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by Bubba Jennings
A Father’s Covenant
“I want my children to know that when they call, their father will answer.”
It took years for our children to sleep through the night. We had many conversations about letting them “cry it out.” It was during one of these discussions that my husband said these words. He made a covenant with our children: he would come when they called.
Did our children agree and concur? No, they were babies. Did they sign on the dotted line, accept the terms of the covenant, and agree to call at a certain decibel level, confirming that they could count on his answer under specific circumstances? Did they suggest a liability clause should he not answer? Of course not. They were helpless children, confined to their cribs, unable to hold him to his promise.
They only knew experientially that their father answered their frantic midnight calls—and every other call, too. They expected it, trusted it, and counted on his faithful response to their need. They even took it for granted. When we shut the door of their rooms at night, they knew that when they called that door would open and their daddy would walk through it. Nothing they did could change this—he would keep his covenant with them.
Our heavenly Father is a covenant-keeping God.
In Genesis 6, he initiates a covenant with Noah. “I will establish my covenant with you.” (v. 18) He gave Noah specific instructions about ark building and occupancy and then “the Lord shut him in.” (7:16)
In Genesis 9, the word covenant is used seven times, each time God is saying some version of “this is my covenant with you, Noah, and here’s how I’m going to uphold it.” Not once does Noah say, “So, what about that covenant?” He doesn’t have to—God keeps reminding him in both word and deed, giving a rainbow as a beautiful reminder.
But God doesn’t stop there: he makes a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and with Israel and his children. The entire Old Testament is his-story of relationship with his covenant people. He comes when they call, over and over again. He sticks around, even when they reject him.
In Jesus, he makes a new covenant with you and me. Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant. (Hebrews 7:22, 9:15) It’s sealed in his blood and had nothing to do with our good works.
We’re saved this way, says Titus 3:4–7:
· According to God’s mercy
· By the washing of regeneration
· By the renewal of the Holy Spirit who is poured out on us through Jesus
· We are justified by grace
· We’re made heirs
· We’re given hope of eternal life
Yep, pretty sure that there’s nothing on that list that I do.
In the same way our children couldn’t change the covenant their daddy initiated with them, we can’t add to or take away from the covenant God makes with us. It’s not our covenant to break.
We can’t take a pair of scissors and cut the rope that binds us to him in covenant love and commitment. We can’t tie ourselves back on because we were never able to remove ourselves in the first place. When you’re tempted to believe you’re that powerful, remember the baby in the crib, calling out in the night and waiting for Dad to answer.
God’s covenant with us is his to keep and uphold—this is our hope.
So let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23) to hear your call and answer like the covenant-keeping Father he is.
Hilary Tompkins is the director of women’s ministry at Mars Hill Church. Her husband, Steve, is the lead pastor of Mars Hill Shoreline.