We are all parties to a covenant of some sort. When we buy an automobile or house we sign a covenant (contract, agreement) and shake hands. Marriage is probably the only covenant which is S.W.A.K. — sealed with a kiss. Insurance contracts, oaths of office and treaties between nations are all covenants.
A covenant is simply an agreement between persons or parties. While it is not a word we frequently use, covenants are very much a part of our everyday life.
I. Exodus 24:7 is a Major Biblical Motif
This theme runs through the scriptures from Genesis 17 to Revelation 21. The Bible itself is divided into the Old Covenant and New Covenant (or Testament). In fact the Hebrew word Berith occurs 286 times in the Old Testament alone. Its root means to bind. We use the term “binding covenant” of an agreement between persons or nations.
God made a covenant with Abraham, calling him to leave his homeland for the Land of Promise. Though childless, he was told that he would become the father of a nation. God promised to bless Abraham and — through his descendants — to bless mankind. This man of faith believed God and in due course Isaac, little laughter, was born. Thus Abraham became a forebearer of the Messiah in whom all people may be blessed with salvation. Abraham was obedient to the heavenly call.
God also cut a covenant with Moses and the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai. He agreed to make that collection of recent slaves into a favored nation — provided they were obedient to the divine law. God’s covenant with Israel included the ethical demand of the Ten Commandments. These concerned how we are to relate to God and to others.
The covenant at Sinai between God and Israel was between unequal parties. And it was totally undeserved on Israel’s part — it was all of grace. Israel did not keep the covenant it made with God. They disobeyed His law and worshiped false gods. They also turned the divine law into a cold, external legalism. It became a code more than the basis of a relationship with their maker.
II. Enter Jeremiah 31:31-34
Years of disobedience at last brought the nation to the brink of disaster. Those were dark days when “the weeping prophet” declared the word of the Lord. Indeed, in the darkest hour of national history Jeremiah announced the brightest hopes: “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with Israel and Judah.”
This welcome word contained three special promises:
1. “I will put my law within them. I will write it on their hearts.” The will of God would no longer be simply an external code written on tablets of stone. Now it would be engraved in the human will — a matter of internal faith. The law of God is now within us.
2. “I will forgive their iniquity. I will remember their sin no more.” Only God can do that. The law cannot change our human nature and neither can we. God does that for us in the new birth, when we are born from above. Note that God also has a good forgetter. Once we’ve asked divine forgiveness we need to learn to forgive ourselves.
3. “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Under the new covenant God would be more than a Lawgiver. He would become our Heavenly Father with whom we live in a glad relationship. Jeremiah’s promise of a New Covenant was ….
III. 1 Corinthians 11:25
At the Last Supper Jesus announced, “This cup is the New Covenant at the cost of my blood.” The birth, life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus is the gospel. In Christ, the prophetic promises became a reality.
The New Covenant is symbolized in our observance of the Lord’s Supper. This new relationship is between God and believers (the church), not a nation. It is an internal matter and not merely an external code. The New Covenant is based on faith, not merely obedience to a law, or biological inheritance. It becomes ours at the divine initiative.
Because of this New Covenant we live the Christian life in gratitude. We are set free from guilt and the bondage of sin — no longer slaves but the children of God. He is a covenant-making God — and we are glad.

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