HIS GLORY REIGNS
March 21, 2008
"True believers are in covenant relationship with God through Christ and the New
Covenant. They are also in covenant relationship with each other. This is
symbolized each time believers meet together around the Lord's Table, the New
Covenant table. There they partake of the broken body and shed blood of the
covenant Christ of God. What a spiritual transformation would come to the Church if
believers would understand, appreciate, and experience covenantal relationship and
commitment!" Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin
A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered. When God enters into a covenantal
relationship with men, he sovereignly institutes a life-and-death bond.
I. What is a Covenant?
In modern society, the word "covenant" has lost some of the fullness and richness that it had in Bible times. In order to
rediscover its meaning we will consider its definitions in English, Hebrew and Greek.
himself to fulfill specified obligations; a legal contract; a binding agreement; a written agreement. It also refers to
a solemn agreement to do or not to do a certain thing.
B. Old Testament Hebrew
flesh)" which implies the thought of cutting a covenant (Genesis 15:17; Jeremiah 34:18).
Gesenius defines the word as "a covenant, pact, or compact." He then expands this by giving a number of
applied definitions under the following categories:
1. Between men
b. constitution, ordinance (between monarch & subjects) (II Samuel 3:12,13: 5:3, Jeremiah 34:8-18).
In the King James Version beriyth is translated; confederacy (Genesis 14:13; Obadiah 7), league (Joshua 9:6,7;
Judges 2:2) and covenant (Genesis 6:18; Leviticus 2:13; Psalms 89:3,4; Daniel 9:27).
testament or will."
party may accept or reject, but cannot alter."
Revelation 11:19) and covenant (Luke 1:72; Romans 9:14; Ephesians 2:12; Hebrews 12:14; 13:20).
an arrangement between men and is never used to refer to the covenants made by God and presented to man.
In the King James version it is translated: covenanted (Luke 22:5), agreed (John 9:22; Acts 23:20) and
assented (Acts 24:9).
In Scripture, we find that men often made covenants with men in relation to various matters (e.g., Genesis 21:
27,31,32 - covenant between Abraham and Abimelech concerning the well of Beersheba; Luke 22:5 - covenant
between the chief priests and Judas concerning the price of betrayal).
Man did not come to God with a proposal seeking God's approval, rather God came to man declaring His will
and seeking man's adherence. A covenant is a contract between God and man drawn up by God and
presented to man. Man can either accept it or reject it, but he cannot change it. However, the usage of
"covenant" in scripture does not always contain the idea of joint obligation, but may signify an obligation
undertaken by a single person: God. In these instances, the aspect of covenant is emphasized in "the promise"
(Galatians 3:17; Roman 15:8).
II. Who Originated the Covenants?
Being an interpersonal arrangement a covenant must be made by one person for or with another. The covenants
between God and man had to originate with God for He alone has the mind, authority, and ability to make them
effective. It was always His heart and nature that motivated Him to initiate the covenants with man. The covenants are
the greatest manifestations of God's love, grace, and mercy.
17:2). God made a covenant with David (II Samuel 23:5). He promised to make a new covenant with the House
of Israel and the House of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34). He has also made an everlasting covenant (Isaiah 55:3;
made a covenant He does not forget it nor become negligent of it. He always follows through with the
commitments He has made (Deuteronomy 7:9, II Chronicles 6:14; Psalms 111:5,9; Romans 1:31).
the promises and terms. Apart from God taking the initiative and revealing His covenant to man, man would be
ignorant of the availability of covenantal relationship with Him (Psalms 25:24; Deuteronomy 4:13).
covenant. Apart from the enabling grace of God, man has proven his inability to keep the terms of any
covenant. This was particularly illustrated under the Mosaic Covenant (Ephesians 2:4-13).
III. Why make a Covenant?
The general purpose for a covenant is to provide a binding sense of commitment to an interpersonal relationship.
Those who enter into covenant obligate themselves to that relationship and provide it with a strong sense of security.
This is vividly illustrated in the marriage covenant which was instituted by God to be a model of His covenants. God
hates divorce because it disannuls a covenant, destroys its very purpose and does accurately reflect the irrevocability
of the covenants by which man is redeemed (Malachi 2:14-16).
The specific purpose of the Divine covenants is for them to be the vehicles of the expression of
God's will and purpose for man. They are also to be the effective means by which His will and
purpose is fulfilled.
God has a reason for everything He does. He moves with definite purpose. Careful forethought and planning goes
into all His works. All of God's purposes proceed from His person. What He does is always consistent with who He is.
The kind of person He is dictates the kind of things He does (Isaiah 14:14,26,27; Romans 8:28; II Timothy 1:9; Isaiah
56:11; Ephesians 1:9-11; 3:9-11).
God's purpose for man is seen in both creation and redemption. Before the fall of man God expressed His purpose in
creating man in the form of a covenant: the Edenic Covenant. The fulfilment of this covenant was interrupted and
apparently frustrated by Adam's breaking of the conditions of that covenant. This necessitated and ushered in the
expression of God's redemptive purpose for man in the form of the redemptive covenants: the Adamic, Noahic,
Abrahamic, Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic and New Covenants. Thus there was a covenant of creation and covenants
of redemption. All of these were included in the scope of the Everlasting Covenant which is the most comprehensive
expression of both God's creative and redemptive purposes for man.
IV. What Constitutes A Covenant?
In keeping with the threeness of God's person, there is also a threeness to the expressions of His purpose. Each
Divine covenant has basically three parts to it. These are:
Any covenant is incomplete and therefore invalid without the testimony of these three things. Thus the triune God
gave triune covenants. Each person in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, had a part in the making, ratifying,
and sealing of the covenants. In this way the characteristics of the Godhead were impressed on the covenants, as the
following chart illustrates:
in the words of each covenant are its promises and terms, as well as the possibility of an oath and a book.
commitment in the form of a promise. These promises could include:
fulfilled on the part of the covenantor and/or the covenantee.
covenant become irrevocable. Without an oath the promises may be subject to change or cancellation.
every other power, spiritual or temporal in their realm.
(as if by repeating a declaration seven times)".
oath is a solemn affirmation. It is the giving of one's word which binds them to its fulfillment. An oath
attached to any covenant promise makes it irrevocable, unable to be annulled.
and binding, never to be made null and void.
promises. Joseph took oath of his sons concerning his bones (Genesis 50:25), (Joshua 2:17,20; 9:18-20).
Genesis 26:23,33; Jeremiah 11:5; Zechariah 8:17).
11; Numbers 5:19-25).
covenant irrevocable. Such is seen in the Noahic Covenant (Isaiah 54:9), the Abrahamic Covenant (Hebrews 6:
16,17), and the Davidic Covenant (Psalms 89:3,35; 132:11), which consummates in the New Covenant with
Christ after the order of Melchisedek (Acts 2:30; Psalms 110; Hebrews 7:20,21,28). God's oath to His promises
is a confirmation and an end of all strife and unbelief on the part of man.
into a book of its own was the Mosaic covenant which was expressly called "The book of the covenant" (Exodus
24:7). The other covenants ended up being recorded in the greatest " book of the Covenant" which is the Bible.
bloodshed. The sacrificial blood used to make the covenant official represented the life commitment of
those entering into the covenant. In that a covenant was substantiated by sacrifice it necessitated a
priest to offer the sacrifice as well as a sanctuary in which the priest could function.
illustrated the sacredness of the covenant vows. The sacrifice involved both:
a. The Body
b. The Blood
the authenticity of the covenantal promises and terms. Each of the Divine Covenants had its own
particular seal which was referred to as either:
V. What Is The Duration of A Covenant?
Any covenant or agreement made between men may either have a period of time stated concerning its duration or
may be stated as being in effect indefinitely. The Divine covenants were made to be either everlasting or temporal.
Some were meant to be in effect for a certain period of time while others were made to be in effect for time and
eternity. This is related to the fact that some covenants were revocable while others were irrevocable.
Numbers 25:12,13; II Samuel 23:5; Ezekiel 16:60; Hebrews 13:20). These covenants were made to be never
ending, eternal, perpetual, and age-abiding. They were to continue to be in effect forever. However, in the
promises, sacrifices and seals of these everlasting covenants there were elements that could not last forever
because of their temporal nature. For example, the Abrahamic Covenant is spoken of an everlasting covenant
and the seal of it, which is circumcision, is also spoken of as being everlasting (Genesis 17:13). However, the
New Testament declares that the external expression of the seal, the circumcision of the flesh, was fulfilled and
abolished at the cross. Therefore only the internal and spiritual reality of the seal, which is the circumcision of
the heart, can be everlasting. Likewise, the animal sacrifices of the everlasting covenants could never be
eternal. Only through the once-for-all sacrifice of the Son of God could the principle of covenantal sacrifice be
everlasting though the external form was fulfilled and abolished (Genesis 15; Hebrews 10). Though having
temporal elements, everlasting covenants are legally binding and remain in effect for eternity.
be limited to time and not permanent. Perhaps the greatest illustration of this was the Mosaic covenant. The
Tabernacle services, the sacrificial system, the priesthood, and the festival occasions comprised an external
and temporal form of the law. These temporal elements continued to be in effect until Christ fulfilled and
abolished them. However, the spiritual knowledge and truth contained in the form is eternal and remains forever
(Romans 2:20). Though having eternal and spiritual implications, temporal covenants are legally limited to a
certain period of time.
of man's response. It remains in effect whether or not man is fulfilling the conditions of it. The strength of an
irrevocable covenant is found in the key words "I will." Following are two examples:
the sea shore..." (Genesis 22:17). Though in the context of this promise the obedience of Abraham is
referred to, there is no mention of his seed needing to remain obedient in order for this covenant promise
to remain in effect. Abraham's seed was to be innumerable as the stars and sand regardless of their
goodness or wickedness.
This promise guaranteed David that there would always be one of his descendants sitting upon his
throne. There is no mention of their obedience as a condition for the promise to remain in effect. In
reference to their disobedience God did promise, "If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of
men...but my mercy shall not depart away..." (II Samuel 7:14,15). Regardless of the goodness or
wickedness of the Davidic kings this covenant promise would remain irrevocable.
man's obedience to the conditions attached to it by God. If the covenant is broken by man God is not obligated
to fulfill His part and it is dissolved, disannulled, and no longer remains in effect. This is particularly illustrated in
the Mosaic covenant. God stated to Jeremiah concerning this covenant, "...which my covenant they brake"
(Jeremiah 31:32). He also told Zechariah "...that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the
people." (Zechariah 11:10). Paul spoke of this covenant as being abolished (II Corinthians 3:13), decaying,
waxing old and ready to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13). All these terms serve to confirm the revocability of the
VI. How is Covenant Relationship Established?
In order for covenant relationship to be established both parties must understand and fulfill their part of the covenant
agreement. The one initiating the covenant must make it available and the one receiving the covenant must respond
by entering into and maintaining its terms.
covenant relationship. Calling means to invite or bid to come to one's self (Romans 8:28-30; II Timothy 1:9). In
the covenants God calls and bids man to come to Himself. It is God's prerogative to offer His covenants to
whoever He choses. These who were chosen to receive God's covenants were called to enter into them
(Nehemiah 9:7,8; Acts 7:1-8; Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 12:1-3).
does man have a part? Scripture clearly reveals that man must "enter into covenant" (Deuteronomy 29:12).
Man cannot do what only God can do, but God will not do what man must do. Man has the responsibility to
commit himself fully to the covenant that God calls him into. This he does by faith and obedience (Hebrews 11:
8). Israel failed to enter into the covenant land because of unbelief and disobedience (Hebrews 3-4; Luke 11:
52; John 6:28,29).
Psalms 103:17,18). To keep the covenant is to remember it and to continually fulfill its terms. This God does
(Psalms 111:5; Genesis 9:15,16), and so must man (Psalms 103:18). The way covenantal relationship is
entered into is also the way it is maintained: by faith and obedience (Hebrews 4:11; 5:9; Genesis 22:18; 26:5;
Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 11:27; 30:6-8; Jeremiah 7:22-28; 11:1-10; Romans 5:12-21). It is possible for man
to break his covenantal relationship with God (Jeremiah 31:32; Hebrews 8:9).
God, as the initiator of the covenants, has the perogative to set the conditions by which man may enter into and
maintain his covenantal relationship.
VII. What Covenants Did God Make With Man?
Of the nine major Divine covenants in the Bible, eight of them God made with man. These are as follows:
Eve. It reveals God's original purpose for the whole of Adam's race (Genesis 1-2).
parents of the human race. It involved God's judgment on sin and the coming of the Messianic redemption
generations of the human race. It re-establishes God's purpose as revealed in the Edenic Covenant (Genesis 6-
nation of Israel, after the Tower of Babel and the scattering of the sons of Noah in their tongues, families, and
nations. It involved Abraham, his natural and national seed called Israel, and the Messianic seed, Jesus Christ.
It includes in itself the coming in of the believing Israelites and Gentiles into the Kingdom of God (Genesis 12-
at the foot of Mt. Sinai. It was not made with any Gentile nation but acted as a "schoolmaster" to bring Israel to
the Christ who would be the Saviour of the world (Galatians 3:24; Exodus 19-40).
the end of the 40 years wanderings in the wilderness and before they entered Canaan, the land promised in the
Abrahamic Covenant. It laid out the conditions for entering into and maintaining the promised land
Kingdom of Israel under a Davidic King. It involved David, both his natural and spiritual seed and pointed
ultimately to the Lord Jesus Christ and the everlasting throne and kingdom of the King of kings and Lord of lords
(II Samuel 7; Psalms 89; Psalms 132).
Jewry and just prior to His crucifixion. It replaced the Old or Mosaic Covenant with its external and temporal
elements and carnal ordinances. It made available through the cross salvation for the whole world (Jeremiah 31:
31-34; Hebrews 8; Matthew 26).
Son and Holy Spirit. It is the all-comprehensive covenant, including in itself the covenants of creation and
redemption and God's eternal purpose for man. All other covenants are but fragments of the whole and are a
progressive unfolding of this Everlasting Covenant.
VIII. How Are The Covenants Inter-related?
Because the covenants of God to man are but fragments of the whole and each are part of the progressive revelation,
there is inter-relatedness between them. They are interwoven together from beginning to end.
The Edenic Covenant, in one sense, stands alone and unique, for it is the only covenant involving man before
the entrance of sin. It is the covenant which distinctly declares God's purpose in the creation of man. The entrance of
sin seemed to frustrate the plan and purpose of God for man. However, God foresaw the fall of man and was
prepared for it. He immediately set into motion a series of covenants revealing the plan of redemption. It would
therefore be by the covenants of redemption that the covenant of creation would find fulfillment. God would not allow
sin to annul His creative purposes for man as in the Edenic Covenant.
The first two covenants of redemption were the Adamic and Noahic Covenants. Both are vitally linked as
the covenantal language of each reveals. Both were given to the Patriarchs; the first to Adam the father of the whole
human race, and the next to Noah the father of the race after the Flood. The major promises of these covenants are
that which spoke of redemption by the Messianic seed. Also in the Noahic Covenant particularly the creative purpose
of God as stated in the Edenic Covenant is confirmed.
Arising out of the Adamic and Noahic Covenants is the Abrahamic Covenant. It was an extension and an
amplification of the previous covenants. It included basically that which was in these covenants. However, it
prophesied of the chosen nation, Israel, through whom the Messiah would come. Besides natural and national
promises for Israel, its greatest promise was that which concerned all the families of the earth being blessed through
the Messianic seed.
Two subsequent covenants were given, these being the Davidic and the New Covenants. A study of
these covenants show that they are actually a part of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant involves the
kings of the House of David, of the tribe of Judah. It is the full manifestation of the promise of kings as given in the
Abrahamic Covenant, consummating in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of David who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
The New Covenant is the fulfillment and fullest expression of the promise in the Abrahamic Covenant concerning his
seed blessing all the nations of the earth. This includes both believing Israelites and Gentiles coming into salvation
through the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Davidic and the New Covenants were in the Abrahamic Covenant. The Adamic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic, and
New Covenants, as covenants of redemption, are all inter-related and extensions and fulfillments of each other,
consummating in the New Covenant. These covenants of redemption were designed to bring man back to the
fulfillment of the covenant of creation, the Edenic Covenant.
Two covenants that are vitally linked and interwoven together are the Mosaic and the Palestinian
Covenants. These two covenants are unique in that they pertain strictly to the nation of Israel. The Mosaic
Covenant was expressed in moral, civil, and ceremonial laws which governed the life of the people of Israel. The
Palestinian Covenant pertained to the laws and conditions for Israel's living in the land of Canaan.
An analysis of the Mosaic and Palestinian Covenants reveals their link with the Abrahamic Covenant. Involved in the
Abrahamic Covenant were promises concerning Abraham's seed and that seed's possessing of the promised land.
The Mosaic Covenant concerned the people, the seed of Abraham. The Palestinian Covenant concerned the land
promised in the Abrahamic Covenant. However, the Abrahamic Covenant was characterized by grace and faith while
the Mosaic and Palestinian Covenants were characterized by law and works. These things together show the
marvellous inter-relatedness of the covenants of creation and redemption.
Finally, the Everlasting Covenant, made in the heavens, in eternity past, between the Divine Persons, is
revealed to be the all-inclusive covenant. It includes in itself the covenant of creation and all the covenants of
redemption. As noted previously, all covenants made by God on the earth relative to mankind are but the progressive
unfolding of this covenant of eternity. The New Covenant (the end) makes possible the Edenic Covenant (the
beginning) and all other covenants between are but links in the covenantal chain of Divine revelation.
The Covenants, by Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin, Copyright 1983, Bible Temple Publishing.
The Christ of the Covenants, by O. Palmer Robertson, Copyright 1980, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing
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