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Eight Covenants of God
Introduction

A covenant is a formal, binding agreement or promise. Covenants define man's relationship with God. Through the Covenants God discloses His whole purpose earthward. There are two kinds of covenants, one is unconditional and says "I will" and the other is conditional which says "If thou wilt". An understanding of God's covenants is critical to the correct understanding of the Bible. Throughout the Bible we find that God does not have fellowship with man outside of His covenants. Scripture is formed about, and is, the development of these Covenants.

A conditional covenant is characterized by "If you will, then I will", where God promises to bless man if he fulfills the conditions in the covenant. If man fails to fulfill the covenant, it often results in punishment -- so the covenant either brings blessings or cursings. If man is to receive the blessing, he must be obedient to the covenant. Only two of the eight covenants are conditional, the Edenic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant.

An unconditional covenant is one in which God unconditionally obligates Himself to fulfill for the covenanted people. It is the one characterized by the "I will", which means God will do as He promised in the covenant. The other six of the eight covenants are unconditional covenants and they are the Adamic Covenant, the Noahic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant.

When looking at the covenants one should be aware that all the provisions of the covenant may not go into effect immediately. Some may go into effect right away, some in the near future, and some in the prophetic future. Then, also, we should note that four of these eight covenants are with Israel and are all unconditional, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. At this point, one should note that the Bible should be interpreted literally, grammatically, historically, according to context, and comparing scripture with scripture.

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The Edenic Covenant

Back in the Garden of Eden, in what is called the Age of Innocence, we have the Edenic Covenant. This is the first covenant that God made with mankind. The parties involved in this covenant were God and Adam. Since Adam is the federal head of mankind, these terms apply to all of his descendants.

God 's purpose for mankind is shown in Genesis 1:26 --- he was to rule over God's creation, Psalms 8:6-7. God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect environment, the Garden of Eden, and gave them a test, which is the heart of the covenant. They were commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which sat in the midst of the Garden. The following shows seven provisions of the Edenic Covenant.

  • 1. Mankind is to fill the earth, to multiply, Genesis 1:28. The earth was created for, and is to be filled with, mankind.
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  • 2. Also in Genesis 1:28 we see that mankind was to subdue the earth. The earth contains many resources such as wood, stone, metals, magnetism, wind, gravity, solar rays etc.. These resources were to be used for mankind's benefit.
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  • 3. Again in Genesis 1:28 we see that mankind is to have authority over all living creatures. Adam exercised this authority in naming the animals, Genesis 2:19-20.
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  • 4. Next we have man on a vegetable diet, Genesis 1:29-30; 2:16. No blood of any kind was to be shed. The vegetarian diet would be changed under the Noahic Covenant, Genesis 9:3. A vegetarian diet today would be promoting the doctrine of devils as shown in 1 Timothy 4:1-4.
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  • 5. Man was to dress, that is, to tend, the garden and, even though living in a perfect environment man was still to work, and that continues today, Genesis 2:15; Ezekiel 16:49.
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  • 6. Man was forbidden to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Genesis 2:17. This is the heart of the covenant, and the only negative command given to man in this covenant.
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  • 7. The last provision of the Edenic Covenant contains a penalty for disobedience which is spiritual death, Genesis 2:17, and eventually physical death as we will see in the Adamic Covenant, Genesis 3:19. God put man out of the Garden of Eden and placed a guard on it so they could not eat of the tree of life and live forever in a fallen state, Genesis 3:22-24.

In this covenant, which is conditional, we see that man failed and that mankind is accountable to God. We also see God as being a merciful God in that He pointed to a future Saviour, Jesus Christ, who would restore believers to fellowship with Him, Genesis 3:15. This covenant is associated with the Dispensation of Innocence.

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The Adamic Covenant

The Adamic Covenant is formed in Genesis 3:14-19 and, under this covenant, the life conditions of fallen mankind are changed. There is now the promise of a Redeemer. God and Adam are the ones involved in this covenant and Adam represents the human race so the judgment on Adam is a judgment on all humanity.

There are six elements to this covenant.

  • 1. Curse upon the serpent ,Genesis 3:14
    The serpent is cursed above all other creatures, he is to crawl on his belly, and the dust shall be his food, Genesis 3:14.
    "the dust shall be his food" is a metaphor for the conquest of a proud enemy showing his shame and humility which, in this case, will be forever.
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  • 2. Enmity between the seed of serpent and the seed of the woman,Genesis 3:15.
    The serpent would bruise the heel of the woman's seed
    The woman's seed will bruise the head of the serpents seed
    The serpent is Satan, and the seed of the woman is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
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  • 3. The sorrows of maternity,Genesis 3:16.
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  • 4. The subordination of the woman,Genesis 3:16.
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  • 5. Creation is cursed because of Adam's sin,Genesis 3:17-18.
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  • 6. Physical Death, Genesis 3:19.

This covenant extends from the fall of Adam to the flood in Noah's time, and is associated with the Dispensation of Conscience. The covenant is unconditional and is still in effect today. We also see the first prophecy of our coming Saviour in Genesis 3:15 and this is the first mention in the Bible of the promised coming of Jesus Christ.

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The Noahic Covenant

The Noahic Covenant is formed in Genesis 8:20-9:27 and establishes the principles of the Dispensation of Human Government. This covenant is between God and Noah. Noah, like Adam, is the representative for the whole human race and because of the flood, humanity is not only descended from Adam, but also from Noah. The Dispensation of Human Government has since been superseded, but the Noahic Covenant is an unconditional covenant and is still in effect today. God placed it in effect as an everlasting covenant, Genesis 9:16. This covenant is associated with the Dispensation of Human Government.

In Genesis chapter 6 verse 5 we see that man had become extremely evil and God decided to wipe man, beast, creeping things, and fowls of the air from the earth, Genesis 6:7. However, Noah, who walked with God, found favor in God's eyes, Genesis 6:8-9, and God decided to save Noah, and his sons and their wives, and to make a covenant with Noah, Genesis 6:13; 6:18.

  • 1. Man was to multiply, to replenish the earth, again, Genesis 9:1. Noah and his family, eight people in all, were all that were left after the flood. With man's fall, he had lost authority over the earth to Satan, and in this covenant, was not given a command to subdue the earth. Today, Satan still has authority over all the kingdoms of this world and is called the prince of this world in John 12:31 and the god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
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  • 2. Man had lost authority over the earth, but he still had authority over the animals. So God put the fear of man into the animals, Genesis 9:2.
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  • 3. Man's diet was now changed. It had formerly been a vegetarian diet but now it was to consist of every moving thing and the green herbs, Genesis 9:3.
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  • 4. Man was prohibited from eating the blood of the animals, Genesis 9:4.
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  • 5. Formerly, with Cain killing Abel, there was no capital punishment. In this covenant God instituted capital punishment. All murderers were now to be executed, Genesis 9:5-6.
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  • 6. There is a promise that the human race would not be cut off again by a world wide flood, Genesis 9:8-11.
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  • 7. God established this covenant with the token of a rainbow and the rainbow, when seen today, should be a time of remembrance, Genesis 9:12-17.

It is also implied that Noah's sons are to be heads of different divisions of the human race, Genesis 10:32.
Shem was to have a relationship with God. From Shem we get the Hebrew nation and other Semitic people, Genesis 9:26.
Canaan, son of Ham was to be a servant of servants to his brethren, Genesis 9:26; 10:6-20.
Japheth was to be enlarged and dwell in the tents of Shem and Canaan, the son of Ham, was to be his servant. The sons of Japheth make up the Indo-European people.

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The Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant founds the nation of Israel and confirms the Adamic promise of redemption, Genesis 15:1-18, and is associated with The Dispensation of Promise. The call of Abraham is in Genesis 12:1 and Acts 7:3.

We see God instructing Abraham to take his family and leave Ur and go to Canaan, Genesis 12:1. It is an everlasting covenant promised to Abraham and his seed, Genesis 17:7.

The covenant contains the following promises:

  • "I will make of thee a great nation", this is the beginning of the nation of Israel, Genesis 12:1-3; 13:16; 17:18-20
  • "I will bless thee and thou shalt be a blessing", Genesis 13:14-18; 15:18-21; Galatians 3:13-14
  • "I will bless those who bless thee and curse whoever curseth thee", Zechariah 14; Matthew 25:31-46
  • "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed", Genesis 12:2-3 Galatians 3:16; John 8:56-58
  • ". . . Make thy name great", Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 2:24-25; 6:3-8
  • An unconditional promise of the land of Canaan given to Abraham and his seed forever, and will make his seed as the dust of the earth, Genesis 13:15-17, and further referenced in Genesis 15:18-21.

The Israelites have not kept the covenants with God, but He promises that they will one day turn to Him as their God, Zechariah 12:10-14, Romans 11:26-27.

This covenant is foundational for several other covenants and we should take notice of several things. There are national promises given to Israel, there are personal promises given to Abraham, other nations will be blessed or cursed depending on their attituded toward Abraham and his seed, and there is a promise of universal blessing through Abraham that is fulfilled through Christ.

It should also be noted that in subsequent revelations, there were additions to this covenant. Abraham was promised all the land that he seen, “forever”, and that his descendants would be as the dust of the earth, Genesis 13:14-17. This covenant is also enlarged in the Land (or Palestinian) Covenant. Then in Genesis 17:1-18, the coventant was confirmed, Abram was given the name of Abraham and would be the father of many nations other than the nation that would inherit the land, all the land of Canaan was given to the seed of Abraham for an everlasting possession, and there is a personal relationship between God and the seed of Abraham with God promising to be “their” God.

Is the Abrahamic Covenant an unconditional covenant? Some say no but let's see what the Bible says. In Genesis 12:1 Abraham was given one condition and when he went to the land of promise he was given the promise of possession of the land, and this was given as “an everlasting covenant,” Genesis 12:7. After this there were no more conditions imposed on Abraham and the promise now depended only on God keeping His Word.

  • The Bible declares the covenant to be eternal and it is therefore unconditional:
  • Genesis 17:7 declares the covenant to be an “everlasting” covenant.
  • Genesis 17:13 says “an everlasting covenant.”
  • Genesis 17:19 says “an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
  • 1 Chronicles 16:17 it is confirmed to Jacob and Israel “as an everlasting covenant.”
  • Psalms 105:10 it is confirmed to Israel “for an everlasting covenant.”
  • Hebrews 6:13-18 God confirmed the covenant by an unchangeable, “immutable”, oath.

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The Mosaic Covenant

The Mosaic Covenant was made between God and Israel, Exodus 19:3; Deuteronomy 5:1-3. The covenant can be found in Exodus 19-24 and Deuteronomy 5:6-22, and was given 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant, Galatians 3:17. It is a conditional covenant, meaning that it was conditioned upon Israel's obedience. This covenant is also associated with The Dispensation of Law. In Exodus 19:5 God told Israel that "if ye will obey my voice . . . then ye shall be" meaning that it is conditional on Israel's obedience, Exodus 19:5. Then the people agreed to the covenant saying, "All that the Lord has spoken we will do!" Exodus 19:8.

The law can be divided into three divisions, the Ten Commandments are in the moral code (Exodus 20:1-26), the civil law (Exodus 21:1-24:18), and the ceremonial law (Exodus 25:1-40:38).

It is important to remember that though Israel failed to keep the law, their failure did not do away with the unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham, Galatians 3:17-18.

What was the purpose of the Law?

  • 1. It was to be a schoolmaster, pointing the way to Christ, Galatians 3:24-25
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  • 2. By the Law we could know what sin is and is not, Romans 3:20; 3:19; Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 7:18-19
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  • 3. Justification was not by the Law but by faith, Galatians 3:10-11; 3:23-25.

It is important to remember that there are several things the Law cannot do.

  • Some are trying to get into heaven by the works of the law. We cannot get into heaven by being good, otherwise Christ died in vain, Galatians 2:21 and we also see the law can NOT justify us, (make us just-if-i -ed never sinned), Galatians 2:16.
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  • The law is weak and cannot give us the strength to live a holy life, Romans 8:1-4.
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  • The law cannot give us the Holy Spirit. We receive the Holy Spirt by faith in Jesus Christ and not be the law, Galatians 3:1-3.
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  • The law cannot make anyone perfect, Hebrews 7:19.

What is Christ's relation to the Mosaic Covenant?

  • 1. Jesus was under the Law of the Mosaic Covenant while He was here on earth, Galatians 4:4
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  • 2. He kept the Mosaic Law, John 15:10
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  • 3. The wages of sin is death, and Christ bore this curse of the law by being made sin for us, because He, Himself, had no sin. All of that so that we could have the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 4:4-5
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  • 4. The sacrifice Jesus made took the place of the priesthood and sacrifices, Hebrews 9:11-12; 10:1-4

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The Land Covenant

We can find the Land Covenant recorded in Deuteronomy 30:1-10. This covenant was made with Israel after they had wandered in the wilderness for forty years, and just before they were to enter The Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham and his posterity. God had previously reminded Israel that if they obeyed the Mosaic Law, He would bless them and warned that disobedience would bring His cursing on them, Deuteronomy 28:1-68.

The Land Covenant contains some special promises to Israel and will not be completely fulfilled until the millennial reign of Christ.

  • 1. Even though they are just getting ready to enter the Promised Land, the covenant is established and foresees the world wide dispersion of Israel, Deuteronomy 30:1.
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  • 2. The covenant foresees Israel turning back to God, Deuteronomy 30:2
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  • 3. Because of their repentance God would gather them from all the nations where He had scattered them, Deuteronomy 30:3
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  • 4. The covenant promises that Israel will be restored to her own land, the land of Israel, Deuteronomy 30:3-5.
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  • 5. It promises judgment on Israel's enemies, those that hate them and persecute them, Deuteronomy 30:7; Genesis 12:3
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  • 6. It promises blessing and abundance for restored Israel, Deuteronomy 30:9-10
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  • 7. The land will be Israel's forever, unconditionally, Genesis 48:3-4

If we go back in time we see that Ishmael, the half brother of Isaac, and his descendants, were to be a great nation but they are not to possess this land. So Ishmael's descendants are not a party to this covenant. However, they have been fighting for this territory for hundreds of years, and this is the root of all the conflicts against Israel today, Genesis 21:18.

In May of 1948 the people of Israel began returning to the land that God had promised them and it is to be Israel's for an everlasting possession, Genesis 48:3-4. Much of this covenant has yet to be fulfilled and will be complete in the Millennial reign of Christ when He sets up His Kingdom in the last days.

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The Davidic Covenant

The Davidic Covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:5-19 and establishes the perpetuity of the Davidic family and kingdom over the whole earth; to be fulfilled completely in and by Christ.

The covenant contains the following:

  • 1. David's yet unborn child, Solomon will succeed him and establish his kingdom.
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  • 2. Solomon would build the temple instead of David.
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  • 3. The throne will never be taken away from him.
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  • 2 Samuel 7:16 affirms that David's house, kingdom, and throne, shall be established forever. Forever is the single strongest word in the Hebrew language, so this is a "done deal".
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  • Solomon's throne was a literal throne, so, therefore, the fulfillment of this covenant, through the Messiah, will also be a literal throne. The Old Testament prophets testified of this also, as we see in Isaiah 9:6-7. Jeremiah spoke of a righteous branch of David that would execute justice and righteousness on the earth, Jeremiah 33:15-17.
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  • 4. The coming King will be both human (Isaiah 7:13-14) and Divine (Isaiah 9:6-7). The Old Testament prophets tell us how the Messianic Kingdom will come about, Jeremiah 23:3-8; Hosea 3:3-5; Ezekiel 37:22-28; Micah 5:2.

This covenant was also confirmed to the Virgin Mary, and it can be seen that it is Christ who is the seed and coming King, under the Davidic Covenant, Luke 1:31-33.

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The New Covenant

The old covenant that God had put in place required obedience to the Mosaic law. The Law required them to perform rituals and make sacrifices when they sinned. Jeremiah had predicted that the day would come that God would make a new covenant with Israel , Jeremiah 31:31-37. Jesus came to fulfill the law before he did away with it on the cross, Matthew 5:17-18. To "fulfill" means to satisfy, finish, end, make complete, cause to expire. The law was only a shadow of things to come, and when the real thing came, the shadow was no longer needed, Colossians 2:14-17. We find the New Covenant formed in Hebrews 8:6-13. God made a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, Hebrews 8:6-9.

  • The New Covenant was first foretold by Jeremiah, who tells us that God said He would make this New Covenant. He said that God would put His laws in their inwards parts and write it on their hearts and He will be their God and they shall be His people, Jeremiah 31:31-37.
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  • Though promised to Israel and Judah, Christians are also partakers of the New Covenant through the blood of Christ, Ephesians 2:11-20; Hebrews 10:11-12.
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  • The New Covenant is a covenant that rests upon the sacrifice of Christ, and secures eternal blessedness under The Abrahamic Covenant to all who believe. It is unconditional, and since no responsibility is committed to man, it is final and irreversible., Matthew 26:27-28; Hebrews 8:6-13; Hebrews 9:11-12.
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  • This promises us eternal redemption through the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:12
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  • By means of the death of Christ, the New Covenant gives us the promise of an eternal inheritance, Hebrews 9:15
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  • Under the New Covenant, God has promised to never remember our sins, Hebrews 8:12.

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