Thursday: April 2, 2020

Reference text: Genesis 17:1-9

Genesis 17:2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.

Today’s discourse will seem like an extended wordplay or to some, a law lesson. But do take time to follow the discussion over the next two posts and we will arrive at the end together. One word draws attention in the verse above, ‘covenant’. However, from the very onset, two other words came to mind: a contract and a promise. It is these three words taken together that will be at the centre of our wordplay for two consecutive posts.

A promise is an assurance given by one party that they will do or not do something. While it involves multiple entities, its execution depends only on the one who makes it. In effect, the person to whom a promise is made has no role in its fulfilment. If I promise to send an email, its purely on me. When we place a promise alongside a covenant, we introduce an extra layer of complexity because in a covenant, both parties pledge to fulfil specific obligations.

In a covenant, no longer can one party remain passive, but both have a part to play. However, just like in a promise, the fulfilment of obligations are not legally binding, but spiritually binding and built on trust. Thus, covenants and promises emerge from trust-based relationships that rely on integrity and are enforceable purely by values, not by law.

Therefore, a covenant effectively stands as a perpetually binding promise where nothing is exchanged, but the offer of self is placed on the table. When one party is unable to fulfil the their obligations, a covenant remains enforceable if the other involved continues to uphold their obligation. In fact, it becomes another obligation to support the party unable to fulfil their part of the pledge to do so as much as they can.

Do ponder on these words and let’s conclude this discussion in the next post.


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