The Covenant , B’rit - Part 2

David Mitts

“And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup, which is poured out for you, is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20)

To listen to the audio-only version click below 

Giving Opportunity Message
Covenant is the heart of our salvation. We are saved not because of legalism or because of any conditions on our part, that would be works salvation. Instead, we are saved based on God’s word. God is both the author, the giver of the Word and the guarantee based on His Word, the completer of our salvation. This has always been the case. Terms like “old covenant” or obsolete covenant make it seem like there was an inferior covenant that was superseded by a superior covenant. This may seem logical based on church theology, but it is inherently flawed thinking.

God’s covenants have never been based on our performance. This would reduce God to human standards of contract. It is this lack of comprehension that has generated all kinds of religious mischief illustrated most vividly in the accounts of the pharisees in the Gospels. Holiness, righteousness, calling, gifting, anointing, destiny have never been based on performance. If they were they would be based on man instead of God. Grasp that for a minute. God’s plan for you is based on Him and His word NOT on you and your ability. He has repeatedly and consistently used flawed people for His plans and purposes. The only exception to that is in the life and death of His Son initiating the “new covenant”.

This was only because it took that kind of perfection to implant Himself into us. Death has always been a boundary of covenant. Covenants are initiated in death and defined by death. They inherently recognize that there is no more powerful assurance of faithfulness than the willingness to die for one’s word.

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made by hands, that is, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption. (His blood initiated the covenant )For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.” (Heb 9:11-17)

Covenant makers are dead men walking because they have pledged their lives to their word.

Seven conditions of a covenant

1. Unilateral commitment before God: The two parties would make a commitment to each other which was unilateral (not dependent upon the fulfillment by the other party) and spoken in the presence of God.

2. Terms expressed: The terms of the covenant were specified, including duration and scope of commitment. Most frequently when men would become blood brothers in covenant with each other, the duration was not only until death of the two covenanting partners, but frequently extended for several generations. God says that His covenant lasts to 1,000 generations (Psalm 106:8-10). David’s covenant with Jonathan lasted at least through the next generation, as he sought out and blessed Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son for the sake of covenant with Jonathan (II Samuel 9). Most covenants extend at least until death of the covenanting partners. The scope of the covenant among blood covenant friends would entail a commitment of all available resources up to and including one’s own life. “All I have and all I am is yours,” was the commitment that was made. This again is the commitment which God makes to us in Christ.

3. Exchange of gifts: Men would traditionally exchange four very valuable gifts as earnest commitment of their sincerity toward God and one another.

These four gifts were:

A. Their coats or robes: The coat signified tribe, standing within the tribe and was representative of tribal and family identity and authority. To give a man your coat was to give him the benefits (inheritance, etc.) and standing which you enjoy in the nation, tribe and family.

B. Their weapon belts: By laying your weapon belt at another man’s feet you were saying to him, “I give you all my strength and military might. I will defend you to the death. Any enemy of yours is an enemy of mine. Further more, I will never use these weapons against you. I will not defend myself against you. For I lay myself completely open and defenseless before you.”

C. Their names: Men would actually be known from that time forth by at least a part of the other man’s name. The name denoted power of attorney. With the power of attorney to use a man’s name, you can access his bank account and all his assets. What you say, he will back up. The right to use a man’s name was and is very powerful.

D. Blood: Among non-Hebrew peoples then two covenanting friends would usually exchange their own blood in some fashion such as Dr. Trumbull described above. God forbade the Hebrew people from drinking any blood because He did not want them partaking of the very life of another being. He knew that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). Jesus, in John chapter six, spoke of this very thing as He commanded His followers to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to receive His very life. This, of course, is what we are doing each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Hebrews however did not drink or commingle each other’s blood when they made covenant. They more frequently slew an animal and conducted their ceremony using the common blood of animals. This is the methodology we see used as God cut a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15. The significance of blood being shed is that is indicative of the life of the one cutting covenant. When a man sheds his own blood, or in the case of the Hebrews, the blood of a substitute, he is saying to the other party, “I am willing to give my life for you. I want to unite myself so closely with you that I actually want to be one with you by partaking of the very essence of your being and have your life inside me.”

4. Vows: Men would make sacred vows to one another and to God. They would vow fidelity to one another unto death. They frequently would pronounce blessings to be bestowed upon their covenant partner as a result of the covenant and curses upon him should he ever break the covenant. These vows, because they were unilateral vows made unto God, were considered very sacred and were thus never broken.

5. Witnesses: The covenant ceremony was almost always attended by witnesses, who joyfully attested to the making of the covenant. There was frequently appointed a covenant attorney whose job it was to see that the covenant was carried out. Unlike our system of contract today in which each party engages an attorney to protect his interests, under a covenant, there is only one attorney who is not for either party, but rather was a witness of the covenant and was only for the covenant. It was his job to see to it that the vows and terms of the covenant were carried out.

6. Exchange of phylacteries: A phylactery is another word for a token of the covenant. Many times when men would cut a vein in the arm or leg and exchange blood, they would then pour gunpowder or some such substance into the wound so as to create a noticeable black mark or scar which would serve to identify them as a covenant man. Sometimes a copy of the document recording the covenant was worn in some sort of container by both parties on the arm, forehead or around the neck as an amulet. The phylactery was a sign to all that this person had entered into a blood covenant with another party. This is what God instructed the Hebrew people to do when He made a covenant with them through Moses (Exodus 13:16).

7. Sharing of a covenant meal: After men would make a covenant together, as a symbol of their friendship, they would then sit and break bread together in hospitality and friendship. The reason I have spent the time here to look at these components of a covenant is because most of us as westerners are not familiar with these things because they are no longer a regular part of our culture. However, the entire Bible is a book of covenants. It is not a history book or storybook. It is a book of covenants. It is interesting to me to note that even though most people do not understand covenant in the West at this time, our wedding ceremonies are still structured for the most part as though a marriage were a covenant. Obviously, the men who wrote the traditional wedding ceremony, still used in many contemporary churches, viewed marriage as a covenant.

Let’s look at the 7 main covenants of the Bible.

1. Adamic Covenant. Found in Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:16-17, this covenant is general in nature. It included the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, pronounced a curse for sin, and spoke of a future provision for man's redemption (Genesis 3:15).

2. Noahic Covenant. This general covenant was made between God and Noah following the departure of Noah, his family, and the animals from the ark. Found in Genesis 9:11, "I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth." This covenant included a sign of God's faithfulness to keep it—the rainbow.

3. Abrahamic Covenant. This unconditional covenant, first made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, promised God's blessing upon Abraham, to make his name great and to make his progeny into a great nation. The covenant also promised blessing to those who blessed Abraham and cursing to those who cursed him. Further, God vowed to bless the entire world through Abraham's seed. Circumcision was the sign that Abraham believed the covenant (Romans 4:11). The fulfillment of this covenant is seen in the history of Abraham's descendants and in the creation of the nation of Israel. The worldwide blessing came through Jesus Christ, who was of Abraham's family line.

4. Land Covenant. This unconditional covenant, found in Deuteronomy 30:1-10, noted God's promise to scatter Israel if they disobeyed God, then to restore them later to their land. This covenant has been fulfilled twice, with the Babylonian Captivity and subsequent rebuilding of Jerusalem under Cyrus the Great; and with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, followed by the reinstatement of the nation of Israel in 1948.

5. Mosaic Covenant. This conditional covenant, found in Deuteronomy 11 and elsewhere, promised the Israelites a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. Much of the Old Testament chronicles the fulfillment of this cycle of judgment for sin and later blessing when God's people repented and returned to God.

6. Davidic Covenant. This unconditional covenant, found in 2 Samuel 7:8-16, promised to bless David's family line and assured an everlasting kingdom. Jesus is from the family line of David (Luke 1:32-33) and, as the Son of David (Mark 10:47), is the fulfillment of this covenant.

7. New Covenant. This covenant, found in Jeremiah 31:31-34, promised that God would forgive sin and have a close, unbroken relationship with His people. The promise was first made to Israel and then extended to everyone who comes to Jesus Christ in faith (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15).

The new covenant is the most important covenant. It doesn’t abolish any earlier covenant for to do that would mean God is capricious and unreliable. A new covenant can only improve on earlier covenants and include their provision. Each covenant of God built on the previous one. This is as it must be. God cannot lie and He can only break His covenant by ending the universe, including Himself. What His ultimate plan is involves the inner transformation of His covenant bride, His beloved:

“Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters, and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. “Let’s rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His bride has prepared herself.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”” (Rev 19:6-9)

Activation: Since the covenants of God have never been based on your performance but instead reveal his love for you, allow yourself to grasp that love. Covenant reveals love and is defined by death. Taking up our cross daily is really all about loving Him without thought of death or its fear. Resolve to love Him in the view of eternal life. Ask Him how much He loves you and then rest in that love.

 Push Notifications are disabled


B.E.S.T. Shabbat

 Add to homescreen