“Israelites, to whom pertaineth…the covenants…and the promises” (Romans 9:4)
Let us consider four of the great covenants with Israel: Abraham (Gen 15), Deuteronomic (Land) (Deut. 29, 30), Davidic (2 Sam7; 1 Chron 17) and the New (Jer 31; Ezek 20:37).
There are seven, arguably eight biblical covenants if the Edenic one is included. However this is written for the express purpose of how the covenants relate between God and the nation and people of Israel. ’A covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.’ (Gruden p515)
The covenants made with the Israelites refer to the physical descendants known as the seed of Abraham. ‘ And I will establish My covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.’(Gen 17:7) These covenants should not be understood as pertaining to ‘the church’ or ‘spiritual Israel’ if this passage and a multitude of others are interpreted literally. If scripture is allegorised when there is nothing in the text indicating that it should be interpreted in that manner than there can be no objective system of interpreting scripture. Furthermore if words of the same definition and context are rendered differently then, biblical interpretation is nonsensical. However, if the covenants are comprehended in their literal sense then it is true to say that there are tremendous promises guaranteed to Israel purely because of God’s unchanging faithfulness to honour His word.
In the Tanakh (Old Testament), there is a single word used for covenant, ‘berit’ (Strongs 1285). The underlying sense of ‘berit’ is that of a “binding agreement” or “relationship” usually drawn up with a solemn vow. This is particularly the case when the divine covenant between God and his people are in view; and most of the occurrences of ‘berit’ refer to this covenant (Exp Dict p217) Also in the Greek ‘diatheke’ is used meaning a contract (espec. A devisory will)._covenant, testament’ (Strongs)
Generally speaking, covenants provide a binding sense of commitment between two parties. More importantly though ‘The specific purpose of the divine covenants is for them to be the vehicles of the expression of God’s will and purpose for man. They are also to be the effective means by which His will and purpose is fulfilled.’ (Conner & Malmin p3)
As ‘it is impossible for God to lie’ (Heb. 6:18) and as He is all powerful ’for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth’ (Re.v 19:6) and He is unchanging ‘ For I am the Lord, I change not;’ (Mal. 3:6) the recipient has total assurance that God will honour his promises.
The principle use of the word ‘promise’ in Hebrew is ‘dabar’ which according to strongs includes ‘ command, commune, pronounce, name’ and in the Greek ‘eppaglia’ meaning “an announcement, assent or pledge: espec (a divine assurance of good), message or promise.’Please note this is a series of essays and the full references/end notes are given in the last essay ‘Conclusion-How do the Biblical Covenants Relate to Israel?’