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Morrish Bible Dictionary

Covenant

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To this subject as spoken of in scripture there are two branches:

1. man's covenant with his fellow, or nation with nation, in which the terms are mutually considered and agreed to: it is then ratified by an oath, or by some token, before witnesses. Such a covenant is alluded to in Galatians 3:15 ; if a man's covenant be confirmed it cannot be disannulled or added to. When Abraham bought the field of Ephron in Machpelah, he paid the money "in the audience of the sons of Heth" as witnesses, and it was thus made sure unto him. Genesis 23:16 . In the covenant Jacob made with Laban, they gathered a heap of stones to be witness between them, and "they did eat there upon the heap." Genesis 31:46 . When the Gibeonites deceived Joshua and the heads of Israel, "the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, and . . . sware unto them." Joshua 9:14,15 . So to this day, if a stranger in the East can get the head of a tribe to eat with him, he knows he is safe, the eating is regarded as a covenant. In 2 Chronicles 13:5 we read of 'a covenant of salt;' and to eat salt together is also now regarded as a bond in the East.

2. The covenants made by God are of a different order. He makes His covenants from Himself, without consulting man. With Noah God made a covenant that he would not again destroy the world by a flood, and as a token of that covenant, He set the rainbow in the cloud. Genesis 9:8-17 . This kind of covenant takes the form of an unconditional promise. Such was God's covenant with Abraham, first as to his natural posterity, Genesis 15:4-6 ; and secondly, as to his seed, Christ. Genesis 22:15-18 . He gave him also the covenant of circumcision, Genesis 17:10-14 ; Acts 7:8 , — a seal of the righteousness of faith. Romans 4:11 .

The covenant with the children of Israel at Sinai, on the other hand, was conditional: if they were obedient and kept the law they would be blessed; but if disobedient they would be cursed. Deuteronomy 27,28 .

In the Epistle to the Galatians the apostle argues that the 'promise ' made by God — "the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ" — could not be affected by the law which was given 430 years later. Galatians 3:16,17 . The promise being through Christ, the apostle could add respecting Gentile believers, "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to promise." Galatians 3:29 .


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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Covenant '. Morrish Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/mbd/c/covenant.html. 1897.

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