As a youngster, I recall my best friend and I pricking our thumbs until a small spot of blood appeared. We then put our thumbs together and pushed hard until the spots of blood were mixed making us officially “blood sisters.” We were now free to share our deepest secrets because we had made a promise to be trustworthy, loyal confidants and the closest of friends. We made a blood covenant that could not be broken.
The Lord is a covenant-keeping God who desires to have an intimate relationship with His people. The Hebrew word B’rit means covenant, pact or treaty. In the Old Testament, covenants were often made by sacrificing animals. When sincere parties “cut a covenant” it demonstrated that they were involved in an agreement. Consider the expression “cut a deal.” The word B’rit implies the shedding of blood in the process of confirming an agreement.
Following are seven covenants that God has made with mankind down through the ages. The Bible reveals that God made six covenants with man and will make His last covenant when Jesus returns. These covenants are known as the “Everlasting Covenants” because they continue to this day. While each covenant is made with different persons and at different times, they all have something in comon. God refers to them individually and collectively as an “Everlasting Covenant.
1. Adam (the Adamic Covenant) Symbol: Earth
Adam and Eve were the very first man and woman created by God. Everything in the Garden of Eden was fine until they disobeyed God. When they were told to leave the Garden of Eden, God made a new agreement with them. That agreement is called the Adamic Covenant and it is still in existence today. The Adamic Covenant is symbolized by the “earth.” Man was created from the dust and when he dies, he returns to the dust. God “cut” skin from an animal and made garments for Adam and Eve. God covered them. He made a covenant.
In Genesis 3:15-21, 23, the Adamic covenant is described. To this day, the snake crawls on its belly, enmity still exists between Satan and God and women bear children in painful labor. Men labor to work the land in order to put food on the table and feed their families. Those who garden or farm are aware that every field, every garden produces weeds. It takes a lot of work to grow crops and plants while keeping away the weeds. The earth was created for mankind and now it is where mankind labors to live. Yet, God remains faithful to mankind. Day after day, month after month and year after year, this world sustains us. The sun continues to rise every morning and the moon and stars come out at night.
The Psalmist explained the covenant God made with Adam (man) in this way:
“He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever,” (Psalm 111:5).
2. The Noahic Covenant Symbol: Rainbow
It appears that the faithfulness of God was not enough. God saw how wickedness increased throughout the human race on earth. Scripture says that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. It was so bad that God regretted that He had made human beings on the earth and His heart was deeply troubled. (Genesis 6: 5-6) God decided to wipe the human race from the face of the earth by means of a flood. But one man found favor in the eyes of the Lord, Noah. Noah obeyed God and built the ark according to God’s instructions. When the flood ceased, Noah and his family came out of the ark. He built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings on it. This pleased the Lord. He told Noah, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth,” (Genesis 9: 12-16). To this day, rainbows appear in the sky after it rains, and they mean exactly the same thing today as they meant to Noah in his day.
3. Abrahamic Covenant Symbol: The Stars
Ten generations after Noah and the flood, God developed a “friendship” with mankind through a man who at that time was called Abram. The Abrahamic Covenant is made up of three parts. The first part of the covenant is symbolic of a “Father” and a “blessing.” God came to Abraham in a vision and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
The second part of the covenant defined the covering, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be,” (Genesis 15:5). God instructed Abram to “cut” the agreement by preparing five sacrifices. This is what God prophesied about Abram’s descendants. “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. (Genesis 15: 13-14). As promised, God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and they were no longer in bondage.
The third part of the Abrahamic Covenant is when Abram became Abraham. Yet this covenant was not just with Abraham. Just as God had three parts to the covenant, he used three generations of fathers and sons to establish the covenant. God said to Abraham, “This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you,” (Genesis 17: 10-11). Circumcision was the making of the Abrahamic Covenant, an everlasting covenant made by God to a thousand generations. It is Abraham’s faith in God’s promises that defines the Christian faith today. The covenant, however, was actually made with three generations of fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “He remembers His covenant forever, the promise He made for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,” (Psalm 105: 8-10).
4. The Mosaic Covenant Symbol: The Tablets of the Law
God promised to be Israel’s God and He delivered them (Exodus 2:24; 3: 16.17). This covenant of law revealed the holiness of God and the sin of the people. It reminded them that while the law leads to Christ, the believer is no longer under the law, but under grace.
Moses was sent up the mountain to get the statutes called the Torah. While he was gone, the people immediately forgot Moses and God. When Moses returned with the two tablets, he broke them upon seeing Israel’s sin with the golden calf. God did not break covenant, even though Israel did not keep it. God forgave them and graciously made a second set of tablets. This time Moses had to bring them up to the mountain and God once again “cut” the letters out of the stone with His finger. This is how God described the covenant He made. “He declared to you His covenant, the Ten Commandments, which He commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets,” (Deuteronomy 4:13). The sun still rises and sets and the moon still comes out at night. Israel is still in existence and so is the Sabbath. God is faithful to His Word. God has not cast off the descendants of Abraham. His Word still stands to this day. Ezekiel reminds us, “Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you,” (Ezekiel 16: 60).
5. The Davidic Covenant Symbol: Jerusalem
There came a time in Israel’s history when the people decided they wanted a king to be over them. They no longer wanted Judges overseeing the Law. God was their King, but they wanted a man king like the other nations. Samuel, the Prophet, anointed David who later became king of Israel. The covenant between God and David and his seed is centered on the establishment of an everlasting kingdom. David was a Psalmist. The Psalmist defined the covenant made with David. “If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever,” (Psalm 132: 12). The Lord answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering,” (1 Chronicles 21: 26).
The House of David became leadership over all of Israel. The Kingdom of Israel comes from the House of David. The Bible refers to King David as “the man who sought the heart of God.” David desired to build a Temple for God, but Nathan, the Prophet told David that it would be one of his sons who would actually build the House of the Lord. So David purchased a threshing floor, built an altar and gathered materials and established the city of Jerusalem. Solomon, David’s son actually built the Temple. This was a Messianic prophecy of how the Son of David (the Messiah) would build the Temple in our hearts. The Scriptures about Jerusalem are expressions of the Davidic Covenant. The Davidic Covenant begins to manifest just how the Messiah is to be King forever and rule from Jerusalem, the city of the King.
6. The New Covenant Symbol: The Passover Cup and Bread
This everlasting covenant is spoken of as “The New Covenant,” and was an agreement ratified by the shed blood of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. It is referred to as a “Better Covenant,” because it is one of grace. We now move from the covenant of the “law,” to the covenant of "grace," a spiritual covenant of God in Christ.
The covenant of grace covers all who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit of God. In Christ, the Old Testament promises have been fulfilled. The law, once written on stone, is now written on the heart. Animal sacrifices are no longer necessary. The blood shed by Jesus, God’s Son, provided a perfect redemption. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” (Matthew 26: 28). Believers now live by faith and not by works, but their faith must be an active faith. So we see all of the everlasting covenants working together and building to Jesus Christ and His work of redemption.
7. The Covenant of Peace Symbol: Messianic Age (Kingdom)
There is another covenant prophesied in the future, but it will not be replacing the New Covenant. The Covenant of Peace will not replace the covenants made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David or with Jesus. It will be added to them to make the Everlasting Covenant. “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10). It is a future event that will be brought to believers upon the return of Jesus. They will dwell with the Messiah in His Kingdom. “I will make a covenant of peace with them and rid the land of savage beasts so that they may live in the wilderness and sleep in the forests in safety. I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing,” (Exekiel 34: 25-26).