Summary: the entire span of time from creation to the final judgment (Genesis to Revelation) into seven distinct eras or covenants: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom. In each covenant, God reveals more about
About The Divine Covenants
Bible scholars have divided the entire span of time from creation to the final judgment (Genesis to Revelation) into seven distinct eras or covenants: Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, and the Millennial Kingdom. In each covenant, God reveals more about Himself and how to please Him by making a covenant (contract) with man. In each covenant, God specifies His own contractual obligations as well as man’s contractual obligations. Throughout the Bible, God has consistently honored his covenant obligations while man has repeatedly failed to comply with his. Man’s failure ends in divine judgment, after which God enters into a new covenant with man. Tracing God’s activity through each covenant and having an understanding of the provisions of each covenant, is a valuable tool in "rightly dividing the word of God.
When God first created Adam and Eve, they were without sin and enjoyed direct fellowship with Him. Man’s responsibilities under God’s first covenant was to maintain their fellowship with Him, tend the garden, have many children and fill the earth, and obey God’s command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man’s failure led to judgment: men would now have to work hard tilling the ground to make a living, women would have to suffer during childbirth, and their sin caused death to enter the world and forced a separation from God.
Genesis 1:28 Be fruitful, have many children and rule over God’s creation.
Genesis 2:15 Take care of the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2:16-17 Do not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Man’s failure ends in judgment:
Genesis 3:14 Judgment on the Serpent.
Genesis 3:15 Judgment on Satan and the Promise of the Messiah.
Genesis 3:16 Judgment on the Woman.
Genesis 3:17 Judgment on the Man.
Once man ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he gained knowledge of both good and evil. God expected man to choose the good and to forsake evil, in effect desiring man to follow his conscience. In addition, fellowship with God could be restored by calling on the Name of the Lord, loving and worshipping Him, and obediently offering acceptable blood sacrifices. Mans failure was so severe under this covenant that God was sorry he had even made man, and He decided to destroy the earth in a world-wide flood. Unlike other covenants in the Bible where man’s covenant obligations are specifically spelled-out in the scripture, much of what we know about the covenant of conscience is not directly stated in the Word, but is inferred by the actions of both God and man.
Genesis 3:21 God kills an animal to make clothing for Adam and Eve. (Many view God’s action here as declaring a principle which is further developed in subsequent covenants - that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission or "covering" of sin.)
Genesis 3:22 After eating from the forbidden tree, man now has the knowledge of both good and evil.
Genesis 4:3-7 Cain offers an offering of vegetables and Abel offers a blood sacrifice. God is pleased with Abel’s blood sacrifice but not Cain’s offering. God indicates that Cain knows how to give a proper sacrifice, and will be accepted if he does so.
Genesis 4:26 Righteous men called on the Name of the Lord.
Man’s failure ends in judgment:
Genesis 6:5-7 Wickedness on the Earth was so great, God felt sorry he had ever made man and decided to destroy the Earth in a world-wide flood.
Genesis 6:8-9 A righteous man named Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord.
Genesis 6:13-15 God instructs Noah to build an ark to save his family and the animals.
Genesis 7:11-24 The great flood.
When the flood waters receded, and Noah and his family came out of the ark, God made a new covenant with man. This covenant is called Human Government, because in it God instituted capital punishment - an indication that man would now be responsible for governing the actions of others. He indicated that animals would now fear man, and that men could eat meat. What man had learned about pleasing God in previous covenants continued; following conscience, calling on the Name of the Lord and blood sacrifice. Again God gave the command to have many children and fill the earth. God then promised never to flood the Earth again, and He set the rainbow in the sky as a sign of the covenant. Although God gave man the authority to govern others, his failure to govern successfully appeared almost at once. When a mighty ruler named Nimrod came to power, man decided to disobey God’s command to disperse abroad and replenish the earth. Instead they defiantly united to construct a tower that would reach the heavens, perhaps as a center of false worship. God judged their disobedience by confusing their languages, forcing then to disperse abroad as He had instructed.