Definition of Covenant: A divinely initiated contract which God makes with man in which God obligates Himself to the parties named in the contract. There are two types of covenants, conditional and unconditional. The following are the four unconditional covenants that God made with Israel.
Author’s Note: Since many Christian churches today teach either Replacement or Covenant Theology, it would also follow that the Old Testament teaching of God’s Covenants, or promises to the Jewish people, would hold no special prophetic significance.
Dispensationalism, however, teaches that the Covenants of God are literal and everlasting for the Jewish people and the foundation for understanding His unfolding plan for the world (Genesis 17:1-22).
Ps. 105:7-11 “He is the Lord our God; His judgments are on all the earth. He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, to you I will give the land of Canaan as a portion of your inheritance.”
1 – The Abrahamic Covenant: Unconditional or Patriarchal. (Gen. 12:1-3, 13:14-18, 15:1-21, 17:1-22).
- To make Abraham a great nation, multiply his seed, and make him the father of many nations
- To bless Abraham and make him great
- To make Abraham a blessing to all the families of the earth
- To bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him
- To give Abraham and his seed all the land he could see, with specified, definite boundaries
- To give a sign of covenant (circumcision)
(The Abrahamic covenant is the foundation for all 4 Covenants)
Heb. 6:13-16 “When God made His promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for Him to swear by, He swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said.”
(Since Replacement and Covenant Theology teach that the promises God made to Israel are now made to the Church, it is implied that God’s promise to Abraham is no longer in effect.
The only Person who could rescind God’s promises is God Himself. And the Apostle Paul reaffirmed that the Covenants are to the Jew first.)
Rom. 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
Rom. 9:3-5: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.”
2 -The Land, or Palestinian, Covenant:
An unconditional promise to Abraham and his descendants after him, eternal possession of the land (Genesis 15:18, 17:7-8; Deut. 30:1-10).
God commanded the Israelites to let the land rest every 7th year even promising a triple harvest on the 6th year. Israel disobeyed:
- Israel will serve its enemy 70 years (Isaiah 39:6; Jer. 25:11; Dan. 1:1)
- Israel taken captive by the king of Babylon 586 BC
- Israel will be restored to the land (Isaiah 11:11; Ezek. 29:14)
Israel is warned again of worshiping false gods:
- Israel will be dispersed among the nations (Isaiah 39:6; Jer. 25:11)
- Israelites scattered (Diaspora)/Temple destroyed 70 AD
- Israel will be re-gathered from the dispersion to the land that their fathers possessed (Isaiah 66:7-8; Ezek. 11:17, 37:11-14)
- Israel will never again be uprooted (Amos 9:15)
God’s Promise Restored: Israel is reborn May 14, 1948
- To restore them spiritually to love the Lord (Deut. 30:3)
- To prosper them above their fathers (Deut. 30:5)
- To put all their curses upon their enemies (Deut. 30:7)
- To acknowledge God from that day forward (Ezek. 19:22)
3 – The Davidic Covenant: God reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant with David adding that the blessings (Messiah) would be attached to his lineage (2 Sam. 7:1-16, 23:1-5; Ps. 89:34-37).
- To make David’s name great
- To provide a permanent, undisturbed home for Israel
- To establish an eternal kingdom for David and his lineage
(This covenant will be fulfilled by the millennial reign of Christ on earth)
Ps. 132:11 God made a promise to David that, “Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.”
Lk. 1:30-34 God gives the promise to Mary that “The Lord will give Him the throne of His father David forever.”
Matt. 6:9-13 In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught us “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven,” promising us His 1000-year reign on earth.
4- The NEW Covenant: Unconditional, it replaced the conditional Mosaic Covenant which promised that God would make Israel His special possession and make them a holy people. The people failed to obey God and the New Covenant provided spiritual restoration
- To put the law in their hearts and minds
- To be their God and make them His people
- To establish an eternal Kingdom with God and His people
(This is the covenant from which the name New Testament is derived)