by Mike Holmes
Most people use the term “covenant” and “testament” interchangeably. They’ll say things like, “THAT was for the old testament and we’re new testament believers.” Not realizing there is a vast difference between “covenant” and “testament.”
There are two Hebrew words which carry the idea of “covenant.” The first word is “berith” which sometimes carries the idea of a one sided promise of grant; or in other words, it’s a guarantee which a more favored person gives a less favored one. When the covenant is made with God (or when God makes the covenant with a person) we can see the application.
The second Hebrew word is “brit” meaning covenant, pact, or treaty. It is one of the most frequently used words in Hebrew Scriptures. These are some of the distinct covenants given in the Scriptures:
- The Adamic covenant
- The Noahide covenant
- The Abrahamic Covenant
- The Mosaic Covenant
- The Palestinian Covenant
- The Davidic Covenant
All of these have the same characteristic: they are treaties where promises from a more favored Person are towards a less favorable one. In other words, they are contracts where they less favored receives more than the more favored.
Incidentally, “Berith” and “Brit” are synonymous with the word “vouchsafe.” Vouchsafe distinctly means a lord or someone else superior condescending down to help someone lower than himself. Thank God for a God who takes the initiative and “stoops down” to establish covenants of very great and precious promises!
A testament is different.
A testament is a solemn declaration by a witness in a court of law (or testimony). In fact, under Ancient Roman Law the oath was taken while the witness took hold of his testicles – hence the term testimony. By so doing, he both swore on his descendants (or manhood) and demonstrated his competence to testify by demonstrating that he was not a woman.
To sum it up: “covenant” was a contract whereas “testament” was a testimony OF that contract (and it’s benefits). This is why the covenant of giving is found in both Testaments.The covenant of giving is a completely lopsided contract. For what He requires pales in comparison to what He promises:
- For 10 percent He promised the windows of heaven would overflow witha blessing so great there’s not enough room to take it in.
- He promised that as we sow seed He would multiply that seed and increase the fruits of our righteousness.
- He promised that for bountiful giving there would be a bountiful crop and His super-abounding grace.
- He promised He would teach you how to profit and lead you in the way you should go.
- He promised He would increase you more and more, you AND your children.
- He promised that as we honored Him with our substance that are barns (or storage places) would be filled.
- He promised that as we scattered we would increase.
- He promised that if we had a bountiful eye we would be blessed.
Those are some pretty hefty promises!
What do you think: are the cards stacked in your favor? Is there a difference between covenant and testament?
What are your thoughts?
Mike Holmes is founder of Tithehacker.org, a site dedicated to stirring up a revolution of giving. He is also the author of I Shall Raise Thee Up: Ancient Principles for Lasting Greatness. It’s a book teaching how people are raised up as they learn and apply certain time-tested and timeless principles. He is also the husband of 1 lady and the father of 2 small people.