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A Covenant Is An Agreement Between Two People Religion Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

A covenant is an agreement between two people or two groups that involves promises on the part of each other. The concept of covenant between GOD and his people is one of the most important theological truths of the Bible. A covenant, in the biblical sense, implies much more than a contract or simple agreement. A contract always has an end date, while a covenant is a permanent arrangement. Another difference is that a contract generally involves only parts of a person, such as a skill, while a covenant covers a person’s total being.  

“In theology and Biblical studies, the word “covenant” principally refers to a number of solemn agreements made between God and the children of Israel, as well as to the New Covenant, which involves all who turn to God through Christ.” [1] 

Firstly, the entire Bible Covenants can be viewed as “Conditional and Unconditional Covenants.” The unconditional Covenants are those covenants bound to deliver regardless of obedience or disobedience. God still fulfils these covenants with the Covenanted. Genesis 12:15 reveals; God grants Abram land and descendants without any specific condition being attached. While the conditional covenants (as shown in Gen. 17; the covenant of circumcision) are those with a condition attached. That is, this covenant will bring either blessing or cursing depending on obedience or disobedience.

The Bible speaks of several different covenants, and the opinions of Bible Scholar differ in terms of grouping. However, the following are the generally accepted groupings:

ADAMIC COVENANT:

This can be thought of in two parts: “the Edenic Covenant-Innocence. This is found in Genesis 1:26-30; 2:16-17. The Edenic Covenant outlined man’s responsibility toward creation and God’s directive regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” [2] The Adamic Covenant-Grace included the curses pronounced against mankind for the sin of Adam and Eve, as well as God’s provision for that sin as stated in Genesis 3:15. We see in this verse God’s plan for salvation through Christ. “The phrase, ‘you will strike his heel’ refers to Satan’s repeated attempt to defeat Christ during His life on earth. ‘He will crush your head’ foreshadows Satan’s defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A bruise on the heel is not deadly, but a crush on the head is. Already God was revealing His plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through His Son Jesus Christ.” [3] God finally fulfilled this covenant through Christ life, death and resurrection

NOAHIC COVENANT:

This was an unconditional covenant between God and Noah specifically and extended to humanity in general through Christ. This covenant has three parts: (1) God promised humanity that He would never again destroy all life on earth with the Flood. (2) God promised to preserve the seasons of the year. Each season will come in its time as long as the earth remains. (3) God gave the rainbow as a sign that He will keep the covenant. To this day, God has kept this covenant. The earth’s order and seasons are still preserved and the rainbow reminds us of God’s faithfulness to His Word. Christ, who is God’s Word is the preservation of the earth thus; God fulfilled this covenant through Christ. God blesses and commands Noah and his sons, that they should be fruitful and multiply, and populate the earth. He places all plants and animals under human command, forbids eating meat with the blood still in it and forbids murder

ABRAHAMIC COVENANT:

Genesis Chapters 12-17 show God giving Abraham several promises. He promised that He would make Abraham’s name great, that he would have numerous physical and spiritual descendants, and that he would be the father of a multitude of nations. God also made promises regarding a nation called Israel. In fact, the geographical boundaries of the Abrahamic Covenant are laid out on more than one occasion in the book of Genesis. Another provision in the Abrahamic Covenant is that the families of the world will be blessed through the physical line of Abraham. Circumcision is to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and his male descendants and is known as the covenant of circumcision. To give Abraham’s descendants all the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. Later, this land came to be referred to as the Promised Land however the land specified by the Abrahamic Covenant also includes the modern nations of Saudi Arabia, Omen, Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, and several other nations within the Middle East Region. To make Abraham a father of many nations and of many descendants and the land of Canaan as well as the entire middle-east to his descendant.

Through Abraham’s family tree, Jesus Christ was born to save humanity. Through Christ, all people and all nations of the earth can have a relationship with God and be blessed beyond measure. This whole covenant is fulfil through the life, death and resurrection Christ Jesus.

MOSAIC COVENANT:

The Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant that either brought God’s direct blessing for obedience or God’s direct cursing for disobedience upon the nation of Israel. Part of the Mosaic Covenant was the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20. The history books of the Old Testament detail how Israel succeeded at obeying the law and how they also failed miserably at obeying the law. Deuteronomy 11:26-28 details specifically the blessing/cursing designed. God’s plan to save mankind and to maintain a perfect relationship with man failed, as man constantly breached the covenants and broke the laws. Man was charged to obey about “2, 713 Commandments, judgments and ordinance of God.” [4] This plan for redemption was fulfilled in Christ (through Christ death on the Cross), who was the only human who obeyed and fulfilled all the laws. God promised to make the children of Israel His special possession among all people if they obey God and keep his covenant; to make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. To give the children of Israel the Sabbath as the permanent sign of this covenant

DAVIDIC COVENANT:

The Davidic Covenant amplifies the seed aspect which was detailed in the Abrahamic Covenant as revealed in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. God promised that David’s physical line of descent would last forever and that his kingdom would never pass away permanently. This kingdom, furthermore, would have a ruling individual exercising authority over it. There will come a time when someone from the royal line of David will again sit on the throne and rule as King. This was fulfilled in Christ Jesus as shown in Luke 1:32-33. During Jesus life, He was referred to as the Son of David (Christ Genealogy) thus fulfilling this covenant that David throne shall be established forever. Among theologians, the opinion is unanimous that Christ fulfils the Davidic Covenant. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” [5] 

…”Thou Son of David, have mercy on us.” [6] 

THE NEW COVENANT (COVENANT OF GRACE):

The covenant of grace, then, spans the whole of redemptive history from Gen 3:15 till the coming of the Lord. Whereas in the Mosaic Covenant, salvation/blessing was to be merited by works; but in the Covenant of Grace it is received by faith alone in the works of Christ (death and resurrection). It is through faith in Christ as the second Adam, especially in His life, death and resurrection, that God’s people receive eternal life. This Covenant theology teaches that Jesus, as the second Adam, came to save lost sinners (Tim 1:15). His work is not simply to open up the possibility of salvation, but to save completely those who come to God through Him (Heb 7:24). That is why the writer of Hebrews declared: “Neither by blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” [7] 

The Christian New Covenant resembles the theological concept of a new relationship between God and man mediated by Jesus which necessarily includes all people, both Jews and Gentiles nations. Christians believe the New Covenant ends the original sin and profane death for everyone who becomes a Christian and cannot only be a renewal of the Mosaic Covenant since it seemingly accomplishes new things. Christian laws of faith claim that a New Covenant of the replaces/fulfils or completes God’s Mosaic covenant. The only reference in the Hebrew Bible that uses the wording “new covenant” is found in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapters 30-33 (God’s promise of restoration), (Jeremiah 31:31-34). The New Covenant is a covenant made with the nation of Israel which speaks about the blessings which are detailed in the Abrahamic Covenant. In the New Covenant, God promises to forgive sin, and there will be a universal knowledge of the Lord (verse 34). It even appears that the nation of Israel will have a special relationship with their God (verse 33).

The New Testament makes a clear distinction between Mosaic Covenant (Covenant of Law) and Covenants of Promise (Covenant of Grace). The apostle Paul spoke of these “two Covenants”, one originating “from Mount Sinai”, the other from “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:24-26). Paul also argued that the covenant established at Mount Sinai, the Law, is a “ministry of death” and “condemnation” (II Cor. 3:7, 9) – a covenant that cannot be obeyed because of man’s weakness and sin (Rom. 8:3). But the “Covenants of Promise” (Eph. 2:12) are God’s guarantees that He will provide salvation in spite of man’s inability to keep his side of the agreement because of sin’s nature. Christ death ushered in the New Covenant under which we are justified by God’s grace and mercy rather than our human attempts to keep the law. And Jesus Himself is the Mediator of this better Covenant between GOD and man (Heb. 9:15). Jesus’ sacrificial death served as the oath, which GOD made to us to seal this New Covenant. He is determined to give us eternal life and fellowship with Him, in spite of our unworthiness. As the Book of Hebrews declares, “The word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever” (Heb. 7:28). This is still God’s promise to any person who turns to Him in repentance and faith.

Under this New Covenant, GOD would write His Law on human hearts. This promised action suggested a new level of obedience, a new knowledge of the LORD, and a new forgiveness of sin.

The New Testament, which itself means “New Covenant”, interprets the work of Jesus Christ as bringing this promised Covenant into being. In Luke 22:20, when Jesus ate the Passover meal at the Last Supper with His disciples, He spoke of the cup as “the New Covenant in My blood”. When the apostle Paul recited the tradition he had received concerning the Last Supper, he quoted these words of Jesus about the cup as “the New Covenant in My blood” (I Cor. 11:25).

Jesus is referred to by the writer of Hebrews as “the Mediator of the New Covenant” (Heb. 9:15; 12:24). The new covenant, a “better covenant…established on better promises” (Heb. 8:6), rests directly on the sacrificial work of Christ. The new covenant accomplished what the old could not: removal of sin and cleansing of the conscience (Heb. 10:2, 22). The work of Jesus Christ on the cross thus makes the Old Covenant “obsolete” (Heb. 8:13) and fulfils the promise of the prophet Jeremiah-Christ is the fulfilment of all the Covenants.

CHINYERE C. CHUKWU


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