“Parity” covenants were covenants struck between equals. Such as between:
- Abimelech & Abraham (Gen. 21:22-34)
- Abimelech & Isaac (Gen. 26:26-31)
- Laban & Jacob (Gen. 31:44-55)
- Jonathan & David (1 Samuel 18:1-4)
There were certain elements, steps, or signs, which signified the sealing of a covenant between two parties.
- Exchange of Robes Signified the exchange of identity. The distinctiveness of the robe you wore would indicate to which Clan or Tribe you were loyal or belonged.
- Exchange of Belts Signified the sharing of strengths or assets.
- Exchange of Weapons Signified the exchange of enemies. (Your enemies will be my enemies.)
- Sacrifice (An animal, normally a heifer, must be cut in half, head to tail.) Signified the blood covenant: “Apart from the shedding of blood, there is no covenant.”
- Walk of Death Marched through the middle of the sacrifice in a figure eight. Stating, “May it be done to me as to this heifer or worse, should I fail to keep this covenant.”
- Mark on the Body signified “Striking of hands” slashed so their blood would run together. Signifying that they were now Blood Brothers.
- Pronouncement of Blessings and Curses signified In the presence of witnesses after the cutting of the heifer, walking through the pieces, and striking the hands the following vow was made; “So long as you keep the terms of this covenant, blessed shall you be . . .”
- Covenant Meal was the meal began with the partners feeding each other the first few bites, saying, “As you are ingesting this food, you are ingesting me; you are taking me into your life.” Today the bride and groom feed each other the cake; the act is symbolic of the covenant-making ceremony.
- Exchange of Names was where Partners stood facing each other in the open field and exchanged names. This name change is precisely what occurred when God made covenant with Abram. The man’s name changed from Abram to AbrAHam. The two letters that were added are “AH,” which comes from Yahwa (YAH-way), the name of God that appears approximately 6,800 times in the Old Testament. From that time forward God takes Abram’s name and calls Himself “the God of Abraham.”
- The Exchange of the Oldest Male Child was The Tenth and Final Step to “seal” the agreement, to prove the covenant was for real, the partners would exchange oldest sons. The sons would actually move into the home of the partner to be raised. It was a painful event, but one that would prove the covenant was for real. Gen. 22:1-2 tells us “God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham?’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Take now your son.’” And Abraham obeyed taking Isaac to the mountain to give him to Yahweh through sacrifice and God stepped in and provided an alternative. And so it was with God giving His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to seal the “New Covenant” for His people.
“Suzerain” covenants were covenants between “unequals.” Such covenants existed between lords, kings and their subjects. The way these covenants worked was that a ruler would conquer a tribe or nation at which time the conquered tribe or nation had two choices. They could swear allegiance to the ruler and be afforded the benefits of maintaining life and a livelihood or, they could reject the ruler’s covenant and lose their life or be banished from the kingdom.
But God brought a new element to the otherwise common practice of covenant making. God brought the Divine into the ordinary. He became the initiator of a covenant with His people, which reached far beyond the grasp of mankind.
- “YAHWEH” God initiated a covenant with His people that had eternal consequences.
- YAHWEH & Noah: It was a covenant established on His character—UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. (Gen. 6: 18; 9—Noah)
YAHWEH & Abram: It was a covenant to be passed on from generation to generation in order that all the families of the earth might be blessed (Gen. 12, 15 & 17–Abram). It was a covenant established between “Unequals” The Divine with the Human
- YAHWEH & Children of Israel: What did God expect of his people? Look with me at Deuteronomy 4. and Deut. 7:9—“Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
- YAHWEH remembers His Covenants in 1 Chronicles 16:15 and Exodus 6: 4-5
The New Covenant
The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ fulfilled every aspect of the divine covenant relationships.
You can be assured that for every element promised in the divine covenant relationships of the Old Testament, those same elements appear in the New Covenant, completely and perfectly fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when he had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way, he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:23-26).
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”—John 3:3
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passes away; behold, new things have come.”—2 Corinthians 5:17
The New Covenant no longer requires physical circumcision. Rather, the Holy Spirit works to perform a “circumcision of the heart.” “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly: and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”—Romans 2:28-29
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first (covenant) had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. When He said, ‘A new(covenant)’ He has made the first obsolete.” – Hebrews 8:6-7, 13
Ultimately, God wants a personal relationship with everyone and the New Covenant through the death and resurrection of His only son, Jesus Christ.