Yahweh’s Covenant with David

After Saul’s failure to serve as king in the way God desired, the scriptures tells us that God sought “a man after His own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). This was David (Acts 13:22). Now David was far from perfect, he made some very serious mistakes – however, when he saw his sins he always repented and looked to God for forgiveness (Psalms 51). David is characterised by his great zeal for the living Yahweh God. As a result Yahweh made a distinct and separate covenant with David – an unconditional covenant, which we will look at in this study.

Do the scriptures confirm God made a covenant with David?

2 Chronicles 13:5 WEB
Ought you not to know that Yahweh, the God of Israel, gave the kingdom over Israel to David forever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?

2 Chronicles 21:7 WEB
However Yahweh would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and as he promised to give a lamp to him and to his children always.

Notice that like the preserving properties of salt, a covenant of salt was one that would last. God guaranteed that the “house of David”—his descendants—would continue to exist forever.

We see in 2 Samuel chapter 7 (and we encourage our readers to read all of this in their own bibles) David desired greatly to build a house for God and discussed this with Nathan the prophet. What was Yahweh’s response to David through Nathan?

2 Samuel 7:10-17 WEB
I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be moved no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as at the first,
11 and [as] from the day that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel; and I will cause you to rest from all your enemies. Moreover Yahweh tells you that Yahweh will make you a house.
12 When your days are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son: if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men;
15 but my loving kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you.
16 Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before you: your throne shall be established forever.
17 According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak to David.

Let us notice some important points in the scripture above:
Firstly, God re-affirms in verse 10 the promise of the land given in the covenants with Abraham and then through Moses, ‘they shall dwell in their own place’ – land.

Next God promises that David’s son (Solomon) would succeed him as king and that it is him that would build the temple for God’s Presence/Name – verses 12 and 13.

We see in verses 13 and 16 that this promise is expanded to include an everlasting kingdom – another son (descendent) of David’s would rule forever and build a lasting temple for God – the coming Messiah Jesus (Matthew 21:9). In this instance ‘your seed’ points to both Solomon building the physical temple (house) and also Messiah who will build a lasting spiritual temple and rule forever.

Notice verses 14 and 15, this covenant does not rely upon David’s descendants keeping God’s commandments – if they ‘commit iniquity’ He will chasten them, but not reject them as He did Saul. We know that Messiah was sinless, but all the others were not.

This relies purely on Yahweh’s faithfulness to His covenant promise.

Psalms 89:3-4 WEB
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David, my servant,
4 ‘I will establish your seed forever, And build up your throne to all generations.'” Selah.

Psalms 89:28-37 WEB
I will keep my loving kindness for him forevermore. My covenant will stand firm with him.
29 I will also make his seed endure forever, And his throne as the days of heaven.
30 If his children forsake my law, And don’t walk in my ordinances;
31 If they break my statutes, And don’t keep my commandments;
32 Then I will punish their sin with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes.
33 But I will not completely take my loving kindness from him, Nor allow my faithfulness to fail.
34 I will not break my covenant, Nor alter what my lips have uttered.
35 Once have I sworn by my holiness, I will not lie to David.
36 His seed will endure forever, His throne like the sun before me.
37 It will be established forever like the moon, The faithful witness in the sky.” Selah.

Do we see various prophecies pointing to Messiah Jesus as the descendent of David who will rule God’s kingdom forever, fulfilling God’s promises given in this covenant?

Isaiah 9:7 WEB
Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of Yahweh of Hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 11:1-2 WEB
There shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh.

Jeremiah 23:5 WEB
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Jeremiah 33:14-21 WEB
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will perform that good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah.
15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause a Branch of righteousness to grow up to David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is [the name] by which she shall be called: Yahweh our righteousness.
17 For thus says Yahweh: David shall never want a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel;
18 neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to burn meal-offerings, and to do sacrifice continually.
19 The word of Yahweh came to Jeremiah, saying,
20 Thus says Yahweh: If you can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their season;
21 then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.

What was Mary told regarding Jesus before his birth?

Luke 1:31-33 NRSV
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

Did the people celebrate Jesus as ‘the son of David’ – the promised Messiah?

Matthew 21:6-11 NRSV
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them;
7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them.
8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.
9 The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

As we understand from previous studies Jesus first coming was as ‘the suffering servant’ and was rejected by the religious authorities, and it will be at his second coming as ‘ruling king’ he will sit on the throne.

So we have seen in this covenant with David the promise that David’s ‘house’, ‘kingdom’, and ‘throne’ will be established forever and is significant because it shows that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and that He will establish a kingdom over which He will reign. The covenant is summarized by the words ‘house’, promising a dynasty in the lineage of David; ‘kingdom’, referring to a people who are governed by a king in a certain area; ‘throne’, emphasizing the authority of the king’s rule; and ‘forever’, emphasizing the eternal and unconditional nature of this covenant promise to David.

This study shows that Jesus is destined to sit on the throne of David. Although these events are sure to come to pass, many mistakenly believe it has already been fulfilled ‘in Christ’. However, it will not be fulfilled in full until He returns to earth in power and glory, given him by Yahweh our Father God. See our previous studies on Jesus and the Gospel.

Did the 10 Commandments Exist Before The Old Covenant?

Were the ten commandments brought into existence at the time of the making of the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel? Did they come into existence when they were written on tablets of stone on Mount Sinai, or is there evidence in the scriptures to demonstrate that they existed long before that?

When the Israelites were brought out of Egypt but before the cutting of the Old Covenant at Sinai, what were the instructions given them for the gathering of manna?

Exodus 16:4-5 WEB
Then said Yahweh to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.
5 It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Exodus 16:22-23 WEB
It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
23 He said to them, “This is that which Yahweh has spoken, ‘Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.”

Exodus odus 16:26-30 WEB
Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none.”
27 It happened on the seventh day, that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none.
28 Yahweh said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
29 Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.”
30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

Already at this time they were expected to keep the seventh day Sabbath, and Yahweh was asking ‘How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?’

What was Abraham commended for?

Genesis 26:5 WEB
because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

It was more than 430 years before Israel came out of Egypt that Abraham was ‘obeying Yahweh’s voice and keeping His commandments, statutes and laws!

We see in Genesis 35 Jacob ridding his whole household of ‘foreign gods’ in keeping with the first commandment, and also the second regarding idols/graven images:

Genesis 35:1-4 WEB
God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
2 Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments.
3 Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.”
4 They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Exodus 20:2-4 WEB
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
3 You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Job, who is believed to have lived at the time of Isaac, was also concerned to keep God’s laws and feared his children may have broken the third commandment in their hearts:

Job 1:5 RSV
And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Exodus 20:7 WEB
“You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

Yahweh blessed and hallowed the seventh day Sabbath during ‘creation week’ by resting on it, the fourth commandment:

Genesis 2:3 WEB
God blessed the seventh day, and made it holy, because he rested in it from all his work which he had created and made.

See also Exodus 16 scriptures above.

Exodus 20:8-10 WEB
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 You shall labor six days, and do all your work,
10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates;

Jacob honoured and respected his father and mother, the fifth commandment :

Genesis 28:6-7 WEB
Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan Aram, to take him a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, “You shall not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan,”
28:7 and that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Paddan Aram.

Exodus 20:12 WEB
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.

Cain committed the first murder by killing his brother Abel, thus breaking the sixth commandment:

Genesis 4:6-10 WEB
Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen?
7 If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If you don’t do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it.”
8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, “Let’s go into the field.” It happened, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him.

Exodus 20:13 WEB
“You shall not murder.

Genesis 9:5-6 WEB
I will surely require your blood of your lives. At the hand of every animal I will require it. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, I will require the life of man.
6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man will his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man.

Joseph knew that adultery was a sin against God and refused to do it when tempted, so avoiding breaking the seventh commandment, whilst Abimelech narrowly avoided it with Sarah:

Genesis 39:7-9 WEB
It happened after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph; and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, my master doesn’t know what is with me in the house, and he has put all that he has into my hand.
9 He isn’t greater in this house than I, neither has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Genesis 20:2-7 WEB
Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man’s wife.”
4 Now Abimelech had not come near her. He said, “Lord, will you kill even a righteous nation?
5 Didn’t he tell me, ‘She is my sister?’ She, even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this.”
6 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore I didn’t allow you to touch her.
7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don’t restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours.”

Exodus 20:14 WEB
”You shall not commit adultery.

Jacob knew all about honesty and stealing and respected the eighth commandment:

Genesis 30:33 WEB
So my righteousness will answer for me hereafter, when you come concerning my hire that is before you. Everyone that is not speckled and spotted among the goats, and black among the sheep, that might be with me, will be counted stolen.”

Exodus 20:15 WEB
“You shall not steal”.

Adam and Eve started the slippery slope of bearing false witness and coveting

Genesis 3:6 WEB
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit of it, and ate; and she gave some to her husband with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:9-11 WEB
Yahweh God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 The man said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”
11 God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

Whilst Job again recognised these as breaking the ninth and tenth commandments:

Job 31:5-6 WEB
“If I have walked with falsehood, And my foot has hurried to deceit
6 (Let me be weighed in an even balance, That God may know my integrity);

Job 31:9-11 WEB
“If my heart has been enticed to a woman, And I have laid wait at my neighbor’s door;
10 Then let my wife grind for another, And let others sleep with her.
11 For that would be a heinous crime; Yes, it would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges:

Exodus 20:16-17 WEB
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

God’s commandments are based on love and have always been in place for the benefit, blessing and protection of man:

1 John 5:3 NRSV
For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome,

As we have seen demonstrated and recorded in scripture, all of the ten commandments were in full force and understood well before they were written in stone at the making of the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel. This of course did not prevent Yahweh from making the keeping of them part of the covenant conditions to be met by the nation of Israel – why wouldn’t He build into this most serious of marriage covenant relationships His perfect laws of love? He wanted the very very best for His beloved – and still does today!

The ‘Old Covenant’ mediated by Moses

We have seen in our studies already that ‘covenant’ was a very serious business, and can be described as ‘A binding, formal agreement between two parties defining the kind of ongoing relationship they are to have with each other. Conditions and promises and or penalties are laid down for both parties, and it is sealed or ratified formally, usually by sprinkling of blood.’

As we go through the details concerning the ‘old covenant’ please note that ‘the law’ can be the basis of the conditions built into a covenant, but the covenant is not the law itself.

Many scriptures liken the covenant Yahweh made with Israel to a marriage covenant:

Isaiah 54:5-6 WEB
For your Maker is your husband; Yahweh of Hosts is his name: and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6 For Yahweh has called you as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off, says your God.

Ezekiel 16:8 RSV
“When I passed by you again and looked upon you, behold, you were at the age for love; and I spread my skirt over you, and covered your nakedness: yea, I plighted my troth to you and entered into a covenant with you, says the Lord GOD, and you became mine.

Jeremiah 3:8 WEB
I saw, when, for this very cause that backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a bill of divorce, yet treacherous Judah, her sister, didn’t fear; but she also went and played the prostitute.

Jeremiah 3:20 WEB
Surely as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with me, house of Israel, says Yahweh.

Jeremiah 31:31-32 WEB
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yahweh.

Yahweh ‘proposes’ this marriage covenant to Israel through Moses:

Exodus 19:3-6 WEB
Moses went up to God, and Yahweh called to him out of the mountain, saying, “This is what you shall tell the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel:
4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to myself.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice, and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is mine;
6 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.”

Many of the basic details of the covenant were outlined through Moses to the people of Israel in chapters 20 to 23 of Exodus. How did the people respond?

Exodus 24:3 WEB
Moses came and told the people all the words of Yahweh, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do.”

They accepted the proposal. At this time they really believed they could keep the terms of the covenant, but they were trusting in their own strength – ‘we will’ was their answer! So the marriage went ahead. The making of this covenant was a solemn event. To impress upon the children of Israel the gravity of what they were agreeing to, an alter was built and sacrifices given upon it, twelve pillars for each tribe were erected as a witness of the proceedings:

Exodus 24:4-6 WEB
Moses wrote all the words of Yahweh, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
5 He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen to Yahweh.
6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

Were the people under any illusion as to what they were agreeing to:

Exodus 24:7 WEB
He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, “All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient.”

Notice that Moses wrote everything down in ‘the book of the covenant’ which was read out to the people as part of the formal ceremony and they responded ‘we will do everything and we will be obedient’.

And the marriage covenant was sealed and ratified with blood:

Exodus 24:8 WEB
Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words.”

So what were the terms of the covenant that Israel agreed to? Firstly they agreed to keep the ten commandments detailed in Exodus 20:1-17 (these were already in existence prior to this covenant, which we will cover in a future study). They also agreed to keep ‘laws for civil life as a nation’, which were amplifications and applications of the ten commandments.

The overarching principle was to “love your neighbor as yourself

Leviticus 19:18 WEB
You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.

Some examples are below

Exodus 22:22 WEB
“You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child.

Exodus 23:1-2 WEB
“You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.
2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice;

Exodus 23:9 WEB
“You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, seeing you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

There were also ‘judgements’ – precedents in cases of conflict or violations of God’s laws, for example:

Exodus 22:1-2 WEB
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it, or sells it; he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
2 If the thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt of bloodshed for him.

The principle was that the offender paid a penalty equivalent to the damage done or caused:

Exodus 21:22-24 WEB
“If men fight and hurt a pregnant woman so that she gives birth prematurely, and yet no harm follows, he shall be surely fined as much as the woman’s husband demands and the judges allow.
23 But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life,

Exodus 21:12 WEB
“One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death,

The death penalty was prescribed for murder, adultery and kidnapping.

In Exodus chapters 25 to 30 we see the provision of the tabernacle and the priesthood along with the prescribed offerings and sacrifices – all part of the manner in which they were to conduct themselves as Yahweh’s model nation.

Also encompassed within the covenant were promised blessings for obedience and penalties/punishments for disobedience. These can be found in Leviticus 26, which we encourage the reader to read in full, but here include only a few examples:

Leviticus 26:3-4 WEB
“‘If you walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;
4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Leviticus 26:14-16 WEB
“‘But if you will not listen to me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 and if you shall reject my statutes, and if your soul abhors my ordinances, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant;
16 I also will do this to you: I will appoint terror over you, even consumption and fever, that shall consume the eyes, and make the soul to pine away; and you will sow your seed in vain, for your enemies will eat it.

Notice that this covenant contained only physical, material promises – Yahweh’s blessings to prosper, heal, protect, give good weather, increase, peace etc, but no mention of His spirit, power, total forgiveness and eternal life.

Yahweh knew they would fail to keep the covenant:

Deuteronomy 5:29 WEB
Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!

Deuteronomy 29:4 WEB
but Yahweh has not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day.

Deuteronomy 31:16-17 WEB
Yahweh said to Moses, Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up, and play the prostitute after the strange gods of the land, where they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall come on them; so that they will say in that day, Haven’t these evils come on us because our God is not among us?

Romans 8:7 NRSV
For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot,

The lesson of the whole of the Old Testament scriptures is that ‘without Yahweh indwelling us it is impossible for us to love Him, obey Him, and keep His laws and covenant’. Even though Israel believed they could, and fully intended to do so, as we saw in Exodus 24:7-8, they failed miserably time after time after time. But Yahweh knew this all along and has unfinished business:

Ezekiel 36:24-28 WEB
For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land.
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
27 I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them.
28 You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 WEB
Behold, the days come, says Yahweh, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they broke, although I was a husband to them, says Yahweh.
33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says Yahweh: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people:

In an upcoming study we will look in detail at this ‘new covenant’ and it’s relevance for us today.

The Covenant with Abraham

Now you might be thinking ‘why should we be interested in Old Testament stuff?’ or ‘that stuff was for the Jewish people way back then’ – well let’s not be too hasty, I think you might find it is just as important for you and I today as it was for Abraham back then!

After all didn’t Paul say something about being Abraham’s children?

Galatians 3:7-9 NRSV
so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.”
9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

If we are of the true faith and believe our Father God, then we are counted as Abraham’s children – will this make much difference to us? We will see as we progress with this study!

Notice the immediate verse before the above scripture:

Galatians 3:6 NRSV
Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,”

It is quoting Genesis 15:6:

Genesis 15:6 RSV
And he believed the LORD; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Notice that Abraham ‘became and was acknowledged as a believer by Yahweh (our Father God)’ when he was still called by the name Abram, and this was not only well before the ‘Law’ (the Old Covenant) was put in place through Moses, but it was also before any covenant was made between Yahweh and himself!

The ‘believing’ was considered by Yahweh as righteousness – but what was it he believed? He believed all the promises made to him by Yahweh!:

Genesis 12:1-3 WEB
Now Yahweh said to Abram, “Get out of your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.
2 I will make of you a great nation. I will bless you, and make your name great. You will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you. In you will all of the families of the earth be blessed.”

Genesis 12:7 WEB
Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said, “I will give this land to your seed.” He built an altar there to Yahweh, who appeared to him.

Genesis 13:14-17 WEB
Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot was separated from him, “Now, lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward,
15 for all the land which you see, I will give to you, and to your offspring forever.
16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then your seed may also be numbered.
17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to you.”

Genesis 15:3-5 WEB
Abram said, “Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, behold, one born in my house is my heir.”
4 Behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir, but he who will come forth out of your own body will be your heir.”
5 Yahweh brought him outside, and said, “Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” He said to Abram, “So shall your seed be.”

In the last scripture above it is almost 10 years since Yahweh had promised Abram He give him many descendants to inherit and live in the land – but as yet he didn’t even have a child of his own, and he and Sarai were both old. Abram suggested to Yahweh that perhaps the way forward was for him to declare a servant born within his household to be his heir.

What was Yahweh’s response to this?

Genesis 15:4-6 WEB
Abram said, “Behold, to me you have given no seed: and, behold, one born in my house is my heir.”
4 Behold, the word of Yahweh came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir, but he who will come forth out of your own body will be your heir.”
5 Yahweh brought him outside, and said, “Look now toward the sky, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” He said to Abram, “So shall your seed be.”
6 He believed in Yahweh; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness.

Yahweh told him ‘that’s not the way I am going to do it, you will have your own son and through him your descendants will be as numerous as the stars’. Abram believed Him – he took Yahweh at his word.

But the conversation continues:

Genesis 15:7-8 WEB
He said to him, “I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.”
8 He said, “Lord Yahweh, how will I know that I will inherit it?”

Abram understands that the land is promised to him and his descendants, but he asks for some confirmation that he himself will possess it, ‘how am I to know?’ (we know from Hebrews 11:8- this has yet to been fulfilled, but it is absolutely certain). Yahweh understood Abram’s need and moved in an awesome and undeniable way so that Abram could have complete ongoing trust in Him – He obligated Himself to Abram!

Genesis 15:18 WEB
In that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates:

This was no casual thing, this was serious, serious business – this was going to bind Yahweh and Abram together in an unbreakable bond and commitment for life – for ever actually!

Look at how this was put in place:

Genesis 15:9-18 WEB
He said to him, “Take me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.”
10 He took him all these, and divided them in the middle, and laid each half opposite the other; but he didn’t divide the birds.
11 The birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
12 When the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. Now terror and great darkness fell on him.
13 He said to Abram, “Know for sure that your seed will live as foreigners in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them. They will afflict them four hundred years.
14 I will also judge that nation, whom they will serve. Afterward they will come out with great substance.
15 But you will go to your fathers in peace. You will be buried in a good old age.
16 In the fourth generation they will come here again, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full.”
17 It came to pass that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
18 In that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates:

Look again at the verses above and make careful note of the answers to these questions:

What did Abram do to the animals?

What happened when the sun set?

What did Yahweh say about Abram’s descendants? Where would they go? How long would they stay?

Who/what passed between the pieces of flesh? (A manifestation of Yahweh’s presence?)

Did Abram also pass through the pieces?

Was the covenant thus ratified?

Could Abram now ‘know for certain’ – verse 13?

The Hebrew word for covenant is ‘beriyth’ and is defined as: a compact, a confederacy, a covenant, league; when between God and man it is a covenant accompanied by signs, sacrifices and a solemn oath that sealed the relationship with promises of blessing for keeping it and curses for breaking it.

The other word used here with ‘beriyth’ is ‘karath’ – translated as made a covenant – ‘karath’ means to sever by cutting with a blade. Hence we say ‘cutting a covenant’ – in this case a reference to the cutting of the pieces, which were then passed through.

So here we find the presence of Yahweh passing through the pieces whilst Abram does nothing but observe the commitment of Yahweh to His promises. Yahweh is effectively saying ‘my covenant is unconditional, the seed, the possession of the land, depends only on Me – not on you’. Yahweh is swearing an oath by Himself (for there is none greater) to fulfil all His promises – this is how Abram will know for certain!

So the covenant was cut, the promises were certain – but Sarai was still not pregnant! Time was passing and Abram and Sarai weren’t getting any younger, so she decided to give Yahweh a helping hand (haven’t we all got impatient waiting for God) – well that didn’t work out too great, you can read all about it in Genesis 16. The result being the birth of Ishmael to Hagar, Sarai’s handmaid.

When Abram was 99 years old Yahweh appeared to him again – to confirm and extend the covenant, let’s look at that in chapter 17:

Genesis 17:1-8 WEB
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty. Walk before me, and be blameless.
2 I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”
3 Abram fell on his face. God talked with him, saying,
4 “As for me, behold, my covenant is with you. You will be the father of a multitude of nations.
5 Neither will your name any more be called Abram, but your name will be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made you.
6 I will make you exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of you. Kings will come out of you.
7 I will establish my covenant between me and you and your seed after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you.
8 I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land where you are traveling, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. I will be their God.”

Now notice :

Abram was to be multiplied exceedingly.

He will be the father of many nations.

His name is to be changed to Abraham (father of a multitude).

Kings were to come from him.

It is to be an everlasting covenant, not only with Abraham but all his descendants.
Yahweh will be God to Abraham and his descendants.

The land is still to be theirs as an everlasting possession.

See verse 9

Genesis 17:9 WEB
God said to Abraham, “As for you, you will keep my covenant, you and your seed after you throughout their generations.

Abraham’s part (and his descendants) is to ‘keep my covenant’. How? Where is there something for Abraham to do? Verse 1 ‘walk before me and be blameless’, ‘blameless’ meaning continuously upright, with integrity and sincerity, entirely. And verse 7 ‘to be God to you and your descendants’ – in other words ‘I am your God, no other, it is me your love, worship, believe, trust, etc etc’.

Yahweh also gave Abraham and his descendants a sign that their covenant was with Him, a constant reminder that they were God’s people:

Genesis 17:10-11 WEB
This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your seed after you. Every male among you shall be circumcised.
11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin. It will be a token of a covenant between me and you.

Subsequently we see that this was also accompanied by a ‘circumcision of the heart’:

Deuteronomy 10:16 WEB
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.

Not just an outward physical thing, but an inner nature and motivation.

Yahweh also addresses Sarai’s ‘helping hand’ – 13 years after the event (verse 25):

Genesis 17:15-16 WEB
God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but her name will be Sarah.
16 I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations. Kings of peoples will come from her.”

Notice that Yahweh changes Sarai’s name to Sarah (‘princess’ wife of Abraham)

To which Abraham responded:

Genesis 17:17-18
’I will be 100 years old and Sarah will be 90! What about Ishmael, can’t it be him, can’t he live in your sight?’ Yahweh responded ‘NO, however…….’

Genesis 17:19-21 WEB
God said, “No, but Sarah, your wife, will bear you a son. You shall call his name Isaac.Isaac means “he laughs.” I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his seed after him.
20 As for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time in the next year.”

It is through Isaac who your wife Sarah will bear you – that is where I will establish my covenant.
The end of this part of the story:

Genesis 21:3 WEB
Abraham called his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

One part of the covenant promises fulfilled, unbelievably, astoundingly – but just as Yahweh said!

Now as we are informed by Paul and Peter there is also a deeper meaning to ‘seed, descendent, offspring’:

Galatians 3:16 NASB
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.”

Notice the covenant also promised the eventual arrival of the Messiah, and was also a promise to Messiah Jesus in advance!

Acts 3:25-26 NRSV
You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’
26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

All the families of the earth would be blessed by Christ (the seed) in turning people from their wickedness.

Genesis 18:17-18 WEB
Yahweh said, “Will I hide from Abraham what I do,
18 seeing that Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?

Genesis 22:17-18 WEB
that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore. Your seed will possess the gate of his enemies.
18 In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

The gospel was preached to Abraham in anticipation of the New Covenant brought by Christ, the seed:

Galatians 3:7-9 NRSV
so, you see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, declared the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the Gentiles shall be blessed in you.”
9 For this reason, those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed.

This wonderful covenant with Abraham and his descendants, including ‘the seed’ Messiah Jesus, was subsequently reaffirmed to both Isaac and Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) as you can read for yourselves in Genesis 26:1-6, Genesis 28, and Genesis 35:10-12.


So as we look into the covenant cut with Abraham we get clear indications of the gospel of grace, the role of faith and believing in the new covenant that was to come (and now has). In fact we ought not to forget that the covenant with Abraham was an everlasting covenant for all Abraham’s descendants and if we are of the true faith and believe our Father God, then we are counted as Abraham’s children. We are in a covenant relationship with our Father – isn’t that wonderful, to know how much we can rely upon Him, trust Him, believe Him – knowing that He is completely and totally committed to us and the promises He has given us!

Of course, our part is the same as Abraham’s was – ‘walk before me and be blameless’, ‘blameless’ meaning continuously upright, with integrity and sincerity, entirely – with a circumcised heart, and know that Yahweh is our God, no other, and it is Him we are to love, worship, believe, trust, rely upon, run to, seek etc etc’. Will we believe Him as Abraham did?

Our Covenant God

Do we understand how important it is to our Father, Yahweh God, that we believe Him and trust Him? That we actually believe and trust Him to such an extent that we will do precisely what He wants us to do – what He instructs us to do for our own good.

Does it make any difference whether we believe, trust and obey our Father God or not? Well it certainly made an incredible difference to one particular man and his family, and consequently to all of us, as we will discover in this study. It is all about the first recorded ‘covenant’ of this present civilization.

We see from Genesis chapters 5 and 6 that by the 9th generation from Adam mankind had greatly multiplied on the earth in terms of population, but also in wickedness, which grieved Yahweh exceedingly:

Genesis 6:5-6 WEB
Yahweh saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 Yahweh was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him in his heart.

So much so that Yahweh came to a decision:

Genesis 6:7 WEB
Yahweh said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the surface of the ground; man, along with animals, creeping things, and birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”

However, there was one man who was different!

Genesis 6:8-10 WEB
But Noah found favor in Yahweh’s eyes.
9 This is the history of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time. Noah walked with God
10 Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Noah walked with God – probably not perfectly, but he looked to God, listened to Him, believed Him and did his best to obey Him – and this made all the difference. Yahweh gave Noah an instruction to follow:

Genesis 6:14 WEB
Make an ark of gopher wood. You shall make rooms in the ark, and shall seal it inside and outside with pitch.

Yahweh told Noah He was bringing a flood to destroy all life and that Noah was to build an ark – a big one! No simple or easy task – it probably took in excess of 50 years (Noah was over 500 years old by the time his 3 sons were born and he was 600 years old when the flood came).

Did Noah believe God – well he spent all that time building the ark exactly as he was instructed, even though he was probably ridiculed in the extreme by all the people in the surrounding area.

Genesis 6:22 WEB
Thus Noah did. According to all that God commanded him, so he did.

Was this pleasing to God? What did Yahweh tell Noah?

Genesis 6:18 WEB
But I will establish my covenant with you. You shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

Genesis 7:1 WEB
Yahweh said to Noah, “Come with all of your household into the ark, for I have seen your righteousness before me in this generation.

Notice the Yahweh took the responsibility of shutting Noah and his family (and creatures to be saved) into the ark, and therefore all others out

Genesis 7:16 WEB
Those who went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God commanded him; and Yahweh shut him in.

And the result of the flood:

Genesis 7:23 WEB
Every living thing was destroyed that was on the surface of the ground, including man, cattle, creeping things, and birds of the sky. They were destroyed from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.

Genesis 8:15-19 WEB
God spoke to Noah, saying,
16 “Go forth from the ark, you, and your wife, and your sons, and your sons’ wives with you.
17 Bring forth with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh, including birds, cattle, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply on the earth.”
18 Noah went forth, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives with him.
19 Every animal, every creeping thing, and every bird, whatever moves on the earth, after their families, went forth out of the ark.

Noah worshipped God:

Genesis 8:20-22 WEB
Noah built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal, and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21 Yahweh smelled the sweet savor. Yahweh said in his heart, “I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake, because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I ever again strike everything living, as I have done.
22 While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

Yahweh blessed Noah and his family and instructed them (similar to Adam and Eve):

Genesis 9:1 WEB
God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

And the almighty, most high creator God, Yahweh, established His covenant with Noah – He made an absolute, unbreakable commitment to Noah, obligating Himself never again to destroy the earth and all flesh by flood – without any obligation on Noah’s part, an unconditional promise:

Genesis 9:9-11 WEB
“As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you,
10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every animal of the earth with you. Of all that go out of the ark, even every animal of the earth.
11 I will establish my covenant with you; neither will all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither will there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Notice that this covenant was extended to be with not only Noah but all his subsequent descendants after him and also all living creatures. It has never ended either.

And the sign God gave that this covenant was in force and we can have absolute confidence in His promise is the rainbow:

Genesis 9:14-17 WEB
It will happen, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow will be seen in the cloud,
15 and I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh, and the waters will no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 The rainbow will be in the cloud. I will look at it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
17 God said to Noah, “This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The recorded story of Noah shows us the kind of wonderful God we have – Yahweh, who hates wickedness, but loves and preserves those who look for Him, listen to Him, believe what He says, and do what He instructs us to do.

He is the only living God, who works by revealing His truth and enters into binding, unbreakable, covenant relationships with His people. He delights in those who believe Him and trust Him.

Every time we see a rainbow we know for certain that our Father is totally true and faithful to His word, His promises, His covenants – He never fails.

Everyone reading this can be very thankful that Noah believed our Father God and followed His instructions, otherwise we would not be here right now! Will we do likewise?

In future studies we will look at just how serious our Father is about covenants and how He deals with His people in covenant relationships, including you and I.