Malagasy Lutheran Church Son & Gospel Second Sunday before Easter “God’s covenant with His people” *

God makes a covenant with His people, those who acknowledge Him as their “Lord and God” (Jn 20:28). The foundation on which is based is His word, saying, « I will be their God, and they shall be my people » Jer 31:33b. Accordingly Abram obeyed His command by leaving his homeland Ur of Chaldeans in the north-west of Palestine and went towards the south in order to settle in the land of Canaan. However, this covenant was not only intented for the family’s father, but also for all his descendants, as an eternal covenant that will never be removed or denied according to His word, « I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you » Gen 17:7. The covenant that God established with His people cannot be separated from the Promise that He gives them. This covenant is that which guarantees the fulfillment of all the promises. For it is written: « For in him every one of God’s promises is a “Yes.” For this reason it is through him that we say the “Amen,” to the glory of God » 2 Cor 1:20. In fact, He said to Abram: « And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous » Gen 17:2. And He even swore that He will also fulfill His promise to his descendants: « I will indeed bless you, and I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice » Gen 22:17-18. That is a posterity that is truly blessed by God. Therefore, He declares to those who hold His covenant, « I will never leave you or forsake you » Heb 13:5.

Monday 15th: God makes a covenant with those who obey Him.
« You will be a blessing » Gen 12:2b.
Reading 1: Isa 65:8-16. Reading 2: Gen 12:1-3. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Gen 12:2.
Introduction: Two great points are highlighted by this verse of the Holy Scripture here. The first is God’s gift of promises to those who obey His words. The second refers to God’s caring for them, just as Jesus said, « Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted » Mt 10:29-30.

Tuesday 16th: God makes a covenant of peace with His people.
« He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples,and God himself will be with them » Rev 21:3b.
Reading 1: Isa 54:1-10. Reading 2: Rev 21:1-17. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Rev 21:3.
Introduction: The main point here is that God does not forsake nor leave His people. They are so precious to Him that He gives them assurances: « But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine » Isa 43:1. This word shows a great mutual attachment, just as Jesus spoke to His disciples in these terms: « I will not leave you orphaned » Jn 14:18a.

Wednesday 17th: Mercy underlies God’s covenant with His people.
« His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation » Lk 1:50.
Reading 1: Hos.6:6. Reading 2: Lk 1:46-55. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Lk 1:50
Introduction: God is so merciful that He does not forsake His people, because He loves them and He has chosen them; therefore, He makes a covenant with them. This covenant is most holy, so He says, « For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you » Isa 54:10.

Thursday 18th: Through covenant God raises men to be His children.
« But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God » Jn 1:12.
Reading 1: Rom 8:12-17. Reading 2: Jn 1:6-13. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Jn 1:11-12.
Introduction: To create men in His image is has always been God’s plan for them (Gen 1:26); that’s why He has raised them to be His children and heirs of His kingdom (Rom 8:17). Jesus says: « The son belongs to [the household] forever » (Jn 8:35).

Friday 19th: God cares for His people by virtue of His covenant.
« You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off » Isa 41:9.
Reading 1: Ps 23:1-6. Reading 2: Isa 41:8-13. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Isa 41:8-10.
Introduction: God’s caring for His people is His agreeing to be with them, to lead them to victory in their struggles and to be on their side by protecting them from their enemies and from all harm. David was well aware of this presence of God on his side, so he sang, « Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me » Ps 23:4.

Saturday 20th: Jesus Christ is the seal God’s covenant.
« For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant » Heb 9:15a.
Reading 1: Jn 6:47-58. Reading 2: Heb 9:11-15. Preaching 1 (free choice). Preaching 2: Heb 9:15.
Introduction: The “new covenant” is God’s renewing of His covenant with His people who come back to Him. Therefore, the pledge that sealed the new covenant was the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God (Jn 1:29/1 Cor 11:25a). This covenant is no more written on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, namely our hearts (2 Cor 3:3). Therefore, the Lord says, « This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people » Heb 8:10.

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