The word “covenant, ” infrequently heard in conversation, is quite commonly used in legal, social (marriage), and religious and theological contexts. The Idea of Covenant. The term “covenant” is of Latin origin (con venire), meaning a coming together. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities. In religious and theological circles there has not been agreement on precisely what is to be understood by the biblical term.
It is used variously in biblical contexts.
In political situations, it can be translated treaty; in a social setting, it means a lifelong friendship agreement; or it can refer to a marriage. A biblical covenant is an agreement generally between God and humanity. While the Hebrew word beriyt means “covenant” the cultural background of the word is helpful in understanding its full meaning. Beriyt comes from the parent root word bar meaning grain. Grains were fed to livestock to fatten them up to prepare them for the slaughter.
Two other Hebrew words related to beriyt and also derived from the parent root bar can help understand the meaning of beriyt. The word beriy means fat and barut means meat. Notice the common theme with bar, beriy and barut, they all have to do with the slaughtering of livestock. The word beriyt is literally the animal that is slaughtered for the covenant ceremony. The phrase “make a covenant” is found thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew text this phrase is “karat beriyt”. The word karat literally means, “to cut”.
When a covenant is made, a fattened animal is cut into pieces and laid out on the ground. Each party of the covenant then passes through the pieces signifying that if one of the parties fails to meet the agreement then the other has the right to do to the other what they did to the animal. (ancient-hebrew. org) (Genesis 15:10 and Jeremiah 34:18-20). OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES The Old Testament has many examples of covenants between people who were peers. For example, David and Jonathan entered into a covenant because of their love for each other.
This bound each of them to certain responsibilities. (1 Samuel 18:3) The remarkable thing is that God is holy, omniscient, and omnipotent; but He chooses to enter into covenant with man, who is feeble, sinful, and flawed. God’s Covenant with Noah Noah lived at a time when the whole earth was filled with violence and corruption, yet Noah did not allow the evil standards of his day to rob him of fellowship with God. He stood out as the only one who “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9), as was also true of his great-grandfather Enoch (Genesis 5:22). Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). The Lord singled out Noah from among all his contemporaries and chose him as the man to accomplish a great work.
When God saw the wickedness that prevailed in the world (Genesis 6:5), He told Noah of His intention to destroy the ancient world by a universal flood. God instructed Noah to build an ark in which he and his family would survive the universal deluge. Noah believed God and “according to all that God commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). Noah is listed among the heroes of faith. By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith” (Hebrews 11:7). With steadfast confidence in God, Noah started building the ark. During this time, Noah continued to preach God’s judgment and mercy, warning the ungodly of their approaching doom. Peter reminds us of how God “did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Peter 2:5).
Noah preached for 120 years, apparently without any converts. At the end of that time, “when … the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah. … eight souls were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:20). People continued in their evil ways and ignored his pleadings and warnings until the flood overtook them. When the ark was ready, Noah entered in with all kinds of animals “and the Lord shut him in” (Genesis 7:16), cut off completely from the rest of mankind. Noah was grateful to the Lord who had delivered him from the flood.
After the flood, he built an altar to God (Genesis 8:20) and made a sacrifice, which was accepted graciously, for in it “the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. ” (Genesis 8:21). The Lord promised Noah and his descendants that He would never destroy the world again with a universal flood (Genesis 9:15). The Lord made an everlasting covenant with Noah and his descendants, establishing the rainbow as the sign of His promise (Genesis 9:1-17) God’s Covenant with Abraham By making a covenant with Abraham, God promised to bless his descendants and make them His own special people.
In return, Abraham was to remain faithful to God and to serve as a guide through which God’s blessings could flow to the rest of the world (Genesis 12:1-3). At the age of 75 while living in Haran, Abraham received a call from God to go to a strange land that God would show him. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him and his descendants a great nation (Genesis12:1-3). The promise must have seemed unbelievable to Abraham because his wife Sarah was childless (Genesis 11:30-31; 17:15). Abraham obeyed God with no hint of disbelief. Abraham took his wife and his nephew, Lot, and went toward the land that God would show him.
Abraham moved south along the trade routes from Haran, through Shechem and Bethel, to the land of Canaan. Canaan was a populated area at the time, inhabited by the war-like Canaanites; so, Abraham’s belief that God would ultimately give this land to him and his descendants was an act of faith. The circumstances seemed difficult, but Abraham’s faith in God’s promises allowed him to trust in the Lord. In Genesis 15, the Lord reaffirmed His promise to Abraham. The relationship between God and Abraham should be understood as a covenant relationship.
Abraham agreed to go to the land that God would show him (an act of faith on his part), and God agreed to make Abraham a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3). In Genesis 15, because of his age, Abraham became anxious about the promise of a nation being found in his descendants and the Lord then reaffirmed the earlier covenant. A common practice of that time among families with no heirs, was to adopt a slave who would inherit the master’s goods. Therefore, because Abraham was childless, he proposed to make a slave, Eliezer of Damascus, his heir (Genesis 15:2).
But God rejected this and challenged Abraham’s faith: “‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them. ‘ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be'” (Genesis 15:5). Abraham’s response is the model of faith: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6) As in the scripture, it is still true today; God makes covenants with those who seek Him. God promised blessings to those who seek Him. God is consistent in both the Old and New Testaments on this matter. He wants us to seek Him.
In the following quotation, notice the blessings that He promises to those who come to Him. God is an inviting God. He invited Mary to birth his son, the disciples to fish for men, the adulteress woman to start over, and Thomas to touch his wounds. God is the King who prepares the palace, sets the table, and invites the subjects to come in. In fact, it seems his favorite word is COME. “COME, let us talk about these things, though yours sins are like scarlet, they can be white as snow. ” God is a God who invites. God is a God who calls. God promises blessings to those who seek Him. I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. ” (Proverbs 8:17) We can have a relationship with the creator of the universe.
We must be diligent about seeking him. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. ” (Jeremy 29:10) God has some conditions with these blessings. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14) God promises to reward those who diligently seek Him. The Author of Hebrews wrote, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. ” (Hebrews 11:6) We have the privilege of coming before God. We have access to the King of Kings. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. ” (Hebrews 5:2) He made himself accessible to us if we come to Him.
When we come to Him in prayer we will build a relationship with Him; it is there that we will find His peace. He promised, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ” (Philipians 4: 6,7) The Apostle Paul illustrates how God will fellowship with us and honor us when we come to Him. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. ” There are many examples in the scripture of how God will bless those who seek Him. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6) If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:1-2) Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8) “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. (Matthew 11:28-30) There is a sense of calmness when you read this verse. It speaks of the rest that He will give us. But there is a price to pay. We must “come” unto Him. We must seek Him. He is the provider, He is the bread of life, He is the water that will quench our thirst. There is also liberty for those who come to Jesus. The Bible says, “Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (II Corinthians 3:16, 17). Answered prayer is a benefit of coming to Him. Jesus said, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7) God’s covenant blessings await those who seek Him. To receive these blessings we must do our part. Webster defines the word “come” as to move toward something; to move or journey to a vicinity with a specified purpose; to advance toward, to seek. We also use the words, seek, and return, when referring to coming to Christ.
The consequences attached to the covenants, whether human or divine in origin, could be either positive or negative. Regardless of whether the covenant was motivated by friendship (as with Jonathan and David 1 Samuel 18), suspicion (as with Laban and Jacob Genesis 31), or God’s loving choice (as with Israel), fidelity to the covenant is its most fundamental anchor and constitutes the essence of it. Covenants were and are to be remembered and kept, and blessings awaited those who did. God’s covenants began with blessings, with even greater blessings to follow.
His covenants were “front-loaded,” so to speak, with divine blessings, wholly undeserved and unmerited, and secured with promises of eternal fidelity. But they could also be rejected and broken, transgressed, and forsaken. And the gravity of failing to honor the stipulations could be severe. Violators of the divine covenant are promised the “curses of the covenant” (Deut 29:21) and divine “vengeance” (Lev 26:25). In the case of a covenant between individuals, walking between the pieces of the sacrifice (e. g. , Gen 15:12-18) provided a visual threat of similar dismemberment should the covenant obligations go unmet.
A consequence ultimately realized in Judah’s capture by Babylon (Jer 34:18-20). The self-curse of Jonathan is similar (1 Sam 20 :13). The reason the covenants are important in part is, that it gives believers today roots that date back, not just to Jesus, but back to the beginning of time itself. John tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In the New Covenant as a recipient of that covenant our roots then because of Him go back to the beginning as we are to become the Word and the Word pre-dates the covenants.
In the Mosaic Covenant, God revealed His holiness and the heinousness of sin. The daily sacrifices provided a constant reminder of the need for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, for the propitiating of God’s wrath. There are two important deaths in the NC. The first is Jesus as He did pay the price for us to have entrance, but the second is our own death in giving up our lives to Him, if we have truly given our lives to Him. If so we are dead with Him and resurrected with Him and already sitting at the right hand of the Father according to Ephesians.
Our promise in this if we are led by His Spirit that we become sons of God, which was not possible in the older covenants, but with this comes a greater responsibility for all that happens around us. It is therefore important to pay careful attention to the covenants as they will bear an overwhelming abundance of fruitfulness. The first priority in our life needs to be seeking God. As believers we need to seek the mercy of God as we struggle with pride and sin in our lives. When we experience God’s mercy and God’s grace, it should bring us to our knees before Him in worship and thanksgiving. To live a covenant life in Christ, requires seeking Him.
Padfield, David (2011) Five Great Bible Covenants (online) Padfield. com Lucado,Max And the Angels were Silent Portland, Oregon W Publishing Group 1992 www. biblestudytools. com Elwell, Walter A. “Entry for ‘Covenant, the New'”. “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology”. . 1997. “Come,” Merriam-Webster. com. 2012. http://www. merriam-webster. com (1 November 2012) http://www. ourdailybreadmissions. org Can Two Walk Together Except They Be Agreed 2003 (11 November 2012) Unless otherwise noted all Scripture is taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
Cite this Covenant Relationship
Covenant Relationship. (2017, Jan 26). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/covenant-relationship/