A Promise Stronger Than Nails (Article 18-3)
Depending on the Bible version you use, there are over 300 references to the word “covenant. In fact, God’s covenants represent central themes in the Bible. In Hebrew, the word covenant means “to cut”. We see this definition play out in Jeremiah 34:18, where people passed through the cut bodies of slain animals. In contemporary times, we sometimes define the word covenant as having a contract - a documented or verbal agreement, containing specific terms and conditions to be met for it to remain in effect.
A Covenant Is Much Greater Than A Contract
Although there are similarities between our understanding of a contract and covenant, such as it being a “promise” between two or more parties, God's covenants have a much richer meaning and more profound impact. Unlike contracts, as the world understands them, God’s covenants are eternal. Second, since God never lies, He will never violate the agreement, nor cancel it. Finally, God's covenants are ratified by Him and He alone.
God's Covenant With Man - The "Old Covenant"
The Old Testament story of the covenant between Abraham (then named Abram) and God (Genesis 12) is one of the most significant covenants of all ages. It is a covenant that transcends the entire Bible. God's covenant with Abraham stems from His intense love for Abraham as a result of Abraham's unconditional obedience, faith, and trust in Him. As a result, God promises to grant Abraham’s descendants a royal status (Chosen People) and set them apart from all others. God's overriding desire was for the Israelite (Hebrew) people to be His own and to be "One With Him" - just as it was in the time of our divine parents (Adam and Eve) before their demise. Abraham and his male descendants marked their covenant with God by way of circumcision. The Israelite people's divine royal status plays out In Genesis 17:10-11, when God delivers them out of slavery from Egypt (under Moses) and into the “Promised Land” (under Joshua). God sealed this covenant with the blood of choice lambs, which in turn was used to mark the doorposts of the Israelite people's dwellings, thus saving them from God's deadly judgment over the Egyptians.
The Foreshadowing of Christ - A "New Covenant" in the Making
Long after the Israelite people's delivery from Egypt, God foreshadows the coming of Christ and with it, the ushering in of a "New Covenant". This new Covenant was not just reserved for the Israelite (chosen) people, but rather for all of mankind - Jews and Gentiles alike. It was to be ushered in by way of Christ's first coming and His revelation of being the Promised Messiah (Savior). This New Covenant was foreshadowed in 1 Samuel 18-1-4 of the Old Testament. These verses tell us the story of David (chosen by God to be the second King of Israel) and Jonathan’s (King Saul's son). Despite David's then servant status and Jonathan's royal status loved David immensely. So intense was their love for each other, scripture tells us that their souls were "knitted" together. As the story goes, Jonathan made a covenant with David. The covenant was marked by Jonathan giving his robe to David, as well as his armor, sword, bow and belt. The giving of these items to David symbolized Jonathan's desire to give David royal status and rights by way of His position and power. The covenant forever bonded them together as a single entity. David’s enemies were to be Jonathan’s enemies and visa-versa. As the story goes on, Jonathan is killed, but David lives on to become the second King of Israel.
As you reflect on the story of David and Jonathan, you can see Christ's love for us and His desire to be "knitted" together as one entity. We see Christ's offering us His robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt. We see that our enemies are Christ's enemies. We then should see Christ's death and with it, the evolving of our royal status for those who believe and have faith in His works on the Cross.
Arrival of The "New Covenant"
God’s covenant with Abraham Promised Seed gave rise to the lineage and generation of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1-17; Gen 12:1-3). It set the stage for God's redemptive plan, thus giving humanity the hope we can be reconciled back to God, thus becoming "One with Him". By means of Jesus Christ, God makes a New Covenant with humanity. It is a promise to forgive our sins (disobedience and transgressions) and to restore fellowship with those whose hearts are turned toward Him. Jesus Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, and His death on the cross is the basis of the promise (Luke 22:20). God gave this to us freely and without conditions. We need only to believe and have faith in the One He sent. It marked the era of grace: The giving of His unmerited (undeserved) favor to all mankind.
Bringing It All Together
Our belief and faith in Christ, interweaves us with the gold thread of Abraham and His descendants, and with it the status of being God's children. God’s "Old Covenant" with Abraham provided the lineage that Christ sprang to fulfill this New Covenant (promise), and with it, an opportunity for salvation and eternal life. Jonathan’s covenant with David, foreshadows the coming of this promise by way of Christ. There are no conditions for us to meet with this New Covenant, nor does it require us to perform any special acts. We must only believe and have faith in the One God sent, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. To this very day, Christ's redeeming blood continues to cleanse us in order to keep the Covenant in good standing, and by doing so, keeps it an iron clad agreement that is "Stronger than Nails".