We see the theme of covenant winding its way through the entire bible (both old and new testament). But what is a covenant?
A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties. Biblical covenants are usually initiated by God and are an agreement between God and the nation of Israel or God and humankind. In all things God has upheld his side of the covenant(s), unfortunately humankind has not had the same success!
There is disagreement over the number of covenants mentioned in the bible. However, below is a list of covenants that some theologians identify in the bible.
- The Adamic Covenant (Genesis 1:26-30, 2:16-17, 3:16-19)
- The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9)
- The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1–3, 6–7, 13:14-17, 15, 17:1-14, 22:15-18)
- The Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10)
- The Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 11)
- The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16)
- The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 5:17, Ephesians 2:8-9)
Many theologians sum up the first six covenants listed as the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant required obedience to the Old Testament Mosaic Law (written in stone). This covenant required people to perform rituals and sacrifices to please God and remain in His grace.
The Abrahamic Covenant – whilst containing God’s promises specifically for the biblical nation of Israel, also introduces a blessing to all the nations of the world (Genesis 12:3, 22:18). The blessing that is promised is referencing the Messiah who came from the line of Abraham, via King David.
Jesus Christ heralds the start of a new covenant between God and His people (all people who would believe in Christ and follow Him). Jesus Christ is the new covenant, when we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour believing that He was born of a virgin to die on a cross taking our sin away and raising victorious, defeating death, on the third day we are brought into the new covenant.
For many the new covenant is seen as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant because it encompasses ALL Nations (no matter their ethnicity or race).
When we accept Jesus the law of God is written on our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:33, Hebrews 8:10) and the Holy Spirit dwells within us as an internal witness to the law of God. This enables God to build His Kingdom in us and through us on earth.