Covenant simply defined is, “A relationship that God establishes in trust and guarantees by His Word.”
Some key aspects to the theological concept of covenant:
1. Being established and guaranteed by God’s Word, it is grounded in and reflects His character and purpose.
a. Therefore it is irrevocable, as God cannot deny Himself (2 Tim. 2:13; Num. 23:19)
b. Therefore it is gracious and merciful, as God owes nothing to anyone but Himself (Isa. 48:9-11)
c. Therefore it is just and good to those with whom God makes it good (Rom. 8:28-30)
2. Being a relationship, it declares promises for faithfulness (blessing) and for unfaithfulness (cursing)
a. There is blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience (Deut. 30:11-20)
b. The blessing and cursing is based upon God’s having chosen a people for Himself (Deut. 32)
c. Being based upon and reflecting God’s character, the requirement for fulfillment is perfect obedience because of God’s great provision for His people.
i. As seen in the Garden of Eden with Adam (Gen. 2:15-17)
ii. As seen in the Land of Canaan with Abraham (Gen. 17:1-8)
iii. As seen in the Wilderness with Moses (Deut. 6)
iv. As seen in the City of Zion with David (2 Sam. 7)
v. As seen in the Temple of Zion with Solomon (1 Ki. 9:1-9)
vi. As seen in the Exile with the Promised Messiah (Jer. 31)
vii. As seen in the Church with the Body of Christ (1 John 3:1-3)
3. Having ordained the inadequacy of Adam, the Covenant was made prior to Creation within the Godhead.
a. We know that the promised seed is Christ Jesus, the Son of God, in whom all are made perfect before God by faith (Gal. 3:16, 26-29)
b. Christ Jesus is the promised King (Messiah) of David, who reigns perpetually in God’s Kingdom. (Matt. 1:1)
c. Disciples are made according to the authority given by the Father to the Son, the Son giving glory to the Father, and all bound together by the Spirit (John 17; Matt. 28:18-20)
d. The eternal plan of God that the Son should die for the sins of His people was established before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; Acts 2:23)
4. Being eternal and invisible in its origin, the covenant is manifested temporally and visibly in signs.
a. The covenant sign marks (is administered to) all who are associated with the stipulations of the covenant.
i. Abraham circumcised Isaac, the son of promise, as well as Ishmael (the son of Hagar, the rejected mother and offspring) and all the servants both familial and foreign (Gen. 17; Gal. 4:21-31; Rom. 9)
b. The covenant sign is realized (is established with) in those who are truly sons, according to God’s choice to adopt a people into Christ through His death and resurrection.
i. God’s choice is revealed in Jacob and Esau as individuals (Rom. 9)
ii. God’s choice is revealed in the Israelites and Gentiles as peoples (Rom. 10-11; Gal. 3; Col. 2:6-15; Eph. 2)
c. The bloody covenant sign (circumcision) foreshadowed the blood sacrifice and has been replaced by the clean covenant sign (baptism), which was foreshadowed in Noah’s deliverance.
i. The circumcision, which was a removal of the flesh (a cutting off of the corrupted seed), corresponds to baptism, which is a destruction of the flesh in death (cutting off) of the “old man” (Col. 2:11-15: Rom. 6:1-14)
ii. Noah’s deliverance was a kind of baptism (2 Pet. 3:20-22)
iii. Jesus Christ’s bloody sacrifice atoned for all sin, therefore no more blood is required for acceptance into God’s covenant, but a sprinkling of water symbolizing Christ’s blood shed on behalf of His people (Heb. 10)
d. Even the promise of the land of Canaan is a sign of a greater universal new heavens and new earth. (Heb. 11:13-16; 12:18-24)