What is the Covenant?

“A Covenant in a religious sense is a binding agreement between God and man, whereby God requires of man certain behaviour in return for which He guarantees certain blessings, or whereby He gives man certain bounties in return for which He takes from those who accept them an understanding to behave in a certain way.”
(23 March 1975, from a letter written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer) The Covenant – A Compilation 

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The Covenant is an “instrument” created to “direct” and “canalize” (God Passes By 237) God’s will and purpose to humanity.  The Covenant is the channel in which God’s bounties and blessings of divine Revelation flow to man in order for us  to know, understand and  attain the heavenly purpose of our creation.  (Lynette Slaman-Garcia)

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“In the secular world, a covenant is like a contract, in that it is a binding agreement between two or more parties, characterized by the obligations imposed on each and the benefits that each will receive. It is the result of discussion, negotiation, and compromise. It is a lateral agreement in the sense that all involved parties are of the same station in the order of creation; in other words, they are equals.

“The Covenant between God and man, in contrast, is between unequals. It is a vertical contract, and its terms are dictated by God. Discussion, negotiation, and compromise have no role in its establishment. God needs nothing from us: although the relationship is vertical, it is we who benefit. The Universal House of Justice explains,… The terms of the contract flow in one direction only – from God to man.” (Mike Moum, The Concept of Covenant)

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The Covenant is an ” instrument of union” (Kitab- i-‘Ahd) given by God in order to rescue man from the “misery of remoteness”  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings 71) from Him.  It is the means by which we learn of God’s will and purpose for creating us and, in  return for our obedience and steadfastness, he bestows His generosity and favor upon those who accept them, in order that we may fulfil our created purpose.  (Lynette Slaman-Garcia)

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“In order to enable the soul to progress and attain spiritual qualities and so reveal these latent attributes, God has made a Covenant with man and has required him to abide by its provisions. We note therefore that whereas the body of man is bound by the laws of nature, his soul is governed by the laws of the Covenant of God. A covenant is a contract between two sides, each of whom has obligations to fulfil…

“The relationship of God with man in this Covenant is somewhat similar to the relationship between the principal of a school and the child. As soon as a child goes to school for the first time, he enters into a covenant with the school principal, although often without really knowing it. In this contract the principal provides the means for the education of the child. He appoints teachers to teach him, draws up the educational programme and ensures the child’s well-being and development in every way. The child’s part in this covenant is to follow the instructions of the teacher and learn every lesson he is taught. It is through this process that the child acquires knowledge, develops his capacity, and becomes endowed with intellectual and spiritual powers. As the child grows in learning and maturity, the principal will appoint other teachers to contribute to his education.”

Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. x

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“Gather them…together around this Divine Law, the covenant of which Thou hast established with all Thy Prophets and Thy Messengers, and Whose ordinances Thou hast written down in Thy Tablets and Thy Scriptures.”

Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 106

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“Follow not, therefore, your earthly desires, and violate not the Covenant of God, nor break your pledge to Him. With firm determination, with the whole affection of your heart, and with the full force of your words, turn ye unto Him, and walk not in the ways of the foolish. The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it. Break not the bond that uniteth you with your Creator, and be not of those that have erred and strayed from His ways.”

Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 328

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“In all these journeys the traveler must stray not the breadth of a hair from the “Law,” for this is indeed the secret of the “Path” and the fruit of the Tree of “Truth”; and in all these stages he must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth.

Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 39

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The Covenant of God in this Day of Manifestation is a Lifeboat, an Ark of Salvation. All true followers of the Blessed Perfection are sheltered and protected in this Ark. Whoever leaves it, trusting in his own will and strength, will drown and be destroyed. For the Blessed Perfection left no possibility for discord, disagreement, and dissension. The Covenant is like the sea, and the believers are as the fishes in the sea. If a fish leaves the water, it cannot live.
Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in Ten days in the Light of Akka p. 49

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The Universal House of Justice describes the Covenant as:
“…an institution which protects the Cause from individuals who, through the assertion of their own wills, would try to force God’s Cause into the paths of their own preference and thus divide the faithful and subvert the world-wide establishment of divine justice.”
Excerpt of a letter written by the Universal House of Justice, 23 March 1975 quoted in Power of the Covenant, Part Two, Baha’i Canada Publications 1976

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