Sunday: Covenant Signs

(Gen. 9:12-17)

A covenant can be simply defined as an agreement between two parties based upon promises made by either one or by both parties. There are two basic methods by which a covenant can operate. In the first, both parties to the covenant agree to the terms of the relationship and make mutual promises. This would be the case in a marriage, business merger, or even the purchase of property. In the second category, one party initiates the covenant by stipulating both the promises and the nonnegotiable terms, and the other party is invited to participate. Examples include payment of taxes or enrollment at an educational institution. In both instances, either party is free to withdraw from the covenant, but there is usually a consequence. (For instance, a person who fails to pay his mortgage will lose his home, or a citizen who refuses to remit taxes will be prosecuted.)

Image © Darrel Tank from

Image © Darrel Tank from

A covenant is usually sealed with at least one symbol. For instance, a person purchasing a home places several signatures on a mortgage agreement with a lending institution, which keeps the title deed for the property in trust until the full amount is paid. Or married people are issued a legal document of marriage by the state. The symbol itself is not the covenant but an indicator that a person is obligated to a covenant.

Read Genesis 9:12-17 and Gen 17:2-12. What is the difference between the symbol and the covenant in these cases? Also, what are the differences between these two covenants?

In Genesis 9:9 God covenants with creation that He will never again destroy the earth with water. Whenever a rainbow appears in the sky, all are expected to remember God’s promise. The same is true for the mark of circumcision, which was supposed to remind every Jewish male of His people’s role in blessing the nations. One covenant was made with all humanity, the other specifically with the nation of Israel. Also, in the covenant made with humanity after the Flood, the people didn’t have to do anything; the promise was just there, regardless of what the people did. This wasn’t so with the second one, the one made with Israel; the people had to fulfill their part of the deal.



Sunday: Covenant Signs — 6 Comments

  1. Covenant has just made me realized so many things in my life.God is indeed a wonderful and merciful God,I really wait to study more on this Covenant Signs.. Thanks

  2. What is interesting about God’s promise of the rainbow is that it included those creatures who do not have the ability to respond to covenant requisites, “I establish My covenant with you . . . and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth” (Gen 9:9-10 NKJV). When an animal looks at a rainbow it means nothing to him but not so with man even if the covenant is not specifically being thought of. That is what the difference is between a covenant and a contract. A contract is between two parties who can respond and make an agreement but a covenant not only can have one sided stipulations but can also be a promise to self.

    What God did on the cross was the completion of a covenant He made before anything was created; therefore, there was no agreement with anyone else other than Himself. It can also be one where no matter what the response is He will do it anyway such as the promise of His first and second advents, which is something that will happen even if there is no response at all.

  3. It is very important lesson on this week we know many symbols but every People if they look rainbow they must realized about promise of God that through rain God will never destroy The world with water

  4. God's covenants are strong to every creture. They keep on reminding us about the goodness of God. example the rainbow.

  5. It's interesting to see God at work .I am studying the lesson and realizing that God could have made a promise to us but promises are passive (one party relationship).God wanted more and that is an attribute of his character ....fairness ,love ...God chose instead to enter into a covenant relationship with me and this is active ...Thanking you Jesus .....Oh how you love me

    • Yes, God's actively loving character is expressed in a covenant that is intended to develop in us an active loving character. So as we enter His covenant, we reflect His character by His power. Praise the Lord!


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