In this day and age, in America, people have primarily lost the understanding of what covenant really means. Not only G-d’s covenant but a covenant of man, also covenanting with each other. The Biblical outline for covenant was first given to the nation of Israel. There is an old saying, “on the stable chair of Judaism, there are four legs.
They represent as follows: the first leg stands for G-d, the second leg stands for the people, the third leg stands for the land, the fourth leg stands for the Book.” Amongst the Jewish people for the last 4,000 years, these four legs constitute the most basic aspects of Judaism and reflect deeply the tenets of our monotheistic faith. And all of it is painted over with the deep understanding and responsibility of the word covenant.
G-d made a covenant with the Jewish nation, we did not ask for it, we didn’t deserve it, but we have lived by it and we have struggled with it. We therefore remain, according to the scriptures, G-d’s chosen people, the race of kings, the people of the book. As you notice the four pegs that were previously mentioned encapsulates all that the Jewish people are to be. The covenant that G-d made with the Jewish people is 4,000 years old. It’s a covenant that I as a Chief Rabbi, our Jewish community, and our Jewish communities around the world follow rigorously and obey wholeheartedly. We are grateful that we have several Christian churches that have chosen to pray for and love Israel and who have chosen to make covenant with their communities and ourselves. The Abrahamic covenant is vast. Here at B’rit Avraham we don’t have an issue or a problem discussing the many aspects and the variety of different covenants within its structure. Discussing who the Messiah is, is just one aspect, though an important one. It connects with the sacrificial system and it obviously affects another peg, the people of Israel. And again it affects even another peg, the covenant land given by G-d to his people and all of it is legally binding by the final peg: the Book, the Torah, the Hebrew Scriptures.
There are many other covenants within the Bible: Adamic, Noetic, Mosaic, Aaronic, Davidic, and the New Covenant (New Testament). In the latter, Rabbi Yeshua, is the Divine Tzaddik, the Word made human, the Sacrificial Lamb, a Jew who kept the Torah (the Word) perfectly and did all of this in the Land of Israel.
It is regretful for people who desire to go deep within the things of G-d, who want to grow deeper into the knowledge of the Scriptures to have conversations with others who insist to keeping on one subject and who believe it is a waste of time to discuss any aspects of the Bible except Messiah. And then when one would rather talk about another aspect of Scripture the other party gets extremely upset. Again, I have to say this so that you will understand that I am not talking about anyone in particular, trust me I am a lot more mature than that. I haven’t even discussed the Oral Tradition of the Jewish people, with its thousands of pages of the traditions of our forefathers. The huge dialogues of our great rabbis. It is tragic and sad in regards to covenant, that rarely will you find anybody who is outside the Jewish faith who has the desire to go deeper into the things of G-d and to go deeper into the wonders of covenant.
Again, I am grateful that there are certain pastors within the Gentile-Christian faith who have shown a desire and a willingness to dialogue in friendship, and the payoff is that you realize you don’t have to agree on everything because the more you know the more you realize just how small you really are and how great G-d and his covenant are.
When we individually make covenant with others it also means that we are to be ethically and morally sound. We are to keep our word, our yes should be yes and our no should be no. When we submit to the rabbis, to the sages of Israel, the teachers of the law, that submission should include loyalty, honor and respect in that we are to have proper decorum with a sense of dignity in the hopes that we will carry ourselves in a respectful way being careful in what we say, how we act, with a willingness to serve without regret or agenda. Through the rabbis we learn to make covenant with each other man to man, woman to woman, in our business, how we should serve and give, our morals and ethics, basically all areas within covenant. It is always my hope and it is my sincere desire and passion to bring our people back to G-d and his commandments, and also that the Gentile Christian will learn from us and that those within the church have a teachable spirit.
I heard it once said, that at a bookstore a particular gentleman was autographing his new book for people. He wrote the book, his name is on the book and from within the crowd of people waiting in line, a man began to tell everyone “this is what the author meant” and “what he meant when he wrote this book”. The people began to laugh, they thought the man was a joke for there seated in the chair was the author himself. In a way that’s what a lot of people do today, Moses wrote the first five books of the Torah and all others after him were Jewish men. Moses wrote of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He wrote about Adam and Eve and Noah, the Creation story, Joseph and Pharaoh. Then there were the Jewish Prophets, and of course the Jewish kings of Israel. All the New Covenant documents, books, all the narratives that were written were written by Jews. Yet many non-Jews today are trying to explain what these Jewish authors meant without even inquiring within the Hebrew language which was the original language, including not looking historically at what these great authors were trying to tell us . Finally, we will never know unless we allow the Hebrew Scriptures to speak for themselves. To struggle and wrestle with what the Jewish writers were trying to tell us and not being afraid of the depths of G-d even if it doesn’t fit into our theological box.
Covenant is vast and it is high time that we stop trying to interpret it, trying to make it fit into what we want but instead letting G-d be true and his word be true.
Think on These Things
Chief Rabbi, Yosef Hilbrant