Covenant - Brit ברית
Covenant - Brit ברית
Definition – The term ‘covenant’ signifies an agreement made between two parties and must be distinguished from related ideas such as ‘testament’ and ‘contract’. Unlike a testament a covenant involves a personal response on the side of the second party to make it effective. Unlike a contract, however, it is not a mutually negotiated affair but is offered unilaterally by one side to the other.
Here are the main Biblical covenants:
Name & Biblical Verses
The covenant made with Noah and his descendants was an unconditional divine promise never to destroy all earthly life with a natural catastrophe, and was symbolized by a rainbow.
|Abrahamic AGen. 15:7-21|
Made with Abram and his descendants. An unconditional divine promise to fulfill the grant of the land.
|Abrahamic BGen. 17:10|
Made with Abraham as a conditional divine pledge to be Abraham’s God and the God of his descendants; the condition: total consecration to the Lord as symbolized by circumcision
Made with Israel as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and as the people the Lord has redeemed from bondage to an earthly power. A conditional divine pledge to be Israel’s God (as her Protector and the Guarantor of her blessed destiny); the condition: Israel’s total consecration to the Lord as his people who live by his rule and serve his purposes in history. To be symbolized by the Sabbath (Exodus 31:13).
God made a covenant with the zealous priest Phinehas of the house of Aaron to ensure them the eternal priesthood. (implicitly a pledge to Israel to provide her for ever with a faithful priesthood)
|Davidic/Kingly2 Sam. 23:5|
Made with King David after his devotion to God as Israel’s king and the Lord’s anointed vassal. An unconditional divine promise to establish and maintain the Davidic dynasty on the throne of Israel. Implicitly a pledge to Israel to provide her for ever with a godly king like David and through that dynasty to do for her what he had done through David bring her into rest in the promised land (1 Ki 4:20-21; 5:3-4).
|The Renewed CovenantJeremiah 31:31-34|
When Jeremiah spoke of “the new covenant” which the Lord “will make with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31) he immediately explained his words by saying: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts” (ib. 31:33; compare 33:40). Judaism knows of no other than the old Sinaitic covenant. Eternal as the covenant with heaven and earth is God’s covenant with the seed of Jacob (Jer. 33:25 et seq.).
Renewal of Covenant.
Four times in the history of Israel, its covenant of Sinai was renewed:
- by Moses in the plains of Moab (Deut. 29:1, 9);
- by Joshua before his death (Joshua 24:25);
- by the high priest Jehoiada after the idolatrous Queen Athaliah had been deposed and young Jehoash proclaimed king (II Kings 11:17);
- and finally by King Josiah after the book of the Law had been found in the Temple and “all the words of the book of the covenant” had been read before all the people (II Kings 23:2, 3).