Introduction: One of the positive things about being an
American lawyer and a student of the Bible is that many of our
legal concepts reflect Biblical ideas. A covenant, which is
our subject in this lesson, is like a contract. A contract is
voluntary, is intended to benefit both parties, and is
enforceable. Contracts are not supposed to depend on how you
feel on one particular day, and should not be broken just
because you no longer see the benefit. Let’s dive into our
study of the Bible and explore the topic of God’s covenant
with His people!

  1. The Contract

    1. Let’s review by reading Nehemiah 9:1-2 and Nehemiah
      9:38. What led to this “binding agreement?” (First,
      the people listened to the reading of God’s law.
      They rejoiced in their new knowledge and they were
      distressed about how they were out of harmony with
      God’s will for them. They reviewed their corporate
      history with God and decided that they would enter
      into a written agreement to obey God.)

    2. Skim over Nehemiah 10:1-27. It lists the leaders who
      “sealed” the agreement. What does that mean? (One
      commentary said that it meant using a tool to make
      an impression with your name. Perhaps it also means
      signing it. It appears that these were people who
      were used to creating formal documents.)

    3. Read Nehemiah 10:28-29. What did the rest of the
      people do? (They agreed to the contract without
      actually signing it. I suspect these were people who
      were not used to being a part of a formal document.)

      1. Was this contract enforceable against those who
        did not actually sign? (Those who did not sign,
        gave an oath and agreed to a curse if they
        failed to follow the contract. This was a
        serious matter.)

  2. Terms

    1. Read Nehemiah 10:30. Would you make this the first
      provision in the contract? (According to Genesis
      2:24, you become “one flesh” in marriage. How can
      you remain faithful to God if half of you has
      different interests and goals?)

      1. I was reading a magazine for former church
        members who love to attack the church. One
        attacker, while explaining all the problems that
        caused him to leave the church, mentioned that
        he married someone who did not share his
        beliefs. Instantly, I knew the real reason he

    2. Read Nehemiah 10:31. Why would a Sabbath conduct
      provision be included, much less listed second?

      1. Is it like the first provision? (I think these
        two provisions have a common goal – keeping
        God’s people from being distracted from their
        relationship with God. If the Sabbath becomes a
        regular day of work and trading, you lose that
        special time with God.)

    3. Nehemiah 10:32-39 has to do with supporting the
      temple. These provisions complete the agreement. How
      do you explain this agreement? It says nothing about
      agreeing to love God. Would you decide on these
      particular provisions for an agreement with God?

      1. Why would God create the contract this way?
        (When you step back and think about it, this
        contract is about God’s people interacting with
        Him. When Jesus says “Love the Lord your God
        with all of your heart,” (see Matthew 22:36-38),
        I think that reflects this contract. The
        contract was to help the people develop a
        relationship with God.)

  3. Everlasting Agreement

    1. Read Genesis 17:1-2. What are the terms of this

      1. What did Abram promise?(Abram was to “walk” in a
        faithful and blameless way. I think “walk”
        means the general direction of his life.)

      2. What did God promise? (That Abram would have
        many descendants.)

    2. Read Genesis 17:7. What is the essential purpose of
      this agreement? (To have a special relationship
      between God, Abraham and Abraham’s descendants.)

    3. Bible scholars list many covenants between God and
      His people. They talk about the “Old Covenant” and
      the “New Covenant.” Do you think God’s purpose and
      plan for humans has changed?

      1. If not, what reason would God have for several
        different covenants?

      2. Do you think the agreement between God and His
        followers changed after Jesus’ resurrection?

    4. Let’s explore these questions by considering a
      covenant that God speaks about in the Old Testament.
      Read Jeremiah 31:31-32. What does God say in the Old
      Testament about the two covenants? (He says that the
      new one will not be like the old one.)

      1. Why are they different? (God’s people did not
        keep the Old Covenant.)

      2. How does God identify the Old Covenant? (He
        connects it to the exodus from Egypt.)

    5. Read Jeremiah 31:33. Does this New Covenant do away
      with the law? (No.)

      1. What do you think it means to put the law in
        “their minds” and to write it “on their hearts?”
        (The Ten Commandments were written in stone.
        This suggests the New Covenant involves wanting
        to do God’s will.)

    6. Read Ezekiel 36:26-27. How does this Old Testament
      text suggest this will be done? Why will we want to
      obey God? (The Holy Spirit will be in us. We will
      have a “new heart.”)

    7. Read Ezekiel 36:28-29. What is God’s role in this
      new arrangement? (He is not only our God, which is
      the historic agreement, but He saves us from sin.)

    8. Read Jeremiah 31:34. Why won’t we need Bible
      teachers? (I’m not sure this means we won’t need
      Bible teachers at all, but it does reinforce the
      idea that God’s law in written in our minds and

    9. Read Hebrews 8:10-12. Does this sound familiar?
      (Yes, this quotes what we just read in Jeremiah 31!)

      1. Step back a minute and consider this. Has God
        changed the agreement with humans? (Yes. Read
        Hebrews 8:13.)

      2. Has God always planned to make this change? (It
        certainly seems that way. Long ago the Old
        Testament prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel spoke of
        this coming new arrangement.)

    10. Let’s examine this change. Read Hebrews 8:1-2. How
      does this connect the Old and New Covenants? (It
      tells us that we still have a sacrificial system.)

    11. Read Hebrews 8:3-6. Notice the words “the new
      covenant is established on better promises.” What
      does that mean for us? (We have better terms! Our
      contract has been upgraded!)

    12. Read Hebrews 7:23-25. Why is this a better term?

    13. Read Hebrews 7:26-27 and Hebrews 10:14. How is this
      a better term? (Jesus sacrificed Himself once. That
      forever defeated the sin problem for those who claim
      His sacrifice. His one sacrifice took the place of
      the repeated sacrificing.)

    14. Read Hebrews 10:4 and Hebrews 10:14. What is the
      same between the Old and New Covenants? (Sin brings
      death. That is the point of all of the death
      connected with the sacrificial system. The good news
      then and now is that our sins do not bring our
      permanent death. God’s people were never sacrificed
      for their sins. God found a way for a substitute to
      die. The death that releases us forever from our
      sins is Jesus’ death!)

    15. Friend, when you get to know Jesus you want to enter
      into His contract. What a great, generous and loving
      God! Will you decide, right now, to accept God’s

  4. Next week: Trials, Tribulations, and Lists.