Imagine making a contract with God—and not a lawyer in sight! God’s word is as good as gold.
God makes and keeps promises. But there is a special grouping of promises in the Bible called “covenants.” A promise can involve a one-off event, but a covenant is a long-term arrangement between two individuals or groups. It’s important to notice different kinds of covenants, the most significant being whether the obligations of such an agreement are held by one or both parties. A good example of a bi-lateral agreement would be the purchase of a home. The builder agrees to construct your house according to the blueprints, and, if you are satisfied with his work, you are then obliged to pay for it. If the builder doesn’t do his job, or if you can’t pay for the work, the covenant is broken. In other words, either side can cause the agreement to collapse. We will see some covenants like that in the Bible, especially the one made between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai. But the covenant that God made with Abram, recorded in Genesis 15:7-21, as well as the New Covenant discussed in the book of Hebrews, are unilateral agreements where only one party—in these instances, God—is obliged to take all responsibility for sustaining the covenant. This is crucial to understand. In the case of Abram, we read, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram” (v 12). It was while Abram was unconscious that the agreement was sealed. So if there was nothing he did to make it, there was nothing he could do to break it. This is the reason we believe it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5). The moment I place my trust in Him, my salvation is secure: I did nothing to make it; so I can do nothing to break it. As Jonah said, “Salvation is of the Lord.”