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A covenant is a solemn agreement between two persons or two groups of people. An agreement is between two separated parties. It’s a pact, a treaty. When it is a covenant, it conveys a union or partnership.
Characteristics / components of a covenant
There are components or features that must be in a covenant. A covenant must have a ceremony, sign, witnesses, promises/vows/oaths, obligations / consequences, and participants. A covenant establishes a sacrificial bond between the parties involved.
There are obligations or rules by which the parties must abide by, adhere to and observe in order to keep the covenant. A covenant is an agreement and if it is broken, there are consequences for breaking it.
In the Bible, there are many covenants.
Examples of covenants in the Bible
- Adamic covenant – Agreement between God and Adam
- Noahlic Covenant – God’s covenant with Noah where God promised to preserve life of man and not to destroy it with water. The sign of the covenant is the rainbow.
In Gen 9 verse 3, GOD told Noah, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you…Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
Verse 4 says, “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it”
- Abrahamic covenant– Gods covenant with Abraham.
He promised to fulfill promises He gave to Abraham.
These promises were:
(1) Increase numbers of descendant of Abraham.
He will be father of many nations, (2) Be GOD of his descendants
(3) Abraham will have a son an heir,
(4) Given land of Canaan and other lands from the river of Egypt to River Euphrates, and all for heirs of Abraham (Gen. 15: 17 – 18)
(5) Circumcision of all males at 8 days after birth even none Israelites living in their land
(6) Covenant with Isaac
- Mosaic Covenant– is a covenant between the Israelites and GOD. Moses led Israel to Mt. Sinai. God promised to be their God. Israelites were given the law written by GOD in “tablets of stone, with law and commands I have written for…. instruction”. (Read exodus 23).
- Davidic Covenant– covenant between David and God – God promised him that his dynasty would rule forever.
- Messianic Covenant– new covenant between Christians and God through Jesus Christ.
- God’s covenant with Abraham and its importance (Genesis 15:1- 19)
The covenant was established after God appeared to Abraham in a vision. During the visitation of God, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 years. He was promised a son. Abraham wanted assurance from God. God told him to bring him the following items for sacrifice.
Items for sacrifice
- Three (3) years olds: heifer, goat, ram and a dove and a pigeon.
- Abraham then cut these animals into two halves and placed them opposite each other.
- The birds were not split.
- After it was dark, smoking fire and a flaming torch suddenly appeared and passed between the pieces of animals.
- Towards evening, Abraham fell into a deep sleep.
- While he slept the Lord appeared to him and told him that:
- His descendants will be strangers in a foreign land and be slaves for 400 years.
- But they will come out of this land with a lot of wealth and God will punish the nation that will enslave Israelites.
- He, Abraham will live up to a ripe age, and die in peace.
Then the Lord made a covenant with Abraham and promised to give him and his descendants the land of Canaan. God himself passed through the sacrifices and bound himself to keep the promises.
Importance of the Covenant between God and Abraham (Gen. 15: 1- 19)
- God bound himself in a personal relationship with a human being
- As God passed through the meat, he showed Abraham he would always protect him.
- This passed on to the descendants of Abraham.
- This covenant between God and Abraham begins a lasting relationship between God and all the nations of the earth.
- Throughout this covenant God was initiating his plan of salvation for human kind.
- The promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in New Testament blood of the lamb – death of Jesus Christ.
- It emphasized the importance of faith followed by obedience that Abraham shared.
African Moral Values Introduction