Covenants Require Loyalty

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Question
In what ways did biblical covenants require loyalty?
Answer
Each one of the biblical covenants that is rooted in the treaties of the ancient Near East reflect that this is a relationship, that a great king has brought another kingdom into relationship with himself. And so, every covenant has this expectation of loyalty on the part of the covenant partners. Sometimes biblical scholars have suggested that some covenants are promissory and others are obligatory, that the land that's given to Abraham is a promissory covenant, and the law that's given at Sinai is an obligatory covenant. But actually, what we see in the Bible and in the ancient Near East is that every covenant has both sides to it. Promises are being made but also it comes with an expectation of caring for and maintaining the relationship. So, we see that, even in the land grant treaty where God gives Abraham land, right after that, in chapter 17 and chapter 18 there's this expectation that, "You will walk before me, and you will teach your children my ways. You will walk in righteousness and in justice." So, God gives great gifts in his covenant, but also there is this expectation of love, of loyalty, of devotion to the great king.

Answer by Dr. Gregory R. Perry

Dr. Gregory R. Perry is Vice President for Strategic Projects at Third Millennium Ministries and former Associate Professor of New Testament and the Director of City Ministry Initiative at Covenant Theological Seminary.