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The Importance of the Covenants

The fundamental question to which all theology addresses itself is the God-man relationship. How does God relate to man? How can man establish a relationship with God? Is man God's pawn who has absolutely no say at all in his ultimate destiny? Can there be any real stability, dependability and predictability to this one-sided relationship of the infinite, perfect God with finite, sinful man?

The Bible answers these questions by showing us that the divine-human relationship is based on a covenant. This idea of a covenantal relationship between God and man is so basic and overwhelmingly predominant in the Scriptures that the two great sections of the Bible have appropriately been called the Old Testament (Covenant) and the New Testament (Covenant).

The thirty-nine books of the Old Testament are about God's covenant with men. "The covenantal idea was a special feature of the religion of Israel." —Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, eds. Botterweck & Ringgren (Eerdmans), Vol.2, p.278. " . . . the covenant idea played a large part in giving Israel's religion its distinctive character in comparison to the religion of her neighbours, almost as much as did her characteristic monotheism."—Delbert R. Hillers, Covenant: The History of a Biblical Idea (Johns Hopkins Press), p. 66. The writings of Moses and the prophets are covenant documents and should therefore be studied in that light.

The twenty-seven books of the New Testament are also about a covenant between God and man. Christianity too is a covenantal religion. Its documents are covenantal documents.

The whole Bible, therefore, is about a divine-human relationship which is based on a covenant. The covenant theme is not just one of many interesting Bible doctrines; it is part of the very framework of biblical theology. Whereas the study of some things in the Bible may be regarded as optional as far as understanding its essential message is concerned, some understanding and appreciation of the covenants is indispensable to a sound knowledge of the Scriptures.