The Hebrew word for Covenant is B’riyt meaning pact or treaty. This word appears 270 times in the Bible, and is one of Scripture’s most important’ concepts. Ancient Covenants were often made by animal sacrifice, which is where the phrase “cut a Covenant” originated. The idea is that both parties involved in an agreement were to demonstrate their earnestness. In ancient times, to “cut a Covenant” usually involved an animal sacrifice. The animal would be sacrificed, and it’s body cut in half, and the parties involved would “walk between the pieces”. This may sound disgusting to our 21st century Western thinking, but this was a normal part of the process for “cutting Covenant” in ancient times. What is implied by the animal sacrifice is that whatever happened to those animals, may it happen to either party should they break the Covenant. The word B’riyt implies the shedding of blood in the process of ratifying an agreement. A Covenant was considered very serious business.
YHWH is a Covenant God who desires to be in relationship with people. In the Bible, we see that God established several Covenants with mankind. One thing to understand is that when God enters into a Covenant with people, He will always remain faithful to that Covenant. God never forgets His Covenants with mankind, and He will always remain faithful to His Word. This is something we can “take to the bank’!
God made several Covenants with people in the Bible.
- The Edenic /Adamic Covenant – God’s Covenant with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Edenic) and His Punishment for mankind for breaking the Covenant (Adamic), which also contains the promise of Redemption (Rescue/promised “Seed”)
- The Noahic Covenant – God’s Covenant with Noah and Mankind
- The Abrahamic Covenant– God’s Covenant with Abraham
- The Mosaic Covenant – God’s Covenant with Moses and Israel
- The Davidic Covenant – God’s Covenant with the house of David
- The New Covenant – God’s Covenant of Redemption for Mankind
All of these Covenants paint a picture of a very Faithful, Righteous and yet merciful God and a very unfaithful humanity.
The Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant are all pretty much unconditional Covenants, meaning that God made promises; however, nothing is really required in-return for the receipt of those promises, except BELIEF (this is GRACE). The Edenic/Adamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant were conditional Covenants that detail blessings if obeyed and curses if disobeyed. However, even within both of the Conditional Covenants, we see a thread weaved in of Grace and mercy, God’s plan of REDEMPTION (RESCUE) for mankind.
- MERCY is when mankind DOES NOT RECEIVE God’s judgement that WE DO DESERVE
- GRACE is when mankind DOES RECEIVE God’s favor and blessings, that we DO NOT deserve.