The Covenants of God

The Differentiator
Vol. 25 New Series October, 1964 No. 5

The Covenants that were made by God with man have, one may say, not only an influence upon the course of events in history, but were determining factors in God's relationship with those with whom He made those various Covenants. Some of these Covenants are well known and frequently some reference is made to one or other—the Covenant made with Noah, after the Flood, with its token with rainbow; the Covenants made with the fathers, Abram, Isaac and Jacob; the Covenant of Sinai, made with the children of Israel and that one made with the same people, or rather the next generation, on the Plains of Moab; the Covenant made with David concerning his house and continuation of his throne; and finally, the New Covenant yet to be made.

However, a search of the Scriptures reveals others that receive little notice, being considered insignificant in relation to the main issues, or have not been noticed at all because of the failure of the student to separate things that differ. There are also covenants that were made between one man and another, between peoples and between rulers, which, although they may fit in to the wider pattern, will not come under review in this study, "The Covenants of God."

The most obvious of the first category are the Covenants that God made with the Levites concerning the Priesthood and the service of the Tabernacle at Sinai (c.f. Exodus 32:26-29, with Nehemiah 13:28, 29 and Malachi 2:4, 5, 8), and that made with Phinehas and the priesthood of his descendants {Numbers 25:11-13).

Another Covenant that appears to have escaped notice altogether is the Covenant that God established or confirmed with Noah before the Flood (Genesis 4:18). Consideration must be given to this as being distinct from the Covenant made after the Flood (Genesis 9: 8-18). Although Gen. 4:18 is the first mention in the Word of God of a Covenant, it is possible that this Covenant may refer to an unrecorded Covenant that God made with Adam, subsequently to the fall, in the terms of Gen. 3:15, ratified by the blood of the animals that then provided the skins by which God clothed Adam and Eve. This inference would fall into line with the habit of Covenants occurring shortly after some momentous event happening in the life of an individual or the Nation of Israel. Such as the case with Noah after the Flood, with Abram after his separation, with Israel after the Exodus, with the children of Israel after the wanderings in the wilderness were finished, virtually the crossing of Jordan, after which they were circumcised at Gilgal in token of their Covenant relationship. The New Covenant will be made with the whole of Israel after the return of the Lord at the commencement of the Millennium.

But this does not exhaust the Covenants that God makes with Israel, either in the past or in the future, for there is a Covenant that enters into prophecy, connected with the future restoration of Israel to the land and connected with the wilderness of the Peoples, in bondage to which they are to be brought before they Enter into the land. And there is yet another Covenant to follow after their entry, known as the Covenant of peace (Ezek. 34:25 and 37:26) which is not the New Covenant.

But there is yet another Covenant that has been passed over by students and expositors, not that much has been written concerning it, but there has been failure to realise that at Sinai there were TWO Covenants. In regard to the basic commandments they were identical, but in their conditions there was a vast difference.

At Sinai God made two distinct Covenants with Israel. The first was broken when Israel worshipped the golden calf, and was symbolised by the tables of stone cast down and broken by Moses. These had been wrought and written on by the finger of God. The second Covenant was symbolized by the tables of stone hewn by Moses and then written by God and placed in the ark of the Covenant under the covering of the mercy seat.

The amount of detail that is recorded concerning the first of these two Covenants is remarkable in contrast to the second.In the way of headings these details may be laid out thus:—

Anticipated Exodus 15:26;
Propounded Exodus 19:3-6.
Communicated 7
Received 8.
Proclaimed 19.
Imparted 20:1—23:33.
Expounded 24:3-
Recorded 4-
Ratified 8
Amplified 24:1—31:11.
Betokened 31:12-17
Inscribed 18 and 32:15, 16.
Infringed 32:1-
Violated -1-6.
Disrupted 19.

This is the Covenant of Jeremiah 31:32, "The Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My Covenant they brake."

Now, a broken Covenant is an agreement made null, and void. Its conditions can be no longer observed. Its penalties alone remain in force, and but for the intercession of Moses in Exodus 32:11-13, and 30-32, the children of Israel would have suffered that penalty and would have been blotted out, consumed of the Lord (Ex. 32:7-10).

Even after this intercession the Lord made known to Moses that no longer would He go with them as heretofore; but again the intercession of Moses prevailed, "and He said, My Presence shall go with thee." (Exodus 33:1-3, and 14-17).

This first Sinai Covenant that was broken, referred to by the Prophet Jeremiah as "the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt," may well take one back to a foreshadowing of the imminent Covenant in Ex. 15:26 (c.f. Ex. 14:5, 6). This will give some small indication of what this Covenant would have brought to Israel had they not corrupted themselves and broken it.

With the prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel before us it may be inferred that the conditions which will prevail in the yet future might have come about under this first Covenant. It is of little use speculating as to what might have been, but it can well be borne in mind when these prophecies are being studied, and especially so when consideration is being given to the Covenant that God promises to make with His People after their return to the land, having been "brought again under the bond of the Covenant" (Ezek. 20:37), which would be that "yoke upon the neck. . . which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear (Acts. 15:10). Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children" (Gal. 4:25).

After all these intercessions on the part of Moses: "And the Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth," "He said, Behold, I make a Covenant. . . Write thou these words; for after the tenor of these words I have made a Covenant with thee and with Israel." (Ex. 34:10, 17).,the first Covenant that was made and broken was embodied in the second, and, perhaps that is the reason why they have not been kept apart; but the second was extended by many more precepts and commandments and became a sore affliction to the People. To these were added the ceremonial laws of Leviticus, the law of the sacrifices, the laws of the Feasts of the Lord, the law of the Jubilee, the laws concerning leprosy and those concerning vows. It is more than possible that at least some of these would not have been part of the first Covenant, had it not been broken. It was as if the Lord had said, "0 Israel, you are so impatient for ritual, such as you have been accustomed to in the worship of the false gods of Egypt that you have corrupted yourselves and gone back to them. Well, ritual you want and ritual you shall have, as when you murmured against Me and desired flesh to eat and I gave it to you, so will I give you ritual that will tie you down to bondage for your transgressions."

"For the law. . . can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. . . But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance againmade of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood ofbulls and of goats should take away sins. (Heb. 10:1-4)."There could only be an atonement (KAPHAR), a 'suitable covering' to tide over and to teach them of Christ (Gal. 3:19; Romans 10:4, 5).

If the distinction between the two Covenants of Sinai is seen and if due weight is given to that distinction without prejudice, much light will be thrown upon subsequent Scriptures and thereby better understanding of the prophecies made that concern the restorations of Israel to the land, (a) that was given to their fathers and occupied, and (b) that was promised to Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the River of Egypt unto the great River, the River Euphrates. (Gen. 15:18)." Here two separate restorations that are yet future. One that corresponds to the entrance under Joshua and the other that corresponds to that which would have taken place under the first Covenant of Sinai, had it not been broken. It might be helpful, here, to tabulate these Covenants:—Series Israel Number Covenant Title Token Reference Series

1 Noahic (possibly Adamic) Gen. 6:18
2 Noahic, post-diluvian Rainbow Gen. 9:9-17
3 Abramic, Isaac & Jacob Circumcision Gen. 15. & 17 1
4 1st Sinaiatic (broken) Ex. 19--32. 2
} Sabbath
5 2nd Sinaiatic (bondage) Ex. 34 3
6 Levitical & Priesthood (c.f. Ex. 32:26-29, Neh. 13:28, 29
and Mal. 2:4, 5 & 8)
7 Phinehas & Priesthood Num. 25:11-13
8 Plains of Moab Philactaries Deut. 6--28 . 4
9 Davidic & Kingship 2. Sam. 23.
10 Restoration of No.5 Ezek. 20:37 5
11 Covenant of Peace (holy covenant) Ezek. 34:25& 37:26 6
12 The New Covenant Jer. 31:31-34 7

J. G. H. Steedman


The Differentiator Revisited 2009

Send Comments, Suggestions, Etc. to: