By Dr. Victor Torres
Covenants in the Scriptures are of primary importance to every believer. Learning about covenants is vital to understanding God’s eternal plan of salvation for mankind.
We find covenants throughout the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Yet their significance is not always apparent to us. Both the general concepts of covenants, and the specific details of each covenant made between God and man, are important to study.
Foundational to our study of covenants is knowing that God is a Covenant-Making and a Covenant-Keeping God. Our God makes promises. Then He makes an oath upon Himself – since there is nothing greater (Heb 6:13) – that He will fulfill His promises. God is the supremely all-powerful Being in the universe. He has all the power and authority needed to fulfill His promises to mankind.
WHY STUDY COVENANTS?
God has progressively revealed Himself and His plans for mankind over the centuries. They are recorded in the Bible. This revelation is further detailed through God’s covenants with man, also in the Bible. The covenants reveal much about how God communicates with and deals with mankind.
Students of the Bible know that one way to determine the importance of a word or subject in the Bible is to count how many times it appears. When God speaks about a subject repeatedly, it likely has high importance with God.
The subject of covenants is one of those important topics. The word covenant is used 282 times in the Old Testament and 34 times in the New Testament – a total of 316 times! It is obvious that the subject of covenants is a priority principle to God. Therefore, we need to understand this significant subject.
There is a principle in Bible study known as the “law of first mention.” The law of first mention means that the first time something is mentioned in the Bible, it is important to take notice. A doctrine or truth, when first mentioned in Scripture, is in its most basic form. More about that doctrine or truth may be revealed later in the Bible. Thus, this law of first mention should also guide how we interpret each following occurrence in Scripture of that same word or subject.
The Book of Genesis is the first book in the Bible. It begins God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. Even the word “genesis” means begin, or come into existence. It is important to notice that four of the eight covenants that God makes with mankind are found in this book of beginnings called Genesis.
Our study of God’s covenants begins in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve. We will then progress through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and conclude with the final covenant in Scripture, the New Covenant.
Let us now look at some of the great benefits of studying and gaining an understanding of the covenants:
- Our study will help to establish a sure foundation in Jesus Christ. Witnessing the faithfulness of God throughout human history will build our faith. It will teach us to “walk by faith and not by sight” each day (2Cor 5:7). We can, with confidence, expect God to continue to be faithful – for He cannot violate His own covenant (Num 23:19; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18).
- The study of covenants will confirm that biblical history is not a series of random events or stories. It is instead the step-by-step unfolding of God’s great plan of redemption for mankind. Each of the eight covenants is linked, in purpose and plan, to the one before it and the one after it. Every successive covenant brings us a step deeper in the revelation of God’s plan of redemption; and a step closer to when Jesus (the Christ, Messiah, Savior) will return. This deeper revelation is also a revelation of God’s heart: A heart that does not seek to condemn His creation, but seeks salvation for His creation (John 3:16,17).
- Our study of covenants will reveal that the historical events of the Bible fit together in a logical sequence within the context of the covenants. There are 3,000 individuals named in the Bible. Yet, those with whom God has made covenants – men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and primarily Jesus Christ – are some of the most important to study.
- This study of covenants will help us know that God has a purpose for mankind. He has chosen to reveal His purpose through a series of successive covenants. Each covenant reveals something important about God’s nature and also reveals something important about man’s nature.
God’s highest purpose, of course, is His redemptive plan to restore fallen mankind to a rightful relationship with Him. We catch a glimpse of the right relationship God intended for us in Genesis Chapters 1 and 2. Sadly, that relationship between God and mankind ended up broken (read Genesis Chapter 3).