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Covenant - Berith

Covenant.

Can you use this word correctly in a sentence?  Does the word sound old fashioned or super-theological? Bible translations and paraphrases from the KJV (1611) down to The Message (2002) use “covenant” to render the Hebrew word berith into English, even though “covenant” is rarely heard in modern conversation.  So then, what is the meaning of “covenant” in modern English and what does berith signify?

Google the Merriam-Webster definition of “covenant” to find, “a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement.” A simpler equivalent might be “contract.” It is a fantastic truth that God voluntarily placed himself under binding obligation in a number of contracts recorded in the Bible. Under the Mosaic covenant (= contract) he promised to bless the Israelites in specific ways (eg., food, health, peace, safety, etc) for obedience to his laws. Check this out in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. Perhaps the best contract into which God entered is found in Jeremiah 31 where God promised his people, “I will remember their sin no more.” He was not forced or coerced to do so, He placed himself under this binding obligation voluntarily. What a great, loving, covenant-making God we have!

If you are interested in learning more about this and more, why not consider taking our theology courses? Available online and in-class, you could enrich your understanding of the Old Testament. Visit our Theology Information Page to learn more! 

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