From age to age God has dealt with his creation in the same manner. He has framed his interaction and conveyed his wishes through the vehicle of a covenant. The beauty of God's interaction can be seen in the uniform simplicity of the format of His message. This concept of a covenant is so integral to the Bible that the two major divisions are named the Old and New Testaments. Testament is the Latin word for covenant. Simply put God has communicated his will in covenants. When you study the covenant relationship you are really studying the method of interaction that God has chosen to use in his dealings with his creation. And this should reveal exactly what God wants from everyone of us. If you understand the covenant you understand the framework for a God fearing, God following life. God knows his creation (Hebrews 4:13), and he knows the best way to express his wishes. God has not presented his will in a manner that is cryptic or overly complicated. God wants his creation to be able to understand his will. "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:17) The covenant relationship is one of the most common relationships found among men. Black's Law Dictionary defines a covenant as, "In the broadest usage, [...] any contract." All covenants come with a few common parts.
1. All covenants include a statement describing the object of the covenant.
2. All covenants include terms and conditions for obtaining the object in question.
3. All covenants contain a sign, seal, or symbol of the covenant as a reminder or a token of authenticity.
When considering a covenant in these terms you can find covenants everywhere in life, from marriage to buying a home. Our sacred covenant with God in it's most elementary form is quite simple. God has promised us all salvation. "in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began." (Titus 1:2) To obtain that salvation we must meet certain terms and conditions. Finally God has given us a seal so that we know He is not "slack concerning His promises." (II Peter 3:9) This simple relationship can be found throughout the bible.
God made a covenant with Noah. This covenant came with a promise that Noah and his family would be saved from the flood. Genesis 6:17 – 18 “For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.” This covenant also came with certain commands. God commanded Noah to: Build an Ark (Genesis 6:14-16), and Gather all of the animals into the Ark (Genesis 6:19-20). "Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him." (Genesis 6:22) Do you think that Noah and his family would have been saved from a flood that covered the entire earth if Noah had not built the Ark?
God made a covenant with Abram. The full scope of this covenant was revealed in stages. Abram was living in the land of his fathers when the Lord revealed himself, and made a covenant with Abram. In Genesis 12:1-4 the Lord gives Abram both the first command of the covenant and the promises of the covenant. Initially God commands Abram simply to leave the land of his fathers and journey "to a land I will show you." (Genesis 12:1) If Abram did this God promised several things to Abram. God promised to make Abram's name great, to make Abram a great nation, to protect Abram from others, and finally that Christ would come through the lineage of Abram. (Genesis 12:2-3, Galatians 3:7-9) In Genesis 15:18-21 God promised Abram the land of Canaan. Finally in Genesis 17:1-11 God gave the last portion of his covenant with Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations. (Genesis 17:4-6) God reaffirmed his earlier promise of the land of Canaan, and extended the covenant to Abraham's descendants. In verses 9-11 God gave circumcision as the sign of the covenant. Again God's covenant came with promises, commands, and a sign. If you want the promises of God, you must abide by the terms and conditions of the covenant.
God made a covenant with the Children of Israel. "You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:4-6) This covenant was filled with promises. He reaffirms his promise to Abraham, to give the land of Canaan to the children of Israel in Exodus 6:7-8. Furthermore, in Deuteronomy 28:1-4 God describes all of the wonderful blessings He would heap upon his people if they obeyed his commands. God enumerated His commands for the people in the Law. "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write these words, for according to the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments." (Exodus 34:27-28) Finally God reiterates the sign of the covenant, as circumcision. (Leviticus 12:3)
God has made a covenant with us! This covenant is far superior to any covenant previously given. (Hebrews 8:6) Truly we have much to be thankful for, our covenant was sanctified by the Son of God. "Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." (Hebrews 7:22) "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:15) "For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28) "THIS IS MY COVENANT WITH THEM, WHEN I TAKE AWAY THEIR SINS." (Romans 11:27) Upon what promises is this new covenant based? It is founded upon redemption from sins: "For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (Romans 5:6-9) This covenant promises eternal life in glory. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) God promises that if we abide by the terms of this covenant we will be called sons of God. "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3:29) Like all of the other covenants God gave to man, this covenant comes with commands.
1. We must follow his commands. - John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (Other references: John 14:21, I John 2:3-5)
2. We must believe. - John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (Other references: Mark 16:16, John 3:14-15)
3. We must repent. Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Other references: Acts 17:30, II Corinthians 7:10)
4. We must confess. Matt 10:32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Other references: Romans 10:9-10, I John 4:2)
5. We must be baptized. - I Peter 3:21-22 "There is also an antitype which now saves us--baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him." (Other references: Mark 16:16, Acts 18:8)
6. We must have faith. - Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Other references: Acts 15:9, Acts 26:18)
7. We must imitate God. - Ephesians 5:1 “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” (Other references: I Corinthians 11:1, III John 1:11)
8. We must live pure lives. - I John 3:3 “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (Other references: Philippians 4:8, Matthew 5:8)
9. We must be blameless. - Philippians 2:15 “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” (Other references: I Corinthians 1:8, I Thessalonians 5:23)
10. We must Love God and our Love Neighbor. – Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Other references: I John 4:12, I John 4:7)
11. We must know His will. – Ephesians 5:17 “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Other references: Philippians 2:12, I Peter 2:2)
Finally like all of the other covenants God has given us the Holy Spirit as a seal of the covenant. II Corinthians 1:21-22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” Ephesians 1:13-14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
When considered in this light the simplicity of the will of God is quite evident. God has promised all mankind eternal life. If you want to obtain the promises of God, you must abide by the terms and conditions outlined in the covenant. Simple. All you need to ask is; am I keeping the covenant, or have I broken the covenant? If you are keeping the covenant God promises you eternal life. On the other hand if you have broken the covenant, God promises eternal destruction.
He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14