November 2006

Should I hide my plan from Abraham? ... I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord.
—Genesis 18:17-19, NLT

How do we keep our families together in a world that's falling apart? It is beneficial to look at the principles found in God's dealings with the Jews—His first covenant family.

When examining the Scriptures, we discover principles by which every Jewish family lived. One of those is that every family was founded on a covenant with God. The Jews understood covenant privileges. Their covenant with God is one of the main reasons they're still around today.

To understand the power of covenant, let's look briefly at the anatomy of one type. In Bible times, two neighbors who wanted to live together in harmony would simply "cut a covenant."

In this ceremony animals were slain. The two parties would walk between the slain animals and vocalize the terms of their agreement. Then there was an exchange of gifts.

After the covenant was ratified it applied not only to the person's existing family but also to his descendants, extending many generations.

God Himself "cut covenant." When He did, He always cut it with one person. According to Scripture, God has cut only two unconditional covenants: one with Abraham and the other with His own Son, Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us: "God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn't say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child—and that, of course, means Christ" (Gal. 3:16, NLT).

What does this have to do with family? Well, if the scriptural examples of covenant hold true (and they do!), we can see a pattern emerging. The pattern indicates that God always visits the seed of those in covenant (see Gen. 26:23-24; 28:13).

Are you in covenant with God through Christ? Then God will visit your family. Your loved ones are never too far gone for Him to reach them.

He didn't say He'd visit those who were perfect or raised without any mistakes. No, the pattern indicates He visits the seed of those in covenant with Him. This means you can expect God to visit your children—period!

The Jews built their families based on a covenant with God. You can too. Go ahead; lean on your covenant with God. You can trust Him to be faithful.

John Chasteen is the assistant dean of Southwestern Christian University Graduate School in Bethany, Oklahoma.

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