There are many applications of covenants in our society. They can fulfill a variety of purposes. Some are for businesses to provide product sales or employment contracts. Some are for political purposes, such as treaties.
One common usage is found in community CC&R’s. The letters CC&R stand for Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions. They are, in essence, the “Rules of Operation” or documents that govern the actions and responsibilities of those living in a particular community. Other covenants establish or solidify relationships, such as a marriage. Still others involve spiritual relationships. However, the true depth of meaning of the word has become greatly lost over time, and its significance is so profound that it is essential to understand the deeper application of the term. Wikipedia offers a historical perspective of the term covenant.
In historical context, a covenant applies to formal promises that were made under oath, or in less remote history, agreements in which the name actually uses the term ‘covenant’, implying that they were binding for all time.
The concept of a covenant that is binding for all time is not well understood in today’s society. Most contracts, agreements, treaties, or pledges have a timeline associated with them, such as the 99 year lease of Hong Kong by China to the British that expired in 1997. Possession of Hong Kong then reverted to China and Britain relinquished its control, and the agreement ended.
The blood covenant from early Middle Eastern cultures directly relates to the concept of a covenant contained in the Bible because the Bible is truly a Middle Eastern document. Comparisons can be drawn between other relationships, such as milk brothers or sucking brothers, who share the breast of a nursing woman while suckling even if they are not related. If a nonrelated girl and boy share milk from the same breast, they are considered related. They have a milk kinship.
If they were to marry, it would be considered incest. Likewise, blood covenants make the two parties closer than literal familial blood relatives in these cultures.
However, these types of agreements are temporary, even though in some cases they can extend beyond the lifespan of those who make them. They do not carry the deeper context of a perpetual covenant even though they may contain or be described as covenants. Since man, his laws, and his governments are finite, he cannot enforce the true meaning and purpose of a perpetual covenant that has no end.
A perpetual covenant that is binding for all time can only be made and enforced by the everlasting God and is expressed in Biblical terms. God’s covenants with man are described as everlasting or forever. God is the only one that can offer or enforce such an agreement.
In a Biblical context, a covenant means a compact or a league, which is the definition that comes from the Hebrew word, beriyth.
“covenant” - Strong’s OT:1285, beriyth (ber-eeth’)
from OT:1262 (in the sense of cutting [like OT:1254]); a compact (because made by passing between pieces of flesh): -confederacy, [con-] feder [-ate], covenant, league.
This covenant requires cutting and loss of blood since the Hebrew word OT:1285, (beriyth) (ber-eeth’) also means passing between pieces of flesh. The two parties of this covenant would sacrifice an animal, cut it in half and walk together between the pieces of flesh. This signified unity from within, because the covenant parties are binding together as one in their agreement. This is the strongest and most deeply expressed form of covenant since it requires a sacrifice with cutting, blood, and death. This is the type of solemn blood covenant that God first made with Abram (Genesis 15).
I will continue this discussion next week, but you can find out more about it in Chapter 12 “Getting in Agreement” in my book “Ideolatry – God Is Not Your Problem,” now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders.
Jesus will set you free if you let Him !
I hope my blog posts help you grow in your faith and Biblical understanding. I would like to invite you on a journey of further spiritual growth by purchasing the Ideolatry Book and Study Guide. Together, these tools will give you a strong Biblical foundation when life is difficult to understand.
May the Lord bless you and keep you... Dr. Rich Masek
To learn more about this subject read,
Chapter 12, “Getting in Agreement"
In Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem, The Character and Nature of God
Now also available in digital formats for Kindle, iBooks, Nook and Generic eReaders
You can read about more subjects from Ideolatry below.