Bringing the Old Testament to Life: Progressive Covenants
Ps. 25:14 “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him and He will show Him His covenant.”
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High… Psalm 91:1.
Covenant is a huge subject. It is also an ancient subject – it shows up everywhere in almost every civilization that ever existed. The word covenant defines an ongoing relationship with no appointed end. It is unconditional, everlasting and cannot be broken. A covenant is a commitment to develop a certain kind of continuing relationship. It implies a dynamic interaction between partners and it’s a growing process. Because a covenant has no end it is absolutely incorrect to refer to the “new covenant” as something that replaced the old. You can adapt an existing covenant by adding additional conditions, but you cannot terminate it and replace it with a different or a “new” one.
The Hebrew word for what we call the New Testament is B’rit Hadashah. B’rit means covenant, which has several meanings… “to eat together”, “to cleanse or make pure” and “a son of the sign.” When God called Abraham into deeper relationship, He asked Him to circumcise himself as a ‘sign’ of the covenant relationship between them (Gen 17:11). Circumcision was also an outward sign of the holiness that God imputed to Abraham at that time. So, Abraham and his descendants became “sons of the sign” – the sign of the Covenant.
The Hebrew word hadashah means “renewed” or “a cycle of restoration”, or to “return to a previous state.” The same word is used in reference to the lunar cycle, meaning that we don’t get a new moon every month – the old one gets restored to a previous condition.
A better title for what we call the New Testament is “The Renewed Covenant” or “renewed relationship” - not New Covenant. From God’s perspective, there is no such thing as what we call “Old Testament” and “New Testament”. He created scripture to define His plan of redemption as an on-going covenant. It is a single unified plan, not two testaments. The unveiling of God’s plan begins with Genesis and ends with Revelation.
The Bible is the unfolding revelation of God’s counsel, God’s pleasure and God’s will. Before He ever said, “Let there be…”, He had a plan. It was all in His heart from eternity past. Unfortunately, the terms Old and New Testament are actually distractions from that plan and have created misunderstandings that have caused confusion, division, in-correct doctrines such as ‘Replacement Theology’ and many other false ideas.
Since the terms of a covenant are never to become null and void, each “renewed” covenant includes everything that came before. The “new” Covenant does not invalidate what preceded it. It includes and expands it.
When a covenant is renewed it may contain additional provisions, or expand provisions of the previous covenant but the original covenant remains in force.
The Bible is a book about covenant. God’s plan of redemption was in His heart from eternity past. That is why it is called the “Everlasting Covenant”. It was part of His divine will.
Is. 46:9-10 “Earnestly remember the former things, which I did of old; for I am God, and there is no one else; I am God, there is none like Me, Declaring the end and the result from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure and purpose…”
Is. 55:3 “Incline your ear (submit and consent to the divine will) and come to Me, hear, and your soul will revive; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercy promised to David.”
Ez. 37:26 “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them…”
Eph. 1:11 “In Him we also were made God’s heritage and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose. Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His own will.”
Romans 8:28-29; Rev. 4:11
The course that God chose to carry out His decree or His divine will is called The Covenant.
In Ex. 23:31 – 24:8, God referred to the first 5 books of the Bible as the “Book of the Covenant”. (Ex. 24:7) They are also referred to as Torah.
It was not a surprise to God that man would sin. As part of His eternal plan, He made an agreement with Himself to redeem mankind from sin and restore His life to us. While we normally speak of God making agreements with us, He really made this agreement with Himself. We’ll talk more about that later.
In the Torah, God enumerates seven progressive and inclusive covenants. In these covenants is the pattern for the restoration of mankind. There are four fundamental covenant types.
The first type of covenant was the Blood Covenant. Ps. 50:5 tells us that God’s covenant is based on blood sacrifice.
“Gather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”
The first picture of covenant was in the Garden of Eden. To illustrate our point we will look at Adam and Eve as being in a marriage covenant with God. When Adam and Eve sinned, they handed God a divorce decree. In response, in order to restore His covenant with them, God killed an animal, made tunics from the skin, and clothed them because they sinned and the judgment for sin is death. God did not require death, sin required death. “The wages of sin is death…” They tried to cover their sin with fig leaves – a picture of “self-righteousness” and “religion” – doing things man’s way.
In God’s mercy and loving-kindness, He provided a substitutionary sacrifice. That animal skin served as their “garment of salvation”. This act, in the earliest pages of the Bible, was a foreshadowing of Messiah when He would come to take away the sins of the world and reconcile us to our Bridegroom.
The next time we see the Blood covenant is after the flood. Noah made a blood sacrifice after the flood waters receded.
“Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the Lord said in His heart, I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” (Gen. 8:20-21)
God gave instructions to Noah for governing the earth. Noah was to multiply his seed on the earth. He was given the right to eat meat, but without blood. Animals would now fear man. God established capital punishment as a means of sanctifying life. And He put the rainbow in the sky as a sign of His promise to never again destroy the world by flood. All of this was part of God’s unconditional covenant to bless mankind.
Side note: Noah was the reigning Melchizedek in his day and was to govern the earth. He had the birthright and the blessing empowering him to act as representative of the kingdom on the earth.
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6-7
The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open. Isaiah 22:22
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” Revelation 3:7
Abraham was the central figure through whom God established and perpetuated his covenant. Gen. 15 recounts the cutting of the Covenant with Abraham. Abraham went into a deep sleep while a “smoking oven and a flaming torch” passed through the pieces of the animal chosen for the sacrifice. God was cutting covenant with Himself on behalf of Abraham. By doing so he was allowing Abraham to enter into the covenant by faith in the Promised Seed.
“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gen. 12:1-3)
We cannot understand the Bible nor God’s plan for Israel and the nations without understanding the Abrahamic Covenant. It is the most important picture on earth of God’s everlasting heavenly covenant.
There are three covenant promises in this scripture:
The land promise. God would give them a land of their own. (Israel Covenant – Deut. 30:1-10).
The nation promise. God would give Abraham descendants and make them a great nation. (Davidic Covenant – II Sam. 7:12-16).
The blessing promise. God would bless them (and the world) with Redemption by the “renewed covenant” made by Messiah. (New or Renewed Covenant - Jer. 31:31-34).
While the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, the blessings or benefits of the Covenant are based on obedience. Abraham’s descendants migrated to Egypt and eventually became slaves. But God would redeem them through a mighty deliverance after the Hebrews killed the Passover Lamb (Ex. 12). This is a picture of the greater deliverance He would provide through The Passover Lamb, Messiah.
When God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt He gave them the Torah (instructions for obedience) at Mt. Sinai. This is called the Mosaic Covenant. After Moses received the Instructions called The Book of the Law, he made a sacrifice and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice on the Book of the Law and towards the people. (Ex. 24:4-8, Heb. 9:19-22).
After Israel became a strong nation and David became king, God promised him that he would continue the covenant through him and that his descendants would rule forever over Israel. This is known as the Davidic Covenant.
“And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever. Your throne shall be established forever.” (II Sam. 7:16)
Finally, there is the New or Renewed Covenant which Jesus fulfilled by the shedding of His Blood.
“But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD’, for they shall all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them, says the LORD, for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer.31:32-24)
The seven progressive covenants:
The Blood – Adam & Eve side note: God created animals with blood because He knew Adam would fall and only innocent blood could atone for their sin
The Noahic Covenant
The Abrahamic Covenant
The Mosaic Covenant
Renewed Covenant by Yeshua’s own blood
Yeshua declared that the Hebrew Scriptures were all about Him. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (John 5:39)
Jesus said, you trust Moses…Moses wrote all about Me. (John5:45-46)
As He ate the Passover Meal with His disciples He declared His coming crucifixion to be the reality of the blood of the everlasting covenant.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ Then He took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which I shed for many for the remission of sins.’” Matt. 26:26-28.
Read also, Acts 10:43; 17:1-3; 18:28; 26:21-23; 28:23. These scriptures all point to Jesus fulfilling the Hebrew Scriptures.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to two of His followers on the road to Emmaus. After walking with them for a way He said,
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer all these things before entering His glory? Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He went on explaining and interpreting to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning and referring to Himself.” Luke 24:25-27)
Jesus in every book in the Bible
Tanakh B’rit Hadashah
Genesis – The Seed of Woman Matthew – The King of the Jews
Exodus – The Passover Lamb Mark – The Servant
Leviticus – The Perfect Sacrifice Luke – The Son of Man
Numbers – The Lifted-Up One John – The Son of God
Deuteronomy – The Prophet Greater than Moses Acts – The Giver of the Holy Spirit
Joshua – The Captain of our Salvation Romans – The Justifier of Sinners
Judges – The Deliverer Corinthians – The Giver of Gifts
Ruth – The Near Kinsman Galatians – Liberator of our Soul
Samuel – The Judge Ephesians – The Exalted One
Kings and Chronicles – The King Philippians – Our Joy
Ezra – The Faithful Scribe Colossians – Head of all Things
Nehemiah – The Restorer of our Soul Philemon – Our Covenant Friend
Esther – The Advocate Hebrews – Messenger of the New
Job – The Ever-Living Redeemer Covenant
Psalms – The New Song James – The Great Physician
Proverbs – The Wisdom of God Peter – The Cornerstone
Ecclesiastes – The Goal of Life John – Love and Light
Song of Solomon – The Lover of Our Soul Jude – The One who is able to
Isaiah – The Suffering Servant Keep Us and Present Us
Jeremiah – The Righteous Branch of David Revelation – The Coming King of
Lamentation – The Weeping Prophet Kings and Lord of Lords
Ezekiel – The Glory of God
Daniel – The Smiting Stone
Hosea – The Forgiving Bridegroom
Joel – The Giver of the Holy Spirit
Amos – The Builder of the City of God
Obadiah – The Savior
Jonah – The First-born from the Dead
Micah – The Ruler of All Ages
Nahum – The Avenger
Habakkuk – The God of Our Salvation
Zephaniah – The One in our Midst
Haggai – The Restorer of the Kingdom
Zechariah – The Priest on the Throne
Malachi – The Sun of Righteousness with Healing in His Wings
Excerpted from JR 101 - The Covenants and Hebrew Rituals, Dr. Richard Booker
The Nine Steps of the Hebrew Ritual
1. Exchange coats or robes “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David…” 2. Exchange Belts “…with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” (I Sam. 18:2-4) 3. Cutting the Covenant “And the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not kept the terms of the covenant or solemn pledge which they had made before Me, I will make them (like) the (sacrificial calf which they cut in two and then passed between its separated parts (solemnizing their pledge to Me) – I will make those men the calf” (Jer. 34:18) 4. Cut our Palms “The LORD has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength…” (Isa. 62:8) 5. Exchange Names “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.” (Gen. 17:5,15) 6. Make a Scar “See I have inscribed (carved) you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (Is. 49:16) 7. Terms of the Covenant “So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.” (Gen. 21:27) 8. The Memorial Meal “So come now, let us make a covenant or league, you and I, and let it be for a witness between you and me….Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and called his brethren to eat food; and they ate food and lingered all night on the mountain.” (Gen. 31:44,54) 9. Plant the Covenant Tree “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” (Gen. 21:33)
Covenant friends – Once the ceremony is complete, the two parties are known as friends. They are covenant friends and their unborn children are included in the covenant because they are in the seed of the persons making the covenant. Later, when children are born and come to an age of understanding, they can choose to accept or reject the covenant for themselves.
II Sam. 9:1-13 King David and Jonathan’s son.
Before God ever created the universe, He planned to make a blood covenant for us so that we might be one with Him. He entered into time and space through Yeshua HaMashiach. He exchanged names with us and became the Son of Man. He lived a perfect life so He was able to cut a perfect covenant with the Father on our behalf.
When the time came for him to cut the covenant He gathered His disciples together for a covenant meal. Yeshua took the bread and the wine and explained that they represented His own life which was to be offered in our place as the covenant sacrifice for our sins (Matt. 26:26-28) He further explained that through His sacrifice, we could have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life through union with Him.
Afterward, He stained The Memorial Tree with His own blood. That blood-stained tree was the cross.
This is when the exchange of natures took place. Jesus took our coat of unrighteousness on Himself. He return He gave us the Robe of Righteousness. Through Him, we can have right standing with God.
Because He never sinned, the grave could not hold him. Three days later He was resurrected and ascended back to heaven where He sits on the Throne of God with all authority and power over sin, Satan and death. (Eph.1:20-23, Phil. 2:9-11).
When we accept this wonderful covenant for ourselves the Holy Spirit will come and apply the blood covenant exchange and the benefits to our lives personally as we partake of the divine nature of God. (John 3:1-7, 6:53-58).
The Holy Spirit is symbolically the heavenly scar or seal on our heart. We are joined to Yeshua in a spiritual union. The Holy Spirit fights our battles for us and gives us victory over sin, Satan and death itself. Greater is He who is in us that he who is in the world. (I John 4:4)
The covenant is at the heart of our walk with God. He gives the real meaning and purpose to our lives. Our sins are forgiven, we have authority over sin and strongholds which could destroy us. And finally, He will resurrect us from the dead so we may live with Him forever!!!
Today, we remember and renew our covenant through communion because in Hebrew thought wine is the “blood of the grape.” Through the wine, we are constantly renewing the blood covenant that God initiated with Adam and renewed with the death and resurrection of Yeshua. Paul said, “I die daily” – he was referring to putting his flesh to death daily to serve the Lord.
The type of relationship that the Blood Covenant typifies is “servanthood”. Noah is an obvious example of the faithful servant who did what God required. When we enter into a servant relationship with God, through the Blood Covenant, God is asking us to serve and obey Him.
There are three other types of covenants that we will explore. The second type of covenant is called the salt covenant. The Salt Covenant was known as the covenant of hospitality and the covenant of friendship. It was represented by the breaking of salted bread, and by fellowship.
Its name comes from an ancient practice. Each Hebrew person carried a small pouch of salt. When two or more men wanted to enter into this type of relationship with each other, the parties to the covenant would mix their salt in a common bowl, break bread, dip it into the salt, and eat it. When they were finished they would redistribute the salt into their pouches.
The only way to break this covenant would be to separate each grain of salt from the others and return it to its original owner. Since this is impossible the bond would remain forever.
God wants to restore the lost friendship and closeness this type of relationship offers. When we enter into salt covenant with God, He expands on the “servanthood” covenant (Blood Covenant) and rewards us with more of Himself.
When Abraham welcomed the Lord and broke bread with Him in Gen. 18:1-15 he was modeling the salt covenant. Just like the blood covenant, the salt covenant begins at God’s initiation. God pursued Abraham and gave him a promise but He still required Abraham to do certain things (Take Isaac to the Mountain!). The first covenant was not canceled or replaced by his salt covenant. Abraham was a friend of God but he never stopped being a servant.
"But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. (Isaiah 41:8)
And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?” For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him."
When God promised to make Abraham into a great nation, He was also promising him a huge inheritance, which leads to the third type of covenant – The ‘sandal’ covenant, which is also called the covenant of “inheritance” or “the covenant of sonship”.
The ancient Hebrews used worn-out sandal to mark the boundaries of their property. They partially covered them with rocks to hold them in place against the weather and natural elements. Moving boundaries was strictly forbidden by divine command, “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess.” (Deut. 19:14)
'Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor's landmark.' "And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' (Deuteronomy 27:17)
"Some remove landmarks; They seize flocks violently and feed on them; (Job 24:2)
Do not remove the ancient landmark Which your fathers have set. (Pro 22:8)
Do not remove the ancient landmark, Nor enter the fields of the fatherless; (Pro 23:10)
"The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water. (Hosea 5:10)
Over time sandals came to represent the inheritance and the relationship of sons and daughters with their parents.
Along with the privilege of inheritance comes the responsibility to maintain the servant covenant as well. In ancient times you could not tell the difference between sons and daughters and hired help during the day but at dinnertime, the sons and daughters were the ones sitting at the parent’s dinner table.
Inheritance also requires us to be good stewards of our Father’s estate. Like Adam and Eve God has given us a “garden” to tend. They were given authority and responsibility to manage the garden, but they lost it through disobedience. We will see the full realization of the Sandal Covenant when The Bride sits with Yeshua on the throne and rules and reigns with Him.
The story of the rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-19) shows us what Yeshua is looking for in someone who aspires to be both a servant and a friend. The young ruler was obedient to God’s commandments but he found it difficult to enter into a deeper relationship. Basically, Yeshua was saying to him, you are already my servant and my friend, now come be my son. But he was not willing to give up his earthly inheritance for more of the heavenly kingdom. He couldn’t make it past the salt covenant to the sandal covenant. This does not mean he lost what he had, nor that he never took that step, he simply failed to draw closer when the opportunity came.
As you can see the covenants are progressive in nature. Just as our walk with the Lord progresses from purification to relationship and finally partnership. God gives us the choice of increasing the maturity and intimacy of our relationship with Him.
When Yeshua removed the sandals of the disciples at the Last Supper he was offering them a new inheritance. John 1:12-13 “To them He gave power to become the sons of God.” When some of the disciples protested His response was, “If I don’t do this you’ll have no part in Me.”
The Lord will give us a step-by-step increase of His kingdom in our lives. As we show that we can be faithful with one step, He will show us the next.
The final step in the process of restoration is the ultimate fulfillment of all the covenants – betrothal and marriage. God’s goal for us is a marriage relationship with Him but only when you’ve entered all three preceding types are you ready for marriage.
Yeshua modeled Communion at Passover via the wine, the bread, and the foot washing. That is our way of constantly renewing the 3 covenants of God.
One last thing. Remember God gave the rainbow to Noah when he emerged from the ark. Each of the covenants is represented by a primary color. Blood is red, raw salt is yellow, and inheritance is blue. The color of the ultimate covenant with God, marriage, is white. White represents a combining of all the previous colors in the spectrum, just as the covenant itself represents a combining of all the previous covenants.
What we have learned about covenant vs. testament:
Yahweh operates through the law of covenants. His word is His bond – His covenants establish a legitimate government, both in heaven and on earth.
The Kingdom of the Melchizedek is the rightful, legitimate government of earth.
Those who live in covenant with Yahweh, are those who populate the Melchizedek’s Kingdom; they have pledged their allegiance to the Almighty Yahweh and His King, thus – they are Hebrew.
The government of the kingdom is on the shoulders of the Melchizedeks.
The law of the Melchizedek kingdom is called the Royal Law. James 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law (law of liberty) according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well;
James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.
James 1:25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
Mark 12:28-34 NKJV 28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?" 29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments [is]: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 30 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This [is] the first commandment. 31 "And the second, like [it, is] this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." 32 So the scribe said to Him, "Well [said], Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 "And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices." 34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." But after that no one dared question Him.
Remember the beginning? The first covenant was between Adam, Eve, and Yahweh. It was a marriage covenant that was broken by them. God had to divorce them.
In the end, the consummation of all things will be when God, Yeshua, and the Bride enter into the Everlasting Covenant.
It starts with covenant and ends with covenant. Paul said it best in his letter to Timothy…
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17