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Dictionary of Bible Themes – 1346 covenants, nature of
1346 covenants, nature of

1346 covenants, nature of

A solemn agreement or promise, sometimes confirmed by sacrifice or by sharing in a meal, by which two or more parties commit themselves to the rights and responsibilities demanded by their relationship and their agreed course of action, and accept the serious consequences of breaking faith.

Kinds of covenant relationship

The relationship between king and people 2Sa 5:3 pp 1Ch 11:3 See also 2Sa 3:21; 2Ki 11:17; 2Ch 23:3

Terms for peace granted to a weaker party Jos 9:15 See also 1Sa 11:1; 1Ki 15:19-20; 1Ki 20:34; Eze 17:13-14

A mutual commitment to peaceful relations 1Ki 5:12 See also Ge 21:27; Ge 26:28-29; Ge 31:44; Am 1:9

An agreement on a common course of action Jer 34:8 See also 2Ki 11:4 pp 2Ch 23:1; Ezr 10:3; Ne 9:38; Ps 83:5

The relationship between husband and wife Pr 2:17; Mal 2:14 God’s covenant with Israel is likened to a marriage: Jer 2:2; Eze 16:8

An expression of friendship 1Sa 18:3 See also 1Sa 20:16-17

Sealing a covenant

By sharing a meal Ge 26:30; Ge 31:53-54 The meal Jesus Christ shared with his disciples is an important part of the institution of the new covenant: Mt 26:26-29 pp Mk 14:22-25 pp Lk 22:17-20; 1Co 11:23-25

By offering a sacrifice Jer 34:18-19 The Hebrew expression for making a covenant means, literally, “to cut a covenant”. This may refer to the solemn practice, described here, of cutting an animal in half and walking between its pieces; Ge 15:9-18; Ex 24:4-8; Ps 50:5; Heb 12:24 Sacrifice is an important part in sealing covenants made by God.

By making an oath Ge 21:31; Ge 26:31; Jos 9:15; 2Ki 11:4; Ne 10:28-29

The obligations of a covenant

Covenant responsibilities must be honoured Nu 30:2; 1Sa 20:8 See also Jos 9:18; Mt 5:33-37; Gal 3:15

Covenant obligations are watched over by God 1Sa 20:42 See also Ge 31:48-54; Jos 9:19; Jer 34:15-16; Mal 2:14-16

The consequences of breaking covenant faith Jos 9:20 See also Jer 34:18-22; Eze 17:16-18; Am 1:9

Covenants with other nations are forbidden

Ex 34:12 See also Dt 23:6; Jos 9:7

Covenants with other nations lead to a commitment to foreign gods Ex 23:32-33; Ex 34:15-16; Dt 7:2-4

Covenants with other nations lead to a denial of faith in God Isa 28:15,18; Isa 30:1-2; Isa 31:1; Hos 12:1

See also

6636drawing near to God
7140people of God
8251faithfulness to God
8711covenant breakers

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