God's Word For You is a free Bible Study site committed to bringing you studies firmly grounded in the Bible – the Word of God. Holding a reformed, conservative, evangelical perspective this site affirms that God has provided in Jesus Christ his eternal Son, a way of salvation in which we can live in his presence guilt free, acquitted and at peace.



© Rosemary Bardsley 2023

In the various covenants, we see God’s commitment to bring to its ultimate completion his eternal purpose of salvation which he had in place before time began. [See this study.] There is nothing, nothing at all, that can thwart that plan, that grace, which he purposed in his Son, chosen before time began, slain before time began. ‘When the time was right God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law’ ... Galatians 4:4. Each of the covenants tessellates with this purpose of God, and points to its accomplishment. In these covenants God, who is good beyond anything we can imagine, is working his purpose out.

Immediately after the original sin, God stated that a descendant of Eve would defeat the Devil (Genesis 3:15). At this point, this promised victor was potentially any human being. [Note: this is not a formal ‘covenant’.]


In Genesis 6 – 9 we read the report about the global flood. The reason for this extreme judgement of God was the extreme wickedness of the population of the earth at that time.

Bible study. How do these verses describe the evil that was present?

6:11, 12

Think for a moment how much fear, suffering and death would be caused by that total saturation of evil! We think the evil in the world today is very bad, but it is nothing like the total evil back then – ‘every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time’. But even then God did not abandon his eternal purpose of salvation. The one through whom the saving purpose of God would be accomplished is here narrowed down – his purposes will be fulfilled through someone descended from Noah. When God’s judgement fell on the earth, by God’s grace Noah and his family survived. God, committed to his purpose, saved Noah, and established a covenant with Noah.

The pre-flood covenant: Read Genesis 6:17 – 22. Answer these questions:
Was this covenant uni-lateral (decided by one party and imposed on the other) or bi-lateral (the result of discussion and mutual agreement)?

What did God commit to?

What were Noah’s obligations?

The post-flood covenant: Read Genesis 9:8 – 17. Answer these questions:
Who decided the terms of the covenant?

What did God promise?

What sign did God give to confirm this covenant?

How permanent is this covenant?

How does this covenant tie in with God’s saving purpose in Christ?

How is God’s goodness seen in this covenant with Noah?



When we look at God’s covenant with Abraham, we see his eternal purpose, planned before time began, being revealed with more definite content.

Read these verses. What did God promise in the Abrahamic Covenant?
Genesis 12:1 – 3

Genesis 15:4 – 21

Genesis 17:1 – 8

Genesis 22:15 – 18

The key elements of God’s covenant promises to Abraham were:

Many descendants – a great nation.
The land of Canaan.
Blessing to all the nations through a single descendant of Abraham.

As with Noah, God did not ask whether or not Abraham wanted to engage in this covenant. He simply told him that this was what he was going to do, and what Abraham had to do. It was a uni-lateral covenant, established by God in faithfulness to his eternal purpose of salvation. Through the Lamb. [Read Genesis 22:1 – 14 and notice the prophetic anticipation of Christ and his death in Genesis 22:1 – 14: ‘God will himself provide the lamb.’]

Here in this Abrahamic covenant God identifies the nation within which Christ would be born out of all the nations of the earth, and the land, out of all the earth, in which he would be born, live, minister and die. [That mountain on which Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac, was the same mountain on which Jerusalem (including Calvary) was situated. Here, on this same mountain, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for us.]

Also included in the Genesis record is a further narrowing of the identity of the promised redeemer: he will be a descendant of Abraham’s son, Isaac , not Ishmael (Genesis 26:2 – 4), of Isaac’s son, Jacob, not Esau (28:13, 14), and of Jacob’s son, Judah, not any of the other eleven (Genesis 49:8 – 12).



The Sinai Covenant, also called the Mosaic covenant, was established by God and agreed to by the twelve tribes of Israel, shortly after God had brought them out from slavery in Egypt. Exodus 19:3 – 8 records the initial reference to this covenant. It does not annul the previous covenants, which were everlasting covenants. It does not replace them. Rather, it is an intrinsic part, a massive sub-point, within those covenants. Here, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, are given their role and responsibilities as the people through whom he intends to bring those everlasting covenants to completion. God will bring his eternal purpose to pass, and by this covenant he involves them in that purpose. He will remain faithful, regardless of whether or not they are faithful; but it would be far better for them if they were faithful. This covenant, along with its blessings and warnings, was restated and re-confirmed multiple times.

Bible study questions:
Exodus 19:3 – 8: What did this covenant require of the Israelites?


Exodus 34:10: What did God plan to do in and through this nation?

Leviticus 26:3 – 12: What physical and spiritual blessings would result from obedience to the covenant?


Leviticus 26:14 – 39: What would happen if they broke the covenant?



Leviticus 26:40 – 45: What was God’s reason for not totally destroying Israel if they broke the Sinai covenant?


Deuteronomy 4:31: Which covenant over-rode disobedience to the Sinai covenant?


Deuteronomy 29:10 – 13: Why did God confirm the covenant?


The Sinai covenant worked in sync with the previous covenants by providing:

Preservation of the people out of whom Christ would be born.

The nation and the land in which Jesus would live, work and die.

The context in which God would display his glory, preparing the world for the coming of Christ.

The people through whom God would reveal and record his word which pointed ahead to Christ.

The law, which Christ would fulfil perfectly, both in its righteous requirements and its penalties.

The rituals which symbolically spoke of Christ – the tabernacle, the sacrifices, the priesthood, the festivals.

In all of this the Sinai covenant reached right back to God’s initial promise in Genesis 3:15 and way ahead to the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one descendant of Abraham, through whom God’s blessing would come to all the nations of the world.

Note: There will be more about the history of Israel in a later study.



Out of all the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who entered the promised land, the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah, as we saw above. Out of Judah, the ancestral line of Christ tracked through Boaz (who married Ruth), Obed and Jesse to Jesse’s youngest son, David. [You can read about God’s choice of David in 1Samuel 16:1 – 13.] God promised David that ‘Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever’ (2Samuel 7:16).

That God is not here making a physical promise is evident in the history of Israel: there has not been a Davidic king in Israel since the Babylonian invasion in 568BC. God was speaking here of that one descendant of Eve, that one descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that one descendant of Judah to whom all rule and authority belong. God was speaking here of the coming Victor, the coming King, whose throne and whose kingdom is everlasting: Jesus Christ.

Bible study: What do these verses say about this King and this Kingdom promised to David?
Psalm 89:3, 4:

Psalm 89:26 – 37:


Psalm 132:11 – 18:


How do these verses connect God’s covenant with David to Jesus Christ?
Isaiah 9:6, 7:

Jeremiah 23:5, 6:

Jeremiah 33:14 – 17:

Ezekiel 34:23, 24:

Matthew 9:27; 15:32; 20:30:

Matthew 21:9:

Luke 1:32,33,69,72,73:

Revelation 5:5; 22:16:

In this we see all of the Old Testament covenants brought to their intended goal: Jesus Christ – his kingdom, his salvation, that embraces all the nations of the earth. God, in his goodness, accomplished his eternal purpose, despite the original human sin, despite the global wickedness, despite the sin and rebellion of Israel.



Through Christ, God establishes his new covenant with those who acknowledge Christ. This new covenant is anticipated in the Old Testament and recorded in the New Testament.

Bible study: what do you learn about the new covenant in these verses?
Jeremiah 31:31 – 34:


Matthew 26:27; Luke 22:20; 1Corinthians 11:25:

2Corinthians 3:6 – 18:


Hebrews 8:7 – 13:



Hebrews 12:24:


Hebrews 13:20 refers to ‘the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep’. The ‘eternal covenant’, which we looked at in Study 4, was in God’s mind, was God’s purpose, in each of the historic covenants. It is ‘the new covenant’ in Christ’s blood. It is the intended goal of all the historic covenants. They were not contrary to this eternal purpose of God. Rather, those historic covenants were God in his goodness bringing human history to that time and place (‘when the time had fully come’ – Galatians 4:4) when his eternal purpose, which was already an eternal reality, became visible and was implemented in the death of Christ at a specific point in physical time and physical space.

Review question: How do these covenants, all established in the context of human rebellion against God, help you to see the persistent, determined goodness of God?