Category: Creation, Word: COVENANTS
August 28, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments
Posted in: 52 Words
Then God said to Noah and his sons with him, “Understand that I am confirming My covenant with you and your descendants after you….The bow will be in the clouds, and I will look at it and remember the everlasting covenant.” (Genesis 9:8-9,16)
DEFINITION: A covenant (berith in Hebrew) is a binding agreement between two parties. The scriptural focus is on covenants initiated by God, for which He provided visible signs and for which He sometimes attached stipulations or conditions.
Among North Americans, the language of covenant is largely unused. The idea of marriage as a covenant still persists (with a ring as a visible sign). In some neighborhoods, homeowners must sign a covenant concerning their obligations about property maintenance and appearance. Similar ideas were found in biblical human-to-human covenants, such as the covenant of friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Sam 18:3-4) or the treaty Joshua made with the people of Gibeon (Josh 9:15). Marriage as a covenant is referred to in Malachi 2:14.
The greater interest of the Bible is on covenants that God established with mankind. The earliest account is God’s covenant with Noah and the whole human race after the flood in Genesis 9. God as the Sovereign initiated the terms of the agreement: He pledged Himself to send no more worldwide flood; no human condition was given. Further, He stated as visible sign of the covenant, the rainbow.
Four other biblical covenants are even more prominent.
1. The covenant with Abraham. God unconditionally chose Abraham to be a channel of worldwide blessing (fulfilled by Christ) and promised to make from him and his wife Sarah a great nation of biological descendants (Gen 15:1-20). Abraham’s response was faith (Gen 15:6). The sign of the Abrahamic covenant is male circumcision (Gen 17:1-22).
2. The covenant at Mt. Sinai. God entered into a conditional covenant with the Israelites at Mt. Sinai when He gave the law (Deut 5:1-22). He promised to bless obedience and to curse disobedience. According to Hebrews 8:1-13, this covenant was meant to be temporary. The sign of the Sinaitic covenant is the Sabbath, resting on the seventh day of each week (Deut 5:12-15).
3. The covenant with David. God unconditionally chose David to be the first in an ongoing dynasty of kings to rule over God’s people (2 Sam 7:1-29). The sign of this covenant is for a Davidic king to be reigning. Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this covenant, which is why the New Testament emphasizes Jesus proclamation of (and rule over) the kingdom.
4. The new covenant. Jeremiah prophesied the new covenant, in which God’s people would be forgiven and would wholly love the Lord from renewed hearts (Jer 31:31-33). When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He spoke of the “new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25). Thus the Lord’s Supper (Eucharist or Holy Communion) is the sign of the new covenant. Hebrews 8:8-12 quotes Jeremiah’s prophecy at length and then provides an extensive explanation of its meaning (Heb 8-9).
REFLECTION: How do the covenants affect your relationship with God. Why think about covenants as part of Christianity? How does the new covenant affect your view of Communion?
PRAYER: Lord God of the covenants, You are the covenant-making and the covenant-keeping God. Above all I praise You for the new covenant through Jesus Christ the King and Son of David. Help me to live my life in faith, love, hope, and obedience to Him this day. Amen.
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.