Throughout all of history we see God constantly interacting with mankind. Some of the most important ways He has done this has been through covenants that he has made with people. They were important because they had major short- and long-term implications for mankind, as well as revealing both God’s character and plan. They provided instructions as to how we can relate to God and also how we could enjoy his presence. All of the covenants are initiated by God’s grace and to some degree maintained by his grace. Each of them also has a different degree to which humans were required to keep their end of the bargain in order for the stipulations of the covenant to be met. Ones that are highly dependent on man’s obedience have been called “conditional covenants” while others that rest fully on God’s sovereignty and will have been deemed “unconditional covenants.” The following is a very brief summary of the covenants that were made before Jesus was born:
The Adamic (or sometimes called Edenic) Covenant: God promises an eternal life in a place of paradise under the condition that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good evil is not to be eaten.
The Noahic Covenant: God promises to all mankind and all creatures of the earth to never again destroy the earth by flood.
The Abrahamic Covenant: God promises to bless Abraham with a large number of descendants, land for his offspring to live in, and that all nations would be blessed by him. Abraham was called to respond by leaving his native land and travelling to the area of land we know today as Israel.
The Mosaic Covenant: God promises a whole slew of things to the Israelites, such as keeping their land, abundance of food, peace from other nations, health, and general welfare, if they maintain their allegiance to him and do not begin to worship other gods. In this covenant we also see God revealing various attributes, the importance of God’s presence amongst humanity, and God establishing ways for man to continue in relationship with him.
The Davidic Covenant: About 1,000 b.C., king David wanted to build a suitable house for God to live in, a temple. However, in the Davidic Covenant, we see that God has something else in mind, he wanted to establish an ever-lasting “house” for David, promising him that from his bloodline would come a King whose rule would never end.
Now part of why Jesus came to earth was to establish a New Covenant, which is freely open to any living person. I mentioned before that all of the covenants between God and mankind were initiated by his grace. So, in essence, all of the covenants “show off” God’s grace. However, in the New Covenant established by Jesus, we see the “crown jewel” of God’s grace on full display, “grace upon grace” as it has been said. In Jesus’ last supper with the disciples he referred to this New Covenant: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). And in Hebrews 8 we see that the New Covenant established by Jesus is superior to those that were previously established.
So, we know that Jesus came to establish a New Covenant, that it is far superior than other covenants and supreme in grace, but what exactly is it?
In a nutshell it is this: that all men and women may have a right relationship with God and experience the blessedness of having his presence in their life on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Humans are required to do exactly zero effort in order to come into the New Covenant . . . no rules required, no dress code to enter into God’s party. Simply by trusting in Christ, (and God even grants us our faith) we enter into this New Covenant with him.
Questions to consider:
Does everyone experience the full blessings of the New Covenant?
How does one know if they have entered into this New Covenant between themselves and God?
Why is the New Covenant superior than the others?
Why did God not just bypass all of the others covenants and just start with the New Covenant?
For further reading: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/a-little-introduction-to-covenants https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/adamic-covenant/ https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/whats-new-about-the-new-covenant https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/26.cfm (The above reflect both the Covenantal and Dispensational view of the covenants)