Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David. (NIV)
Our society is familiar with contracts. These bind the parties to certain conditions. And yet a contract can be torn up by one or both of the parties. It can be twisted by interpretations of the fine print.
God didn’t draw up a contract with his people. He made a covenant. Which means he doesn’t intend to pull out of it or rely on some exclusion clauses to void the deal. His covenant was his own initiative, not an agreement between equals. His commitment to his people is ongoing and his love for them is everlasting.
So his covenant is not a contract. However, it does have conditions. If his people fail to live as his people they don’t enjoy the benefits of the covenant. God might still love them and want the best for them, but they won’t experience the love or the best life in store for them.
God doesn’t tear up his covenant with us when we go wrong. He does not cease loving us when we turn our backs on him. But we still might miss out on the blessings promised in the covenant.
God’s love for us is unconditional in one sense: he doesn’t get tired of us or come to hate us. But in another way it is very conditional. After all, it is impossible to enjoy a relationship with someone whilst running and hiding from them.