God made at least two covenants with Abraham and his descendants — a National Covenant and a Personal Covenant.There are also two versions: Old Covenant and New Covenant.
The Old Covenant was marked visibly with circumcision. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, and everyone in Abraham’s clan were circumcised. There was little activity regarding this covenant until Moses and the Exodus. Moses was the first prophet and priest. In him the national covenant and personal covenant were embodied at once. At this time, the national covenant reigned supreme and was reflected in the tabernacle/temple worship, feast days, the promised land.
The national covenant was a collective promise and required collective obedience. Beginning with Samuel the prophet, there were continuous warnings to return to God and obey him. King David sinned when he killed Uriah the Hittite and married his widow, Bathsheba. This resulted in civil war and the dividing of the kingdom. David only kept the tribe of Judah. For several generations after the two kingdoms, prophets continued to warn the people to return to God. But they refused and in 586 BC Judah was invaded and deported to Babylon. The National Covenant was broken (abolished) due to disobedience.
The national covenant is initiated in Genesis 17 (2067 BC)
Genesis 17:5 New King James Version (NKJV)
5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations.
God’s Personal Covenant with Abraham and his descendants is less explicit. (2081 BC)
Genesis 15:1 New King James Version (NKJV)
15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
The National Covenant became dominant with Moses and the Exodus out of Egypt into the Promised Land.(1446 BC) Even then the Personal Covenant was inferred in the expression “circumcise your hearts”.
Deuteronomy 10:16 King James Version (KJV)
16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
The personal covenant continues to reside in those descendants of Abraham who love God and try to obey him. It is a mystery.
At the time of Jeremiah, when the National Covenant was broken, God promised a new covenant.(588 BC)
Jeremiah 31:31-34 New International Version (NIV)
31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
The New Covenant is NEW because it comes after the old covenant. The New Covenant is also NEW because it is different from the old covenant.
The Old Covenant was based on the Law of Moses and its penalties for disobedience, ritualistic sacrifices and convocations. If the King and priests obeyed the law, the Old Covenant remained intact. The Old Covenant was flawed. In the Old Covenant mention of circumcising the heart and removing stiff necked disobedience hints at the Personal Covenant. The Old Covenant became broken and disavowed.
The New Covenant was based on grace and forgiveness The New Covenant was perfect. In the New Covenant the law was written on their hearts. The New Covenant demanded obedience to Christ. In the New Covenant both the National Covenant and the Personal Covenant are embodied in Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is both high priest, king, and sacrifice.
The writer of Hebrews referenced Jeremiah when describing the New Covenant.
Hebrews 8:6-13 New International Version (NIV)
6 But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.
7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
8 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.
I think God intended for everyone to have a personal relationship with him from the start. Since Jesus embodies both the national covenant and the personal covenant, it may be that when I am in Jesus and believe correctly, then I may project benefits of the national covenant out from myself. It may be that Jesus Christ has already come the second time because he lives in Christians.
This new covenant was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Christians have been grafted into the promises and covenants of God. In Christ they are also descendants of Abraham through Jesus.
Matthew 26:27-29 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
27 And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, Drink of it, all of you;
28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which ratifies the agreement and is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
29 I say to you, I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new and of superior quality in My Father’s kingdom.
This New Covenant emphasizes circumcision of the heart and is mostly personal covenant. But also the national covenant is implied in Matthew 26:29.
Romans 2:29 King James Version (KJV)
29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.
It is my opinion that both the National Covenant and the Personal Covenant are embodied in Jesus and also in every Christian who obeys God, whose heart is circumcised.
The revelation of the National Covenant to the physical descendants of Abraham will happen at the second coming of Jesus Christ. Right now, all Jews are without the protection of the National Covenant. Those who love God will continue to be protected by the personal covenant promised to Abraham.
So now you know the beginning and the ending. Two covenants, one promise, one Savior.