Summary: A look at the meaning of "Covenant" and a few examples from scripture. Understanding Communion and it’s significance to the New Covenant
Dakota Community Church
February 10, 2008
From the Hebrew word - berith it is translated in English as: "will", "covenant" and "testament," and comes from the word meaning "to cut". It is mentioned approximately 300 times in Scripture.
A covenant is not an “IF” you do this “THEN” I will do that scenario. A covenant in the strict biblical sense is not a joint obligation but rather a commitment one makes to another. A covenant is a relationship wherein the party making the covenant binds himself to fulfill certain conditions.
1. Preparation--Since a covenant was meant to be a permanent relationship it was entered into only after much prayer, counsel and deep thought.
2. A Witness was sought as a trusted mediator of both sides. A covenant was meant to be a public declaration of intent.
3. Garments and weapons were exchanged.
4. The belt or girdle would be exchanged signifying, "My strength is your strength."
5. An animal would be split in two and the parties would stand in the midst of the split animal, thus representing as the animal gave up its life, so too, will I give up my life to maintain this covenant. Both parties would then cut their own wrists, raise their hands into the air and clasp hands while pointing to heaven making God their witness to this agreement. The intermingling of the blood signified the joining of a blood relationship. They would then often cauterize the wound with a hot branding iron to inflict a noticeable scar which would act as a perpetual reminder.
6. Names would be exchanged and the parties would henceforth refer to themselves as ___________ the friend of ____________.
7. A list of ALL assets and liabilities was then exchanged - as a united, covenanted pair they would each share the other’s belongings and burdens.
8. A formal exchange of the covenant’s blessings and curses was then made in public.
9. Finally, the covenant was sealed with a permanent “sign”, i.e. a plant, a tree, a heap of stones. (From "Covenants" by Charles L. Monk)
1. The Noahic Covenant.
Read Genesis 8:20-9:17
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The Noahic Covenant is a non-conditional God to man promise not to destroy the earth by flood ever again. The seal is the rainbow which serves as a constant reminder that God has laid down his bow of vengeance.
2. The Abrahamic Covenant.
Read Genesis 15
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…
Again an unconditional covenant, only the Lord stands in the midst of the sacrifice.
The sign or seal of this covenant was circumcision and to ignore it was to be “cut off”.
3. The Mosaic (Old) Covenant.
Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ’You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."
So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, "We will do everything the LORD has said." So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.
The Mosaic or Old Covenant is a conditional covenant that centres on the giving of the Law and carries blessings and curses seen in Deuteronomy 28.
The sign of the Old Covenant was the keeping of the Sabbath.
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, ’You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the LORD, who makes you holy.
" ’Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.