From Genesis to Revelation, covenant is the foundational premise through which God deals with mankind. He is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. Throughout millennia He has used covenant to pave the way for restoration of His relationship with mankind, and for mankind with one another. When God makes a covenant with His people it defines His relationship, His promise and His commitment to those He loves. A covenant is the strongest and most powerful commitment between two people superseding love and time.
An ancient term is the Greek word, diatheke. It relates both to “covenant” and to “last will and testament” because the unconditional covenant God makes is sealed unto death. The meaning of this word clarifies the purpose of an unconditional covenant which is “an unequal agreement in which one party does all the giving and one party does all the receiving.”
Conditional v. Unconditional Covenants
In contrast to the conditional covenant where each party carries responsibility, the unconditional covenants are unilateral promises by God to man with man having ultimately no responsibility in the matter because the burden is solely on God to fulfill His purposes which He initiated through the work of His Holy Spirit within man. In other words, only through His power and His grace does man have any hope or do any good. Individual, corporate or national failure cannot nullify the unconditional nature of the unconditional covenant with God.
Easy it is to confuse conditional and unconditional covenants. In Scripture the unconditional covenant is four times more common than the conditional covenant. In contrast to the conditional covenant in which both parties must fulfill requirements, the unconditional covenant is fulfilled by the greater party alone. The lesser party has no bargaining power, but is simply left to choose whether to accept the terms presented by the greater party.
The New Covenant through Jesus Christ is an unconditional covenant. God, the greater party, initiated and wrote out the New Covenant in His own blood then presented it to mankind. As the lesser party, the only option mankind has is to believe God or not believe God. Regardless of man’s actions, God acts in sovereignty remaining true to His nature, faithfully fulfilling His promises and arranging His providences for the welfare of man.
The New Covenant is in direct contrast with the old covenant, the Mosaic “which they (Israel) broke” (Jer. 31:32). That is why the old covenant had to be replaced with one which could not be broken (Col. 2:14, Heb. 8:13). Ezekiel 18:4 states, “…the soul that sins, it must die.” In the Mosaic covenant, instead of actually putting to death the souls (Isreal) that sinned, out of mercy God used animal substitutes to pay for man’s sin. But because God used a mere substitute, the sacrifice was only a temporary atonement, had to be repeated annually, and was not yet perfected.
On the contrary, the New Covenant is final, perfect, and eternal. The reason for this is that the Sacrifice used was not an animal. The Sacrifice was the Perfect Lamb of God. He was 100% human and 100% God representing, encompassing and uniting in Himself all of believing humanity and all of God Almighty. These characteristics made it possible for Him to fulfill the entire covenant for those who look to Him and believe in its fullest sense (to trust in, to rely on and to cling to wholeheartedly).
The Final Covenant
The New Covenant is the final covenant found in Scripture, first mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31-40 and foreshadowed from Genesis. There is one Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ. Through His blood spilled at Calvary and subsequent resurrection, He became “the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9) for all mankind who obey Him and the cornerstone and Head of the Church (Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23). Every other covenant foreshadowed this final intervening act of God on mankind’s behalf.
The Bible is interlaced with covenants from cover to cover each one fulfilling in God’s timing its unique purpose for mankind. The dividing line in history from B.C. to A.D burst forth into the dimension of time as Christ’s birth initiated the transition from Old Covenant to New Covenant. His perfect life fulfilled the Old Covenant then His death and resurrection fulfilled the New Covenant, which in turn is the climactic fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. In other words, the New Covenant sums up all the other covenants, commandments, laws and prophets in all of Scripture (Matt. 22:37-40).
Unlike the Mosaic covenant, the New Covenant is an unconditional covenant initiated and fulfilled by God alone (Heb. 12:2). Thus, it cannot be broken by those who believe (John 6:29) and confess His name (Rom. 10:8-10).
This triumphant New Covenant currently exists between God and man, the seal of which is the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Do you believe?
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.
And, [His completed experience] making Him perfectly [equipped], He became the Author and Source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him,
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].
And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,
[Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [ to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [ as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead.
When God speaks of a new [covenant or agreement], He makes the first one obsolete (out of use). And what is obsolete (out of use and annulled because of age) is ripe for disappearance and to be dispensed with altogether.
Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross.
1 Thessalonians 5:24
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.