Bible Covenants

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Are the Ten Commandments the only covenant in the Old Testament or are there other covenants?

Actually, the Ten Commandments are only part of what we call the old covenant. The old covenant contains extensive laws given by God on Mount Sinai to Moses. Covenants in the Bible have two components, the covenant itself and a sign.

I will outline five covenants to give you an idea of the kinds of covenants God made with humans throughout the Bible. All five of these come from the Old Testament.

  1. Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:11-17). This is the covenant God made with Noah after the Flood. He promised to never again destroy the whole earth with a flood. The sign of this covenant is the rainbow.
  2. Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 17). God makes a covenant with Abraham that he will bless him and make him the father of a great nation. This is before Abraham and Sarah have any children even though they are old. The sign of this covenant is circumcision.
  3. Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 20:1-17). Although this is not the entirety of the covenant God made with Moses and the nation of Israel as it left Egypt in the Exodus, it is what everyone thinks of. The Israelites were required as part of the covenant to follow God’s laws. The sacrificial system was put in place as part of his grace in that covenant.
  4. Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:1-17). David wanted to build God a house, the Temple in Jerusalem. Instead God told him that he would build David a house and put one of David’s descendents on his throne forever. Jesus is the fulfillment of this covenant. He is a descendent of David who sits on the throne forever.
  5. New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God promises to pour out his Spirit on all flesh instead of only a few. He will put his laws in our hearts rather than writing them on stone. Jesus is the mediator of this new covenant and he is also the ultimate sacrifice.

These are five covenants you will find throughout Scripture. Each one of them is initiated by God, and therefore, only God can stop these covenants. This means that each one of them is still in place today.

Some of them God established with people while the others are meant for nations. There are other covenants in the Scriptures as well. Within every covenant God’s grace was the basis and the operating principle.

One great resource that I have not yet read but would like to this year on the covenants is entitled Kingdom through Covenant. It provides much more detailed information on covenants and how God uses them to interact with humanity throughout human history.

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