Through covenants God made with Noah, Abraham, Moses and David, He began to reveal His plan to produce an enduring holy people (Leviticus 20:26; 26:12; Hebrews 8:10). The promised New Covenant is the capstone of that revelation process.
But what is a covenant? The following answer comes from our booklet The New Covenant: Does It Abolish God's Law?
"Inherent in any covenant is the concept of a lasting commitment to a clearly defined relationship. Generally speaking, a covenant is a long-term agreement between two or more parties that formalizes a binding relationship between them. It defines their essential obligations and commitments to each other.
"In ancient times, major covenants were ratified and kept alive through symbolic rituals that reflected each party's commitment to, and acceptance of, the covenant's binding requirements. However, covenant rituals are not the same as covenant commitments and obligations.
"Rituals in divine covenants serve primarily as symbolic reminders and are intentionally given only a figurative value. The real value is in the substance of the commitments made! Through the substance of His covenants—His divine commitments—God binds Himself to perform all of the promises He makes.
"In a divine covenant, God defines the basic obligations that He imposes on Himself and, usually, on the other participants. Thus a dominant feature of a covenant is a list of blessings that God promises to give to those who honor their covenant commitments.
"A divine covenant can be compared to a sacred constitution established to regulate human relationships with God. It is a formal declaration of God's will and purpose. It typically expresses His deep love for humanity and reveals one or more major aspects of His plan for humanity's salvation."