This topic is adapted from The Bible Project YouTube channel.
Covenants are all over the Bible. They’re about a partnership with God – and we see them from the very first book of the Bible to the very last. The content in this video is packed with information. We recommend watching it several times on your own before you meet with your group or mentor to talk about it together.
A covenant is a promise or commitment. Marriage is a classic example; it’s a covenant between one man and one woman, with a wedding ring as an outward symbol. Throughout the Bible, God makes covenants with people. In the Bible, these kinds of covenants are important because they reveal a fundamental truth: people need God. We need God to take the initiative. We need God to be kind and gracious. And that’s what he has done through the major covenants in the Bible:
The Noahic Covenant
This is the covenant God made with Noah in Genesis 9. God gave Noah favor in a time when everyone on earth was wicked. He saved Noah from the flood, and afterward promised that he would not destroy the earth again with water. The outward sign of the covenant was the rainbow. Through this covenant we can confidently “be fruitful and multiply.”
The Abrahamic Covenant
In Genesis 12, God approached Abraham and initiated a covenant with him to make a great nation through his offspring. God promised three things to Abraham: (1) children, (2) land (3) future blessing. The Bible progressively reveals the fulfillment of this covenant in both the Old and New Testaments. The outward symbol of the covenant given to Abraham was circumcision.
The Mosaic Covenant
This is the covenant God made with Moses and the Israelites in Exodus 19. God had led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt and on a journey toward the Promised Land. He gave Moses and the Israelites the Law (“torah” in Hebrew) as a guide for how they should live in order to stay out of bondage. The outward symbol of the covenant was the Passover celebration, a meal that commemorated their miraculous exit from bondage in Egypt.
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. During the reign of King David and his son Solomon, Israel grew to be a great and powerful nation. The outward symbol of this covenant was a crown and throne.
The New Covenant
The ultimate covenant between God and humanity in the Bible is called the “New Covenant.” The prophet Jeremiah spoke of it in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Jesus explained it in Matthew 26:26-29. 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. Outward symbols of this covenant include water baptism, communion, and “new hearts” of God’s people through the power of the promised Holy Spirit. For more on the New Covenant, read Hebrews 8-9.
Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.
- Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
- What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
- 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?
- 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?
- Read Exodus 19:4-6. What are the implications of Israel being a kingdom of priests and holy nation? What does it mean for Israel to be a nation of priests to other nations?
- 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?
- 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?
- Read Luke 22:20, Hebrews 7:22, and Hebrews 9:11-15. How does Jesus’s death fulfill the whole covenant story line of the Bible?
- Write a personal action step based on this conversation.