Biblical scholarship has long recognized the similarities between Israel’s covenant with God and other covenantal agreements between kingdoms. This parallel shouldn’t be surprising. The Lord was simply working with His people in an environment that they could understand.
At the same time, the idea of a covenant, a legal agreement between two parties, with rules and stipulations and regulations, can seem so cold and so formal.
Though that element must indeed exist (God is the law-Giver), it’s not broad enough to encompass the depth and breadth of the kind of relationship God wanted with His people. Hence, other images are used in Deuteronomy to help portray the same idea as the covenant between God and Israel, but just to give it added dimensions.
Read Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 14:1; and Deuteronomy 32:6, Deuteronomy 32:18-20. What kind of imagery is used here, and how could this help reveal the relationship God wanted with His people?
Read Deuteronomy 4:20 and Deuteronomy 32:9. What imagery is used here, and how, too, does this help reveal the kind of relationship God wanted with His people?
In each case, there is the idea of family, which, ideally, should be the closest, tightest, and most loving of bonds. God has always wanted this kind of relationship with His people. Even after their shameful rejection of Jesus during the time of the cross, Jesus said to the two Marys after He had been resurrected, “Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me” (Matthew 28:10). Even as the resurrected Christ, He referred to the disciples as “My brethren,” an example of love and the grace that flows from love for those who certainly didn’t deserve it. That’s essentially what the relationship between God and humanity has always been: grace and love given to the undeserving.
|What kind of relationship do you have with God? How can you deepen it and learn to love Him, while at the same time understanding your covenant obligation to obey His law? Why are these two ideas not contradictory but complementary?|