(Painting: "The Eternal Father Appears to Moses," by Jacopo Tintoretto, 1578)
33.) Covenant - In the story of Israel, God has given an authoritative witness to certain aspects of his own character, and especially of the nature of his relationship with human beings. Several times in the OT story, God enters into “covenants,” sometimes with individuals (Noah and his family, Abraham), and then ultimately with the whole people of Israel. In the same way, our relationship with God is at the same time personal-individual and collective; if we only conceive of ourselves in relationship with God as atomized individuals, then we are missing a very big part of the story. The covenant-relationship that God enters into with us is gracious—no one compels God to do it, he seeks us out and binds us to him simply because of his love for us. It is also based on a promise, which tells us that it is as sure and as unchangeable as God’s own character. At the same time, though, it is a covenant of moral responsibility, which calls not only to receive God’s love but to allow ourselves to be transformed by it, to grow into creatures nearer to his own moral nature through the practice of virtue and the keeping of his commandments. The covenant-relationship of God with Israel, shown so clearly in the Mosaic Law, would not find its final fulfillment until Jesus Christ, through whom the “New Covenant” is enacted.