There’s something beautifully bittersweet about the start of a new chapter. On one hand, you have the sparkling hope of new beginnings, but on the other you have turned a page on the place you’ve been. Your last chapter held a plethora of relationships, friendships, memories, choices and experiences – both good and bad. Whether you walk away from this period in disappointment or in joy, the fact is that one season is over.
Many view the New Year as this kind of bookend and use it as an opportunity to start fresh. You may have a new resolution yourself – cultivating a skill, restoring a relationship, spending more quality time with your family, or losing that pesky 20lbs. Many people start the new year with high aspirations, but most fall short or give up on what they set out to do. That’s because their resolution was not a covenant. What’s the difference between a resolution and a covenant? Let’s look at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions for these terms:
Resolve (verb from Resolution): To reach a firm decision about [something].
Covenant: Usually a formal, solemn, and binding agreement, or, a written agreement or promise usually under the seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action.
Now it’s clear to see how so many people are unsuccessful in maintaining their new resolutions: they decided to change, but they never made a promise to keep it. This kind of promise is not an agreement made in the moment without accountability or review. True promises are binding – meant to be kept without excuse.
In Scripture, there are many shining examples of covenant to be found between humankind and God, the most prominent being the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 8:20-9:17), the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12,15, and 17), the Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19-24), the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7), and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-22). In these, some common themes emerge:
- A situation brings about a decision to make a new covenant.
- Stipulation(s) are made for both humankind and God to keep.
- I.e., Abraham to leave his homeland and follow where God leads, Israel to obey the commandments given to them by God, David and his descendants to remain faithful to God and lead the nation of Israel according to the covenantal laws, etc.
- A binding promise – a covenant – is made between God and humankind.
- A sign of the new covenant is given or instructed to be carried out by God.
- I.e., The Rainbow, Circumcision, Sabbath, etc.
Making a covenant ensures that you stand firm on your decisions, keep your promise, and walk it out. So, what are some practical ways you can form a new covenant?
Form your new resolution into a simple statement (i.e. I will set aside at least one night a week to date my spouse). Write it down and place it somewhere you will see it every day. Repeat this covenant to yourself multiple times a day. In order to change your situation, you must remind yourself of your covenant.
If this covenant involves other people, consult with them and come to an agreement about this statement.
Create stipulations that will encourage you to keep your new covenant (i.e. if I miss one or more of my workouts, I will add additional time to my workouts next week). Make sure you include rewards for keeping your covenant here (i.e. if I met my diet goals for the week, I will have one cheat meal on Sundays).
If you only name consequences, you are more likely to see your covenant as a burden.
Make covenant with yourself, God, and anyone else who is involved. Additionally, ensure that you have at least one trusted person to keep you accountable.
As you progress in keeping your covenant, you will notice changes in your life. These are the signs of your covenant.
Covenants are not easy and should not be made lightly. If you are determined to change an aspect of your life, know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). And in keeping your covenant, new life will begin to grow.
Are you curious about the different covenants of Scripture and their spiritual significance? We recommend taking our course “Prayer Secrets of Great Intercessors.” More interested in the deep, Hebraic revelation of God’s communion with humankind? Check out our Hebraic Roots courses taught by Bill Cloud. Visit isow.org to start your biblical education today!
– Jennifer Ann Turner