A People For Yahweh

Jehoiada leads Judah in a three-sided covenant. Judah’s communal life is articulated, ordered. It’s not simply Yahweh-with-a-mass of Israelites. It’s Yahweh with Jehoiada the priest, Joash the king, and the people of Judah. Covenant constitutes a political order.

The new covenant posits a structured polity: Jesus the king, ministers, and people. Liturgical leadership isn’t an optional extra of Christian faith, nor merely a practical necessity. Insofar as the new covenant takes historical form as church, the ministry is inherent in covenant life.

They covenant together for a particular purpose: “to be Yahweh’s people” (v. 16). It’s a stunning phrase in the Hebrew. In Hebrew, this is a series of three prepositional phrases each starting with the same preposition, l-.

The preposition usually means “to,” but it can also mean “as” or “for.” This phrase could be translated, “to be as the people for Yahweh.”

Yahweh is the end, goal, and aim of Israel’s entire existence; they have abundant life because they are the people whose life is directed “to Yahweh,” the people called to do all they do “for Yahweh.”

But the initial phrase – “to be” – is itself a pun on Yahweh’s own name, which comes from the Hebrew verb “to be.” Yahweh, the God who is, the great I am, is the substance of the covenant. For Israel to be at all is to commune with and be directed toward Yahweh.

And – who can resist it? – one is inclined to speculate that there’s a whiff of Trinity here: Israel is from the Father; as the people of the Son; directed by the Spirit toward her fulfillment in God.

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