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The whole world runs on relationships. Everywhere you look you’ll see an interconnected web of relationships.
Every part of our communal life is based around relationships between people. Some are familial, some are business, some are civil, some are military, some are religious.
One thing it doesn’t take very long to see is that just as there are many relationships, there are also many broken relationships. People let each other down, people betray each other, people go back on their word.
So it comes at no surprise that we try and define the boundaries of relationships, and make it official. We make it clear what we can expect from one another and what the consequences are of we fail to abide by the terms of the relationship.
In business we call it a contract. And contracts are fine for managing property sales and terms of employment, but how can you define relationships?
That is what covenants are for. They are for formalizing a relationship. Unlike contracts, where you have to define the specifics, covenants are usually much more open ended. Contracts have a specific end point, whereas covenants are open ended commitments.
We are doing our very best as a society to burn down the building we’re standing in, and that includes dismantling the formal bonds between people and their distinctive roles i.e. mother, father, male, female and so on. Yet there still remains vestiges of one of the most foundational relationships in our culture. It is the husband and wife bond. This is a covenantal bond.
This is why when you go to a wedding, the man and woman will make promises to each other. They will give up other things to be committed to one another to the exclusion of others.
Unfortunately we have been taught to think of marriage as a formalization of our romantic feelings, another way in which our community is being slowly killed. But what this means is that if you think about marriage as a romantic relationship, then you’re free to leave when the romance dies. This way of thinking essentially makes marriage meaningless, but I digress...
Healthy marriages will have romance, but covenant is the primary structure of what marriage truly is.
What does all this have to do with the Big Picture of the Bible and History?
Well as we’re working through 6 overarching themes of the Bible these few weeks, Covenant is one of those themes. If you search the term “Covenant” in the Bible you will get over 1600 results. It is a huge topic!
To simplify it, covenant is the way the LORD God of all interacts with humanity. Covenants set the relationship between God and us.
Time and time again we see God making covenants with people and groups of people across the pages of scripture. But here’s the cool thing - if you can get your head around the basic structure of God’s covenants, you can unlock the scriptures. You’ll be able to see how the whole lot fits together!
So we’re going to fly over the pages of the Bible and take a passing look at the Covenants. Like last week, I will have to summarise so much, and just mention things in passing, but if you want to get stuck into some detail then come hit me up.
Before launching our scenic flight over the covenants, we need to ask, what are we looking for?
In the Scriptures:
"solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses.” Doug Wilson
Between God & Humans, always entered into via a representative.
Often Unequal - either in authority/power or one party stands to gain more e.g. Kings and vassals. God’s Covenants are the most unequal, who are we that God should deign to enter into a bond with mere humans?


Some disagree that there is a covenant here, but even if there isn’t we see the shadow of one!
God gave gifts, responsibilities & boundaries. He told them about consequences.
Genesis 1:28 ESV
And God blessed them. 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.”
Genesis 2:15–17 ESV
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.”
Commands? fruitful and multiply, have dominion over the earth. Guard and maintain the Garden.
Blessings? Abundant provision, living with God.
Curses? Death.
Entered into via a head - Adam on behalf of all humanity.
Failure meant the fall of all humanity in him.
But God didn’t just wipe them out, despite their failure to abide by the covenant. God was merciful and only exiled them. He even gave a hint in the curse he pronounced, that one day Satan would be overcome by humanity, giving a glimpse of hope for the exiles.


God did a hard reset with the flood, wiping out the evil and staring again in Noah & his family.
God gave gifts, responsibilities & boundaries.
Genesis 9:7–10 ESV
And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth.
Genesis 9:11–13 ESV
I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
Commands? Fruitful and multiply, fill the earth. Don’t eat blood, or murder.
Blessings? God rescued them through the Flood. But will not flood again.
Curses? Reckoning for murder.
Via? Noah (psuedo Adam)
Sign? Bow.
What happened? Murder. For a time no filling, just congregating at Babel in rebellion.
Yet God has still not flood the earth. He has been faithful even though humanity has been faithless.


God gave gifts, responsibilities & boundaries.
Genesis 17:9–11 ESV
And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.
Commands? Be blameless.
Blessings? Promised land, many nations, bless the nations of the world, God would be their God and protect them.
Curses? None that I could see.
Via? Abraham for his descendants. Narrowed group.
Sign? Circumcision
Abraham wasn’t blameless, yet God kept his covenant anyway.

Moses (Israel)

This is the BIG one. It in some sense is THE Covenant of the OT.
TO give you a sense of how important this covenant is - The Torah (first 5 books) is all about the covenant. Genesis is the prequel summarising the history up to this point. Exodus, Leviticus & Numbers lays out the covenant in great detail. Deuteronomy is the summarising and restating of the Covenent.
God gave gifts, responsibilities & boundaries.
The people promised to do all the things!
Exodus 24:6–8 ESV
And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 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.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
Commands? Heaps! Summarised in 10 comandments.
Blessings? God’s presence, protection, material blessings
Curses? See Deut 28! Suffering, affliction, exile, defeat,
Via? Moses, that Generation of Israel. For Israel - Narrowed group.
Sign? still circumcision, but also Passover
Israel continually failed, yet God rescued again and again and again. They were faithless to the covenant, but God remained faithful.


God gave gifts, responsibilities & boundaries.
2 Samuel 7:12–13 ESV
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. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
2 Samuel 7:14–16 ESV
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, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”
Commands? Faithfulness
Blessings? Throne established forever - great linage! Peace and prosperity.
Curses? Sword shall never depart from His house. Family dysfunction. Death of a child.
Via? David for Israel
Sign? ??
Results? David failed a bunch of times, but God kept the covenant, and now Jesus sits on that throne!

Is there a better Covenant?

Our continual failure to keep the covenants.
Kept messing up. Yet God kept the big promises, even though He didn’t have to.
The Prophets predicted a coming covenant that would be better than the ones gone before, one that we couldn’t mess up.
Jeremiah 31:31–32 ESV
“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, 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.
Jeremiah 31:33–34 ESV
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. 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.”
The key problem with all the covenants is that they rely on sinful humans. So God wants to deal with the sin problem.

Jesus (New Covenant)

Jesus fulfills the covenants and establishes a final finished covenent.
Some say that all of the covenants were basically one that found its fullness in Jesus. Regardless Jesus is the one. He said so!
Luke 22:19–20 ESV
And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
He is the Second Adam, the Ark of Noah, the perfect Lawkeeper, the Davidic heir. He is all the covenants fulfilled in one!
New Covenant.
Commands? Trust in Jesus. Plus many more, but the key is to believe in him.
Blessings? All the blessings - God with us, eternal life, riches, joys
Curses? NONE for God’s people! However Reject Christ and reject all that is good - cast out, darkness, hell.
Via? Jesus for all his people.
Sign? Baptism & Communion
Results? Salvation for all sinners.
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