I like to run. Over the past 37 years the past I have run many, many miles. And every one of them without the "benefit" of musical accompaniment. No radio, Walkman, ipod or MP3 player. Just myself, perhaps a companion and some conversation, and the sounds of the environment I'm running in, wherever that may be. And the thoughts moving in and out of my head.
Today I was running east of Dulce. It was about 40 and warm enough for shorts. I had reached my turn-around point, a bit more than six miles from home, and was just starting to make my way back. Twelve miles today seemed like a good idea when I left and I felt good on the out-bound leg. But with nearly the entire trip back ahead of me I was beginning to wonder a bit. Too late to do anything about it today, but maybe next time I should consider both my ambition and my energy level.
Without music my mind wanders pretty easily and the next thought was of a piece of scripture I'm trying to memorize. It is Hebrews 13:20-21. Truthfully, I memorized it a number of years ago but it has faded and I'm trying to bring it back. It says:
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
As I thought about those verses two words seemed to jump out at me.
In 1 Corinthians 11:25 Paul is talking about the meaning of the Lord's Supper and he says that Jesus told him this:
"This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink of it, in remembrance of me."
I happened to be reading something over the weekend that said we should understand what Paul wrote to the Corinthians as meaning not an entirely new covenant between God and His children, but a new way of looking at the same covenant. The blood of Christ is what has always brought salvation to sinners. It is anticipated in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. This is also brought out in the Hebrews passage, "the blood of the eternal covenant."
But thinking as I ran this morning I had a new understanding of eternal in relation to the covenant. We often think of eternal as "having no ending." The Christian promise of eternal life is a promise that the person with faith in Jesus will one day go from this life into a never-ending life in the very presence of our Savior and Lord. That is a pretty good promise, one that really has no equal. There is not one thing compares to that promise.
And it is a promise that is based upon an eternal covenant, and eternal means so much more than merely everlasting. The promise that God makes is a promise without a beginning and an end. It is a promise that has always existed. It is a promise that precedes the very act of creation. It is not just an "everlasting" promise. At the same time it is both a "has always existed" promise and a "will never end" promise.
May this promise, this eternal promise of God, be the promise you find rest and comfort in, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.