In the ancient world, covenants were agreements – specifically agreements between unequal parties (usually between a king and his subjects, or between two kings of unequal power). There are two covenants mentioned in chapter twenty-one: The first is a covenant made between Jehoram, king of Judah, and the king of Israel, marked by the marriage of the king of Judah to Athaliah, a princess of the house of Omri and Ahab.
The resultant influence of the northern kingdom on Judah was significant. Jehoram and his son, Ahaziah were but puppets under the influence of Athaliah and she very nearly destroyed the house of Judah.
The second covenant is one between David and God. Because of the sins of Jehoram, God’s displeasure with him was great, but the Lord could not immediately destroy him. To do so would destroy the royal house.
Three lessons present themselves: First, as God’s people, we have a prior obligation to be true to the covenant we’ve entered with God. When we violate that covenant, or compromise it, we bring trouble on ourselves and anguish upon God. But second, whether we are true to the covenant or not, God certainly will be true to His part.
But what does that mean? Does it mean no matter how I live, God will still give me the blessings of the covenant?
The covenant God would not break was with David, and because it was made with David, God would make sure David always had a descendant sitting on the throne. But that didn’t mean God would not remove Jehoram or Ahaziah.
In the same way, the covenant we have with God is not an individual covenant, but a covenant as God’s people. It is an everlasting covenant, making promises to God’s people who are a part of it, and excluding individuals when they abandon Him. Which brings me to the third lesson: the promises of the covenant of Christ belong to me as long as I am a part of God’s people. When I turn from God, or cut myself off from the Church, I can no longer expect those blessings.