What happens when you get into Covenant?

a-covenant-with-god

Take a look at Joshua 10

“Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. ‘Come up and help me attack Gibeon,’ he said, ‘because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.’ Then the five kings of the Amorites – the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon – joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.

The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: ‘Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.’ So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.’

Imagine your high school computer project is picked up by some Apple researcher and you are invited to join his team. All of a sudden your small-scale ambitions are absorbed into a massive multinational enterprise. This is what happened with Gibeon. In the last chapter they had linked in with Israel, the Covenant people. In consequence, when Israel’s enemies turned on them, they turned to their new allies  for help. “Do not abandon your servants.”

Israel might have reflected that Gibeon had tricked them into partnership and left them to struggle, but no, covenant is covenant. So Israel didn’t merely offer them token support, but mobilized the whole weight of their military machine on their behalf. The army undertook a punishing midnight march (v7) and caught the enemy by surprise. This is the nature of covenant. “If our God is for us…” Paul reminded young believers (in Romans 8), “who can be against us?” Covenant means marching on God’s side. And the weight of this massive multinational enterprise (!) is now on your behalf. Remember the “Commander of the Lord’s Army” (Joshua 5)? It’s not a matter of God picking sides, but YOU picking God’s side!

Consequently, the narrative takes a strangely supernatural turn. It’s as if the writer is pointing out that the natural world itself takes issue with God’s enemies. The heavens declare war! And so huge hailstones rain on the enemy (v11) and the day itself seems abnormally long (v14) and the consequence is drawn that “Surely the LORD is fighting for us!”

Here’s the point: they had found their place in Covenant and the result was supernatural energy and supply, and all the resources they need to face the situation. I remember a line from C.S.Lewis, from the novel That Hideous Strength “They have pulled down deep heaven on their heads.” It works both ways: remember Ai, when, because of their deception, God seemed to “fight against Israel”?

The result was that the war was contained: the five enemy leaders hide in a cave (Was it Mission Control?) and the refuge becomes their grave. Rebellion against God narrows your choices and things close in on you, until you’re trapped in your sin. It’s the opposite picture of the amazing expansion that the Gibeonites experienced when they threw in their lot with the people of the Covenant.

Lord, I link with you, I join my life in with your covenant. Let me experience that enrichment and expansion in my life.

 Jesus said:  ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

(John 15).

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