God's covenants with man
A covenant is an agreement between two parties, in this case God being one party, in which the parties promise what they will do for the other party. The other party in this case is either all of mankind or the Israelites. The covenants may be conditional, in which case God undertakes to keep his part of the covenant on condition that the other party keeps theirs, or unconditional, in which God promises something without expecting anything in return.
There is some disagreement as to how God's covenants are to be counted, with some counting as two distinct covenants what others count as two parts of the same covenant. There are also times when an old covenant was renewed.
The first covenant was made between God and Adam. God promised Adam that he would rule over all the animals and birds, and all the plants were his for food, with one exception. This covenant was conditional, as God required that Adam not eat of one particular tree in the Garden of Eden.
Following Adam's failure to meet the requirement of the Edenic covenant, God made another covenant with Adam. Life was to be harder, but there was also the promise of a future solution.
Following the flood, God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the world with a flood, as well as repeating the promise that mankind would rule over the animals. Also apparently new in this covenant is God giving man animals for food. This was an everlasting covenant, and God said that the rainbow would be a reminder of it.
God's covenant with Abraham included the promise of the land of Canaan, a promise that his descendants would become nations, and that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, a reference to the coming Messiah.
The Mosaic covenant is the covenant that God made with the Israelites that He rescued from Egypt under Moses' leadership. It includes the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Mosaic law. This covenant included protection from enemies, but was conditional on the people obeying God, which they often failed to do.
The covenant God made with King David included that it would be from David's descendants that his successors as king would always come. This covenant culminated in Jesus, whose lines of descent from David are documented by Matthew and Luke, being the King of Kings.
Through Jeremiah, God had promised that there would one day be a new covenant. This new covenant, an everlasting one replacing the old Mosaic covenant, was introduced with Jesus. The new covenant offered God's forgiveness of sins, and the was made with all mankind.
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