by healing others. He probably did not take adequate care of his own health with the result that he died of heart trouble at the age of 49. But by that time his elder daughter had already delivered a baby girl. Amazing, isn’t it? God will never back out of His promise if you are faithful, because it’s not just an agreement or a contract – it’s a Covenant relationship!
His promise to shower blessings applies to your family too if you abide in His Word (read Acts 16:31). When the LORD makes promises, He keeps them! That’s a good reason to do what Psalm 118:8 asks us to do:
“It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”
In Part 1 of this two-post series, we saw the meaning of an agreement, a contract and a covenant. Now let us look at a few similarities and differences between them.
- All three are, at their most basic level, agreements of some kind
- They are entered into for the benefit of at least one of the parties (obvious)
- An agreement often has terms and conditions, just like a contract and a covenant (though not always)
- Violating the conditions of a contract and a covenant can have legal implications – only, in the case of the Biblical covenant with God, the implications are primarily spiritual in nature.
- A simple agreement that has no evidence backing it, will not stand in the court of law. A contract is written and will stand in court. E.g. a couple in love who simply ‘agree’ to live as partners cannot become a husband and wife unless they have a marriage certificate.
- In a (Biblical) covenant, at least one of the parties is sure to fulfil the conditions. But in a simple agreement or a business contract, all parties are vulnerable to violating the terms. Or they may opt out of the contract by fulfilling certain conditions. If man fulfils his part, God will never back out!
So what’s this discussion got to do with God and the Bible?
A lot! The entire Bible is a series of incidents where God, having made a covenant with man, shows His longsuffering nature before striking judgment. Seeing that we have a sin nature, He also works out a plan for us to obtain His pardon though we do not deserve it. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The Law of Moses was a covenant. Man broke it. God warned them to repent. Many did – many did not. Those who did not, faced the wrath of God.
The new covenant through Jesus Christ makes it far simpler for us. God promises to fulfil His commitment despite our failures. We only need to believe and receive His grace to obey His commands. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)
If you want to know more about how you can obtain forgiveness of sins and God’s grace, read the Good News here.
How is a covenant different from an agreement and a contract? Do they have anything in common? Let us look at what each of these 3 terms means:
- Agreement: When two or more parties agree upon something, it is called an agreement. It can be oral or written. It can be expressed or implied. In the olden days (and even today in certain situations/places), a “gentleman’s word” was an agreement. E.g. when your house walls gave way, your neighbour or relative would give you shelter. This happened in January 2001 in a massive earthquake in India. This implied agreement is a gentleman’s unspoken word. Despite not knowing Jesus, they kept his commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:39)
- Contract: I belong to India. In college, I was taught that according to the Indian Contract Act, 1872, “A contract is an agreement enforceable at law.” This would be pretty much the same the world over. To be valid, it must be expressed in writing. It would also have its Terms and Conditions (T & C). Violating the T & C could lead to legal action.
- Covenant: A covenant is much superior to an agreement or a contract. It is a promise. E.g. the Law of Moses with the Ten Commandments. Or God’s promise to save all humans who repent of their sins and turn to Him through belief in His Son Jesus Christ: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
In Part 2 of this series, we will look at the similarities and differences a covenant, a contract and an agreement. We’ll also see how a covenant is much superior to an agreement and a contract.
“The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times.” – Psalm 12:6