Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Fifth Day of Christmas

Five gold rings would seal five marriages, covenants between five couples to forge relationships built on mutual love and trust. For the Jewish people, the great covenant made between Israel and God is the source of much joy and inspiration. For the Jews, the Law gave them an identity unique among the tribes of the world and also a means to bind the community within that identity. This covenant is summed up in the Torah, the first five books in the Bible.

In this day and age, many see these books as being horribly proscriptive and prohibitive, denying some people rights and enforcing arbitrary and bizarre laws on ordinary people. They were not intended to be abitrary or bizarre and a careful reading of the context of the laws replaces that which modernity has taken away - a sense of reason and care for a fragile community which could have flown off the rails at any time (and often did!)

The Torah points to a God who truly cares about His Creation enough to make a covenant - a binding agreement with them. Human beings have not been faithful with our side of the agreement. A moment's check with the ten commandments will convince us of that. Yet, throughout, God has sought to fulfil His side of the agreement. He is faithful to His children, refusing to contravene what He has agreed and refusing to change the terms. God will not move the goalposts.

Human beings, however, have a tendency not only to move the goalposts, but also to change the rules to the game. Time and again, we have reinvented the terms of the covenant to renege on God's agreement and diddle Him out of His due honour.

Yet, the agreement is there and still in force. God will not allow anyone who truly seeks Him to fail or to fall away. The Golden Covenant still stands and the five rings of the Torah still remind us that we are meant to relate with God. This Law forms the framework of the Gospels in which we learn more of our relationship with the Triune God whose two-fold covenant is ratified in the blood of Christ on the Cross. This is indeed true love!

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