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The Biblical Covenants

“The covenants contained in the Scriptures are of primary importance to the interpreter of the Word and to the student of Eschatology. God’s eschatological program is determined and prescribed by these covenants and one’s eschatological system is determined and limited by the interpretation of them. These covenants must be studied diligently as the basis of Biblical Eschatology.”

The major Biblical Covenants of the Bible are mostly between God and Israel. “This study, then, is not occupied with the covenants contained in Reformed theology, but rather with the determinative covenants set forth in the Scriptures” (Pentecost).

“It must be observed at the very outset of this study that the Biblical covenants are quite different from the theological covenants posited by the Covenant theologian. He sees the ages of history as the development of a covenant made between God and sinners, by which God would save, through the value of the death of Christ, all who come to Him by faith”. ‘While there is much in the position of the Covenant theologian that is in agreement with Scripture, Covenant theology is woefully inadequate to explain the Scriptures eschatologically, for it ignores the great field of the Biblical covenants which determine the whole eschatological program’ (“THINGS TO COME” by Dwight D. Pentecost).

The covenants of God contained in Scripture fall into two classes, those that are conditional and those that are unconditional. A conditional covenant is one in which God’s action is in response to some action on the part of those to whom the covenant is addressed. A conditional covenant guarantees that God will do Him part with absolute certainty when the human requirements are met, but if man fails, God is not obligated to fulfill His covenant.

An unconditional covenant, while it may include certain human contingencies, is a declaration of the certain purpose of God, and the promises of an unconditional covenant is distinguished from a conditional covenant by the fact that its ultimate fulfillment is promised by God and depends upon God’s power and sovereignty.

There are eight biblical covenants given in the Bible. They are: Edenic (Gen. 2:16); Adamic (Gen. 3:15; Noahic (Gen. 9:16); Abrahamic (Gen. 12:2); Mosaic (Ex. 19:5); Palestinian (Dt.30:3); Davidic (2 Sam. 7:16); and New Covenant (Jer .31:31-34). Six are unconditional and two are conditional. In our study we will determine which are conditional and which are unconditional.

The Edenic covenant, a test of obedience, was the first covenant that God made with man. It is the first of the general or universal covenants – Gen 1:26-312:16-17.

The Adamic covenant was made with man after the fall – Gen. 3:14-19.

This is the covenant in which God declares to man what his lot in life will be because of his sin. There is no appeal allowed, nor is any human responsibility involved.

For a discussion of the Adamic Covenant click onAdamic Covenant.

III. The Noahic covenant was made with Noah and his sons – Gen. 8:21 – 9:18.

This covenant, while repeating some of the features of the Adamic covenant, introduced a new principle of human government as a means to curb sin. It revealed God’s purpose for the race subsequent to Noah.

For a discussion of the Noahic Covenant click onNoahic Covenant.

The Abrahamic covenant is one of the great revelations of God concerning future history, and in it, profound promises were given. It is the first theocratic covenant (pertaining to the rule of God). – Gen. 12:1-413:14-1715:1-718-2117:1-822:15-1826:1-528:13-15 and Lev 26:40-46.

The promise of a great nation: (1) Everlasting possession of the land is promised to Israel – Gen. 12:2, 17:8; (2) Everlasting covenant given – Gen. 17:7; (3) – I will be their God – Gen. 17:8; (4) Abraham was also promised that he would father other nations – Gen. 17:6,20.

Four personal promises are given to Abraham:

Promises to the Gentiles: “I will bless them that bless thee” – Gen. 12:3.

NOTE: The other four covenants; Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants are additional promises of God in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. They are all theocratic covenants.

For a discussion of the Abrahamic Covenant click onAbrahamic Covenant.

V. The Mosaic covenant was given through Moses for the children of Israel. It was a conditional covenant and embodied the principle that if Israel was obedient, God would bless them, but if Israel were disobedient, God would course and discipline them. The Mosaic covenant was also temporary and would terminate at the cross of Christ. It is the second theocratic covenant.

Conditions of blessings, warnings of chastisement, and God’s promise that the Abrahamic covenant will remain forever – Lev. 26:1-46, (emphases Lev. 26:40-46).

For a discussion of the Mosaic Covenant click on: Mosaic Covenant.

The Palestinian covenant was both a conditional and an unconditional covenant regarding Israel’s final possession of the land. Ownership of the land is unconditional. It is the third theocratic covenant. – Dt. 29:10-1530:11-20).

For a discussion of the Palestinian Covenant click onPalestinain Covenant.

The Davidic covenant was an unconditional covenant in which God promised David an unending royal lineage, a throne, and a Kingdom, all of them forever. It is the fourth theocratic covenant. 2 Sam. 7:12-16, 1 Chr. 17:1-15.

For a discussion of the Davidic Covenant click onDavidic Covenant.

The new covenant prophesied in the Old Testament was partially fulfilled in the Church (a mystery – Acts 15:6-16Eph. 3:1-7), but will have a final fulfillment in the millennial kingdom. This is an unconditional covenant and is the fifth theocratic convent – Jer. 31:31-34Ez.. 36:24-28Joel 2:28-29Heb. 8:7-10:18 (Key 10:16).

The new covenant guarantees all that God proposes to do for men will be on the grounds of the shed blood of His Son. This may be in two aspects:

For a discussion of the New Covenant click onNew Covenant