Covenant and the Prophets
To understand the role of the prophets it is necessary to understand the theology applying to covenant in the Old Testament. A covenant is essentially an agreement between two people which involves promises but in the O T a covenant is an agreement between God and his people.
There are five main covenants: God’s covenant with Noah, God’s covenant with Abraham, the Mosaic covenant, God’s covenant with David and the covenant of Christ [New Covenant].
God’s covenant with Noah was that He would never again destroy the world by flood. This was an unconditional and universal covenant.
In God’s covenant with Abraham, God promised to bless Abraham and his descendants and make them his own special people. This was in response to Abraham’s faith. God promised to bless his descendants and the rest of the world through them. (Gen. 12:1-3) This also is unconditional.
In the Mosaic, Israel entered into an agreement with God to abide by His laws and commandments in exchange for blessing and prosperity. Moses wrote the conditions of the covenant down and offered sacrifices to God. He then sprinkled both the book and people with the blood to seal the covenant.
In God’s covenant with David, God promised to send a messianic king, to bring salvation to the nation Israel and the rest of the world. In this covenant we learn of the coming of Jesus Christ.
The new covenant in Christ is an agreement God has made with mankind based on the death and resurrection of Jesus. The main concept of the new covenant was originated with the promise of Jeremiah that God would accomplish for his people what the old covenant had failed to do. (Jer.31: 31-34)
In this new covenant, God would write his law on human hearts. The new covenant is considered a better covenant as it was based on better promises and rests directly on the sacrifices and sacrificial work of Jesus Christ.
To understand the work of OT prophets we must realise that their role was to call to account God’s people’s failure to fulfil their covenant obligations and warn them of the dire consequences that would follow.