The Old Covenant

The Old Covenant

What is clear from this is that our God is a covenant maker. There are 5 covenants recorded in the bible between God and people.

  • Noahic
  • Abrahamic
  • Mosaic
  • Davidic
  • New Covenant

Why would God want to make a covenant between himself and humanity?

God is not just wanting to relate to us,

– He wants a committed relationship.

* If God was a stand back, watch from afar God he could have chosen to not  engage with us at all. 

** Covenant about the exchange, (the belt) everything i have I give to you. My strength, my wealth, my ability to bless you, forever.

– He wants us to know what to expect from Him in that relationship

Covenant DTR’s our relationship with God. It brings in certainty. This is what you can expect from me, and this is what I expect from you.

“For your husband is your Maker,

Whose name is the Lord of hosts;

And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,

Who is called the God of all the earth.

Isaiah 54:5

**MARRIAGE** is not just a piece of paper.

The three types of ancient covenant:


This covenant is between a stronger and weaker party, and where the greater party takes on all the obligations of the covenant. The lesser party only needed to receive the covenant.


A kinship covenant is entered into by two parties of equal status. The obligations of the covenant are shared equally by both parties. This type of covenant had a small list of obligations and was shared by both parties.

Vassal (suzerain-vassal) 

A greater party enters into covenant with a lesser party based on the greater party’s ability to destroy the weaker party. The greater party imposed a list of obligations upon the lesser party in exchange for protection. This covenant was typically entered into when a king conquered a nation. In this covenant protection would be offered in exchange for the ability to collect taxes and tributes, and take slaves.



Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9)

9 “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you;10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. 11 I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Everyone on the earth had been drowned in the Flood. You imagine what Noah felt when it began to rain!

What type of covenant is this? Grant!

God only asked of them that which was completely in their capacity to do.

1And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

No subdue!

Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 15)

 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

God makes this covenant with Abraham by appearing a smoking firepot with a blazing torch and passing between the sacrificial animal when Abraham is asleep. IT’s NOT UP TO HIM.

What type of covenant is this? Grant!

Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7)

8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 

28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,

 I have sworn to David my servant, 4 ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations.’” (Psalm 89:3-4)

What type of covenant is this? Grant!

Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19)

What pattern are we seeing? God makes Grant covenant with people.

Not based on what we can do but His promises to us.

So what Covenant type does God offer to Israel?

Let’s pick up the story in Exodus 19.

The Israelites reach the foot of Mount Sinai led by the cloud of God’s presence. He has fought for them… He has provided for them… He has led them… He is going to bless them.

In Exodus 19:3-6

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fullyand keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6 you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

God offers a Grant Covenant:

– Divine protection

– Divine privilege of being a nation of priests (Everyone would have direct   access to Him)

8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.

Then God tells them to get ready for the marriage ceremony 

9 The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”

It is all going great up to this point, but something goes wrong…

Fast forward to 18-19

18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke,because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

At this point something happens in the storey that Deuteronomy 5:23-27

gives us an invite into…

23 When you heard the voice out of the darkness, while the mountain was ablaze with fire, all the leaders of your tribes and your elders came to me. 24 And you said, “The Lord our God has shown us his glory and his majesty, and we have heard his voice from the fire. Today we have seen that a person can live even if God speaks with them. 25 But now, why should we die? This great fire will consume us, and we will die if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer. 26 For what mortal has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived? 27 Go near and listen to all that the Lord our God says. Then tell us whatever the Lord our God tells you. We will listen and obey.”

Israel gets scared… They tell Moses we don’t want to meet God face to face. You do it.

God adjusts to their requests and summons Moses up the mountain.

It is easy to miss the significance of this but in effect what happens is the Lord adjusts to Israel’s request and rather than the whole tribe going up the mountain only Moses and Aaron are allowed up.

The result of this is that Israel shifted the covenant from a Grant Covenant to a Kingship Covenant.

What’s a Kingship Covenant? A Covenant between two equal parties. Sounds not too bad does it. Being in partnership with the living God!

The trouble is that Israel is now required to bring something to the party. They are given the rules of the Covenant – tGod gives them just 10 – the 10 Commandments! 

Trouble with this is that in the ratification of a Kinship Covenant the rules stipulated that in the event there was a breach in the agreement the Diety they called on to ratify the agreement would have to punish them. Guess who has to punish them? God. And this drastically changes how God relates to them before and after the signing of the Covenant.

Before the Covenant at Sinai

After the Covenant at Sinai

The Israelites grumble at the start of their journey led to no punishment (Exodus 15:22-26)

The Israelites grumbling leads to a destroying fire (Numbers 11:1-3)

The Israelites grumble about manna and quail led to no punishment (Exodus 16:1-15)

The Israelites grumbling leads to a killing plague (Numbers 11:33-34)

Sabbath violation results in a reprimand (Exodus 16:27-30)

Sabbath violation results in a death by stoning Numbers 15:32-36)

The Israelites grumble over the water led to no punishment (Exodus 17:1-7)

The Israelites grumble over food and water led to the Lord sending deadly serpents among the people (Numbers 21:4-6)

I know this is a lot to take in but things go further south in God and Israel’s covenant. 

Over the course of 40 years Israel does such a bad job at their end of upholding the 10 Commandments that they have their covenant type with God down graded even further to a vassal covenant.

In ancient times if two Kings were in a Kinship convent together but one of the kings was a terrible covenant partner, when the king died the covenant partner had the right to make a new covenant with his successor.

So when Moses dies and Joshua takes over, God downgrades the Kinship Covenant to a Vassal Covenant. 

Remember a Kinship Covenant is between two equal parties and a Vassal Covenant is between a Greater and a Lesser party.

Whilst there are 10 requirements for Israel at Sinai, when God down grades the Covenant to a Vassal Covenant in Deuteronomy 1 Israel are required to meet 613 Laws.


God wanted a relationship defined within a covenant where He could bless us not punish us.

God preferred way to do this was through a Grant Covenant where he took all the obligations to bless and provide and we are the benefactors of this agreement.

The Vassel Covenant that Israel received veiled God’s heart and never fully expressed the desires of His heart for relationship. It set Him up as punisher. Furthermore, God repeatedly found Himself in a covenant with an unfaithful partner. The Old Covenant was not a good one. If it had been, there would have been no need to look for another. 

This is a pattern that we see throughout the OT where God acted in accordance with the covenants He made. This helps us understand many of His actions as recorded in the OT. To the critic, it seems that God was unfair, treating di erent people by di erent standards. Indeed, that is exactly what God did in OT times. Such favoritism is unavoidable when a person is a covenant-maker and a covenant-keeper. By definition, a covenant-maker favors covenant-partners.

The Old Covenant was for God and Israel. It was His agreement with Israel.


Israel had a slave mentality. Lived under Pharaoh. Liked being told what to do.  Felt a comfort in this.


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