Updated: Jan 22, 2020
When reading the Bible there are certain key words that you will see over and over and it is important to grasp the meaning of these words. One such important key word is the word “covenant.”
The word “covenant” is found 332 in the New International Version of the Bible – 295 times in the Old Testament and 37 times in the New Testament. When a word is repeated over and over in the Bible you should stop and take notice of the verse and the context of the passage. I like to highlight and underline key words.
A covenant is a binding agreement; a solemn promise; a testament.
God’s plan of redemption centers around a series of covenants, or binding agreements, which God makes with His people. A covenant is a common thread throughout the Bible that weaves God’s redemptive plan together.
The first time we see the word “covenant” in the Bible is in Genesis 6:18 where God establishes a covenant with Noah. You are probably very familiar with the story of Noah in Genesis 6-9. God saw mankind had great wickedness and verse 6:6 tells us ‘The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.’ God decides to destroy the world, but Noah found favor with Him. God instructed Noah to build an ark and God saves Noah’s family and the animals. God makes a covenant with Noah to never again destroy the world with a flood and the sign of that covenant is the rainbow.
Next God makes a covenant with Abraham that promised:
Abraham would become the father of a great nation.
God would give that nation the land of Canaan.
A descendant of Abraham and that nation would bless the whole earth.
Covenants define God’s relationship with man.
God is a covenant-making, covenant-keeping God.
The covenants in the Old Testament are:
With Noah – Makes a covenant with Noah never to again destroy the world with a flood.
With Abraham – God will create through him a great nation (Israel) and to bless all nations through his descendants.
With David – A king will come through David’s descendants who will reign in righteousness and justice.
Through Jeremiah - God will establish a “new covenant” with His people, which will bring about true knowledge of God, and full and complete forgiveness of sin.
The Hebrew and Greek word for “covenant” used in the Bible means “testament.”
Covenant = Testament
Old Testament = Old Covenant
New Testament = New Covenant
The Old Covenant – Exodus 24: 1-8
24:7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!”
24:8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
New Covenant Promised – Jeremiah 31: 31-34
31:33 …”I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
31:34 “…for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
New Covenant Fulfilled – Luke 22: 14-20
20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
The book of Hebrews talks a lot about this new covenant.
9:15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
9:26 …but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
9:28 …so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
The new covenant is all about Jesus.
God is a covenant-keeping God.
God is faithful to His part of the covenant.
We can count on it.
Let us be faithful to our part.
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing His will, and may He work in us what is pleasing to Him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Ending with a doxology (praise) to the guarantee (Jesus) of a better covenant. Smile.