Watch the video above and talk about it with a group or mentor. Learn more.

What is a "covenant," and why does the Bible talk so much about them?

Key Points:

  • Most simply, a covenant is a promise or commitment. There are numerous major covenants in the Bible between God and people.
  • The Noahic Covenant. This is a promise God made to Noah and his familiy after the flood. God promised that he would not destroy the world again with a flood. (Genesis 9.)
  • The Abrahamic Covenant. God promised a man named Abraham – who had no children – that he would be the ancestor of a great nation of people. This nation was Israel. (Genesis 12.)
  • The Mosaic Covenant. This was an agreement between God and Israel. Israel was to obey God’s laws, and God in turn would bless and protect Israel. (Exodus 19.)
  • The Davidic Covenant. This is the covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7:8-16. The people of Israel were ready for a king, and God promised that David and his line would rule on the throne.
  • The New Covenant.  Jesus Christ himself became the mediator of this covenant when he came to the earth and fulfilled every other covenant promise through his life and death. (Hebrews 8-9.)

Quote This:

Jeremiah 31:31-34 The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord. “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

See Also: Covenant, Salvation, Theology

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. God makes some big promises but asks for nothing in return in many, but not all, covenants. Genesis 12:2-3 is an example of this. What does this tell us about God’s purposes and character?
  3. Read Genesis 15. Abraham is asleep on the ground while God performs the ceremony. What does this tell us about God’s purposes and how they will be fulfilled?
  4. Read Exodus 19:4-6. What are the implications of Israel being a kingdom of priests and a holy nation? What does it mean for Israel to be a nation of priests to other nations?
  5. Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. How does this describe the “new covenant” family of Jesus’ disciples? How does it related to Exodus 19:4-6?
  6. Read Psalm 72. This poem is all about the hope for a future king from David’s line who will fulfill the goals of the covenants with Abraham and Israel. What parts of the poem connect with previous covenants?
  7. Read Luke 22:20, Hebrews 7:22, and Hebrews 9:11-15. How does Jesus’s death fulfill the whole covenant storyline of the Bible?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

This is part of the Bible Themes and Theology 101 series.