I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Covenant renewal

with 4 comments

While we have considered several models of Lord’s-day worship such as a tryst or the gathering of a military host, the primary model for corporate worship presented to us in scripture is that of covenant renewal. This is presented to us more by way of model and repetition than by way of explicit instruction, but it is one of those things that you begin to see everywhere once you realize it is there.

God’s people live and worship in covenant with him. Consistently, when God’s people assemble before him, there is a structure to that assembly that we call covenant renewal. This structure is repeated time and time again: in some of the great covenant renewals such as those of Deuteronomy and Ezra-Nehemiah, in the order of sacrifices prescribed for tabernacle and temple worship, and even in the heavenly pattern of worship laid out in Revelation. We see this in much of the language used to describe worship: worship is sacrificial (Rom. 12:1, Heb. 13:15), a drawing near to God (Heb. 4:16, 10:22), a visit to the new Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22), an eating at an altar-table (Mal. 1:7, Heb. 13:10), a going to Jesus (Heb. 13:13), an ascending to be with God (Ps. 24:3) that often symbolically takes place in an upper room (Acts 1:13, 20:8).

The consistent structure of covenant renewal is this:

  1. God calls his people into his presence
  2. God’s people respond by consecrating themselves: confessing sin
  3. God’s people ascend in song to meet with him, he speaks his word to them, and his people give tribute-gifts to him
  4. God fellowships and feasts with his people by serving them a covenant meal
  5. God commissions his people to go back into the world as his ambassadors and army

All of these elements are properly aspects of every covenant renewal, and the renewal is really incomplete if they are missing. For example, we ought to bring tithe-tribute to God every time we meet with him (Deut. 16:16). Likewise, to call worship a sacrifice is in fact to identify it essentially as a covenant meal: the one old-covenant offering that is called a sacrifice is the peace offering, which was the one offering that all worshippers were to eat with God in his presence. Similarly, Israel’s worship at Sinai was equated with a feast (Exodus 5:1,3; 10:7,9), and the worship-service of Revelation culminates in a feast (Rev. 19:9).

Thus, weekly communion; because we have weekly worship, and to worship is to renew covenant is to feast.

Written by Scott Moonen

January 3, 2016 at 6:57 pm

4 Responses

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  1. […] have called worship a kind of a tryst between Jesus and his bride, and have identified it as a covenant renewal, which is really a highfalutin way of saying the same thing. We as the church do not live in just […]

  2. […] Worship is covenant renewal, and to renew covenant is to feast […]

  3. […] notion of worship as covenant renewal helps to answer the question of what is essential and even in what order these facets ought to […]

  4. […] word-idea that primarily engages us at a rational-intellectual level? Or is it at root a covenant renewal meal that we sit down to eat together with Jesus in his very presence? This has a lot of implications, […]

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