What is a covenant? Asking for a definition of “covenant” is like asking for a definition of “mother.” A mother may be defined as the person who brought you into the world. That definition may be correct formally. But who would be satisfied with such a definition?
Scripture clearly testifies to the significance of the divine covenants. God has entered repeatedly into covenantal relationships with particular men. Explicit references may be found to a divine covenant established with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and David. Israel’s prophets anticipated the coming of the days of the “new covenant,” and Christ himself spoke of the last supper in covenantal language.
But what is a covenant? Robertson leaves no stone unturned as he explains the Bible’s covenants. As he explores each covenant in depth, he helps us to see their unity, diversity, and place in the history of redemption.
“A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered. When God enters into a covenantal relationship with men, he sovereignly institutes a life-and-death bond. A covenant is a bond in blood, or a bond of life and death, sovereignly administered.” (Page 4)
“The animal-division symbolizes a ‘pledge to the death’ at the point of covenant commitment. The dismembered animals represent the curse that the covenant-maker calls down on himself if he should violate the commitment which he has made.” (Page 10)
“This phrase ‘bond in blood’ accords ideally with the biblical emphasis that ‘apart from shedding of blood there is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22). Blood is of significance in Scripture because it represents life, not because it is crude or bloody. The life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11) and so the shedding of blood represents a judgment on life.” (Pages 10–11)
“Now Paul uses the term ‘law’ to refer to a general principle. It is by the ‘principle’ of faith-justification that boasting over righteousness is excluded.” (Page 180)
“The Mosaic covenant manifests its distinctiveness as an externalized summation of the will of God” (Page 172)