How Do The Covenants Of The Old Testament Lead To Jesus

Covenants: The Backbone of the Bible

Covenants aren’t something we talk about very much these days. However, we should. Covenants are one of the most essential concepts in the Bible because they serve as the foundation on which the entire redemptive tale is constructed. They are also one of the most difficult to understand. They’re comparable to the Bible’s supporting structure. The Bible describes God entering into one formal connection after another with various individuals in order to save his planet (i.e., establishing covenants with them).

As a result, to tell the story of God redeeming his people through Jesus is to convey the account of God’s covenantal relationship with those who have believed in him since the beginning of time.

That is why we are going to look at some of the most important biblical covenants.

What’s A Covenant?

It is a chosen connection or partnership in which two people make legally enforceable obligations to one another and collaborate to achieve an agreed-upon objective (shared aim). Oaths, signs, and ceremonies are frequently used in conjunction with them. Unlike contracts, covenants have clearly defined responsibilities and promises, but they vary from them in that they are relational and personal in nature. Consider the situation of a marriage. Couples in love make the decision to join into a formal partnership, committing themselves to one another for the rest of their lives in loyalty and devotion.

That’s what I mean by a covenant.

In the Bible, there were personal covenants between two individuals (for example, David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 23), political covenants between two kings or nations (for example, King Solomon and King Hiram in 1 Kings 5), legal covenants with a nation (for example, the laws pertaining to the freedom of Hebrew slaves), and so forth.

Thus, it is reasonable to expect that a gracious God will reach out to mankind in order to reveal himself and bring about reconciliation through a system that humans are already familiar with.

The Beginning of the Covenantal Story

According to the traditional narrative, the covenantal story started thousands of years before the present day in a location far, far away—the garden of Eden. The book of Genesis reveals that God created humanity in his image so that they may have a close connection with him and work with him to promote kindness across the globe. Despite the fact that the word “covenant” (Heb.berit) isn’t used directly in Genesis 1-3, the mechanics of the connection are comparable. We were to live as priest-kings on God’s behalf, reproducing and governing over the world and expressing His righteousness to everyone (this is sometimes referred to as the “culture mandate”), and our first parents, Adam and Eve, were to do so on our behalf.

  • Attempting to do so, on the other hand, would bring the curse of death upon humanity.
  • Wrong.
  • Consider the implications of it.
  • Humanity was thrown into sin and death because of their rebellion against God, which shattered the human-divine bond.

It was only via divine intervention through the covenants that we were able to escape the ruins of Genesis 3 and go on. Fortunately, the remainder of the Bible depicts God’s efforts to restore the damage done by his broken relationship with humanity. It’s time to bring out the covenants.

A Quick Guide to Five Key Covenants

There is no agreement on the number of divine covenants that have been made. Five explicit agreements do exist, however, and they serve as the foundation of the Bible: the contracts that God establishes with the patriarchs Noah and Abraham, with Israel and with David, and the New Covenant that was launched by Jesus. The next terms will be useful to you because they will keep the narrative going forward until we reach the climax of the story—Jesus!

Noahic Covenant

God establishes a formal connection with Noah and all living animals, assuring them that, despite humanity’s sins, he will never again kill them in their natural habitat. His plan is to protect the planet while he works towards fulfilling the promise of Genesis 3:15, which is to save mankind and all of creation through the progeny of the woman. Humans are invited to cooperate with him in populating and dominating his globe, as he reiterates the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28). Scripture: Genesis 8:20-9:17 is a biblical passage.

  • In Genesis 4, Cain joins forces with the Serpent, murdering his brother in cold blood, and a man named Lamech boasts about his violent and chauvinistic methods to his friends.
  • Another strange incident in Genesis 6 is designed to demonstrate the quick rise of evil, and it is described as follows: Sin has spread over the entire planet.
  • This will pave the way for a new creation, which will begin with Noah and his family.
  • It is an unconditional covenant based on God’s vow to never again destroy the earth until the goal of redemption has been fully achieved.
  • Till the ultimate day of judgment, God has put away his weapons of battle, and his warrior’s bow will remain at rest.

Abrahamic Covenant

Throughout Genesis 12, 15, and 17, God enters into a redemptive partnership with Abraham, which is built gradually. He offers Abraham a large family that will inherit a promised portion of land in Canaan, as well as the ability to provide global benefit to all mankind through his descendants. You can keep these pledges in mind in the following ways: Among the blessings are: 1) children, 2) land, and 3) global blessing. Genesis 12, 15, and 17 are the scriptures. Situation: The covenant with Noah created the conditions under which redemption might take place, but it was not in and of itself redeeming in nature.

  • The tale of the tower of Babel in Genesis 9-11 depicts mankind’s downward spiral, which reaches its apex in the account of the flood.
  • It was humanity’s method of pointing the finger at God, and it revealed the true essence of the human heart in the process.
  • One or more of the following conditions must be met: Abraham must leave his homeland and follow God wherever he leads, walking blamelessly before God and instructing his family to do what is right and righteous, as well as ensuring that circumcision is practiced in every generation.
  • The roles of God and man are intertwined, but in the end, these promises will be fulfilled because God will see to it that they are carried out.

Circumcision is a symptom (Genesis 17:9-14). A mark designating this family as apart from the rest of the world and indicating that their fertility and destiny are in God’s hands.

Mosaic Covenant (Israel)

During the Exodus from slavery in Egypt, God pledges to create Israel his own cherished possession, a holy and set apart country. The Messiah will personally reside among them and lead them into the promised land. The Lord will be their God, and they (Israel) will be his people, according to the Bible. Furthermore, they will be a kingdom of priests who will act as a conduit for God’s goodness and glory throughout the world. The function of the cross in redemptive history is monumental. Exodus 19 to 24 (Scripture) The situation: The book of Exodus begins with Abraham’s descendants spreading swiftly in Egypt.

  • He coerces God’s people into becoming slave workers in order to complete his construction projects.
  • When they arrive at the foot of Mt.
  • Stipulation(s): This was a covenant of grace with conditions attached.
  • Sinai, which included the Ten Commandments (summarized in the ten commandments).
  • (And we get the impression from Deuteronomy 30:1 that the water has been contaminated from the beginning.) Sabbath is observed on this day (Exodus 31:12-18).

Davidic Covenant

God anoints David as king of Israel and vows to make his name famous throughout the world. The promises provided to Abraham and Israel will be fulfilled via David’s genealogy, and he will grant him a regal kingdom in which to reign. David’s lineage will be continued through the generations, and the Lord’s throne and dominion will be established for all time. God’s unwavering love will never leave him or forsake him. 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 72, 89, and 132 are examples of biblical passages. Situation: God’s people arrive in Canaan and eventually seek a monarch in order to be treated equally with the other nations in the region.

Following that, God picks David, the son of Jesse, who comes from the tribe of Judah to be his king.

When the country is at peace, he chooses to construct a home for the Almighty.

Instead of the other way around, he will establish an everlasting kingdom and throne in David’s place.

The covenant, on the other hand, contains both conditional and unconditional parts. Despite the faults of the monarchs, God ensured that a true Davidic king would reign on the throne. Who could it possibly be? (Hmm.I wonder who it might possibly be?) There isn’t one.

The New Covenant

In a sense, the new covenant represents the climax of God’s redemptive activity among his people. In this covenant, God promises to write his law on the hearts of his people, to forgive them completely of their sins, to put his Spirit within them, to empower them to love and obey his commands, to raise up a faithful Davidic king to rule over them, to bring them back into the land, to reunify them as one people of God, and to cause them to be a light to all nations. Wow! Text from the Bible: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-32; Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-22 Situation: The prophets (explicitly) announce the establishment of the new covenant in the backdrop of complete failure.

  1. After all, it turns out that God’s covenantal people were nothing more than covenant-breeders!
  2. However, the prophets gave us reason to be hopeful: God will one day establish a new covenant.
  3. Stipulation(s): There are no conditions attached to God’s unconditional covenant of love and grace.
  4. It’s possible that this may be a lengthy debate!
  5. As new covenant motifs from Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31 are brought to life at Pentecost, the death and resurrection of Jesus, together with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, may be understood as indications of the new covenant as well.
  6. After preserving the world via Noah and Abraham, God established a particular nation in Israel and promised David and the world a shepherd-king.
  7. God’s promises and intentions to rescue the world through the seed of the woman become clearer and clearer with each covenant, until we eventually realize that redemption can only be found in the person of King Jesus, who is the seed of the woman.

Jesus is the Covenantal Climax

Without an understanding of how the covenants pointed to and were fulfilled in Jesus, this wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining. That is the most enjoyable part! The New Testament portrays Jesus as the offspring of Abraham who trusted his Father to the point of death and, as a result, became a blessing to all peoples on the face of the earth. In other words, he is the obedient Israelite who thoroughly observed, fulfilled, and so surpassed God’s commandment. He is the royal son of David who, by his life, death, and resurrection, established God’s kingdom on earth.

  • Consider this: Jesus was a complete success in every situation where mankind failed.
  • People from every country, tribe, and tongue who have placed their faith in Jesus are now considered members of God’s covenant family and are able to benefit from the numerous advantages of the new covenant.
  • We receive new hearts of flesh as well as the presence of the Holy Spirit, which causes us to love God’s commandments and to follow in his ways.
  • That is incredible, especially in light of the biblical narrative.
  • We have unrestricted access to God and are situated in the sphere of grace.

And it’s all possible because of him, the ideal covenant-keeper, who makes everything possible. See. We warned you that you’d be interested in learning about the covenants.

Theology Thursday: What Are the Biblical Covenants?

For a long time, I struggled to comprehend what the Bible was trying to say. That is not to suggest that I have received satisfactory answers to all of my queries. In simplest terms, I’m referring to my previous readings of the Bible, in which I saw a gap between my expectations, my preconceptions, and what the Bible really said. Even when it came to understanding the link between the Old and New Testaments, it was difficult for me to comprehend how everything fit together.

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A Conceptual Gap

Part of the problem is from the gap in time, location, and culture that exists between the Bible’s words and myself. There is a significant cultural divide between twentieth-century America and first-century Palestine, which can make comprehension difficult. What is the source of all this ink spent on circumcision? What is it about eating meat that causes such a moral quandary for these people? What is it about the Samaritans that makes them so despised? However, there was one notion that, once I grasped it, made practically everything else make sense as well.

The Concept of Covenant

In the ancient world, a covenant was akin to what we would call a contract, treaty, or will in the modern world, and it was binding on both parties. Specifically, each covenant created the basis of a connection, the terms of that relationship, the promises and conditions of the partnership, and the penalties if those conditions were not met or fulfilled. We are all familiar with the concept of marriage as one of the most prominent forms of a covenant. For what reason do I believe that comprehending covenant is so important?

Throughout the Bible’s narrative, we see that God is a covenant-making God who is also a covenant-keeping God who is also a covenant-fulfilling God.

The covenants serve as the narrative’s structural framework.

The Biblical Covenants

There are several covenants in the Bible, but only five are essential for understanding the story of the Bible and God’s redemptive plan: the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. The Noahic Covenant is the first of these covenants, and it is the most important.

The Noahic Covenant

This covenant, which God makes with Noah after the flood, resets and renews the benefits of creation, establishing God’s image in people and the job of dominion. It is found in Genesis 9, when God initiates a new covenant with Noah. The preservation of mankind is guaranteed by this covenant, which also provides for the limitation of evil and violence among humans.

The Abrahamic Covenant

See Genesis chapters 12 and 15 for more information. This is the most important event in the biblical narrative. God promises Abraham a country, descendants, and a blessing in the book of Genesis. This benefit, which was promised to Abraham, would be extended to all of the peoples of the world via him. Understanding the Abrahamic Covenant is essential to comprehending theological notions such as the Promised Land, election, the people of God, inheritance, and so on and so forth.

It gives a framework for interpreting customs like as circumcision, disputes with neighboring countries, and differences between Jews and Gentiles, among other things.

The Mosaic Covenant

See Exodus 19 through 24 for further information. This is the covenant that God makes with the people of Israel at Mt. Sinai, after they have been freed from slavery in Egypt. God provides the Law, which is intended to control and mould the people of Israel in the Promised Land, through this provision. Not only would this Law differentiate the people from the surrounding countries as a distinct kingdom of priests, but it would also identify the people as a method of redemption (Exodus 19:1-7).

In order to appreciate the Old Testament’s cycles of blessing and cursing, as well as the exiles of Israel and Judah, the disagreements between Jesus and the Pharisees, and Paul’s teachings on law and grace, it is necessary to first understand the Mosaic Covenant.

The Davidic Covenant

See 2 Samuel 7 for more information. This is the covenant in which God pledges that a descendant of David will reign on the throne over the people of God for a thousand years. As a continuation of the previous covenants, it promises a Davidic monarch as the figure through whom God will guarantee the promises of land, progeny and blessing. This covenant serves as the foundation for the expectation of a Messiah and provides a rationale for the Gospel writers’ desire to demonstrate that Jesus was the legitimate King of the Jews.

The New Covenant

See Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Luke 22:14-23 for further information. This is the terminology that was first employed in Jeremiah’s promise of rescue and rebirth for God’s exiled people in Babylon, which was fulfilled. It foreshadows a time in the future when God will establish a new covenant in contrast to the one that Israel had broken. Forgiveness of sins, internal rejuvenation of the heart, and a deep knowledge of God will all be brought about by this coming day. When Jesus sips the cup at the Last Supper, he says that his death will mark the beginning of a new covenant with his followers.

  1. They are necessary for gaining a correct knowledge of the Bible.
  2. A significant portion of the New Testament is devoted to demonstrating how Jesus Christ fulfills these covenant promises and what life should be like for those who live under the New Covenant that was inaugurated by his death and resurrection, respectively.
  3. Do you want to know more?
  4. Check out our website to learn more about the College of Theology and the degrees that are available, or fill out the form on this page to get more information.

These are the author’s own views and opinions, and they do not necessarily reflect those of Grand Canyon University. The views and ideas stated in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the university. Any sources that were quoted were up to date at the time of publication.

The Biblical Covenants

Throughout Scripture, covenants between God and human people serve as a unifying thread, beginning with their conceptual introduction in Genesis and concluding with their eschatological fulfillment in Revelation. However, while theologians disagree on the specific number and character of such divine contracts, there is little disagreement on their theological importance in connection to redemptive history. Despite the fact that the term “covenant” does not appear in the Bible until Genesis 6:18, Reformed/Covenant Theology holds that three other covenants existed before God’s covenant with Noah: an eternal “covenant of redemption” made between members of the Trinity before the creation of the world, a probationary “covenant of works/creation” established between God and Adam before the fall, and a post-fall covenant of grace through which God promised to rescue humanity from the consequences of sin and fulfill However, while not all Reformed theologians are in agreement on how the covenant of grace and the covenant of redemption relate to one another, it is generally agreed that one or both of these covenants serve as the foundation for all of the subsequent divine-human covenants in Scripture, which all serve the same overarching purpose and ultimate goal.

Other academics, on the other hand, remain unconvinced and believe that only those agreements that are specifically mentioned as such in Scripture are divine covenants.

According to this interpretation, the first divine-human covenant was forged in the days of Noah (cf.

54:9), expressing God’s commitment to the continuation of creation after the deluge (cf.

The Covenant with Noah and All Creation

In Genesis 8:20–9:17, it is said that this worldwide covenant was declared before to the flood (Genesis 6:18), but that it was not formed until after the flood had receded. Its initial mention simply emphasizes God’s purpose to keep Noah and the others safe in the ark (Gen. 6:18). As a result of the flood and the covenant with Noah, God’s original purposes, which had been momentarily interrupted by judgment, are reaffirmed. The fulfillment of humanity’s creational task (cf. 9:1–7; 1:26–30) will never be interrupted again by a suspension of the natural order (8:21–22; 9:11–15).

The extent of this covenant implies, at the very least, that God’s restorative intention would ultimately cover the entirety of creation.

The Abrahamic Covenant(s)

Genesis 12:1–3 contains a list of the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as a description of the covenants. God would reward Abraham in two ways: (1) he would become a great country and, as a result, have a great name, and (2) God would use Abraham as a conduit for blessing to reach all peoples on the face of the globe. Each of these promises is subsequently reaffirmed by the covenant, which is important to note: Genesis 15 is primarily concerned with the national dimension of God’s promise, in which God establishes “a covenant with Abram” (15:18); Genesis 17 (cf.

  • While many see the later as merely a continuation of the covenant established in Genesis 15, the distinct circumstances and emphases suggest that it is really the beginning of a second stage in God’s covenantal dealings with Abraham and his descendants.
  • This, however, was merely the first stage in God’s unfolding plan of salvation, which was only the beginning.
  • Despite the fact that the promise of nationhood is not entirely absent (cf.
  • A special emphasis is put on Isaac (17:21; cf.
  • There, Abraham’s faithful faith (22:16,18) matched the requirements of Genesis 17:1 (cf.
  • 22:17–18; 26:4) by a formal oath (cf.
  • (Gen 22:16; cf.
  • It should be realized that between God and Abraham, two different covenants were created.

The first ensured God’s promise to create Abraham into a “great nation,” and the second reiterated God’s promise to bless all countries via Abraham and his “seed,” as well as the promise to bless all nations through Abraham and his “seed.”

The Mosaic Covenant

Genesis 15:13–14 indicates that God established the Mosaic covenant shortly after the event predicted in Genesis 15 had occurred: the emancipation of Abraham’s descendants from oppression in a foreign land (cf. Exod. 19:4–6, 20:2), which was the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 15. When the Israelites arrive at Mount Sinai, the emphasis is less on what Abraham’s descendants must accomplish in order to inherit the country and more on how they must conduct themselves as God’s chosen people while in the land (Exod.

  1. Israelis must adhere to God’s covenant in order to maintain their status as God’s “treasured possession,” “kingdom of priests,” and “holy nation.” This means adhering to the covenant’s obligations (i.e., the conditions laid out in Exod.
  2. Israelites would be markedly different from other nations if they followed these and the later covenant responsibilities established at Sinai, serving as a reflection of God’s wisdom and majesty to the surrounding peoples (cf.
  3. 4:6–8).
  4. Gen.
  5. (cf.
  6. 26:5) (Gen.
  7. As a result, Israel must “walk before God and be spotless,” as Abraham did (Gen.
  8. It would be detrimental to Israel’s very life if it did not do so; this is a lesson that was highlighted so vividly by the episode of the golden calf (Exod.
  9. Although God restored the covenant in Exodus 34:6–7, this was a gracious act rather than a just one (34:6–7; see also 34:8).
  10. Israel would demonstrate real theocracy to a watching world by reflecting God’s holiness (Lev.
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In addition, because human rebellion threatened to undermine God’s ultimate goal (i.e., blessing all nations through Abraham’s “seed”), the Mosaic covenant included the means by which the divine-human relationship between Yahweh and Israel could be maintained: sacrificial worship, particularly on the Day of Atonement (Lev.

As a result, just as the Noahic covenant ensured the survival of human existence on earth, the Mosaic covenant ensured the survival of Israel, Abraham’s great people, in the land of their inheritance.

Gal.

The Davidic Covenant

Following the events of Sinai, the next significant step is Nathan’s oracle to David (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17). The home (i.e., temple) that David plans to construct for God will be replaced by a house (i.e., dynasty) that God promises to build for David. Although neither 2 Samuel 7 nor 1 Chronicles 17 specifically refer to this pledge as a “covenant,” a number of other biblical passages do (cf. 2 Sam. 23:5; 2 Chr. 7:18; 13:5; Ps. 89:3; Jer. 33:21).

The Davidic covenant is a continuation of the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, which were both established by God. God’s plans for David and Israel are plainly linked (cf. 2 Sam. 7:8–11, 23–26), indicating that they are interdependent. Furthermore, there are other parallels between David and Abraham:

  • In the future, God promises both a “great name” (Gen. 12:2
  • 2 Sam. 7:9)
  • Both will conquer their enemies (Gen. 22:17
  • 2 Sam. 7:11
  • Cf. Ps. 89:23)
  • Both have a special divine-human relationship (Gen. 17:7–8
  • 2 Sam. 7:24
  • Cf. Ps. 89:26)
  • Both have a special line of “seed” that will perpetuate their names (

As a result, the Davidic covenant more accurately specifies the promised “seed” who will mediate worldwide blessing: he will be a royal descendant of Abraham via David, and he will be a mediator of international blessing. As a result, this covenant marks a slight but substantial shift in the emphasis of the conversation. With the establishment of the vast nation promised to Abraham (2 Samuel 7:1), the focus shifts to his royal descendants (cf. Gen. 17:6, 16). Genesis 35:11 and 49:10, as well as Gen.

The New Covenant

God’s covenant obligations were consistently ignored, resulting in eventual tragedy for both the country and its monarchy, which culminated in judgment in the form of the demolished temple and Babylonian exile. If God’s plans for Israel had not been so vital to the fulfillment of his covenant vows, this may have been the end of the story. It was necessary to find a way to overcome the exile of the country and the collapse of the monarchy in order for God’s plan to be accomplished. As a result, covenant history was preserved through the promise of a “new covenant”—one that would be both continuous and discontinuous with the covenants that had come before it.

  1. In the book of Isaiah, the eternal covenant of peace is strongly tied with the image of the Servant (Isa.
  2. Isaiah 56:3 says that it is inclusive, including foreigners and eunuchs; but, he goes on to say that it is exclusive, limiting those who “hold fast to” its demands (Isa.
  3. 56:1–2).
  4. 31:33), whereas Ezekiel speaks of spiritual surgery and radical transformation (Ezek.

According to both prophets, this inner renovation would culminate in the ideal divine-human connection, which is expressed in this and preceding covenants by the covenant formula: “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” All of the aspirations and expectations of prior covenants are realized in this new covenant, which serves as a climactic fulfillment and eschatological manifestation.

  1. Luke 1:54–55, 69–75, 2 Cor.
  2. 1:17–18; 2:4–6; 16:16–21:9; Luke 2:11; John 7:42; Acts 2:22–36).
  3. 1:1; Gal.
  4. 1:1; Luke 1:27, 32–33; 2:4; Rom.
  5. 5:5; 22:16), fulfills the role of Isaiah’s Servant (Acts 3:18; 4:27–28; 8:32–35)—not only in redeeming Israel (Luke 2:38; Acts According to the New Testament Gospels and writings, Jesus’ death on the cross served as ratification for the new covenant (cf.
  6. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor.
  7. In the first Lord’s Supper, Jesus references to both the forgiveness connected with the new covenant as predicted by Jeremiah (Matt.

Jer.

Mosaic) covenant (Matt.

Jer.

(Luke 22:20; cf.

24:7).

10:4), as the primary benefit of Jesus’ death (e.g., Luke 1:77; 24:46–47; Acts 2:38; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Rom.

1:7; Col.

9:12, Consequently, both Paul and the author of Hebrews believe that the new covenant is far preferable to the old covenant (i.e.

In 1 Corinthians 11:25, the use of the word “new” (cf.

2 Corinthians 3:1–18, on the other hand, is much more direct, in that it expressly contrasts the new and old covenants, showing the immense inadequacy of the old in comparison to the surpassing majesty and eternality of the new covenant.

The author of Hebrews comes to a similar conclusion as the author of Romans.

8:9–12; 10:16–17).

As Paul points out, the contrast is not between something evil and something good, but rather between something nice (but temporary) and something better (which is permanent) (because eternal).

Heb 9:11), it is true that the best is yet to come in terms of fulfillment.

The promise of Abraham is fulfilled in Jesus, who is also the predicted “prophet like Moses” (Matt.

22:41–46), and the mediator of a new covenant (Heb.

Despite the fact that God’s covenant promises to Israel and the nations have come to fruition, the ultimate manifestation of God’s creative and redemptive intention remains unfulfilled until the eschatological reality of the new creation is realized.

As a result, “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his slaves will serve him, And they will reign for ever and ever,” as prophesied in the covenant formula (Rev. 21:3), the hope indicated in the covenant formula will be realized to its fullest extent (Rev. 22:3–5).

Discover the 5 Covenants in the Bible

Biblical theology places a high value on covenant as one of its most significant theological concepts. It is reflected in the traditional names for the Old and New Testaments, which are both derived from the word covenant. The notion appears at key moments in the Bible’s narrative and serves as the theological glue that holds promises together until they are fulfilled. The development of God’s covenants and the biblical history of redemption are so nearly identical. Take time to study about the covenants found in the Bible, such as God’s covenant with Abraham, and how these are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

WHERE IS GOD’S COVENANT MENTIONED?

The Bible does not mention a covenant until Genesis 6:18 (when God proclaims his intention to form a covenant with Noah), although many people believe that God forged a covenant with Adam before the fall of man (cf.Hos 6:7; see NIV text note there). This relationship with Adam is referred regarded as “the covenant of works” or a “covenant with creation” by theologians. Those who disagree with God’s connection with Adam, while acknowledging that they had mutual duties, distinguish this from a covenant, which includes further formalizing features such as a signed and/or legislated oath and/or an oath of fidelity.

Following the deluge, God’s commitment to creation is reaffirmed in this covenant.

Each covenant gives more divine confidence that God will fully establish his reign on earth in order to fulfill his purpose for creation in general and mankind in particular, as outlined in the Bible.

THE UNIVERSAL/NOAHIC COVENANT

In Genesis 6:18, God declares his covenant with Noah and with all of creation, but it is not established until after the flood (Genesis 8:20—9:17), after the waters have receded. The first mention of this covenant emphasizes God’s purpose to save Noah and the other people who were on the ark at the time (Gen 6:18). “Disrupted” means that God’s covenant with Noah reinforces his original creational aim, which had been “disrupted.” As a result, he firmly vows (Gen 8:21–22;9:11–15) that a suspension of the natural order will never again prevent mankind from fulfilling its creational duty (cf.

Furthermore, the further directives (Genesis 9:4–6) underscore the importance of human life, which is particularly important.

The extent of this covenant implies, at the very least, that God’s restorative intention will ultimately cover all of creation.

Despite the fact that the chapters of Genesis 1–11 are becoming more focused, the global theme of the first eleven chapters is maintained in the following chapters and beyond.

THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT

It is written in Genesis 12:1–3 that God made promises in the patriarchal covenants (the agreements he had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) that were fulfilled. The heart of God’s promises to Abraham is that he would be blessed in two ways: physically and spiritually. (1) God would elevate him to the status of a large country, therefore elevating his name. (2) God would use him as a conduit for blessings to be extended to others (i.e., all peoples on earth). The following two features are each afterwards approved by the covenant, which is significant: (1) In Genesis 15, God emphasizes the national dimension of his promise by establishing (lit.

vs.

(Acts 7:8).

As a matter of fact, if Genesis 17 is read in connection with Genesis 22 (see below), it is possible that these chapters portray a second covenant—one that is separate from, but linked to, the previous covenant established in Genesis 15.

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The First of the God’s Covenants with Abraham

In Genesis 15, God publicly validated his promise to Abraham to create him into a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2). As a result, the major emphasis is on how God will carry out his creative aim in Abraham’s biological “offspring,” who were later designated as the sons of Jacob (Israel). This, however, was merely the first stage in God’s unfolding plan of salvation, which was only the beginning. “All peoples of the globe” would be blessed by Abraham, through the large nation descended from him, in the second stage of the process (Gen 12:3).

  • Gen 17 emphasizes “nations,” “kings,” and a continual divine-human relationship with “offspring,” despite the fact that the promise of nationhood is not entirely missing (cf.
  • 8), as well as a permanent divine-human relationship with Abraham’s “offspring.” Consider how much emphasis is put on Isaac (Gen 17:21; see also Gen 21:12) as the one through whom this covenant will be preserved.
  • Genesis 22:16b–18b demonstrates how Abraham’s obedient faith (Gen 22:16b–18b) matched the requirements of Gen 17:1 (cf.Gen 18:19;26:5), leading God to validate the promises of Genesis 17 (cf.Gen 22:17–18a;26:4) by a formal oath (Gen 22:16a; cf.26:3).
  • The first (Genesis 15) ensured that God’s promise to Abraham to make him into a “great nation” would be fulfilled.

The second (foreshadowed in Genesis 17 and verified by divine oath in Genesis 22) reaffirmed God’s promise to bless all nations via Abraham and his “offspring,” as well as God’s commitment to bless Abraham’s descendants.

THE MOSAIC COVENANT

As predicted in Genesis 15, God created the Mosaic covenant shortly after a great advance had taken place: the emancipation of Abraham’s descendants from oppression in a distant nation (cf. Gen 15:13–14; Exod 19:4–6; 20:2). When the Israelites arrive at Sinai, the emphasis is less on what Abraham’s descendants must accomplish in order to inherit the land and more on how they must behave themselves in the land as the distinct nation that God intended them to be (Exod 19:5–6). It is necessary for Israel to adhere to God’s covenant in order to be God’s “treasured possession,” “kingdom of priests,” and “holy nation” (Exod 19:5–6).

According to Deuteronomy 4:6–8, if Israel adhered to these and the other covenant responsibilities provided at Sinai, it would be noticeably distinct from other nations and so serve as a symbol of God’s wisdom and might to the surrounding peoples.

God’s Covenant: An Act of Grace

By doing so, Abraham’s descendants would not only be able to follow in the footsteps of their forefather (cf. Gen 26:5), but they would also be able to aid in the fulfillment of God’s promises (Gen 18:19). As a result, Israel, like Abraham, must “live before the Lord diligently and blamelessly” (Gen 17:1). It would be detrimental to Israel’s very life if it did not do so, a lesson that is vividly shown in the story of the golden calf (Exod 32–34). The covenant was restored in Exodus 34, but God’s act of kindness, rather than justice, was the driving force behind it (Exod 34:6–7).

Israel had to follow God’s instructions in order to achieve his goal of releasing them from Egypt and granting them access to the promised land afterward.

Israel would demonstrate real theocracy to the world by reflecting God’s holiness (Lev 19:2), and as a result, they would function as God’s witnesses across the globe.

The Threat of Human Rebellion

More than that, because human disobedience threatened to undermine God’s ultimate goal (namely, blessing all nations through Abraham’s “offspring”), the Mosaic covenant included provisions for maintaining the divine-human connection between Yahweh and Israel. These provisions were: Sacrificial worship, notably on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16), would ritually atone for Israel’s sins and symbolically proclaim God’s forgiveness, according to the Old Testament. As a result, just as the Noahic covenant ensured the survival of human existence on earth, the Mosaic covenant ensured the survival of Israel, Abraham’s great people, in the land of their inheritance.

As a result, the following stage in God’s plan to fulfill his promises was essential: the establishment of a royal line through which Abraham’s ultimate “seed” and covenant successor would one day come to be born (cf.Gal 3:16).

THE DAVIDIC COVENANT

Following the events of Sinai, Nathan’s message to David represents the next significant milestone in the covenantal history (2 Sam 7;1 Chr 17). The “home” (i.e., the temple) that David intended to construct for God is thwarted by God’s vow to establish a “house” (i.e., dynasty) for David. Although neither 2 Samuel 7 nor 1 Chronicles 17 specifically refer to God’s promise as a “covenant,” numerous other passages do (cf.2 Sam 23:5;2 Chr 7:18;13:5;Ps 89:3;Jer 33:21).

Similarities to God’s Covenant with Abraham

The Davidic covenant is a continuation of the Mosaic and Abrahamic covenants, which were both established by God. Both David and Israel are plainly connected in God’s purposes for them (cf. 2 Sam 7:8–11, 23–26). Furthermore, there are other parallels between David and Abraham:

  • In the future, God promises both a great name (Gen 12:2
  • 2 Sam 7:9)
  • In the present, both will conquer their enemies (Gen 22:17
  • 2 Sam 7:11
  • Cf.Ps 89:23)
  • Both have a special divine-human relationship (Gen 17:7–8
  • 2 Sam 7:24
  • Cf.Ps 89:26)
  • Both have a special line of “offspring” that will perpetuate both of their names (Gen 21:12

As a result, the Davidic covenant more accurately determines the genealogy of the “offspring” who will mediate international blessing: he will be a royal descendant of Abraham via David, according to the covenant. A slight but substantial shift in emphasis is therefore introduced by this covenant, as a result of which With the establishment of the vast nation promised to Abraham (2 Samuel 7:1), the focus now shifts to his royal descendants (2 Sam 7:2). (cf.Gen 17:6,16). As a result of this royal line, which can already be traced directly in Genesis (cf.

THE NEW COVENANT

God’s covenant obligations were consistently ignored, resulting in eventual tragedy for both the country and its monarchy, which culminated in judgment in the form of the demolished temple and Babylonian exile. If God’s plans for Israel had not been so vital to the fulfillment of his covenant promises, this may have been the end of the nation. It was necessary to overcome Israel’s exile and the abolition of the monarchy in order for God’s creation purpose to be accomplished. As a result, covenant history was preserved through the promise of a “new covenant”—one that would be both continuous and discontinuous with the covenants that had come before it.

In the book of Isaiah, the eternal covenant of peace is strongly tied with the figure of the servant (Isa 42:6;49:8;54:10;55:3;61:8).

The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, though they use different terminology to describe it, both foresee a fundamental change occurring in the covenant community: Jeremiah speaks of internalizing the Torah (Jer 31:33), whereas Ezekiel speaks of spiritual surgery and radical transformation (Ezek 36:26–27) in the covenant community.

It should come as no surprise that the New Testament (“covenant”) declares that all of God’s covenant promises are fulfilled in and through Jesus (cf.

Jesus’ Sacrificial Death

According to the New Testament Gospels and writings, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross served to ratify the newly established covenant (cf.Matt 26:28;Mark 14:24;Luke 22:20;1 Cor 11:25). During the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus makes allusions to both the forgiveness associated with the establishment of the new covenant, as predicted by Jeremiah (Matt 26:28; cf. Jer 31:34), and the blood associated with the establishment of the old (i.e., Mosaic) covenant, as indicated by Exodus 24:8.

Heb 10:4), as the primary benefit of Jesus’ death (e.g., Luke 1:77; 24:46–47; Acts 2:38; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18; Rom 3:24–25; Ephesians 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12,28

According to the Hebrews

Consequently, both Paul and the author of Hebrews believe that the new covenant is far preferable to the old covenant (i.e., the Mosaic covenant). The usage of the word “new” in 1 Corinthians 11:25 (cf. Luke 22:20), which plainly relates to Jeremiah’s negative contrast (Jer 31:31–32), indicates that this is already the case. Nevertheless, in 2 Corinthians 3, Paul specifically contrasts the new and old covenants, underlining the tremendous inadequacy of the old in comparison to its superior grandeur and indestructibility, which are both found only in Christ.

According to the author of Hebrews, similar conclusions are reached.

After stating the supremacy of the new covenant inHeb 7:22, the writer elaborates his position with a long comment onJer 31:31–34.

Jesus, the Perfect Covenant Mediator

Furthermore, not only does Jesus exercise a permanent priesthood that is perfect and heavenly in nature (Hebrews 7:23—8:6), but the covenant for which he is the mediator “is established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6b), which are explained in terms of a “eternal redemption” (9:12) and “eternal inheritance” (9:15) secured through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11—10:18)—later described as ” (Heb 13:20).

As Paul points out, the contrast is not between something evil and something good, but rather between something nice (but temporary) and something better (which is permanent) (because, unlike the old covenant, the new is unbreakable and eternal).

God’s Covenant Fulfillment

While many of these new covenant realities are currently in place (cf. Heb 9:11), it is true that the best is yet to come in terms of fulfillment. In the same way that Israel’s restoration expectations were not totally realized upon the return from Babylonian captivity, neither were they fully realized with the first appearance of their Messiah. The fulfillment of God’s covenant promises for both Israel and the nations has come to fruition in Jesus, who is the promised “seed” of Abraham (Gal 3:16), the anticipated prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22–23; cf.

However, the ultimate expression of God’s creative and redemptive That is the only way that the hope contained in the age-old covenant formula would be enjoyed to its fullest extent (Rev 21:3), for “the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city, and his slaves will serve him.

” “And they shall reign for all time and all eternity” (Rev 22:3,5).

LEARN MORE

This information comes from the New International Version Biblical Theology Study Bible. Do you have a copy of your own? The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bibleequips you to follow the gradual unfolding of God’s story by providing three articles that introduce Biblical theology and 25 articles that explain significant topics in Scripture. In this book, you will find helpful introductions to books and portions of the Bible, as well as 20,000 verse-by-verse study notes to help you get a better comprehension of every passage of Scripture.

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