I.         Covenants play a major role throughout the Scriptures.

            A.        We see covenants between people

                        1.         Jacob and Laban (enemies) - Gen 31:44-54

                        2.         David and Jonathan (friends) - I Sam 18:1-4

            B.        We see covenants between nations, such as between Israel and Gibeon - Josh 9:3-27

            C.        We see covenants between God and various people of the world

II.        What are covenants?

            A.        Hebrew word: berith, which means a bond or a treaty that joins two parties.

                        1.         Phrase literally means “Cutting a covenant”

                                    a.         Two parallel rows of sacrificial offerings

                                    b.         Those making the covenant would walk between the offering

                        2.         Examples in Gen 15:9-21 and Jer. 34:18-20

            B.        While the details of what constitutes a covenant is not spelled out, we do have details about the covenants of other countries, such as the Hittites

            C.        Parts of a covenant

                        1.         Preamble - Identifies the parties involved and their status

                        2.         Background - History of the parties’ relationship

                        3.         Stipulations - Obligations of the weaker party (often loyalty to the stronger)

                        4.         Depository - Where a written copy of the agreement is retained and provisions for periodic reminders

                        5.         Witnesses

                        6.         Curses and Blessings - Consequences in breaking or keeping the covenant

                        7.         Oath - Usually sealed with a blood sacrifices

            D.        Covenant meals

                        1.         Showed fellowship between the two parties

                                    a.         Jacob and Laban - Gen. 31:55

                                    b.         God and Israel - Ex. 24:9-11

                        2.         Served as a reminder of the covenant and God’s care

                                    a.         Passover - Deut 16:3

III.       Examples of covenants

            A.        Example - Covenant after the flood

                        1.         Preamble: Gen 9:9-10 - Between God, Noah and his descendants, and all living creatures.

                        2.         Stipulations

                                    a.         Gen 9:11 - God promises not to destroy the world by water

                                    b.         Gen 9:1-7

                                                (1)       Animals are given fear of man

                                                (2)       Man is allowed to eat meat, but not blood

                                                (3)       Man is to punish a murderer with death

                        3.         Depository: Gen. 9:12-16 - Rainbow set in the sky. Every time it is seen, it will serve as a reminder

                        4.         Blessing: Gen 9:1,7 - be fruitful and multiply

                        5.         Oath: Gen. 8:20 - Noah gave an offering to God

            B.        Example - Covenant with Abram

                        1.         Preamble

                                    a.         Gen 15:7 - The God that brought Abram out of Ur

                                    b.         Gen. 17:1 - The God Almighty

                                    c.         Genesis 17:7 - The other party is Abram and all his descendants

                        2.         Background: Gen 15:7 - Brought out of Ur and to a new land

                        3.         Stipulations

                                    a.         Abram was to remain blameless - Genesis 17:1

                                    b.         Changed Abram’s name to Abraham - Genesis 17:5

                                    c.         Changed Sarai to Sarah - Genesis 17:15

                        4.         Depository: Circumcision of all male children - Gen 17:10-14

                        5.         Witness: God swore by himself - Heb 6:13-14

                        6.         Blessings

                                    a.         A child would be given to them from whom a great nation would arise - Genesis 17:16

                                    b.         Land of Canaan given to descendants Genesis 17:8

                        7.         Curse: Circumcision required to stay in the covenant - Gen 17:14

                        8.         Oath: Gen 15:9-11 - Sacrifices cut in half.

                                    a.         Notice that God moved between the pieces instead of Abraham.

                                    b.         God was binding himself

            C.        Example - Covenant of Moses

                        1.         Preamble:

                                    a.         Exodus 19:3-6 - The children of Israel

                                    b.         Ex. 20:2 - I am the Lord your God

                        2.         Background: Ex. 19:4, 20:2 - Brought out of Egypt

                        3.         Stipulations: Ex. 19:5, 20:3 - Obedience and no other Gods

                        4.         Depository: Exodus 24:3-4; 25:16; 40:20 - The testimony (covenant was placed in the ark)

                        5.         Witness: Deut. 4:26 - Heaven and earth were witness

                        6.         Curses: Deut 27:15-26 (esp. 26)

                        7.         Blessings:

                                    a.         Exodus 23:20-33

                                    b.         Deut 28:2-14 (esp. 2)

                        8.         Oath: Ex. 24:7-8 - Acceptance and sacrifices

            D.        Example - Covenant of David

                        1.         Preamble: II Samuel 7:5

                        2.         Background: II Samuel 7:8-9 - David brought up from a shepherd

                        3.         Stipulations:

                                    a.         Son will build a house for God - II Samuel 7:12-13

                                    b.         Obedience to God - II Samuel 7:14

                        4.         Depository: None mentioned (perhaps the temple itself)

                        5.         Witness: None listed

                        6.         Curses: None mentioned

                        7.         Blessings:

                                    a.         His dynasty will be established forever - II Samuel 7:13, 16

                                    b.         God will be a Father to him - II Samuel 7:14

                                    c.         God’s mercy would not be removed - II Samuel 7:15

                        8.         Oath: Not mentioned

IV.      Commitment to a covenant

            A.        Covenants last as long as the terms spelled out in the covenant or until either party broke their terms of the covenant.

                        1.         It was a mutually binding agreement between parties that contained both obligations and benefits to all parties.

                        2.         If one party violated the terms, the remaining parties were released from the covenant.

            B.        The Hebrew word is hesed, which contains the ideas of love, loyalty, and aid

                        1.         It is translated mercy, grace, loving kindness, steadfast love, faithfulness, and loyal love

            C.        The equivalent Greek word is eleos, which is usually translated mercy

            D.        A covenant is meant to be advantageous to both parties, so even if one fails to keep their part, the other is longsuffering – even helping the other find ways to meet his obligations

                        1.         In other words, the agreeing parties aren’t just waiting for the other parties to mess up so that they can be released from the covenant.

                        2.         The covenant is mutually beneficial, so there is incentive to keep it going.

            E.        Deut 7:9 - God keeps his covenant and shows loving kindness

            F.        Ps 89:28-34 - God will keep His part, regardless of man’s faithfulness

V.        The Covenant of Jesus Christ

            A.        We live under a new covenant - Heb 8:8-13

                        1.         Preamble: All are invited - Galatians 3:28-29

                        2.         Background: The whole of the Old Testament - Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:11

                        3.         Stipulations: faithfulness, obedience, and loyalty - Hebrews 3:5-6; 4:11

                        4.         Depository: In our hearts - II Corinthians 3:2-3

                        5.         It is witnessed

                                    a.         Rom 8:16-17 - By the Spirit and our spirits

                                    b.         A circumcision made without hands - Colossians 2:11-12

                        6.         There are blessings and curses - Romans 2:4-11

                        7.         Oath:

                                    a.         Founded on blood - Hebrews 9:13-16

                                    b.         Covenant entered when our sins are removed - Rom 11:26-27

                                                (1)       Baptism is our oath of loyalty - I Pet 3:21

                                                (2)       Baptism washes away sin - Acts 22:16

                                                (3)       Baptism is the point when we die to sin - Romans 6:3-7

            B.        The Lord’s Supper is our covenant meal

                        1.         Matt 26:26-28 - The fruit of the vine reminds us of the blood of the new covenant

                        2.         I Cor 10:16-17 - Shared with Jesus - why it is called communion.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email