A covenant is an agreement between God and man. In Old Testament times, people often made covenants by sacrificing animals as a symbol of their promise to keep their word. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
In the New Testament, Jesus is the ultimate covenant between God and man. He died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again so we could have eternal life and be promised an eternal inheritance.
What Is A Covenant?
The word “covenant” refers to a contract between two parties. The word “covenant” can also be made between individuals or groups and is usually related to the Bible. An everlasting covenant is often defined as a promise, but it’s more than that. It’s a sacred vow or bond that binds the parties involved to specific actions and commitments.
Covenants are often used as promises from God to humans. The Ten Commandments are an example of this kind of covenant. God promised to protect His people if they followed His rules, and He kept his promise by protecting them from their enemies (Exodus 19:1–8). But God also made another kind of covenant with Israel that required them to obey him in order to be blessed and prosper (Deuteronomy 28).
Biblical covenants are also crucial in the New Testament, where Jesus is the fulfillment of all covenants. In fact, Jesus is called the “One Mediator between God and men,” which means that He’s our only connection to God (1 Timothy 2:5). As Christians, we’re no longer bound by the Old Testament laws because Jesus fulfilled them for us (Matthew 5:17–18).
In addition, Christians are also promised a covenant that will never be broken. This is why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen.” The Bible says that when we trust Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we’re promised an eternity with him.
Jesus said that whoever believes in him will have eternal life (John 3:16). The Bible also promises a new covenant, which is a promise of peace and joy. This is why the apostle John wrote in his first letter, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Why Are Covenants Important Today?
The covenant is a solemn promise between God and man. It is a mutual agreement between God and man in which God guarantees to give man specific blessings if he keeps the conditions, and man promises to obey God.
To understand the importance of biblical covenants today, we must first understand their origin. The Scriptures contain many examples of covenants that God has made with His people throughout history. In fact, most of the Old Testament is devoted to chronicling these covenants.
The first covenant was made with Adam when God gave him dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28). He was given authority over all creation; however, he forfeited this right by disobeying God’s command not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (Genesis 2:16–17). After Adam disobeyed God’s command, sin entered the world through him (Romans 5:12). As a result, all men are born in sin and are subject to death (Psalm 51:5).
After Adam’s fall into sin, God promised that He would send a redeemer who would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15). This redemption would only be possible through the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22). This prophecy was fulfilled when God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). As prophesied in Genesis 3:15, Jesus would crush Satan’s head by dying on the cross as man’s substitute (1 Corinthians 15:3–4).
With all of this being said, God’s covenants are vital because they are the way that God makes His presence known to man. They make clear God’s plan of redemption and what it means for each person who chooses to accept or reject Him.
Covenants help us understand the nature of God and how He deals with mankind. Also, covenants are essential because they show us how God deals with the human race. He has a plan of redemption that He has always followed and that will continue until He is done with it (Revelation 19:6).
5 Key Covenants
Throughout the Bible, God makes several promises to his people. However, four covenants serve as essential touchstones for understanding the entire narrative of Scripture and how it points to Jesus Christ. The following will discuss the four key covenants that God makes with humanity.
1. The Noahic Covenant
The Noahic Covenant, named after the flood hero, is a promise from God that He would never destroy the world again with a worldwide flood. It is found in Genesis 9:8–17 and serves as the backdrop for all Scripture. The covenant begins with God reminding humanity of His intention to bring judgment on them through the flood.
But then He changes His mind and decides not to obliterate them. Instead, He declares that he will not send another flood or drown anyone else’s offspring. He also promises never again to curse the ground because man has become evil.
2. The Abrahamic Covenant
This covenant is God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation, bless him, and give him many descendants. This covenant is found in Genesis 12:1–3, and its fulfillment can be seen throughout the Bible. The covenant begins with God telling Abraham that He will make him into a great nation.
Then God tells Abraham that his descendants will be as numerous as the sky stars or sand grains on the beach. The covenant also promises that God will bless Abraham and make his name great. This is fulfilled in the New Testament when Jesus Christ becomes a descendant of Abraham through his mother, Mary, who was descended from King David (Luke 3:23–38).
3. The Mosaic Covenant
This was a covenant between God and the Hebrews that is often called the Law of Moses, but it also included additional agreements. This covenant is primarily known for its Ten Commandments and detailed instructions on living a holy life. It also includes laws about warfare, sexual relationships, worship, and social conduct.
This covenant was given to Moses by God. Moses renewed the covenant at Mt. Sinai when he brought the people out of Egypt. The people were required to obey all of the laws of this covenant and were punished if they did not. Under this covenant, God promised the Israelites that they would keep their part of the agreement.
4. The Davidic Covenant
The Davidic Covenant is a covenant in which God promises that the descendants of David will reign over the people of God. It is reminiscent of earlier covenants, reaffirming God’s promise to David that he would have a descendant who would rule over the promised land and establish his royal line.
When it was made, there was no King of Israel. God promised that he would establish a king over his people and that this king would be from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:11–16). This is fulfilled in Jesus Christ because he is descended from King David through his mother, Mary (Matthew 1:1–17).
5. The New Covenant
Because we are all sinners, the New Covenant is God’s promise to mankind that He will forgive our sins and restore communion with Him if only we believe in His Son. The New Covenant fulfills the Old Covenant, which promised that God would send a Messiah who would suffer and die for our sins.
This is why Jesus Christ came to earth: to fulfill the law and make us right with God (Matthew 5:17). The New Covenant also promises an everlasting kingdom where we will live forever in heaven with God (Revelation 21:1–4).
Why Is Jesus The Covenantal Climax?
Because the Old Testament covenant was fulfilled in Christ, we now belong to God through Him. This is why He’s called the Covenantal Climax—He is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to mankind. Jesus’ life and death on earth are what make us right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Jesus is the center of our faith and the focal point of God’s plan. This is why we celebrate Easter. Christ died and rose again so that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus fulfills God’s covenant with man and is the Covenantal Climax of humanity. He is the final solution to our sin problem.
So when we celebrate Easter, we remember what Christ did for us. We recognize that He died on the cross to take away our sins and rose again on the third day. We celebrate because we are right with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection (Romans 5:9; Colossians 1:20).
We can say that the covenant is how God relates to man. It is a binding agreement between God and man, in which God promises to bless those who keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1–14) and curse those who break them (Exodus 34:10–12).
The covenant is the heart of God’s relationship with men and was established at creation. The Old Testament covenants were a shadow of the New Testament covenant in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 8:6–13), which we enter into by faith.