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Covenants and Treaties

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him! Bless his name! For (A) the LORD is good; (B) his covenant love [Hebrew, hesed] endures for ever, and (C) his faithfulness to all generations.         Psalms 100: 4-5


A fact of gigantic importance to Jersey is taken so much as a “given” that it is rarely, if ever, mentioned in conversation.


What is that fact? That fact is the belief that an international covenant or an international treaty is binding on all parties for ever – unless renegotiated.


Hold it! There’s inconsistency here. “That fact is the belief...”? Surely the fact of the binding nature of international treaties and covenants is more that a “belief”? Well, in a word, “NO”.


Jersey is the present beneficiary of one terribly important Treaty entered into on Jersey’s behalf and with Jersey’s agreement by the government of the United Kingdom. It’s known as Protocol 3 to the UK Treaty of Accession to the European Community. 


Without Protocol 3 Jersey would not have its special relationship with the European Union under which it is part of the Customs territory of the Union (allowing free movement of goods) and, simultaneously (and surprisingly), not subject to any other of the myriad Community rules relating to the free movement of persons, services and capital.


This vital covenant cannot be altered without the unanimous agreement of all the member states of the European Union. It’s secure. Actually, it’s secure because we believe that such an international covenant will not be broken by its signatories. But, of course, the history of this world is littered with broken covenants and treaties. It is a feature of our world that treaties are broken. Remember Chamberlain’s treaty with Hitler. Look at Middle Eastern history in the last, and this, century. War is a breach of covenant.


Take a fresh look at the words in bold above. Researchers believe that Psalm 100 looks back 3,500 years to the time of Moses. It’s a Psalm sung by Jews and Christians alike – it’s part of the “Scriptures” of both. And it loudly praises (B) the covenant love of the LORD. Importantly, it brackets that (B) covenant love with (A) the goodness of God and (C)   the faithfulness of God for ever.


Interesting, isn’t it that when we keep our contracts, oral or written, we are behaving like the LORD God Almighty….. And when we don’t….


There is one principal reason why territories break their covenants and treaties. One can see it happening in the past 3,500 years and in 2011. A country breaks a covenant because it’s in its best interests to do so. It’s the same with individuals and their marriage contracts and business contracts.


But there’s more. A new covenant of the LORD arose in AD 33. On the night before the Lord Jesus Christ was condemned as a criminal worthy of death by two separate Courts and cruelly executed by crucifixion he was with his close followers. As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.


Covenants are broken it’s in a person’s (or a territory’s) best interests to break it. In what circumstance is it possible that this “new covenant in Jesus’ blood” could be broken? Could the covenant love of Jesus “for the forgiveness of sins” be broken after his death by crucifixion? After his Father had become a signatory by raising Jesus from the dead on the first Easter Sunday?


To participate in this covenant love, one must do as instructed. “Take, eat; drink of it, all of you.


Of course, if it’s not in my best interests I shan’t enter into the covenant, the covenant love bracketed by the goodness and faithfulness of God for ever.

‘A man were better to say there is no God than say that God is unfaithful.’ (Thomas Brooks, writer and minister, 1608-1680)
‘God’s love is not lazy good nature, as a great many think it to be and so drag it in the mud; it is rigidly righteous, and therefore Christ died.” (Donald Grey Barnhouse, preacher and writer, 1895-1960)
Richard Syvret

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