Reference: Isaiah 54:10
‘For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Is. 54:10 ESV
A promise to you
To underscore the fact that the God of creation has made a promise to you about your salvation, we are reminded about that promise. This is so much more than God merely saying, “I am God, and I am telling you what I am going to do for you.” Not that such a statement is insufficient. For example, think of a business agreement based on a hand shake, or on a written and signed document, which can hold up in court.
Covenant of Peace
God has, in essence, given you a written, signed document. It is called a covenant. Note the reference to the “covenant of peace” in this passage.
A covenant involves a formal agreement between God and His people. Unlike a contract, it is not entered into by negotiation. God did not say, “Let’s sit down and figure out some sort of arrangement.”
While the children of Israel were in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah told of a new covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31). This new covenant is spoken of in Heb. 10, and recognized as being fulfilled in Acts 2 with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
But understand that the new covenant is the continuation of the old covenant. Now the law is written on the hearts of God’s people by the Holy Spirit. It is the basis upon which God can declare, with Christ’s finished work and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, that there can truly be peace between man and God.
Again, to be at peace is to have comfort. Consider Abraham with respect to this covenant of peace. God called Abraham from paganism, and He said, “You will be blessed,” which included the promise of a son. There was nothing special about Abraham that God should do this. God called him, God worked faith in his heart, and God arranged for Abraham and his seed to know the peace of God.
Based on this covenant, we read in Galatians 3:29, “And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” You who believe as Abraham did (who was counted righteous by faith), you also have the promise given to Abraham.
A binding agreement
That covenantal promise was formalized by cutting animals in half and laying them out, and God taking an oath upon Himself as He passed between the animals. As in every contract, there are benefits and penalties. In a covenant made by God, the penalty — the result for failure to keep the covenant’s agreements — is death. It is a bond in blood.
The scene in Genesis 15 of animals cut in half may seem very gruesome, like a bloody mess. But it emphasizes the reality that lacking peace with God means death. It was an arrangement of protection, of relationship, of obedience. The consequences of failure were symbolized by the two parties walking between the severed animals, thus swearing an oath: so shall it be to me as it is with these animals, if I fail to keep this agreement.
But notice that in Genesis 15, only God passed between the pieces. He took an oath, swearing by Himself, that when Abraham — and thus you — would fail, which we all do, He will provide for the penalty in the person of His Son by His death on the cross.
God’s promise enables you to live at peace with Him, and it is rooted in God’s binding himself to that promise.
Blog post content taken from a sermon series delivered by Dr. Maynard Koerner, President and Professor of Ministerial Studies at Heidelberg Theological Seminary.