“I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Daniel 9:4
In the Old Testament, there are two kinds of covenant, or agreement if you please; there is an agreement between equals and agreement between non-equals. And the agreement between non-equals is probably the best parallel of the covenant between God and us. There is a covenant between the sovereign king of a country and his subjects. The king was to protect, and love, and make his subjects safe, while the people were to love him, honor him, and obey his laws. That’s the kind of covenant we have with God. I think Daniel’s prayer to God in Daniel chapter 9, particularly verse 4 explicates about this kind of covenant between God and man. There has always been a big fight in theology about these two terms in relationship to the concept of covenant; one is the term ‘unconditional’ and another is the term ‘conditional’. There have been those who say that Old Testament covenants are ‘unconditional’, meaning God’s going to do it because His Name is involved. There are others who say no, they’re all conditional because man’s freewill is involved. I want to say to you this verse combines both elements in a way i think it’s Biblical. Number one, if God makes the covenant, God is going to keep that covenant because His Name is involved. He’s going to do it, because His Name is at stake, and that’s the ‘unconditional’ element in all of the covenant relationships. But number two, man’s side to this is found right here when it says, “… with those who love Him and keep His commandments,”. The whole Old Testament system is based on the fact that, “I’ll be the Lord your God if you will obey my voice and keep my commandments and honor my Law.” – it’s unconditional from God’s side, and ‘conditional’ from man’s side. The word ‘lovingkindness’ has the idea of a no-strings-attached kind of love on God’s part – unconditional. And this love is demonstrated by God “…in that while we were yet sinners, Christ, His Son died for us” (cf. Romans 5:8). If that is not unconditional, i don’t know what is. It’s like God is saying to us, “I want to love you with no strings attached. I’m going to love you. If you fall in your faith, I’m going to pick you up. If you get away to idolatry, I’m going to chastise you, but I’m going to come back for you. I’m going to love you no matter what.” You need to read the story of Hosea and Gomer to understand what i’m talking about. Every covenant is both ‘unconditional’ and ‘conditional’.