A presentation of biblical covenants and how they point to Jesus Christ.
- Share briefly with your table who was/is your best friend and why.
Best friends remind us of good times, strong relationships, and promises kept. Today we will explore something more than BFF – the concept of “covenant.”
A covenant is an agreement between at least two parties; it’s an oath-bound promise where the parties are bound together, often symbolized with rituals or signs. For us today, some examples are…
- marriage covenant symbolized by wedding rings.
- Christianity covenant symbolized by believer’s baptism.
- church membership covenant symbolized by your baptism & attendance & participation.
God’s relationship with humanity is reflected in covenants, with at least seven identified in the Bible. Each covenant is also reflected through Jesus Christ.
- Eden Covenant: God’s mandate for the stewardship of all creation and human flourishing. In sum: goodness and beauty. Jesus is God’s steadfast love toward us with all His promises “yes” and “Amen.”
Genesis 1:28; 2:15-17 “God blessed [Adam & Eve]. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth… The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3:15 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Romans 5:18-19 “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
Revelation 21:1-7 / 22:1-4 reflect the new creation with the curse reversed and Eden restored.
- Noah’s Covenant: God’s rescue of humanity (after global flood in total judgment). In sum: salvation! Like the rainbow pointing up is Jesus the arrow launched upward to make justice and peace for us through His death on the cross.
Genesis 8:21; 9:1 “when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma [of Noah’s sacrifice], the Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done… And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”
John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
- Abraham’s Covenant: God’s blessing to all nations. In sum: faith. Like the promised offspring, Jesus is God’s seed to bless all nations with the gospel of grace and mercy.
Genesis 12:1-3 “Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 15:5-6 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 17:1-10 – – – God reaffirms His covenant with Abram & Sarai (one who was ruled?) and calls them Abraham (father of multitudes) and Sarah (princess). God commands circumcision as a sign of the covenant. See also: Genesis 22:17.
God’s covenant with Abraham extended to future generations with Isaac, Jacob, and on. See Genesis 26:4; 28:14; Deuteronomy 1:10; 10:22. Romans 4:1-13 shows faith in God’s promise credits Abraham as righteous, apart from works and before circumcision. Therefore, God’s promise and blessing to Abraham is for all having that same faith. Also book of Galatians.
Galatians 3:16, 29 “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ… And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
- Personal Covenants. Various times people made covenants with one another. See Genesis 21:27 with Abraham & Abimilech; Genesis 26:28 Isaac with Abimilech; Genesis 31:44 with Jacob & Laban; Joshua 9:15 with Joshua & Gibeonites; 1 Samuel 18:1-4 with Jonathan & David; etc.
The Bible describes Jesus as the personal friend who sticks closer than a brother (cf. Psalm 25:14; Proverbs 18:24; Matthew 9:9-13; 11:19; Mark 2:15; Luke 5:30; 7:34, 36-50; 15:2; 19:7-10; John 15:13-15; Hebrews 4:15; James 2:23; Revelation 3:20).
- Israel’s (Old) Covenant. God’s commands to follow reflected in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deut 7:9; 10:12-21; 30:11-20). In sum: obedience. Jesus is the new Israel who perfectly obeys the Law and Prophets, and is the final sacrifice for sin.
Hebrews 8:6 – 9:28 explains how Jesus is a better Abraham, Moses, and temple. In all, Jesus does not abolish the Law, but fulfills it (Matthew 5:17).
- David’s Covenant. God’s promise of royal descendant. In sum: kingdom. Jesus is from the tribe of David to wear a crown of suffering that would be transformed into a crown of satisfaction and victory. In Christ we will reign as princes and princesses under His kingly power.
2 Samuel 7:8-16 8 Now, therefore, thus you shall say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. 9 And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’”
- Jesus’s (New) Covenant. God’s promise to fulfill the old covenant by creating in us a new spirit and new heart is fulfilled in the gospel of Christ’s death & resurrection, and filling of the Holy Spirit in our life. See also Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; 54:10; 55:3; 56:1-6; 61:8; Ezekiel 36:26-27.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 31“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Essentially, God’s covenant with Israel provided protection, prosperity, and His special presence.
- Which of these covenants were new or insightful to you?
Some say life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we respond to what happens to us.
If we understand our actions toward God and His response to us, we will have a greater appreciation for Jesus. Humanity’s response toward God is far darker, deeper, disgusting, and damnable than any circumstance that has happened toward us. While we often respond to our circumstances with contest and conflict, God relates and responds toward us with covenant. Grace is available through faith in Christ. A summary statement of God’s covenant relationship with us in Christ is: “God loves us with a never-stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love” (JSBB).
Psalm 25:10, 14 “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies… The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”