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Brit - Covenant

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Bitachon - Trust, Confidence, Safety

B’rit - Covenant

The Hebrew word for covenant is b’rit, meaning covenant, pact, or treaty. It is one of the most frequently used words in Hebrew Scriptures (appearing some 270 times) and is one of the Scripture’s most important concepts.

Ancient covenants were often made by animal sacrifice. To “cut a covenant” demonstrated the earnestness of the parties involved in the agreement. YHVH chose to cut covenant with Abram in this manner (Genesis 15:7-11, 17-18). Thus the word B’rit implies the shedding of blood in the process of ratifying an agreement.

YHVH is a covenant-keeping God who desires to be in relationship with people. There are several covenants of YHVH found in the Scriptures, including:

  • The covenant with Adam and Eve in Gan Eden (Genesis 2:15-17)
  • The covenant with Noah after the flood destroyed the earth (Genesis 9:8-17)
  • The covenant with Abraham (Genesis 15:8, 17:9), Issac (Genesis 17:19, 21), and Jacob (Genesis 28:16, etc.)
  • The covenant with national Israel after their deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 20-23)
  • The covenant with King David that one of his descendants would sit upon the throne of Israel for ever (2 Samuel 7:11-16)
  • The new covenant with Israel and Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 9:15)

The Sign of the Covenant

God made covenant with Noah after the flood destroyed the earth (Genesis 8:20-9:17). The rainbow, called in Hebrew ’ot ha-brit (the sign of the covenant), was established as a symbol of that promise.

Circumcision - Token of the Covenant

The rite of circumcision was given by God to Abraham as “a token of the covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:11-13), which is also called an “everlasting covenant.” In rabbinic literature this is also called brito shel avraham avinu (the covenant of Abraham our father) (Avot 3:11).

Children of the Covenant

The children of the covenant refer to the Jewish people, those who are in covenantal relationship with YHVH. By extension (see below), Christians are made partakers of the covenant promises given to Israel, but do not replace the Jewish people as the recipients of God’s covenantal purposes and election.

Tablets of the Covenant

The Tablets of the Covenant refer to the two stone tablets upon which YHVH wrote the Ten Sayings (aseret hadiberot) or Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 9:9-11).

Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant held luchot habrit (the Tablets of the Covenant) (Exodus 25:16, 21; 40:20) and was part of the Holy of Holies in the Mishkan. The Voice of the LORD would be heard between the Cherubim placed over the Mercy Seat upon the ark (Numbers 7:89).

The Mosaic Covenant

The covenant with national Israel after their deliverance from Egypt as mediated by Moses and is known as the “Book of the Covenant” (Exodus chapters 20-23).

Blood of the Covenant

The blood of the Covenant refers to the sealing of the terms as given in the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 24:8) in response to the affirmation of national Israel:

Note that it was not enough to simply make an affirmation of the covenant verbally: the terms of the covenant were sealed by sacrifice. Animals were killed and offered to YHVH and their blood was sprinkled on the altar and on the people. As Moses sprinkled the people he declared solemnly: “The blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”

The New Covenant

Some Christians assume that the New Covenant is really intended for the Christian Church which has somehow replaced Israel in God’s plan. This is not true. The New Covenant, or B’rit Chadashah, is mentioned only one time in the Tanakh (Jeremiah 31:31-33) and is explicitly addressed to the Jewish people:

    "Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant (b’rit chadashah) with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law (Torah) within them, and I will write it (the Torah) on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33 ESV)

This is a covenant for and with the people of Israel, not instead of them. Non-Jewish Christians are made partakers of the covenant promises given to Israel (Ephesians 2:12) but they do not replace the Jewish people as the recipients of God’s covenantal purposes and election (Romans 11:28). Remember, dear Christian: you are not the root, but the root (Israel) bears you (Romans 11:18).

As the Apostle Paul teaches, God introduced a “mystery” to the New Covenant (Romans 11:25) that offered non-Jews special grace to enter into the New Covenant. Why? In order to make Jewish people jealous and draw them back to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Romans 11:11). Paul knew that God would again open the eyes of Israel and save them in the future (Romans 11:27-29) and that He would never cast them away.

Ultimately, then, the New Covenant is an “already/not yet” state of affairs. Already the Mashiach Yeshua has come and offered Himself up as Kapparah for our sins; already He has sent the Ruach Hakodesh to write the Torah upon our hearts; already He is our God and we are His people.

However, the New Covenant will not be ultimately completed until national Israel is entirely back in their ancient homeland and turned to Yeshua HaMashiach as their Savior and LORD. In the meantime, we are in a period of mysterious grace, wherein we have opportunity to offer the terms of the New Covenant to people of every nation, tribe and tongue. When the “fullness of the Gentiles” is come in, God will turn His full attention to completing His covenant with Israel. Maranatha!

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