The word "covenant, " infrequently heard in conversation, is quite commonly used in legal, social (marriage), and religious and theological contexts. The Idea of Covenant. The term "covenant" is of Latin origin (con venire), meaning a coming together. It presupposes two or more parties who come together to make a contract, agreeing on promises, stipulations, privileges, and responsibilities. In religious and theological circles there has not been agreement on precisely what is to be understood by the biblical term. It is used variously in biblical contexts. In political situations, it can be translated treaty; in a social setting, it means a lifelong friendship agreement; or it can refer to a marriage. A biblical covenant is an agreement generally between God and humanity. While the Hebrew word beriyt means "covenant" the cultural background of the word is helpful in understanding its full meaning. Beriyt comes from the parent root word bar meaning grain. Grains were fed to livestock to fatten them up to prepare them for the slaughter. Two other Hebrew words related to beriyt and also derived from the parent root bar can help understand the meaning of beriyt. The word beriy means fat and barut means meat. Notice the common theme with bar, beriy and barut, they all have to do with the slaughtering of livestock. The word beriyt is literally the animal that is slaughtered for the covenant ceremony. The phrase "make a covenant" is found thirteen times in the Hebrew Bible. In the Hebrew text this phrase is "karat beriyt". The word karat literally means, "to cut". When a covenant is made, a fattened animal is cut into pieces and laid out on the ground. Each party of the covenant then passes through the pieces signifying that if one of the parties fails to meet the agreement then the other has the right to do to the other what they did to the animal. (ancient-hebrew.org) (Genesis 15:10 and Jeremiah 34:18-20).
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES The Old Testament has many examples of covenants between people who were peers. For example, David and Jonathan entered into a covenant because of their love for each other. This bound each of them to certain responsibilities. (1 Samuel 18:3) The remarkable thing is that God is holy, omniscient, and omnipotent; but He chooses to enter into covenant with man, who is feeble, sinful, and flawed. God’s Covenant with Noah
Noah lived at a time when the whole earth was filled with violence and corruption, yet Noah did not allow the evil standards of his day to rob him of fellowship with God. He stood out as the only one who "walked with God" (Genesis 6:9), as was also true of his great-grandfather Enoch (Genesis 5:22). "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations" (Genesis 6:9). The Lord singled out Noah from among all his contemporaries and chose him as the man to accomplish a great work. When God saw the wickedness that prevailed in the world (Genesis 6:5), He told Noah of His intention to destroy the ancient world by a universal flood. God instructed Noah to build an ark in which he and his family would survive the universal deluge. Noah believed God and "according to all that God commanded him, so he did" (Genesis 6:22). Noah is listed among the heroes of faith. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Hebrews 11:7). With steadfast confidence in God, Noah started building the ark. During this time, Noah continued to preach God's judgment and mercy, warning the ungodly of their approaching doom. Peter reminds us of how God "did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly" (2 Peter 2:5). Noah preached for 120 years,...
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