Why Study Covenant?


Why Study Covenant?

Download lesson 1 of Precept Ministries 11 week study of Covenant

Why would one even want to do a detailed study of covenant in the Bible? Isn't this type of study primarily for theologians? As discussed below, every believer should have a firm grasp of the glorious Biblical truths concerning covenant. And yet tragically much of the modern church has at best only a surface understanding of the truths about covenant.

Andrew Murray, the gifted nineteen century writer in Two Covenants speaks to the importance of studying covenant writing… :

Blessed is the man who truly knows God as his God; who knows what the Covenant promises him; what unwavering confidence of expectation it secures, that all its [covenant's] terms will be fulfilled to him; what a claim and hold it gives him on the Covenant-keeping God Himself. To many a man, who has never thought much of the Covenant, a true and living faith in it would mean the transformation of his whole life. The full knowledge of what God wants to do for him; the assurance that it will be done by an Almighty Power; the being drawn to God Himself in personal surrender, and dependence, and waiting to have it done; all this would make the Covenant the very gate of heaven. May the Holy Spirit give us some vision of its glory. (Murray, Andrew: Two Covenants)

Many men and women who have studied the Biblical truths about Covenant testify that it is one of the most life changing truths they have ever encountered. In fact, God mightily used the truths unveiled in the study of His covenants to supernaturally revive my marriage. My wife and I experienced the truth recorded by the psalmist…

He sent His Word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions (Psalm 107:20) (Comment: This passage referring to rebellious Israel but is applicable to rebellious believers such as myself).

Below are a few other reasons you can benefit from studying God's covenants with man.

1) Deeper Understanding of the Bible

As a result of studying Covenant you will attain a grasp of the Word of God that far exceeds anything that you have ever known or experienced before. You will come to know God more intimately in the process, which is the best gift of all. You will discover that the concept of covenant saturates the entirety of Scripture, "the crimson thread of covenant woven throughout the fabric of God's truth from Genesis to Revelation." You will come to fully appreciate how the concept of covenant saturates the Scriptures.

Lawrence Richards  - The notion of a covenant is unfamiliar today. But the concept of covenant is utterly basic to our understanding of Scripture. In Old Testament times this complex concept was the foundation of social order and social relations, and it was particularly the foundation for an understanding of humanity's relationship with God.

2) Everything God Does is Based on Covenant

You will come to understand that all God's interactions with mankind are based on covenant. You will to discover a promise that has been there all the time, hidden in vague shadows and blurred by the veil of ignorance.

3) Better Understanding of the New Covenant

You will obtain a deeper appreciation of the New Covenant with Jesus Christ and what has take place in your life when you entered into His New Covenant. You will come to know that because of His covenant of grace you can be assured that you will always be the "beloved of God" in Christ Jesus Whose hands eternally bear the marks of covenant.

4) Assurance, Freedom, Power

An understanding of Covenant will give you assurance of who you are in Jesus Christ and conversely of Whose you are in Him. It will also give you freedom from what may have bound you in the past or may be binding you right now, and awaken in you the power that is yours in Christ Jesus, power based on your New Covenant life in Christ.

5) An Attitude of Gratitude

An understanding of God's Covenants will give you a deep sense of gratitude for what God has accomplished for you in sending His Son to "cut" covenant.

6) Accountability and responsibility

You will have a greater understanding of your responsibility as a result of having entered the New Covenant as you begin to see your role in the covenant relationship with Christ.

7) Understand missing piece of the puzzle

You will understand what it means to be in covenant with God in Jesus Christ, and see as you have never seen before that truly covenant is "the missing piece of the puzzle". You will begin to see how the entire word of God fits together as you grow in your understanding of the Abrahamic covenant, the old covenant (Mosaic, "the Law"), and the New Covenant.

8) You will never be the same again!

Many have testified that as a result of beginning to truly understand the meaning of covenant their spiritual life has undergone a major transformation. This can also be your testimony if you persevere and diligently pursue studying the Biblical truths about covenant. As I alluded to above God's Spirit used the study of the Biblical truth of covenant to "RESURRECT" our marriage that was dead and lifeless and restored to it a vigor and fruitfulness that can only be ascribed to the HEALING POWER OF GOD'S WORD. If your marriage is in "trouble" or "problematic" and you are both believers, I strongly encourage you to find a study of covenant in your city and both join it. If there is no study locally, then each of you should purchase a Precept Covenant Workbook and slowly work through it together over 11 weeks. I would also recommend that you purchase the Mp3's by both Kay Arthur and Wayne Barber to supplement your study. Yes, you will spend about $100 for 2 workbooks and 2 sets of Mp3's but compare that cost to the usual cost of formal marriage counseling (I speak from experience!) but even more to the incalculable "cost" of a broken marriage covenant! After you have performed each week's lesson, you could read through the material on this site which corresponds roughly to the 11 lessons (see Index).

Spurgeon adds that "Elohim, as the Creator and Preserver, takes care of living things to preserve them; but the Lord, even Jehovah, the covenanting God, interposes in great mercy to protect his chosen servant. It was Jehovah Who entered into solemn league and covenant with His servant Noah that he would preserve him in the ark, and float him into the new world in it; and as Jehovah the covenanting One He shut him in. There is no security like that which is given us by the covenant of grace. The hand which was lifted to swear our safety has also been outstretched to effect it. The everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure guarantees salvation to all who are represented by the great Head and Surety of that covenant, even our Lord Jesus. Love and power cooperate with faithfulness and truth to keep the chosen from all danger. Dwell much upon the Covenant, and note the immutable pledges by which it is secured and the immortal principles upon which it is founded. Try to suck out the delicious sweetness which is to be found in the hive of the Covenant; for if you are an advanced child of God no form of truth can be more nourishing or refreshing to your mind. The doctrines which spring out of the covenant are peculiarly comforting to believing minds (e.g., see Exchange of Robes, Exchange of Armor and Belts, Oneness of Covenant, etc). The promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus, and can never fail nor change, since the covenant standeth fast for ever and ever. Its tenure is free and sovereign grace, and it cannot be disannulled. Here is a line of it, “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” With such a promise doth Jehovah shut us in with Christ Jesus in matchless kindness and unspeakable love (See full sermon Shut in or Shut Out)

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Spurgeon in Morning and Evening comments on God's covenant - “He hath commanded his covenant for ever.” — Psalms 111:9

The Lord’s people delight in the covenant itself.

  • It is an unfailing source of consolation to them so often as the Holy Spirit leads them into its banqueting house and waves its banner of love.
  • They delight to contemplate the antiquity of that covenant, remembering that before the day-star knew its place, or planets ran their round, the interests of the saints were made secure in Christ Jesus.
  • It is peculiarly pleasing to them to remember the sureness of the covenant, while meditating upon “the sure mercies of David.” They delight to celebrate it as “signed, and sealed, and ratified, in all things ordered well.”
  • It often makes their hearts dilate with joy to think of its immutability, as a covenant which neither time nor eternity, life nor death, shall ever be able to violate—a covenant as old as eternity and as everlasting as the Rock of ages.
  • They rejoice also to feast upon the fulness of this covenant, for they see in it all things provided for them.

God is their Portion,
Christ their Companion,
The Spirit their Comforter,
Earth their lodge, and
Heaven their home.

  • They see in it an inheritance reserved and entailed to every soul possessing an interest in its ancient and eternal deed of gift.
  • Their eyes sparkled when they saw it as a treasure-trove in the Bible; but oh! how their souls were gladdened when they saw in the last will and testament of their divine Kinsman, that it was bequeathed to them!
  • More especially it is the pleasure of God’s people to contemplate the graciousness of this covenant. They see that the law was made void because it was a covenant of works and depended upon merit, but this they perceive to be enduring because grace is the basis, grace the condition, grace the strain, grace the bulwark, grace the foundation, grace the top stone.

The covenant is…
a treasury of wealth,
a granary of food,
a fountain of life,
a store-house of salvation,
a charter of peace,
and a haven of joy.

C H Spurgeon in his book, Power in the Blood writes the following encouraging words that should serve to stimulus us to drink deeply of the truth of covenant, especially the new covenant in Jesus' blood

Believers have entered into the finished salvation that is provided for us in Christ Jesus. The blessings of our inheritance are to a great extent already in our possession. The state of salvation is no longer a land of promise, but it is a land possessed and enjoyed. We have peace with God; we are even now justified by faith (see Romans 5:1-note)

Beloved, now are we the sons of God (1 John 3:2).

We are sons right now! Covenant blessings are at this moment actually ours, just as the land of Canaan was actually possessed by Israel.

It is true there is an enemy in Canaan, an enemy to be driven out. There is indwelling sin, which is entrenched in our hearts like troops in walled cities. There are fleshly lusts, which are like chariots of iron with which we have to war. Even so, the land is ours. We have the covenanted heritage at this moment in our possession. The foes who would rob us of it will be utterly rooted out by the sword of faith and the weapon of all prayer.

The Christian, like Israel in Canaan, is not under the government of Moses now; he is done with Moses once and for all. Moses was magnified and made honorable as he made his last climb to the top of the hill, and with a kiss from God’s lips he was carried into heaven. (Deuteronomy 34:1, 5.) Even so, the law has been magnified and made honorable in the person of Christ, and it has ceased to reign over the believer.

As Joshua was the leader of the Israelites when they came into Canaan, so Jesus is our leader now. It is He who leads us on from victory to victory. He will not sheathe His sword until He has given us all the holiness and happiness that the covenant promises us. For these and many other reasons, it is clear that the children of Israel in Canaan were a type of us believers.

Beloved, those of you who are believers will relish the text. It is to believers that the text is addressed.

The eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon [you, believer] from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year (Deut. 11:12).

You who trust in Jesus are under the guidance of the great Joshua. You are fighting sin. You have obtained salvation. You have left the wilderness of conviction and fear behind you, and you have come into the Canaan of faith. Now the eyes of God are upon you and upon your state from the opening of the year to its close. (Spurgeon, R. C. H:. Power in the Blood)

Related Resources
on Covenant


  • Compiled by Dennis M. Swanson - Master's Seminary Librarian

Reference Works

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Hubner,  Hans.  “Covenant:  NT,” Encyclopedia  of  Christianity. Grand  Rapids: Eerdmans-Brill, 1998.

Jenni, E. Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament. Translated by Mark Biddle. Ed. by Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1997

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Mendenhall, G. E. “Covenant,” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Ed. by George A. Buttrick. Nashville: Abingdon, 1962.

________ and Gary A. Herion. “Covenant,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary.  Ed. by David Noel Freedman .  New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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Bock, Darrell L. “The Covenants in Progressive Dispensationalism,” Three Central Issues for Today’s Dispensationalist. Ed. by Herb W. Bateman, IV, 159-207. Grand Rapids: Kregel, forthcoming.

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________.   Abraham and David. Naperville, Ill.: Alec R. Allenson, 1984.

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________.   1 & 2 Samuel. Sheffield: JSOT, 1984.

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________.   Toward Old Testament Ethics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983.

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Youngblood, Ronald.  “The Abrahamic Covenant: Conditional or Unconditional?”

The Living and Active Word of God: Studies in Honor of Samuel J. Schultz.  Ed. by Morris Inch and Ronald Youngblood. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1983.

________.    “1,2 Samuel.”   The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.         Ed. by Frank E. Gaebelein.  Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992.

Zuck, Roy B ., ed. A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody, 1991.

Journal Articles

Barker, Kenneth L. “False Dichotomies Between the Testaments.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25/1 (March 1982):3-16.

Bock, Darrell L. “Current Messianic Activity and the OT Davidic Promise: Dispensationalism, Hermeneutics and NT Fulfillment.” Trinity Journal NS 15 (1994):60-75.

Clutter, Ronald T. “Dispensational Study Group: An Introduction.” Grace Theological Journal 10 (1989):123-24.

Cook, Johann. “Towards the Dating of the Tradition ‘The Torah as Surrounding Fence.’” Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 24/2 (1998):25-34.

Couch, Mal. “Progressive Dispensationalism: Is Christ Now on the Throne of David? Part I.” Conservative Theological Journal 2/4 (March 1998):32-46.

________. “Progressive Dispensationalism: Is Christ Now on the Throne of David? Part II.”  Conservative Theological Journal 2/5 (June 1998):142-56.

________. “Progressive Dispensationalism: Is Christ Now on the Throne of David? Part III.” Conservative Theological Journal 2/6 (September 1998):272-85. Dumbrell, W. J. “The Davidic Covenant.” Reformed Theological Review 39 (1980):40-47.

Estes, Daniel J. “Looking for Abraham’s City.” Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990):211-22.

Freedman, David Noel. “Divine Commitment and Human Obligation .” Interpretation 18 (1964):419-31.

Freeman, Hobart E. “The Problem of the Efficacy of the Old Testament Sacrifices.” Grace Journal 4 (1963):21-28.

Gelston, A. “A Note on II Samuel 7:10.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 84 (1972):93.

Howard, David M., Jr. “The Case for Kingship in Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets.” Westminster Theological Journal 52 (1990):101-15.

Hullinger, Jerry M. “The Problem of Animal Sacrifices in Ezekiel 40 –48 .” Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (1995):279-89.

Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. “God’s Promise Plan and His Gracious Law.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 33/3 (September 1990):289-302.

________.    “Leviticus 18:5 and Paul: D o This and You Shall Live (Eternally?).” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 14 (1971):19-28.

Karlberg, Mark W .  “The Significance of Israel in Biblical Typology.”  Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31/3 (September 1988):257-69.

Meredith Kline . “Dynastic Covenant.” Westminster Theological Journal 23 (1960 ): 1-15.

Laney, J. Carl. “The Role of the Prophets in God’s Case Against Israel.” Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981):313-24.

Levenson, Jon D. “The Davidic Covenant and Its Modern Interpreters.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41 (1979):205-19.

Loretz, O. “The Perfectum Copulativum in 2 Sm 7,9-11.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 23 (1961):294-96.

Mitchell, John L. “The Question of Millennial Sacrifices.” Bibliotheca Sacra 110 (1953):248-67, 342-61.

Murray, D. F . “MQWM and the Future of Israel in 2 Samuel VII 10.” Vetus Testamentum 40 (1990):298-320.

Pierce, Ronald W . “Covenant Conditionality and a Future for Israel.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 37 (1994):27-38.

Pyne, Robert A . “The ‘Seed ,’ the Spirit, and the Blessing of Abraham.” Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (1995):211-22.

Rogers, Cleon L., Jr. “The Covenant with Moses and Its Historical Setting.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 14 (1971):141-55.

________.  “The Covenant with Abraham and Its Historical Setting.”  Bibliotheca Sacra 127 (1970):241-56.

Thomas, Robert L. “The Hermeneutics of Progressive Dispensationalism.” The Master’s Seminary Journal 6/1 (Spring 1995):79-95.

Thomson, Clive A. “The Necessity of Blood Sacrifices in Ezekiel’s Temple.” Bibliotheca Sacra 123 (1966):237-48.

Tsevat, Matitiahu. “Studies in the Book of Samuel (Chapter III).” Hebrew Union College Annual 34 (1963):71-82.

Walvoord, John F. “Millennial Series: Part 13: The Abrahamic Covenant and Premillennialism.” Bibliotheca Sacra 109 (1952):37-46.

Weinfeld M . “The Covenant of G rant in the Old Testament and in the Ancient Near East.” The Journal of the American Oriental Society 90 (1970):184-203.

Wells, Paul. “Covenant, Humanity, and Scripture: Some Theological Reflections .” Westminster Theological Journal 48 (1986):17-45.

Whitcomb, John C. “Christ’s Atonement and Animal Sacrifices in Israel.” Grace Theological Journal 6 (1985):208-13.

Woudstra, Marten. “The Everlasting Covenant in Ezekiel 16:59-63.” Calvin Theological Journal 6 (1971):22-48.