A covenant in Scripture is a solemn arrangement involving a ruler and a subject. A covenant is imposed on the latter by the former, and entails blessings when kept and a curse when broken. When one enters into a covenant, he enters into the most solemn and binding arrangement of all.
Covenants are not merely contracts or promises. Rather, covenants are relationships under authority, with both obligations and rewards. The terms and benefits of the relationship are spelled out, and so are the consequences if the relationship is broken. But what is perhaps most significant about biblical covenants is that when God enters into a covenant, He must condescend to initiate it, He sets the terms, He provides the benefits, and He executes the judgment when the covenant is broken.
A covenant involves three things:
1. Promises, which God will perform if the people keep the covenant.
2. Commandments or terms, which the people must keep in order to receive the promises.
3. Warnings, of what will happen if the covenant is broken.
A covenant is a bond in blood sovereignly administered. When God enters in a covenant relationship with men, He sovereignly institutes a life-and-death bond. A covenant is a bond in blood, or a bond of life and death, sovereignly administered.