Establishing Covenant Through Sacrifice

“But you shall keep the LORD your God in mind [by doing your part of the agreement]: because He's the One that that gives you power to get power, wealth to get wealth, strength to build strength, might to build might – He does this so He may establish His covenant…" [Deuteronomy 8:18] The literal sense of the "power to get wealth" phrase is that He gives you something you don't have in order to increase in the same. Two different words that can mean "power, strength, might" and "power, might, army, force, and wealth" brings the sense that increase comes from God giving you something with which to do business, build strength, assemble an army, etc so there is a mutual increase of kingdom on earth for God and His people.

This is God's strategic process to establish or set in place His agreement with His people in order to establish kingdom come on earth. It is His agreement, not ours. He is the One establishing it. And, He gives us something we don’t have in order to join in the process with Him.

Powerful principles! The consistent reminders that He builds into the strategic process are simple, consistent, and beneficial to us. God doesn’t get anything out of the process He couldn’t get another, simpler way except for one eternal thing: you. He isn’t after the stuff because He already has the stuff and is giving you some of it on purpose. He isn’t after armies, strength, wealth, or might except as He is establishing that on earth through His people, not through Himself, angels, or automation.

These principles are not just applicable to money but they are applicable to money. This issue here isn’t money as much as it is covenant and through covenant, money, wealth, might, power, strength, and increase.

God already has the stuff – “The earth is the Lord’s – all of it.” But He doesn’t want to have it all to Himself because He wants to have kingdom on earth as it is in heaven through His people. So, He gives His people stuff so He can establish covenant with them. God has the people – “The world is the Lord’s – everybody.” So, from these people He has a remnant so through His covenant people He can have everybody. He already has the stuff and the people, but He wants the stuff and people in covenant with Him! God wants everything and everyone in covenant with Him.

The context of this verse is a discussion of covenant. When the covenant functions successfully, God has land and people that belong to Him. The land is the Holy Land because it belongs to God, not people. The people are the holy people because they belong to God, not themselves.

Keep God in Mind
So, God had some strategic activities for His people to teach and define the “keep God in mind” part. The activities were sacrificial; that is, they cost something. Of course, the idea that God needed offerings and tithes in order to get something for Himself doesn’t fit the equation here. He already has everything, but He wants to have everything with and through His covenant people in order to establish kingdom on earth through covenant.

Without the “keep God in mind” activities the people would see themselves as the source and resource of kingdom and would be deceived enough to create controllable deities to worship, gods of their own making which are not gods at all. In other words, the first steps toward idolatry are “I did this myself, in my own strength and wisdom.” God had a strategy to deal with idolatry at the point where His people took the first steps. Destruction would come when they were joined to idols, but the activities of “keep God in mind” were designed to stop that wandering with the very first steps.

Worship, offering, tithe, instruction, and meditation were parts of the first steps strategy. Each of these “keep God in mind” activities were costly, requiring sacrificial activities that demanded “God first” responses in the priorities of their lives.

God’s people were required to build their Day-Timer schedules around “God first” priorities. God’s people were required to build their financial planning upon “God first” priorities. God’s people were required to practice the fine arts of music, dance, poetry, literature, etc through “God first” priorities. God’s people were required to live a culture that directly reflected “God first” kingdom priorities.

Simply put: God’s people were subjects of a kingdom that produced kingdom because God established covenant with each of them individually and all of them collectively. He did this through strategic activities that reinforced “God first” living.

Seek Kingdom First

As I said previously, these are universal principles that are presuppositions of each covenant agreement God makes with land and people. God wants all the land but He never starts with all; He starts with strategic places. God wants everybody but He never starts with everybody; He starts with strategic remnants.

There is a direct relationship between the “God first” of these strategic places and people and the success of establishing kingdom through covenant. Success of the remnant to “take the land” is directly proportional to the success of kingdom covenant being established. But as the “God first” activities diminish and hope of establishing proportionally diminishes, God begins to turn His attention to another place and people through which He can establish kingdom covenant on earth. Destruction comes much later in the process because He keeps the door open for restoration.

Bringing It Home

What’s that mean to you, here and now? Everything! The more sacrificial your living, the more covenantal your relationship; the less sacrificial your living, the less covenantal your relationship. And, the strategy of hell for the modern church has been to move you into thinking you cannot give God anything or that once you have “given yourself to God” you can just go live like you haven’t.

“You can’t give anything to God” syndrome convinces God’s people that everything is spiritual and there is little or no relationship between physical activities and spiritual benefits. The present giving percentages and levels of sacrifice among modern Christians reflects the strength of this syndrome. People do not believe that giving to God is possible because the way to give to God is to give to and through His people. The sacrifice appears physical, so they don’t see a connection. They withhold tithe and offering and no lightning bolts flash from the sky, no thunder shakes their houses, and little measurable effect appears in their living that they can measure or connect back to kingdom and covenant.

How do I know? Because if they were able to see that sacrifice establishes covenant and kingdom on earth, they would never hold back their physical sacrifices! They genuinely wish to love and serve God but a great disconnect has come to their consciousness about sacrifice. I could quote a bunch of statistics about American Christians here but the point would mean little or nothing. Even if I told you that only about 9% of evangelicals gave as much as 10% of their incomes in a way that could be accounted for and measured, that wouldn’t say a word about sacrifice. In other words, what I’m talking about now doesn’t compute to 95% of modern American church folk. They do not give with a “keep God in mind” mentality.

So, the vast majority of people who say God is there God have a very limited or nonexistent mindset about how to “keep God in mind” if we are talking about money. When we fit them into the Deuteronomy equation, they are well on their way to the “look what I did on my own” mentality that leads to idolatry and destruction. Apply the same principle thought to how most modern Christians worship, meditate, pray, and live. Doing God a favor by showing up to a spectator-based church service once or twice a month because it is part of your social interaction set isn’t even on the radar screen of establishing covenant.

If you don’t get the first steps going, you certainly aren’t walking into the fullness of God establishing His covenant! Covenant people are as covenant people do.

New and Old Covenant UPDATE

Covenant has been upgraded! In Christ. This changes everything while everything remains the same. The principles established in God’s covenant agreements have not changed. Jesus says He didn’t come to destroy Law and Prophets but to bring them into their ultimate fullness. Law and Prophets can reach their highest in the new covenant agreement because of what Jesus did.

We are not under law, but we are over law. The Law didn’t go away because it still applies in every sense that it was given. However, the fullness of the Law and Prophets changes everything. My point is that sacrifice didn’t go away, it reached its highest. In Christ.

The limitation comes with the concept that “because Jesus did it all, I don’t have to do anything.” Just the opposite is true: because Jesus did it all, I can do it all as well! It is this kind of limited thinking that makes sacrifice foreign to modern Christians. They think stuff like, “God doesn’t demand ten percent. That was Old Testament law. God demands everything.” Then, their response is to throw God a token or two like they’ve done Him a big favor. Because God demands all, they give Him 1% instead of 10%! The idea of sacrifice that enters their minds has to do with fitting the “church thing” into their weekly calendar of living.

Old Testament design included a temple with 24-7 worship. “We aren’t under the Law” thinking produces a multi-million facility that sits empty and silent except for an hour or two once a week with a few seasonal celebrations thrown in. Then, we say, “We don’t worship God in formality anymore. We worship Him with our lives.” Then, where is the sacrifice? We answer, “Well, you see, Jesus did it all. No more sacrifice for us.” Yeah! “We’re getting ready for eternity so we can worship God all the time in the beautiful isle of somewhere. The way we are getting ready for that is to show up occasionally as spectators at the Sunday show at church.”

I’m not calling for a return to the Old Testament! No way! What I’m pointing out is the principles remain the same in the new. God is still establishing His covenant with His people in order to establish His kingdom on earth. The new “Jesus did it all” lifestyle waits for Him to come back and “do it all” some more as an excuse to do little or nothing here and now! We have excluded covenant from our thinking when “Jesus did it all” to establish covenant with us. God is doing the same thing He’s always been doing and looking for a people to establish kingdom in places where He can establish covenant through sacrifice.

What Do We Do Now?

Repent. Repentance means “I change to be changed.” Start living sacrificially. Change your mindset to a “keep God in mind” pattern. Change your lifestyle to “kingdom first” priorities. Change yourself to a “God first” living sacrifice. You will know you are on your way when you start living radical, passionate, and Spirit-first.

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Dr. Don

Dr. Don

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