Understanding Biblical Covenants

In our previous blog we talked about “right standing in a covenant relationship.” To know if we are in “right standing” in a covenant we must have a good understanding of biblical covenant definition. In the mentioned blog we gave a somewhat light definition of a covenant comparing it to a contract. It is a contract, but it is so much more. That is what we shall address now.

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Biblical Covenants

The Bible may be considered a middle eastern oriental based document. In the geographical area where the Bible focuses the idea of covenant was very common. Covenants were made in regard to families and businesses and tribes and individuals. Covenants were not taken lightly. There were several types of covenants but the one that we shall focus on is the most important type, the blood covenant.

The blood covenant was the most serious of covenants. It was not taken lightly. We might liken it to what occurred in American history when the states began to expand westward. As they encountered the American Indian there was fierce wars and conflicts which arose. The Indians quite would often seek out a colonist who was willing to work with the Indians and would enter into a covenant of blood in which the colonist and the Indian would cut the palms of their hands and then clasp hands so that their blood mingled together. This was a blood covenant with them and it could never be broken.

The Blood covenant

I mentioned above that the blood covenant was the strongest of the covenants. There were various reasons for individuals and groups of people to enter into blood covenants. Perhaps there was one family or group who were a warring type society but were not adept at agricultural things. Another group or family might be very good and planting and growing crops but had no means of protecting themselves against scavaging groups. The leaders of the two families might decide to enter into a covenant in which the aggressive warring family would protect the agricultural family from scavengers and those who might destroy their crops. In exchange the agricultural family shared their food with them. To secure this covenant the leaders of the two families would share a meal together and at the close of the meal the two leaders would each cut himself and put some of his blood in a goblet of wine. The mixture was stirred thoroughly and then each head of the family drank from the goblet of wine and blood. In so doing they were signifying that they were no longer separate families, but one family.

Blood covenants were not to be broken. Per chance if there was a time that one party broke their part of the covenant, the result was that the other party must and did put the one who was at fault to death. The only remedy for breaking a blood covenant is death. The one who put the breaker of the covenant to death was not called a murderer. Rather, the one who failed to fulfill the covenant was called a “covenant breaker”. That is what the Bible calls a “sinner”. He was not in “right standing” in the covenant relationship.

The Biblical Covenant

In our previous blog we showed how God had set up a covenant with Adam and Eve. As simple as it seemed, it set the parameters of the covenant. They were not to eat of a certain tree and in so doing they would show their love for their Creator and honor Him in so doing. They broke the covenant. They did not fulfill their part of the bargain. The result was death. God in His great mercy delayed the inevitable dying of Adam and Eve, but some animals had to die to provide a covering for them. Death came because Adam sinned. But God, because He is full of grace, promised a redeemer who would fulfill and establish a new covenant in which all mankind could be redeemed. In Genesis 3:15 God promised that there would be One Who would come of the “seed of woman” Who bruise the head of the serpent.

The picture of God’s blood covenant

In Genesis 15 we see where God makes a blood covenant with Abraham. In this instance God told him to get a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle-dove and a young pigeon. He split them down the middle and laid them open in a line. The reason this was done in this manner is because the parties of the blood covenant would literally walk through the bloody carcasses laid in a row and all the while declaring, “May this happen to me if I ever break this blood covenant.” God had made certain promises to Abraham and He wanted to convince Abraham of the assurance that He, The Lord, would fulfill His promises.

But an odd thing occurred. God did not make Abraham walk between the sacrifices. God, alone, walked through the sacrifices making His declarations of promise. There was no greater way of proving His faithfulness than this blood covenant. The ultimate covenant would be sealed when God’s only-begotten Son sealed the New and Better Covenant with His own blood. God assured Abraham with the strongest covenant know to man.


Now God has come to humankind and in the strongest possible way He has sealed an everlasting covenant by which who so ever will may receive all the benefits that God has promised. Just as God did not require Abraham to walk through the sacrifices, He does not require you to fulfill the requirements. Look what He did for Abraham. God caused a deep sleep to come upon him. If you study the scriptures enough, you will find that death for a child of God is only sleep. So, just as Abraham slept(died to himself) so must we die to ourselves so that our Redeemer walks through declaring His fulfilling of the New Covenant and all the promises that comes with it. Those who have received the sacrifice that Jesus paid are free to receive all the benefits of the New Covenant. In 2 Corinthians 1:20 the scripture declares, “All the promises to you, in Christ Jesus, are “yes” and “amen”. We do not have to measure up. We are in Christ and He measures up.

Read the covenant and all its provisions and then shout “Hallelujah” and “Thank You, Lord Jesus”!

It is finished! It is completed! Thank You, Lord!





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