Lesson 8. Covenant: What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

Note: this study is of particular importance to understanding many truths of the Bible and is approximately twice as long as the other studies in this series.  The reader should take the extra time necessary to prayerfully consider its content and the many references in their entirety.

What is a covenant?  See Genesis 31:43-55.  Note: a covenant is a solemn agreement of binding force that joins together two parties in a united relationship; the covenant with which westerners are most familiar is that of marriage.  Notice the following elements that make up a covenant:

What were the terms of the covenant that Jacob made with Laban?  See Genesis 31:50,52.

What are the terms of a marriage covenant?

What were the terms of the Mosaic covenant God made with the Jews at Mount Sinai?  See Exodus 19:5-6, 20:1-17.

What are the terms of the new covenant?  See Hebrews 8:8-13.

What was the sign of the covenant that Jacob made with Laban?  See Genesis 31:45,48,51-52.

What is the sign of a marriage covenant?

What was the sign of God’s covenant with Noah?  See Genesis 9:12-13.

What was the sign of the covenant God made with Abraham?  See Genesis 17:11.

What was the sign of the Mosaic covenant?  See Exodus 31:13-17.

What is the sign of the new covenant?  See Colossians 2:11-12.

What was the purpose and binding nature of the oaths that were sworn in making a covenant?  See Hebrews 6:16, Genesis 31:53, 26:26-31, Joshua 9:3-21, 10:1-10, 2 Samuel 21:1-6, Hosea 10:4.

What oaths were made in regard to the Mosaic covenant?  See Exodus 19:8, 24:3, Deuteronomy 26:16-19, 29:1,9-15.

What oaths/vows/promises are made in a marriage covenant?

What agreement does a person make in entering into the new covenant?  See 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, Ephesians 5:22-27.

For what reason is the nature of the oaths that are typically sworn by men incompatible with the requirements of the higher law we are called to in Christ?  See Matthew 5:33-37, James 5:12, and think: should the word of a Christian be more or less binding depending upon who or what he swears by, or even if he swears at all?

What was the significance of the sacrifice that was offered to make the covenant binding?  See Genesis 31:54, Jeremiah 34:18-19, Genesis 15:7-10,17-18, Hebrews 9:16-17, and NASB text note on Heb 9:17.  Note: the language used in the Bible to “make” a covenant is literally to “cut” a covenant, referring to the sacrifice that was divided asunder for each party to pass through the parts; this ceremony made the covenant binding by representing the death of each party.

In a marriage covenant, in what sense must the individual man and woman die to enter into covenant with one another?  See Philippians 2:3.

Was the Mosaic covenant put into effect by a sacrifice?  See Hebrews 9:18-20.

Was the new covenant put into effect by a sacrifice?  What was that sacrifice?  See Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25.

What was the significance of the covenant meal that was eaten together as part of the covenant ceremony?  See Genesis 31:54, 26:30.

What is the covenant meal called in the marriage ceremony?  What is the significance of the part of the ceremony when the bride and groom eat each other’s cake and drink each other’s wine?  See John 6:53.

What meal was eaten when the Mosaic covenant was established?  See Exodus 24:1-11.

What meal was eaten when the new covenant was established?  See Matthew 26:26-28.

What covenant meal will be eaten when Jesus returns?  See Matthew 25:1-10, Rev 19:7-9.

What blessings for obedience to the Mosaic covenant were promised?  See Deuteronomy 7:9-15, 28:1-14, Psalm 25:8-14, 103:17-18.  (See also Leviticus 26:3-13.)

Did such blessings prove true?  See Joshua 23:14, 1 Kings 8:56.

What blessings for obedience to the new covenant are promised?  See 2 Corinthians 1:20, Hebrews 8:6, 6:7, 1 John 2:25.

What curses for disobedience to the Mosaic covenant were promised?  See Deuteronomy 28:15-68.  (See also Leviticus 26:14-39.)

Did such curses prove true?  See 2 Kings 17:1-18, 18:11-12, Isaiah 24:5-6.  (See also Jeremiah 11:1-15.)

What curses for disobedience to the new covenant are promised?  See 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Hebrews 6:8, 10:26-31.

What indications did God give before Jesus came that He would establish a new covenant with His people?  See Isaiah 42:6-7, 49:5-11,14-16, Ezekiel 16:59-60, Hosea 2:18-20.

How did God say the new covenant (testament) would differ from the old covenant (testament)?  See Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 37:24-28, John 1:14, 14:23, Hebrews 9:6-8.

Why was it necessary that there be a new covenant?  See Hebrews 8:7.

Why was the old covenant inadequate?  See Hebrews 7:11-12,18-19, 9:8-10, 10:1-4.  Since the old covenant was inadequate, why was it given?  I.e., what was the purpose of the terms of the first covenant contained in the law?  See Galatians 3:19-25, Romans 7:7.

How is the new covenant superior to the old?  See 2 Corinthians 3:6-11, Galatians 4:21-31, Hebrews 8:6-13, 9:11-14, 10:8-18.

Scriptures to Memorize: “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD.  “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

“Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers.  And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you.  You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle.  And the LORD will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you.” (Deuteronomy 7:12-15).

“[Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6).

Assignment:  Read the book of Hebrews.  Study the following covenants found in Scripture:

God with Noah (Genesis 6:18, 9:1-17).

God with Abraham: (Genesis 15:1-18, 17:1-21).

Abraham with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-32).

Isaac with Abimelech (Genesis 26:26-21).

Jacob with Laban (Genesis 31:44-54).

The covenant at Sinai (Exodus 19:1-24:11, esp. 24:1-11, 34:1-28, see Deuteronomy 4:13, 5:2ff, 9:9-21, 27:1-29:29).

Israelites with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:1-10:11, 2 Sam 21:1-6).

David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4, 19:1, 20:1-42, 22:8, 23:16-18, 2 Samuel 1:26).

David with Abner and the northern tribes (2 Samuel 3:12-13,21, 5:3).

Miscellaneous covenants of leaders with the people to serve God: Asa (2 Chronicles 15:1-15), Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 23:1-3,16-17), Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 29:10), Josiah (2 Kings 23:1-3, 2 Chronicles 34:30-33), Ezra (Ezra 10:1-17).

Zedekiah with the people to release their servants in accordance with the law (Jeremiah 34:8-22).

Zedekiah with the King of Babylon to submit to him (Ezekiel 17:11-21).

Antichrist with the people of God (Daniel 9:27, cf. 11:28-33).

Covenant of marriage (Malachi 2:14-16).


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The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God

  • What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
  • From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
  • Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
  • What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
  • Does blood alone atone for sin?
  • How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
  • To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
  • Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
  • What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?


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