3 • The Covenants of God
God knew that mankind would fall into sin (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8) and knew that people would not be able to live without His protection, provision and goodwill. Therefore, God made agreements (covenants or contracts) with several people throughout history—and especially with one nation in particular. The first covenant of grace God made with man was with Adam and Eve just after they had sinned. God promised that out of Adam’s descendents Someone would come to bruise (destroy) the head of the serpent (the devil) and God killed an animal (or animals) to make coats of skin for them to cover their nakedness and shame (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 3:21).
The second covenant of grace that God made with mankind was the covenant with Noah. Adam and Eve had produced children, and successive generations had populated the earth. Years after the fall, mankind became so wicked that God decided to destroy the world with a global flood (Genesis 6:5-7) ‘God saw that every imagination and thought of mankind’s heart was only evil continually.’ Noah found grace in God’s sight (Genesis 6:8) and God told Noah to build an Ark and then, just before the flood, God ordered Noah and his family into the Ark along with at least a pair of each of the animals. In this way God planned to repopulate the world after the flood (Genesis 6-8). After the flood and the destruction of all living things on earth, God then made a covenant with Noah and all living things. He said He would never destroy the world with water again (Genesis 8:21; Genesis 9:11). The covenant was instituted with the sacrifices of animals. God said: ‘I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth’ (Genesis 9:13).
God made His next covenant with Abraham. God chose Abraham and commanded him and his family to leave their country—in the region of the Middle East—about 4000 years ago. God told Abraham that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). God told Abraham that He would give him the Promised Land (in the vicinity of present-day Israel) as a lasting possession (Genesis 15:18). And so, God chose His special people (who eventually became the Israelites and Jews), and made agreements with them and gave them promises over the course of the next 2000 years. God told these people, the Jews, to serve Him as the true God for Him to bless them, which He did. Along with all these covenants, God always required the death of animals (Leviticus 3, 4). The blood that was shed was necessary for the institution of the agreements (covenants). The death of the animals made forgiveness of the Israelites’ sins possible (Hebrews 9:22 says without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins).
These sacrifices, as we will later see, were only types and shadows of the real sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world. Other important covenants which God made were with Moses on Mount Sinai about 3600 years ago (which we will discuss in chapter 4), and also with David (Psalm 89:3, 4) and Solomon, who were kings of the nation of Israel. The covenants God made with the human race and with the people of Israel had two sides. God committed Himself to His people and put His Name on them, but they had to keep the agreements and contracts (covenants) by obeying Him and living as His holy people. The covenant blessings of God could be cancelled by disobedience and rebellion by His people that would result in curses (Deuteronomy 27-28) although God’s Covenant of redemption (His purpose for Creation and Mankind) would come to completion regardless of man’s disobedience (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8; 1 Peter 1:20; Psalm 89:34-37).
Reality to consider: God didn’t leave the world to rot and decay, but He chose the nation of Israel and the Jews, of whom Abraham was the father, to reveal His nature, covenants and care, with the purpose of eventually blessing all the nations of the world.
Read: 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; Genesis 3:15; Genesis 3:21; Genesis 6:5-7; Genesis 6-8; Genesis 8:21; Genesis 9:11; Genesis 9:13; Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:18; Hebrews 9:22; Leviticus 4, 5; Psalm 89:3, 4; Deuteronomy 27, 28; Psalm 89:34-37.