Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you.
Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.
12:3 I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NET Bible)
The English word covenant means, “A written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action” (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary). "Covenant" expresses the fundamental meaning of both the Old Testament Hebrew word "berit" and the New Testament Greek word "diatheke." Covenant is an act of grace on God's part for reconciling man to himself, but man's response should not be overlooked" (Smith's Bible Dictionary).The Bible clearly states that after the creation of the universe, God decided to create man in His own image and likeness. Genesis 1:26-28, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” So man was created in the supernatural image of God without sin and blameless.
The first man Adam, was given the authority to be Lord over God’s creation, he had the power to dominate as well as to control and rule everything made by God.In God’s own plan, He desire man to be at peace with his environment. The Garden of Eden was a peaceful home of dwelling for both Adam and Eve. It was a place of fellowship between them and God. A place of happiness and joy. They have access to their daily needs. The devil, been so envious of the divine plan of God for man tries to spoil it by making man to rebel against God. This rebellion allows sin to rule and dominate in man. The fall of man is recorded in the Book of Genesis 3:6-7, “When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (NET Bible). The results of this rebellion led to the destruction of humankind. Adam and Eve for the first time saw their nakedness. Spiritually, the glory of God was their covering. Sin and disobedience takes away the glory of God.
Man was therefore asked out of the Garden of Eden. The friendly environment now becomes a hostile place to him. The devil had therefore achieved his target of making man to rebel against God so as to take away the glory upon man. Through out the ages, man rebel against God. Sin dominated the entire earth that God has to destroy what He created by flood. After the flood, man continue to rebel against God. A man known as Abram was chosen by God. God established His covenant with him. Insurance was reached out between God and Abram, that through him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Abram was blessed to be a blessing to nations. Abram walked faithfully and righteously with God. In all his ways he did not sin against the most high God. God blessed him and his descendants after him.
God created man with the potential to have a relationship with Him (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, He has initiated many agreements with man--some conditional, some unconditional. Since God wants us to obey Him, many of these covenants stress the necessity of obedience as a condition to receiving what He promises.
The first scriptural mention of "covenant" is found in Genesis 6:18. God promises to spare Noah and his family from the impending worldwide deluge. This "covenant" was primarily an act of God's grace (Genesis 6:8). But Noah's responsiveness to God was also a significant factor (Genesis 6:9).
God established another covenant with Noah after the Flood, promising to never again destroy the earth with water (Genesis 9:11-17). This covenant was unilateral and fundamentally unconditional. It was simply an expression of God's grace.
Some claim God's covenant with Abraham mentioned in Genesis 15:18 is the main covenant He made with Abraham. But this account is more like an oath that He would fulfill what He promised. Genesis 17 describes the formal institution of the covenant. Here God spells out the terms and conditions of this historic pact. God's promises are conditioned upon Abraham's obedience (Genesis 17:1, 26:3-5). This covenant was also extended to Isaac and his descendants (Genesis 17:9, 24:60, 27:28-29, 28:10-14). Circumcision was the "sign" or physical brand of identification of the human participants (Genesis 17:11).
Genesis 22:16-18 describes the "seed" promise which Paul refers to in Galatians 3:16. Again, although fundamentally based on God's grace, the context clearly ties God's offer to Abraham's obedience.
God delivered Israel from Egypt due to His prior covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Exodus 2:23-25, Exodus 6:2-8). God then makes a covenant with Israel (through Moses as mediator) (Exodus 19:1-8). Israel glibly accepts the offer, not realizing they don't have the nature to fulfill God's requirements (Exodus 19:8, Deuteronomy 5:28-29). The terms and conditions of this covenant are spelled out in the remainder of the book of Exodus and reiterated in Deuteronomy.
Exodus 31 expounds yet another covenant to emphasize the monumental importance of the Sabbath as an identifying sign of God's people.