The Everlasting Covenant of God, made in council of the Godhead before creation of this world, was a mystery to Old Testament Israel. They had a limited understanding of God, and no concept of three Persons in One Godhead as we believe today. Thus, much of what we have learned about the everlasting covenant of God comes with the teachings of Jesus Christ and other New Testament writings.
The Everlasting Covenant was given to Noah and to Abraham. At each of these presentations there was human interaction – a human response. When covenants were made in Old Testament times the people looked to the promises God made, and to the Ten Commandment law kept in the ark of the covenant. In turn they responded with acceptance, faith, and a commitment to the will of God.
We know now that it is only the covenant of God that can be everlasting. The human response and commitment, necessary as they are, can only be temporary as are all human promises. Thus we find simple announcements of the covenant to Adam and Eve and to Noah. To Abraham the covenant was given in great detail, and passed on to his descendants to the end of time.
Renewals were made all through the history of Israel, personal renewals when the sacrifices were made; and renewals by the entire nation when led out by the good kings of Judah. It is important here to understand the place of these renewals, their effect on people, and their relapse into idolatry when renewals were not done.
In this history, one must also see that understanding of the everlasting covenant of God was corrupted. In time people lost sight of the Redeemer who was the focus of the everlasting covenant. Forgiveness of sin through the death of the Redeemer was forgotten, and atonement was sought by careful keeping of the law and ethical living. Simple performance of the sacrifices and sanctuary services, and meticulous keeping of all aspects of law were their means for salvation.
Through the history of Israel, the covenant was renewed by the good kings of Judah. After they went into captivity, Jeremiah prophesied a “New Covenant” to replace the corrupted views and practices they followed. It was a blessing for the believing remnant. To the multitude it was another mystery as to the mission of the Messiah.