An understanding of covenant is important because the bible is a book of covenants. Much of the terminology in the Scriptures is covenant vocabulary and without an understanding of this much of what the Scriptures say will remain shrouded or misinterpreted.
Everyday biblical words like ‘loving-kindness’, ‘friend’ and ‘remembrance’ are all covenant terms which carry a weighty implication when viewed through a proper understanding of covenant.
The Scriptures also declare that the last days will be marked by a disregard and dishonour for covenant. It speaks of a people who are:
“Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:”
Ephesians describes the ignorance of our day and culture well when it speaks of those who are:
“strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
Out society is estranged from Biblical culture, and as such operates on a very low level of commitment; contracts are broken, agreements are brushed aside. It is socially acceptable for a man and woman to live together without being married, and should they marry, the level of commitment lasts just as long as it feels good. Covenant relationship is honestly ‘til death do us part’. Furthermore, God’s covenant stretches way beyond that, to a ‘thousand generations’ (Deut 7:9).
Our cultural mindset must be ‘renewed’ by the Word, in order that we might comprehend the amazing implications of the New Covenant we enjoy with God through Christ.
It is not enough merely to have a covenant; we must understand the covenant to benefit from it. All people on the planet today potentially have a covenant with God through Christ, but ignorance of this covenant (otherwise known as the gospel), which was cut on their behalf, keeps them under a curse.
Finally, a proper understanding of covenant will directly affect our faith. Covenant is not a subject disconnected from our everyday life and walk with God and with other people. It affects every area and relationship in our life. If we can grasp God’s absolute commitment to fulfil His Word (which is His covenant), it will encourage us to confidently stand upon His promises without wavering. There is no ‘wondering’ whether He will or not. He is bound by covenant to bless!
Covenants in the Bible
The following outline is based on a similar (but more comprehensive) outline in Kevin Connor’s book, “The Covenants”
What constitutes a Covenant
The idea of covenant originated with God. He is a Covenant making and Covenant keeping God. Each of the Covenants we see in the Bible have certain things in common. They all involve:
The Words of the covenant
A covenant is an expressed agreement between two parties.As such these words would either be verbalised or written, and may include…• Promises of blessing
• Promises of cursing
• Terms of the Covenant
• The Oath of the covenant
• The Book of the Covenant
The Blood of the Covenant
The sacrificial blood of a covenant was shed to represent the commitment of those entering the covenant.
The sacrifice involved both the body and the blood.
The offering of sacrifice also necessitated a priest or mediator and a sanctuary or a place to make the sacrifice.
The Seal of the Covenant
The seal, sign or token of the covenant was a tangible witness of the covenant, serving as a lasting reminder of the agreement made.
Duration and nature of a Covenant
A covenant may be:
Everlasting, perpetual, never ending.
Certain temporal elements of these covenants may change but the agreement remains forever. [eg: Abrahamic (Gen 17:13)]
Subject to time, not permanent. Although having eternal implications these covenants are nevertheless limited to a certain period of time. [eg: Mosaic (Gal 3:19)]
A covenant in which God obligates Himself to fulfil the promises of the covenant regardless of man’s response. It includes the divine “I will…” unconnected to obligations of obedience. An example of this is God’s promise to Abraham that he would be the father of many nations (Gen 22:17), or to David that his seed would sit upon the throne forever (2 Sam 7:12).
A covenant in which the fulfilment of the promises are dependent upon the obedience of all parties to the covenant. The Mosiac covenant was such a covenant. Such a covenant can be broken and disannulled if one of the parties breaks the agreement.
Covenants made with mankind in the Bible
The Edenic Covenant
Prior to sin this covenant was made with the original man Adam. It reveals God’s perfect purpose for mankind. (Genesis 1-2). His purpose included relationship, dominion, fruitfulness and eternal life as the covenant is obeyed.
The New Covenant restores man to these original purposes.
The words of the covenant are words of purpose and blessing (Gen 1:26-29; 2:5,15), and of the terms and the consequences of disobedience (Gen 2:17).
The blood of the Edenic covenant may well have been innocent blood shed when God took of Adam’s side to build his bride. In a similar way the innocent blood of Christ was shed to build His Bride, the church. The Godhead acted as the Mediator of this covenant in the Garden of Eden. At this time the Garden was the very place of God’s presence. God’s example and instruction was also followed by Adam and His generations as patriarchal king/priests in their homes.
The tangible sign of this covenant was the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden.
The Adamic Covenant
After the entrance of sin, with Adam and Eve. It involved God’s judgment on sin and a Messianic promise of redemption (Genesis 3).
The words of the covenant include words of blessing (Gen 3:15), and of cursing (3:14-19; 3:23-24). Adam and Eve were required to believe the promise of redemption that God gave, this constitutes the terms of the covenant.
The blood of this covenant was the innocent blood of an animal shed to clothe the sinful couple (Gen 3:21). Again, God mediated the covenant, slaying and skinning the animal with which He clothed Adam and Eve.
This clothing also acted as the seal or token of the redemptive covenant, an evident reminder of the messianic promise of the covenant.
The Noahic Covenant
Made with Noah after the flood comprising the entire human and animal kingdom. It re-established God’s covenant and builds upon the Edenic covenant. (Genesis 6-9).
The words of the covenant included blessing Noah and his sons (Gen 9:1); fruitfulness and multiplicity (9:1,7; 15-17); dominion (9:2-3); preservation from further curse in nature and establishment of the seasons (8:21-22). It also included the promise that the earth would never experience a universal flood ever again (9:11,15). Isaiah 54:9 also reveals that God swore an oath in this respect. The blessing of Shem, in the Messianic line, is also included in the words of this covenant (9:26).
The terms of the covenant again were faith on the part of Noah and his family, prohibition from eating blood (which was established by God as the substitutionary covering for sin and pointed to the final sacrifice and the Blood of God, Jesus Christ Himself (Acts 20:28), who would die as the perfect Lamb for the sins of the world. Murder was also forbidden and capital punishment instituted. Under the Adamic covenant God Himself had judged murderers, He now delegates authority to mankind. The implication is that all other forms of societal government passed to man as well.
The blood of this covenant was animal bodies and blood, which came from the preserved clean beasts on the ark. These were a sweet savour to God, covering sin and maintaining fellowship (Gen 8:20-21).
Following the patriarchal footsteps of Adam, Noah acted as priest, offering sacrifice on the first altar mentioned in Scripture (8:20). This altar, and indeed any altar built for the purpose of sacrifice to the true God, became the sanctuary, the place where God recorded His name (Ex 20:24-26).
The token or seal of this covenant was the rainbow in the sky (Gen 9:12-17).
The Abrahamic Covenant
The most comprehensive of all Old Testament covenants (Genesis 12-22). Made with Abraham, the father of all who believe, it comprises Abraham and his natural seed, the inception of God’s chosen nation, Israel, the coming Messiah, and all believers of all nations.
Following the scattering of the human race and the resulting formation of new nations and people groups, God immediately puts into effect a covenant through which “all families of the earth” would be blessed.”
The words of the Abrahamic covenant include promises of personal blessing and fruitfulness (Gen 12:2; 15:5) and of blessing others (12:2-3).
Significantly the promise is given that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed; fulfilled ultimately through the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ. (Gal 3:8,16,29).
It also includes the promise of land (Gen 12:1;13:14-18; 15:17-21; 17:7-8). This promise is later developed in the Palestinian covenant, which stipulates conditions for maintaining possession of the land.
God also promises that kings would come forth from Abraham, and his seed (Gen 17:6). This promise was fulfilled both in the natural with the descendents of Abraham in Edom and Israel, in Christ Himself (Rev 19:16) and in the spiritual seed of Abraham who have been made kings and priests (Rev 1:6; 5:9-10). This promise is later confirmed and fulfilled in the Davidic Covenant.
Notably this is a covenant of absolute and unconditional blessing. There is no curse or condition to God’s fulfilment of this covenant.
An oath was given to Isaac, Abraham’s son, and the promises and covenant confirmed to Jacob (1 Chron 16:15-17). These three were together partakers of one covenant.
The terms of the covenant were simple faith and obedience. (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3).
The blood of the covenant included the animal sacrifices placed upon the altars of the patriarchs, the specific sacrifice asked of Abraham in Genesis 15:7-17, and also the typical sacrifice of Isaac (Gen 22).
As a seal or token of this covenant God commanded that all males be circumcised. Only through the rite of circumcision could someone enter into the covenant (Gen 17:14). Circumcision was an outward evidence of inward commitment to the covenant, and a constant reminder that future generations were also committed to come into the same agreement. Our circumcision today is that of the heart, evidenced outwardly by a change of life and the ordinance of baptism (Col 2:11-13).
The Seed of Abraham
The Scriptures tell us that through Abraham and his Seed, all the families of the earth would be blessed. We have stated elsewhere that the Holy Ghost’s interpretation of this promise is that the Seed referred to is not just the natural Jewish seed but Christ Jesus Himself:
“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”” (Genesis 22:18 NKJV)
“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16 NKJV)
This promise, and Abraham’s faith in it, released the spiritual substance necessary for Christ to be manifest.
As a result of the covenant partnership of God and His man, Abraham, faith was released for the following things.
- A Miracle child – God gave Jesus.
- A Sacrificed Promised Son – God sacrificed His only Begotten Son.
- A Son raised from the dead (Heb 1:8-12) – God raised Jesus
- A universal blessing upon the nations – Christ is the Saviour of all men.
Through partnership with Abraham, and the typical sacrifice of Isaac, God obligated Himself to do the very same thing for his Covenant partner should it be required. God Himself necessitated the cross by asking Abraham to give up his son, Isaac.
The Scriptures also say that there came a time for Christ to be manifest:
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)
This fullness included everything that needed to be spoken being proclaimed so that the Word could be made flesh; it comprised every Messianic promise, the redemption and eternal kingship of Christ. Once the Covenant words agreed in the counsels of the Godhead in the Everlasting Covenant had been spoken into the realm of earth through the prophets (and other men and women of God through the ages) Christ was manifest.
Heirs of the world
Through the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant we have inherited a promise:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14)
What is the blessing? Covenant relationship with God.
What is the Promise of the Spirit, or the promise that the Spirit gave to Abraham?
“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13)
The promise given to Abraham was that he would be established as a new nation or race of people who would inherit the earth. This promise is now ours. We are a new nation among the nations, a new creation, and the earth is our inheritance. We are blessed to be a blessing.
Such is the scope of this covenant made with the patriarch. So much so that Galatians 3:6-8 calls the Abrahamic Covenant the gospel.
“just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. ”Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”” (Galatians 3:6-8)
The Mosaic Covenant
Made only with the chosen nation of Israel, this intricate covenant is the most complicated of Biblical covenants. It acted as a “schoolmaster” to bring Israel to Christ (Galatians 3:24; Exodus 19-40).
The Mosaic covenant did not annul or replace the promises of the Abrahamic covenant. It was added alongside and was temporary. Both covenants flow to the cross, the Mosaic covenant is completed and abolished there, and the new Covenant instituted.
The words and terms of this covenant are extensive, including moral, ceremonial and civil laws. Personal, national, geographical and spiritual blessings are declared, in keeping with the previous promises to Abraham, and the consequences of breaking the laws given are spelled out in detail.
The blood of the covenant comprised many animal sacrifices, administered and mediated by a complex system of priesthood carried out by the tribe of Levi, and Moses and Aaron.
The sanctuary of the covenant was an ornate construction called the Tabernacle. It was here that God’s presence was tangibly manifest (Ex 25:8) and sacrifices were made on behalf of the people.
The seal or sign of the Mosaic covenant was the Sabbath day. This too was fulfilled and abolished in Christ Jesus, who has become the place of spiritual rest for all believers. In Christ, we cease from our own works and enter the rest and security of faith (Heb 4).
The Palestinian Covenant
Made with the second generation out of Egypt, after 40 years in the wilderness on the banks of Jordon. It lays out the conditions to enter and maintain possession of the land promised in the Abrahamic covenant. (Deuteronomy 27-33).
The words of the covenant are recorded in the book of Deuteronomy, including a description of the land (Deut 8 and others) and promises of blessing (Deut 28:1-14) and cursing (Deut 28:15-68). Terms included obedience to the Mosaic law and ensuring that Sabbaths, including cyclical Sabbaths for the land were adhered to.
The book of this covenant is referred to in Deut 31:9,10,24-26.
The Palestinian sacrifices follow the pattern laid down in the Mosaic law, again administered by the Levites.
The promised land itself was the sanctuary of this covenant. It is ‘His land’ (Lev 25:23-24).
The seal of the covenant not only included the Sabbaths, but also the blessing of rain in season. If the covenant was broken the rains would be withheld (Deut 11:10-17).
The Davidic Covenant
Made with David after the death of King Saul and at the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel under David’s rule. It involved David’s house and kingdom, ultimately pointing to the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, David’s greatest descendent (II Samuel 7; Psalms 89; Psalms 132).
The words of the covenant are largely words blessing for David and his dynasty. Christ, the Seed of David, and the root of David (Rev 22:16; Rom 1:3-4) received the Kingdom promised to David, and His Kingdom shall have no end (Luke 1:31-33).
Like the Abrahamic covenant this covenant does not have any curses.
In relation to the blood of the covenant animal sacrifices were made according to the requirements of Moses, but David also offered up spiritual sacrifices of praise and worship, which precipitated the order of worship in the New Covenant (Heb 13:15,16).
The priesthood of David’s covenant involved both David himself (2 Sam 6:17) as a priest-king, and the Levites in the Tabernacle of David.
David set up a sanctuary on Mount Zion. Whereas the Tabernacle of Moses was characterised by continual sacrifices in the outer courts, David’s Tabernacle was characterised by continual offerings of worship before the Ark of the Lord. It is here that the Lord chose to inhabit (Psalm 132:13-16).
The sign of the covenant was given to David when the lord told him that as long as the ordinances of heaven remained, the sun by day and moon by night, David’s generation would sit upon the throne. This promise will find ultimate completion in the New Heaven and Earth, during which time there will be no need of sun and moon for God Himself will light the universe (Rev 22:5).
The New Covenant
Bridging the promise given to Abraham and its fulfilment in Christ are several other Covenants made with Israel. These contained many promises, which also found fulfilment in Christ. In fulfilment they were abolished, having now accomplished their purpose.
The Bible says that we now have a new and better Covenant, based upon better promises:
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6 NKJV)
The Old Mosaic Covenant was temporary and added because of sin, to contain and discipline the people of God until the Promised Messiah was manifest (Gal 3:15-19, 3-25). It was added as a teacher to bring God’s people to Christ.
The Law helped to re-establish a Covenant mentality in God’s people. It helped establish concepts such as deliverance through innocent blood, baptism, sins being covered and removed, prosperity and healing.
It also fully convinced anyone of the impossibility of establishing their own righteousness by obedience to its many laws and precepts. In this way it prepared the way for grace to be received.
The law also provided a perfect framework for Jesus to demonstrate perfect obedience to God in order to become the perfect innocent sacrifice as a substitute for those who could not.
The law also established the principle of God dwelling with His people.
With these things in place as the shadows of good things to come (Hebrews 10:1), the New Covenant then opened the way for the reality and substance to be manifest.
The New and Better Covenant includes the following:
• Priesthood of all believers, not just chosen few (1 Pet 2:9).
• Sin wiped out, and consciences cleansed, not just covered (Col 2:13-14; Heb 10:2-4)
• Access to the heavenly Tabernacle, not just an earthly replica (Heb 8:1-5)
• Health not just healing (1 Pet 2:24)
• A glory which is eternal and not passing away (2 Cor 3:9-11)
• A ministration of righteousness by grace not condemnation and law (2 Cor 3:9)
• The indwelling presence of God, not just a tabernacle or temple (1 Cor 3:16)
Made with the houses of Israel and Judah just prior to His crucifixion. It replaced the Old or Mosaic Covenant with its temporal elements and natural ordinances. Through this covenant and its sacrifice, salvation was made available for the whole world. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8; Matthew 26).
The New covenant opened the possibility for every believer to enter into the Everlasting covenant, bringing to completion the Covenantal revelation.
The illustration on the following page based on a similar diagram in Kevin Conner’s book. ‘The Covenants’ clearly illustrates the purpose and progression of covenantal revelation in the Bible:
The cycle of covenants ends with the New Covenant. Through this Covenant mankind is brought back into fellowship with God and finds entrance to the Eternal covenant made between the Godhead before Creation.
Mankind’s covenantal relationship to God was broken at the fall, and following this God began a covenantal journey to bring mankind back to Himself. Both the Adamic and Noahic covenants were with all of mankind, but following these all others were with God’s chosen nation, Israel.
The consummation of the unfolding covenants made with Israel is the New Covenant, which is made with their Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. This is the last covenant to be made with Israel, and reception of it is essential for the salvation of Jew and Gentile alike.
The nature of this ‘New Covenant’ is prophesied by many of the Old Testament saints. The following references are some of the most significant:
““The Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,”
Says the LORD.
“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.”” (Is 59:20-21 NKJV)
““Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.””
(Jer 31:31-34 NKJV)
““Nevertheless I will remember My covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed, when you receive your older and your younger sisters; for I will give them to you for daughters, but not because of My covenant with you. And I will establish My covenant with you. Then you shall know that I am the LORD,” (Ezek 16:60-62 NKJV)
“Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” (Ezek 11:19-20 NKJV)
“Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; I will establish them and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; indeed I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Ezek 37:25-27 NKJV)
God’s intention all along was that through Israel all nations would witness and come to know God, thus fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham, but it is only in Christ that the true fulfilment of the promise comes to fullness. Truly in Him, all families of the earth are (potentially) blessed.
In the new covenant all other covenants come to fruition.
i. The virgin Seed of woman crushes the serpents head.
ii. The Promised Seed through which all families in earth will be blessed has arrived.
iii. The true Tabernacle of God’s Presence is manifest.
iv. The Fulfiller of the Perfect Law brings the law to fulfilment and completion.
v. The Lord of the Sabbath invites us to dwell in and with Him perpetually.
vi. A better and abiding city and land is offered to those who accept His terms of faith and obedience.
vii. An eternal King now sits on the throne until His enemies are made His footstool.
viii. Through the ever-living Risen Lord the eternal elements present in the Everlasting Covenant are opened to mankind and true fellowship with the Father of Creation is restored.
Is it any wonder then that The Scriptures actually personify the Covenant in the Person of Christ? He is its centre and fulfilment, and to be in the Covenant we must be in Him:
““I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness,
And will hold Your hand;
I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the Gentiles,
To open blind eyes,
To bring out prisoners from the prison,
Those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”
(Is 42:6-7 NKJV)
In fulfilment many of the temporal elements of previous covenants are abolished. No longer are sacrifices necessary, Christ is the once-for-all sacrifice. No longer is a priesthood necessary, He is The High Priest of Heaven’s Tabernacle and brings all who believe in Him into priestly fellowship and ministry. The law is not written on tables of stone, but upon the fleshy tables of the heart. Circumcision is now of the heart, and He is the Sabbath rest for all believers.
Equally, eternal elements of previous covenants are now made possible. These elements are made possible by virtue of Him who is eternal and now lives in the power of an endless life (Heb 7:16). The ‘everlasting inheritance’ of Abraham, the ‘everlasting priesthood’ of the Mosaic covenant, and the ‘everlasting kingdom’ of the Davidic covenant, are all made possible by the New Covenant.
The words of the New Covenant comprise all the words of Jesus Himself, and the truths built upon them in the Acts and Epistles and Revelation.
The Words of the New Covenant
The promises of blessing in the New covenant are many. They comprise the fulfilment of all Old Testament promises and go far beyond them.
The blessing of salvation, as we saw in Module 5: The Atonement, comprises safety, security, preservation, deliverance and wholeness for our complete person.
Jesus also spoke about the Kingdom of God, and explained the basic laws and principles of Kingdom living for His covenant people.
The blessings of the New Covenant also include healing, deliverance from satan’s power, the outpoured Spirit, miracles, resurrection and glorification; all things that pertain to life here and now, and hereafter throughout eternity (2 Pet 1:3).
The New Covenant also includes the reception of the Gentile nations into fellowship with God. This mystery was prophesied in the Old Testament, but found fulfilment in the New Testament, the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. In the New covenant the nations are grafted into the covenant relationship enjoyed by the Jews (Rom 11), and the two become one:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:13-16 NKJV)
It is interesting to note here that the New Covenant is not a Gentile covenant. It is a Jewish covenant into which the Gentiles are invited. As Paul states in Romans 11, we as Gentiles should consider carefully our place and privilege in this, and give honour to the people and nation who made such a covenant possible.
The words of the New Covenant also include curses upon those who reject the covenant and the Person of the Covenant, Jesus Christ. These curses include temporal judgments on wicked nations, but also eternal judgment and separation from God for all those who continue in their rebellion.
The terms of the covenant: Although the New Covenant is irrevocable, it is not unconditional. The offer of entrance to the covenant is given freely by God to whosoever, but man must willingly receive what he has been given. This is accomplished by Repentance and Faith [see Module 2: Doctrine: Repentance and Faith for a full exploration of this subject], which is then followed by obedience to the commands of the covenant.
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15 NKJV)
Through the New Covenant, Jesus is the Author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him:
“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” (Heb 5:8-9 NKJV)
Whereas the Old Testament demanded legal obedience to the commandments, the New Testament requires loving obedience to Jesus’ commands, and provides grace and empowerment to do so.
The following list is taken from Kevin Connor’s book, ‘The Covenants’
- The first commandment to love God (Matthew 22:37,38).
- The second commandment to love our neighbour (Matthew 22:39,40; John 13:34).
- The commandment of witness (Matthew 5: 13-16).
- The commandment of righteousness (Matthew 5: 17-20).
- The commandment of reconciliation (Matthew 5:21-26).
- The commandment concerning adultery and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32; 19:1-9).
- The commandment concerning oaths (Matthew 5:33-37).
- The commandment concerning retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42)
- The commandment concerning enemies (Matthew 5 :43-47).
- The commandment concerning perfection (Matthew 5:48).
- The commandment concerning alms (Matthew 6: 1-4).
- The commandment concerning prayer (Matthew 6:5-13).
- The commandment concerning forgiveness (Matt 6:14,15; 18:21-35).
- The commandment concerning fasting (Matthew 6: 16-18).
- The commandment concerning values (Matthew 6: 19-34).
- The commandment concerning criticism (Matthew 7: 1-5).
- The commandment concerning discretion (Matthew 7:6).
- The commandment concerning requests (Matthew 7:7-11).
- The commandment concerning consideration (Matthew 7: 12).
- The commandment concerning self-discipline (Matthew 7: 13,14).
- The commandment concerning character and ministry (Matt 7:15-23).
- The commandment concerning obedience (Matthew 7:24-27).
- The commandment concerning communion (Matthew 26:26-29).
- The commandment concerning water baptism (Matthew 28: 19,20).
- The commandment concerning the Gospel (Mark 16: 15-18; Acts 1:8).
- The commandment concerning the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4,5).
Jesus’ commandments are summarized in the word “love” (Matthew 22:37-40; 1John 5:3; II John 6; Romans 13:8-10). Salvation is indeed by grace, through faith, but loving obedience will be the response of anyone who truly receives the gift God is offering.
The 27 books of the New Testament comprise the book of the Covenant in which the words are recorded.
The Body and Blood of the New Covenant is the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself:
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:10 NKJV)
It is the only agent for cleansing sin in the whole universe:
“knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1Pet 1:18-20 NKJV)
All Old Testament sacrifices typified the perfect once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. His sacrifice was perfect and brought the sacrificial system to fulfilment.
Christ has now commissioned the church to offer spiritual sacrifices to God as a result of His one atoning sacrifice.
Again we draw this list from Kevin Connor’s book, “The Covenants”:
a. Sacrifice of righteousness (Psalms 4:5; 51: 19).
b. Sacrifice of joy (Psalms 27:6).
c. Sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit (Psalms 51: 17).
d. Sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalms 107:22; 116: 17).
e. Sacrifice of our bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12: 1,2).
f. Sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13: 15).
g. Sacrifice of good deeds (Hebrews 13: 16).
h. Sacrifice of fellowship (Hebrews 13:16).
Christ the Offering and the Offerer
Christ Himself was not only the Sacrifice of the New Covenant, He was also the Sacrificer, the Mediator and Priest; He was Offerer and Offering. He is now set as our eternal High Priest in the heavens (Heb 5:1-5; 8:1-4; 10:1-11) and has ordained the corporate expression of His Priesthood through His Body, the Church (1 Pet 2:5-9; Rev 1:5-6; 5:9-10; 20:6).
Similarly, Christ Himself was the Sanctuary of the New Covenant:
“And the Word (Christ) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory (His honor, His majesty), such glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth.” (John 1:14 AMP)
and exercises His High Priestly ministry from the heavenly Sanctuary:
“NOW THE main point of what we have to say is this: We have such a High Priest, One Who is seated at the right hand of the majestic [God] in heaven, As officiating Priest, a Minister in the holy places and in the true tabernacle which is erected not by man but by the Lord.” (Heb 8:1-2 AMP)
and indwells His Church who are the Temple of God, replacing any earthly sanctuary:
“Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]?” (1Cor 3:16 AMP)
The Seal and Sign of the New Covenant
The indwelling Spirit is also the Seal and token of this covenant, and assures every believer that the full redemption and inheritance promised therein will be fulfilled. The Seal, like the Sacrifice, is the very Person of God!
The Holy Spirit is spoken of as:
• The Seal of the New Covenant (Eph 1:13,14; 4:30)
• The Earnest of the New Covenant (2Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14)
• The Firstfruits of the New Covenant (Rom 8:23)
The Everlasting Covenant
“Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
The Everlasting Covenant was made in the counsels of the Godhead, between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, before time began. It is an all-encompassing covenant and involves the entire plan of God for Creation and redemption. All other covenants revealed in time are founded upon this one heavenly Covenant. Mankind is not party to it but is the object of this Covenant.
All everlasting elements of the other covenants find their source in this eternal covenant, made in eternity by the eternal Godhead. It is the Covenant in which God’s perfect purpose for mankind was proposed, and eternal life was assured to all who enter into this Covenant with the Godhead.
“according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Eph 3:11 NKJV)
It assures eternal life, resurrection and glorification of every saint (Rom 8:27-30). It was as part of this Covenant that Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world:
“He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1Pet 1:20 NKJV)
“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8 NKJV)
It is here also that, according to the foreknowledge of the Father, those who will choose Him were chosen:
“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,” (Eph 1:4)
The promises of this Covenant include everlasting life, immortality, an everlasting kingdom, eternal inheritance , everlasting strength and joy, an everlasting habitation and everlasting love and righteousness.
The curses include everlasting shame and contempt, rejection to the everlasting lake of fire and brimstone, everlasting punishment and destruction, everlasting chains of darkness and everlasting death.
The terms of the covenant are faith, love and obedience. Jesus is the Giver of eternal life to all who believe Him (John 3:16), and the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:9). We obey Him because we love Him (John 14:15), and we love Him because He first loved us (in eternity before time began, again a part of the Eternal Covenant) (1 John 4:19).
The Book of the Covenant is a record of God’s foreknowledge of all those who would, through Christ, enter into this greatest of all Covenants. The Bible speaks of it as the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’ (Rev 13:8; 17:8; 3:5; 22:19; 20:12-15).
The sinless Blood and Body of the Eternal Son of God was the sacrifice made to ratify this Covenant, and it was He, as the eternal High Priest, who mediated the covenant.
The Spirit of God has been given as the seal and earnest of the Covenant, which will finally be consummated in the immortalization and glorification of all believers:
“eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;” (Rom 2:7 NKJV)
Living in the Covenant
Much of what we share in the coming sessions of this module expands on the subject of living in the Covenant. As we said in the introduction to this session so much of the Scriptures are understood only within the framework of Covenant. In fact, the New Testament means New Covenant! It behoves us to learn what the covenant says.
Pastor Julian Melfi, a teacher in the Christian Outreach Centre movement, points out in his notes on this subject, that merely having a covenant will not produce faith – we must know that we have a Covenant and know what it promises. This alone will provide a strong foundation for faith to be exercised.
Many in Israel failed to attain God’s best because they did not understand the covenant of grace that had been made available to them:
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3 NKJV)
Hosea 4:6 tells us that ignorance is deadly:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4:6)
Faith comes from the hope we have in our Covenant with God. The Covenant anchors our soul in the sure expectation of the faithfulness of our Covenant Partner bringing His promises to fruition in our lives.
Covenant is the foundation for all other relations with God. To understand the Word is to understand our covenant with an Almighty Partner with whom nothing is impossible. The New Covenant opens the door of entrance not only to temporal blessings in this life (2 Pet 1:3-4), but also to the eternal blessings made available through the all-encompassing Everlasting Covenant. It is imperative that we take time to understand the Covenant we have, so that the blessings and promises of the Covenant might be manifest in our lives.