Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Advent: Covenant Theology On Steroids

Covenant theology is the study of how God has chosen to relate to humanity, both before our fall, and after. God makes covenants--sacred binding agreements detailing what God promises to do, and what promises He expects his people to keep. Through all the history of salvation in the Old Testament, it has not been a story of success on our part at all. But God has chosen to renew those covenants throughout the story, forgiving and blessing His people continually, and repeating the promise of a Savior and King who would finally deliver them from sin, once for all.

There are two major bookends to the story of Israel in the Old Testament: the Exodus from Egypt, and the Babylonian Exile. The first showed God's power of deliverance, and the second showed the wages of Israel's breaking of the covenant. In short, death.

The context of the New Testament when you start is God's people in exile, waiting for deliverance. That's why in one place it says a holy person was "waiting for the consolation of Israel." You don't need consolation unless you are sad. You don't need a solution without a problem.

Everyone who sins is a slave to sin, says St. Paul. Being a sinner is like being in bondage in Egypt, or exile in a faraway land.

But Jesus is the consolation of Israel. He is the consolation of you and me. He's waiting for you there in the confessional, and in the Tabernacle.

We enter into the stories of ages past because Israel understood that to remember God's past mercies is to actually be present as it were, when they first occurred. That's why the words of the Passover memorial are in the present tense. Our rejoicing at seeing Christ, and even receiving Him in the Blessed Sacrament become part of the whole story of God's people. That's a thought worth holding on to: that Abraham, Moses, and David rejoice with me as I celebrate, mourn as I mourn, and do all the other things this life requires.

That old dusty Bible starting to seem relevant yet? I hope so, and I wish us all the very best in preparing to receive Him this Advent.