By Covenant, Not Contract


When the Bible reveals God as a covenant God, it means He has entered into a relationship that cannot be changed by your behavior. A relationship that is not dependent on the performance of one of the parties.

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 7Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. 8Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any”—Isaiah 44:6-8.

Prophets like Isaiah were all about being God’s spokesmen. They often began statements with, “Thus says the LORD.” And in the Bible, LORD is the title for God as a covenant God. We have a covenant relationship with God, because that’s what He decided. He is the covenant-making-and-keeping God. He is not a contract God—and the difference has eternal significance.

Imagine you have an appointment with a dentist and decide not to keep it. When the dentist finds out, he won’t give you another thought, but will just go on to the next patient. Or if you make a deal to sell your house, but suddenly your buyer reneges and walks away—the relationship is over. That’s how contract relationships work. 

A covenant is not a contract. When the Bible reveals God as a covenant God, it means He has entered into a relationship that cannot be changed by your behavior. If God were a contract God, then when you act incorrectly or live sinfully, the contract would be broken. But a covenant is a relationship that is not dependent on the performance of one of the parties. All the responsibility lies with the one participant who can keep the covenant—God Himself.

If you are saved by faith in His Son Jesus, God says, “I’m making a covenant commitment to you. I’m entering into a relationship with you that you can’t mess up in any way.”

Aren’t you grateful you don’t have a contract relationship with God? When you fail to perform, as we all do, He doesn’t say, You know what? You broke the contract. It’s over!

In chapter 49, Isaiah describes God’s covenant relationship with us as like a mother’s love for her newborn child. If you’re a parent, and your child fails to obey God or do something you ask of them, does it end the relationship? Absolutely not. While failures may hurt fellowship, they don’t destroy covenant relationship.

When God speaks in Isaiah 44, He is declaring His unchanging partnership through a covenant. You are in relationship with One who is like no other, anywhere, anytime! Because of His covenant love, God will satisfy you with His kindness . . . He forgives you in His mercy . . . His life in you can bring absolute delight. You can be glad, because even though you fail many times and in many ways (see James 3:2), God is absolutely faithful. He “cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13), and He’s in it for the eternal long haul.

The LORD of Hosts has said, “I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). He wants you to be completely on board with His sovereign plan and perfect wisdom for your life, as He keeps His covenant. So, fear not! Our God is the ultimate promise keeper.


  • When was the last time you let your performance dictate the closeness of your relationship with the Lord?
  • Do you believe that God loves you no more on your good days and no less on your bad days? How can you strengthen your faith in His covenant-keeping character? 


Covenant-keeping Lord, how glad I am to be in Your presence, boldly coming to the throne of grace to receive what You have for me today. There are needs to mention and gratitude to express, but I know You have drawn me close to simply experience covenant with You. Your grace is so amazing! Though I am unworthy, You welcome me as Your child and assure me of Your love. I am eternally grateful You are the covenant-keeping God! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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