Covenants of God

What is a covenant?

Websterís College Edition New World Dictionary of the American Language states as the primary definition the following: a binding and solemn agreement made by two or more individuals, parties, etc. to do or keep from doing a specified thing; a) a compact. It also states in law (6), a formal, sealed contract. b) a clause of such contract. c) a suit for damages for violation of such a contract. And (7) in theology, the promises made by God to man, as recorded in the Bible.

Covenants between men have taken many forms throughout history. These have covered a large spectrum of agreements. One of the more common forms was called a "blood covenant." It usually consisted of an agreement between the parties which was "signed" with blood. In its simplest form each party to the covenant would make a small cut on their wrist and then place the cuts together to "mix" the blood. By this they "became one blood" and were thereby bound to the covenant.

A covenant is very similar to a contract except contracts generally involve only one part of a person, such as a skill, while a covenant covers a personís total being.

What Covenants has God made with man?

God has made several covenants with man but they are of just two basic types. They are "a covenant of works" and "a covenant of grace." There were several "covenants of works" from the time of Adam until the time of Christ. From Christ until now there has been only one "covenant of grace."

There have been many covenants God has made with man. Those which are among the most important will be discussed in this booklet.

Because the wickedness of man was great, God repented that He had made man. Godís heart was grieved and He decided to destroy all living and breathing life on earth.

Noah found grace in the sight of God who made a covenant with him promising to never again destroy the world by flood. God commanded Noah to build an ark and to place two of each kind of animal, fowls, and creeping things into it along with himself, his wife, sons and their wives.

This covenant is defined more clearly a few chapters later in Genesis where it also describes the bow God will place in the clouds as a token to remind Him of the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Godís next important covenant with man was the one made with Abram where He promised to bless his descendants and make them His special people. In return Abram was to remain faithful to God and serve as a channel through which Godís blessings could flow to the rest of the world.

The promise to Abram was that his seed, or descendants would be given the land from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates.

The covenant with Abram was modified by God when he was ninety-nine years old. The previous covenant was a promise of what God would do for the people. The modification described additional things God would do but added requirements of the people. This covenant called for Abram to be re-renamed Abraham and that he would become the father of many nations. Sarai, Abramís wife, was also to be renamed as Sarah. Abraham laughed at this promise from God as he and his wife, Sarai, were both well beyond child bearing age. The promised son was to be named Isaac and God would establish an everlasting covenant with him.

Abrahamís descendants, Isaac, Jacob and their families, while still in Egypt were under great bondage and cried out to God who then remembered His covenant with Abraham.

While wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt, Moses was called by God up on Mt. Sini where the next important covenant was made. This is where the tablets of stone, the ten commandants, were written by God. It was at this time that God described to Moses the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the robes for those who would minister unto God. Moses was also instructed in all the things required of the people, which later became known as the "Levitical Law", or "the law." When Moses returned from Mt. Sini he read this new covenant to the people who all agreed to it and it was "signed in blood."

God, through His prophets Jeremiah and Zechariah tells of a day coming when He will make a new covenant with Israel. This is the foretelling of that "covenant of grace" through the sacrifice Jesus would make on Calvary. It also is a "blood covenant" whereby the blood of Jesus, the perfect lamb without spot or blemish, is shed and placed upon the altar for the redemption of sinful man.

The people of Israel, in one of the many acts of disobedience, wanted to have a king over them, instead of God, like other nations. All the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and went to Samuel, the priest, asking to have a king over them. They said to him thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

Samuel then went before the Lord with the words of the people asking for a king over them. The Lord answered Samuelís request identifying Saul as the one selected to be king.

David is chosen, and anointed, to follow Saul as king over Israel. He is a forerunner, or type of Christ, and will be an ancestor of Jesus.

The new Covenant of Grace

All these previous covenants required "works" of the people. They were under the law, and were required to obey it in its entirety. Because the law, or the old covenant, was impossible for man to fully follow it was replaced by a better covenant. The Lord said this is the covenant that I will make with them; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

How do these Covenants Affect Us?

All of the covenantís God made, from the time of Abraham until now have contained requirements for both God and man to keep. All these covenants required the blood sacrifice in order to atone for sin. Those before the time of Christ the blood sacrifice was an animal or fowl and was required after each sin was committed.

Jesus was the blood sacrifice for the new and better covenant. That sacrifice was once for all time; No more will God require of us another blood sacrifice under this new covenant. Our part of the new covenant is to obey God. We are to do this by loving one another and loving God.

How can we Love the Lord with all our heart, soul and mind? We must be, and remain, connected to the vine. Jesus said I am the vine and you are the branches.

Bill Liddle
February 19, 2001

 If you desire additional information you may contact me:  Bill


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