Biblical Covenants Overview

I. Video Data. Paul Wilbur. For Your Name Is Holy.

II. Israel’s Mourning Turned To Joy.

Jeremiah 31:1-4  (Christian Standard Bible)

1 “At that time”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they will be my people.” 2 This is what the Lord says: The people who survived the sword found favor in the wilderness. When Israel went to find rest, 3  the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued to extend faithful love to you. 4  Again I will build you so that you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel. You will take up your tambourines again and go out in joyful dancing.

III. Text: Biblical Covenants Overview.

A. The covenants that are contained in the Bible are of key importance to anyone who is a student of Eschatology. God’s eschatological program is determined and prescribed by these covenants. A person’s eschatological system is determined and limited by the  understanding of these covenants. 

B. “The Scriptural use of the word covenant.” 

1. The word “covenant” occurs with frequency in both the Old and New Testaments. It is used of relationships between God and man, man and man, and nation and nation. It is used in things temporal and things eternal. There are references to minor and temporal covenants in Scripture. Covenants are made by individuals with other individuals (Gen 21:32; 1 Sam 18:3). Covenants may be made between an individual and a group of individuals (Gen 26:28; 1 Sam 11:1-2). Covenants may be made by one nation with another nation (Ex 23:32; 24:12, 15; Hos 12:1). There were covenants in the social realm (Prov 2:17; Mal 2:14). Certain natural laws were viewed as covenants (Jer 33:20, 25). With the exception of these last, which were established by God, all of the uses govern the relationships made between men.

2. The Bible also contains references to 5 major covenants, all of which were made by God with men: conditional and unconditional. 

a. Unconditional covenants. The 4 unconditional covenants, with the formula, ” I will,” are found in:

(1) Genesis 12:1-3, where the formula is found, either expressed or understood, 7 times. 
(2) Deuteronomy 30:1-10, where it is found, either expressed or understood 12 times. 
(3) II Samuel 7:10-16, where it is found 7 times
(4) Jeremiah 31:31-40, where it is found 7 times.

b. Conditional covenant. The conditional covenant, with the formula, ” If you will,” is found in Exodus 19:5, ff., also in Deuteronomy 28:1-68; vs 1-14, “iI  you will,” and vs 15-68, “If you will not.” 

3. It will be quite obvious that eschatological studies are not concerned with the minor covenants that were made by man with man, nor are they with the Mosaic covenant that was made by God with man, inasmuch as all these are temporary and not-determinative in respect to future things, but only with the four eternal covenants that were given by God, in which He has obligated Himself in relation to the prophetic program. 

C. “The definition of a covenant.” A covenant may be defined as follows:

1. A divine covenant is (1) a sovereign disposition of God, whereby He establishes an unconditional or declarative compact with man, obligating himself, in grace, by the untrammeled formula. “I will,” to bring to pass of himself definite blessings for the covenanted ones, or (2) a proposal of God, wherein He promises in a conditional or mutual compact with man, by the contingent formula, “if you will,” to grant special blessings to man provided he fulfills perfectly certain conditions, and to execute definite punishment in case of his failure.

2. It is to be observed that this definition does not depart from the customary definition and usage of the word as a legal contract into which one enters, and by which his course of action is bound.

D. “The kinds of covenants.”  

1. There are two kinds of covenants into which God entered with Israel: conditional and unconditional. In a conditional covenant, that which was covenanted depends for its fulfillment upon the recipient of the covenant, not upon the one making the covenant. Certain obligations, or conditions, must be fulfilled by the receiver of the covenant before the giver of the covenant is obligated to fulfill that which  was promised. It is a covenant with an “if” attached to it. The Mosaic covenant, made by God with Israel, is such a covenant. In an unconditional covenant, that which was covenanted depends upon the one making the covenant alone for its fulfillment. That which was promised is sovereignly given to the recipient of the covenant on the authority and integrity of the one making the covenant apart from the merit or response of the receiver. It is a covenant with no “if” attached to it whatsoever.

2. To safeguard thinking on this point, it should be observed that an unconditional covenant, which binds the one making the covenant to a certain course of action, may have blessings attached to that covenant that are conditioned upon the response of the recipient of the covenant, which blessings grow out of the original covenant, but these conditioned blessings do not change the unconditional character of that covenant. The failure to observe that an unconditional covenant may have certain conditional blessings attached to it had led many to the position that conditioned blessings necessitate a conditional covenant, thus perverting the essential nature of Israel’s determinative covenants.

E. “The nature of the covenants.” There are certain facts which are to be observed concerning the covenants into which God has entered.

1. First of all, these covenants are “literal” covenants, and are to be interpreted literally. 
2. In the second place, these covenants, according to the Scriptures,  are “eternal.”
3. In the third place, inasmuch as these covenants are literal and eternal, and depend solely upon the integrity of God for their fulfillment, they must be considered to be unconditional in character. 
4. Finally, these covenants were made with a “covenanted people,” Israel. In Romans 9:4, Paul states that the nation of Israel had received covenants from the Lord. In Ephesians 2:11-12, he states conversely that the Gentiles have not received any such covenants, and consequently do not enjoy covenant relationships with God. These two passages show us, negatively, that the Gentiles were without covenant relationships and, positively, that God had entered into covenant relationships with Israel.

IV. Source document for Biblical Covenants Overview: Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost (Th. B., Th., D., 1915-2014) Things To Come, pp 65-68.

V. My Bucket List shows the references, of people and documents, that I use when I write my articles.

VI. My Websites To Follow. Eternity Book Prep Thy Kingdom Come

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