When we look at our Bible we see it divided into two parts, each representing a major covenant from God. We call these divisions the Old Testament and the New Testament. But why does God make covenant? And what does that mean to you and me?
Kevin Conner and Ken Malmin in their book The Covenants see a progression of nine covenants in Scripture that reveal our God as a covenant-making God throughout man’s history. Not everyone agrees that there are nine covenants, but my goal is to gain a better understanding of covenant by considering the events listed in this book. Because covenant is how God relates to man, we will also be learning more about the nature of God.
This article will consider background information. Future articles will look at specific covenants.
WHAT IS COVENANT?
Modern society doesn’t really understand the meaning of covenant, especially its emphasis on the shedding of blood. The English meaning of covenant assumes a mutual understanding between two or more parties that bind themselves to carry out specific obligations. In some cases only one party assumes obligation. The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for covenant, Beriyth, refers to a compact or pact and involves passing between pieces of flesh. In the New Testament there are two words used for covenant, but only one of them is used for God’s dealing with men. This is the Greek word kiatheke and it means “a disposition, arrangement, testament or will.”
WHO INITIATES COVENANT?
Throughout scripture we see that it is never man who approaches God and asks for a covenant. God is always the initiator. Considering this, the simplest way to understand covenant is to think of it as a contract drawn up by God and presented to man to accept or reject “as is.” Although the covenant is for the benefit of man, he is not allowed to change or amend it. God is the all-wise Creator and man is his creation. Covenant is evidence of His love toward man.