What is the Old Covenant in the Bible?

In this post, learn what the Old Covenant is in the Bible, its history, significance, and meaning for us, Christians, today.

⚡⚡⚡ Send me a message to Joshuainfantado@gmail.com to request your free copy of “The Shocking Biblical Truth About the New Covenant.”

To better understand the truth about the New Covenant, we need to know first what the Old Covenant is.

In this post, let’s look back at the Old Covenant and know its most important facts.

How the Old Covenant was established?

God started working with the nation of Israel way back in the time of Abraham. With God’s promise that Abraham’s descendants would grow into great nations, we have seen how this promise was fulfilled and being fulfilled even to this day.

Abraham begat Isaac; Isaac begat Jacob; Jacob begat 12 children that eventually became the 12 Tribes of Israel.

The descendants of Jacob were enslaved for hundreds of years in Egypt. God used Moses to deliver the Israelites and brought them into the wilderness.

This is where the Sinaitic Covenant, also known as the Old Covenant, started.

Mount Sinai is a special place where God has revealed His will to create a covenant with Israel.

In Exodus 19:1, we read:

1 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai.

Read the entirety of Exodus 19 as you will learn how the Israelites prepared themselves to meet God and hear about His covenant proposal.

The proposal is simple:

God will make Israel the model nation of the earth as long as the nation of Israel would continue to obey God and behave within the terms and expectations of the covenant.

We read in Exodus 19:5-6:

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.  And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

As you can imagine, this offer is something extraordinary, rare, and powerful all at the same time. No other nation on the face of the planet has ever been given this golden opportunity to have a covenant with YAHWEH, the supreme Ruler and all-powerful God of the entire universe.

The introduction of God’s covenant should have been very dramatic with a lot of supernatural phenomena. There was lighting, thundering, and thick smoke covering the mountain.

It is truly a sight to behold.

Now, God will start speaking to them, “And God spoke all these words, saying …” (Exodus 20:1).

What is the Old Covenant in the Bible?
What is the Old Covenant in the Bible?

The terms of the Old Covenant

Exodus 20-23 states the terms of God’s covenant with Israel. Let me give you a quick overview of what was included:

  • The Ten Commandments
  • Law of Tithing
  • Law of clean and unclean meat
  • Laws pertaining to civil life

As you can see, some of these laws have already existed long before the existence of the nation of Israel. The Ten Commandments have already been enforced long ago. Tithing has also been mentioned as early as the time of Abraham. Food laws are also in effect even during the time of Cain and Abel.

These laws did not originate in the Sinaitic Covenant, but rather they were only codified.

Since Israel has now become a nation, the laws pertaining to civil life had been added. It’s worth noting that the statutes and laws are applications of God’s pre-existing laws.

The acceptance of the Old Covenant

At the end of Exodus 23, you will read what God has just elaborated was called “the book of the covenant” (Exodus 24:4, 7).

After speaking all the terms of the covenant, what was the sure response of the Israelites?

“All the words which YAHWEH has said we will do,” (Exodus 24:3, 7).

Now the agreement has been set. It is time to ratify the covenant.

How was it done? We read in Exodus 24:8:

“And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you according to all these words.’”

In our modern time, we use signatures to make a contract official. In Israel’s case, they used animal blood as the “ink” to sign their agreement into formality.

A relationship was established

The covenant God made with Israel is not just simply another covenant, agreement, or contract. It is the start of the relationship of God with the nation of Israel.

In many ways, the covenant God made with Israel is like a marriage covenant. Not only that, but Israel has just made God as its King and supreme Ruler. Of course, as we will read in the later parts of the Bible, Israel rebelled and eventually lost their theocratic kingdom.

The temporal and physical nature of the Old Covenant

Now, let’s talk about the main feature of the Old Covenant because it will help us better understand the need to transition from the Old to the New Covenant.

First thing you need to realize that the Old Covenant is only a temporary covenant with temporary benefits

It never lasted.


Because of the rebellion and disobedience of Israel. By not keeping the terms and conditions of the covenant, Israel was breaching, defiling, and dishonoring their covenant with God.

As a result, they were divorced by God.

In Leviticus 26:3-45 and Deuteronomy 28:1-46, we read the material blessings that Israel would enjoy if they remain faithful to their covenant. However, we also read the curses that they will suffer if they don’t keep their side of the agreement.

Notice, throughout these verses, eternal life was NEVER mentioned!

Generally speaking, eternal life was not offered to Israel. Only a few servants and prophets of God were given that chance. 

What is the Old Covenant? (Infographics)

The Holy Spirit was missing

Another vital component missing in the Old Covenant was the unavailability of the Holy Spirit. Only a handful of God’s faithful servants were given the Holy Spirit but not to the majority of the Israelites.

As a result, the people of Israel can only keep the letter of the law, but not its spiritual intent. Nevertheless, as we have seen, even this minimum requirement of the law they failed to meet.

Notice what Moses told the Israelites:

“Therefore understand that Yahweh your God is NOT giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

“Remember! Do not forget how you provoked Yahweh your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against Yahweh” (Deuteronomy 9:6-7).

The only cure to overcoming human nature is God’s Holy Spirit. That’s why God has planned long ago that He will pour down the Holy Spirit to His people once the sacrifice of Yahshua has been made.

⚡⚡⚡ Send me a message to Joshuainfantado@gmail.com to request your free copy of “The Shocking Biblical Truth About the New Covenant.”

Rituals and sacrifices in the Old Covenant

Part of the temple worship of Israel was rituals and ceremonies. These rituals are symbols that anticipate the sacrifice of the Messiah to be made in the future. Thus, the animal sacrifices and rituals made by the nation of Israel could not make them free of the penalty of sin. It only reminds them of their sin as well as the coming sacrifice.

Hebrews 9:9-10 tells us:

It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience— concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation. 

Looking forward to the better covenant

God perfectly knows that without the Holy Spirit and the sacrifice of His Son’s life, His chosen people will eventually fail. However, God has His own timetable. He has revealed even in Genesis that He will send Yahshua to die for our sins and bless the people of the whole earth.

When the Messiah completed His work during His earthly existence, He has now become the Mediator of the New Covenant. They Old Covenant was then ended and the New Covenant started.

You just have learned the deep meaning of the Old Covenant. Now, it’s time to learn more about the New Covenant.

(P.S. If this blog has inspired you or this website has helped you in any way, please consider supporting this noble work. Learn at least five easy and quick ways to help.)