“Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” Psalm 50:5
No doubt influenced by how God spoke to me yesterday, when I saw this verse this morning, my heart was immediately affected. Covenant is made by sacrifice. What floors me is that the main sacrifice required for our covenant with the God of Heaven wasn’t provided by us. There wasn’t anything we could bring before Him that would cover our sin. Nothing that was enough to redeem us and pay the debt. Forgiveness just wasn’t attainable for us, because our hearts were dark and hopelessly stained by our sin. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
God provided the sacrifice for the covenant. He became the sacrifice for the covenant. Which is why it can be everlasting. Because the blood of Jesus covers fully. That infinitely perfect, pure blood, a heart that had never been stained by sin, offered in our place—it is enough. Forever. God made a covenant with us by sacrifice. Not because we deserve it. Not because He was under any obligation. But simply because He loves us with a great love. So He made a way. It was the only possible way for us to be forgiven, for His justice to be satisfied. Our only hope for true life. And He did it. That continually just blows me away.
Not only does this sacrifice bring us forgiveness, it also gives us freedom. Freedom from the power of sin that has held us captive for so long. Because sin digs in deep. That temptation, that behavior that just takes hold of your heart and your mind and nothing you can do will shake its grip. We aren’t strong enough to fight it. And a lot of the time we frankly don’t want to. Because sin draws us in with the lie that it will satisfy us, that it won’t be that bad. When in fact it won’t satisfy. At least not for long. And the consequences are greater than we know. It will leave us with regret and shame. It will make us numb to everything that truly matters, everything that will bring us real joy and peace. It will destroy our lives and our very soul. Jesus is strong enough to break all of this. As powerful as sin is, it’s not even worth comparing to the power of God within us. He will come in and be so much more glorious and so much more satisfying that everything else will fade away. Why would we fall for the lie when we have abundant life and beautiful truth in front of our eyes? Jesus comes into our lives and breaks those chains, filling us with His Spirit to empower us to walk faithfully, and our eyes are opened to how much greater life is when it is lived to the honor and glory of God. In fact, His sacrifice is so all-encompassing that He is even able to redeem every wrong choice and use it to bring Himself glory and make our lives flourish as we are overwhelmed with His grace.
I don’t want to miss the other portion of the covenant. Because there is sacrifice on our part. The sacrifice of ourselves. The surrendering of our lives. We come before the cross where our Lord laid down His life, and we lay down our own. The sacrifice for us is to abandon the thought that we know better. We sacrifice our pride and selfishness, our appearance of self-sufficiency and control, the praise and glory we desire for ourselves, and the sin we’ve always held to. We pour ourselves out and seek to be filled with God. We recognize that He reigns over everything, and we ask Him to come and reign in our hearts. To transform us and make us like Him. We stop trying to save ourselves, stop trying to make ourselves good enough, and realize that only Jesus can save us. Only He is enough. He has come to be our righteousness, to reach down and pull us out of the mire, cleansing us and clothing us in His robes of pure, spotless white.
I think the wonder of this covenant is that while there is sacrifice on both sides, God really did it all. He gave Himself. All we do is surrender—surrender to love, surrender to joy, surrender to a life that is abundant and resplendent in the glory of the God who made the skies. And the sacrifice of the infinite God Most High covers us and draws us into life eternal.