Covenant – Minimal Requirement

The Jewish people stand in a covenantal relationship with God. Not only as individuals, but also and primarily as a national entity. The nation that consists of individual Jews from all geographical locations and from all generations stands together as one party of a covenant in which the other partner is the Creator of heaven and earth. Members of this covenant nation recognize that this relationship with God requires a certain commitment. Our commitment to the covenant requires that we obey those precepts that our nation accepted as our part of the deal between God and ourselves. Our commitment to the covenant also requires that we cultivate appreciation of the covenant in our own hearts and in the hearts of our fellow members of this covenant.

The concept of a covenant implies that there are or that there will be factors that threaten the relationship between the two parties. A covenant is the solemn promise that both parties in a relationship pledge towards each other that they will maintain their loyalty to the relationship despite the various factors that might otherwise work to weaken or to break the relationship. God promises the Jewish people that no matter how much they sin and stray from His truth, He will maintain His side of the covenantal relationship (Jeremiah 31:36). The people of Israel face many forces that attempt to break their standing as a covenant nation before God. The human proclivity to self-centered pleasure seeking and desire for power threatens to create a barrier between themselves and their Divine partner. Those who wish to maintain their covenantal relationship with God encourage themselves and their fellow Jews to keep sight of this holy relationship and overcome the temptation to get lost in the sea of self-centered materialism.

The most direct assault on Israel’s relationship with God is the sin of idolatry. The Jewish Bible compares idolatry to spiritual adultery. The prophets saw Israel’s relationship with God as a marriage. There is an ideal marriage in which both partners think of nothing but of their love to each other and of their responsibilities towards each other. A marriage in which one of the partners moves into the realm of self-centeredness and forgets their responsibility towards his or her partner is certainly less than ideal, but the marriage has not been violated. It is when one of the partners enters into a marriage-like relationship with someone other than their spouse that the marriage has been directly violated. When a Jew forgets his or her covenantal responsibilities, the relationship between themselves and God has moved away from the ideal, but it has not been directly violated. It is when the Jew enters into a relationship with an entity other than God that the covenant with God has been broken.

In light of their standing as a covenant nation before God, the Jewish people as a community have resisted the Church’s missionary campaign that would have them direct their hearts towards Jesus. The Jewish community views devotion to Jesus as idolatrous; the most direct violation of their covenant relationship with God, and Israel views its own resistance to the Church message as an expression of loyalty to the covenant it shares with God. In the eyes of the Jewish community, being a Jew means at the bare minimum, not entering into a devotional relationship with Jesus (or with any other idol).

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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12 Responses to Covenant – Minimal Requirement

  1. Annelise says:

    This only partly makes sense to me. I don’t know what the Jewish marriage vows are, but in the weddings I’ve been to part of the promise is to love and care for each other. In the Torah as well I can see commandments to love God in a relationship of desire, and to keep commandments other than just avoiding idolatry. To go against that is a direct violation as well.

    Also, there are accidental idolators, who don’t actually understand that their worship is a violation of the Torah covenant, who think they are giving their hearts to the Creator alone… and I feel that they can be much closer to the Jewish relationship with God than are people who don’t worship a foreign entity but still willfully ignore the covenant and relationship with Him.

    I am guessing that you’re saying that selfishness is not equivalent with idolatry. Even though selfishness is a devotion to the self or to pleasure, which displaces someone’s devotion to our Creator, it shouldn’t be considered to be ‘worship of self’ to the extent of actual idolatry… because it doesn’t involve actual ‘worship’. There is something in the act of worship itself (including devotion, but more than that) that is important and exclusive in the relationship between you and God. Do you see it like that?

    And because this is so central, even though there are many serious violations of relationship with God and especially of your covenant with Him, idolatry is in a unique category of cutting off the relationship. It is a very urgent issue: a person may realise that they have an ongoing struggle to overcome selfishness, where sincere repentance and change are important… but they should realise that if there is a possibility of idolatry (intentional or not) in their lives, then that issue should be dealt with immediately. In that sense, the parallel with selfishness vs adultery in a marriage makes sense to me.

    • Annelise says:

      In other words, I think that selfishness is a violation of a marriage covenant and it does break the relationship. But a husband or wife who is struggling with both selfishness and adultery MUST deal with the adultery as the highest and very urgent priority 😦

    • hyechiel says:

      Dear Annalise;
      You hit the subject on the mark-no pun intended.
      Thank you.

  2. Xander says:

    I have a question as to which covenant you see Jeremiah 31:36 applying too? The verse indicates that Israel had ceased to be a nation, even though the faithful remnant had been preserved, which ties into Jeremiah 31:32 which describes how the Mosaic covenant had been violated by the people. If Israel was to be restored, would that be under the new covenant that Jeremiah describes and if so, when do you see that covenant being implemented by God?

    • hyechiel says:

      Dear Xander;
      It has! The “New Covenant” is the renewal of our relationship under the Sinai Covenant, which G-d said is Eternal.
      We have called ourselves the Nation Israel since then, as well as before. Interesting enough, between the Judean Torah, and the Yemanite Torah, there are only a handful of differences. Half of them are pronounal, so even when some of us try to head off in a different direction, HaShem keeps us close.
      In the Greek Torah, though, given to Alexander the Great, the Sages placed 5 differences to appease the conquoror. We have paid for this ever since. So fedality to His word is important.
      If you are a Goy, though, don’t worry. Very few commandments of the Torah apply to you, as distinque from what app;ies to us; as the several commandments against idolitry.

      • Xander says:

        I am confused then hyechiel. I thought the Sinai covenant is the one that G-d said the people violated even though He was a faithful husband. The new covenant would be nothing like the old covenant, which would be the Sinai covenant, so I am not sure how that the renewal of the old could be considered the new covenant?

        What were the 5 differences that the conqueror demanded?

    • Xander
      Jeremiah 31:35 is saying that it will never happen – Israel will never cease to be a nation before God

  3. hyechiel says:

    Dear Xander;
    You and your wife have a covenant. There are items in it which identify what each is supposed to do. One or both of you violate this “marriage” covenant!
    Later, after things cool down, you two meet and decide your love for each ther is more important than the violation, so you re-new you covenant.
    On an less extream level, many couples renew their vows each year. Either case the original stands; they have not put it asde or drastically changed anything. On Yom Kippur, Jews do the same thing, renewing our love for HaShem-based on the Sinai Covenant which He stated is Eternal!
    I have to apoligize on the Alexander Torah/Septuagent. I studied this history literly in tha last century, so i have not remembered all. It is of interest that this Greek version is only the Torah and I think, the book of Joshua. Christians finished the Greek versions; the Septuagent and the Marcion ones.
    Thank you, Xander, for your questions. There are many fine websites where you can get more info, so enjoy.

  4. hyechiel says:

    Dear Friends;
    Those who have the time and desire to learn about HaShem, this is one link that may help.
    I may have found something we all would like to have access to, if interested in Torah.
    I hope it come out right on your screen. I had to work with it, but found a treasure.
    Yechiel Shlipshon

  5. Here is the problem Christian missionaries face; H-d put out the job description for His Moshiac, including universal peace. So far, no one has fulfilled it.

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