The animals had been slain---cut in half down the spine. Their bright blood stained the stones, the dirt, the grass. A covenant was being cut.
The two men stood opposite one another. Each removed his own robes and handed them to the other, the clothed himself in his covenant brother's garment. I am putting on you...and you are putting on me. We are one.
Picking up their weapons from the ground, each handed the other his sword, his bow. By this action they understood, your enemies are now mine and mine are yours.
Then they handed each other their belts. When you are weak, my strength will be there for you.
In a figure eight path, both walked through the pieces of flesh lying opposite one another. It was a walk into death. I am dying to my independent living, and to my rights.
They swore an oath as the pointed first to heaven and then down to the slain animals saying, God do so to me if I break the covenant!
Then each man made a cut on his wrist, and with a handclasp the two men mingled their blood. It is agreed, we, once tow, have now become one. In turn each recited what he owned and what he owed. From this day forward they would share all their resources. What is mine is yours and what is yours is mine. Each reached down and scooped up dirt mingled with small stones and rubbed this abrasive into the cut in his wrist. Wherever I am, when I lift my hand and see the scar, I will remember that I have a covenant partner.
They exchanged new names. Because of covenant I have a new identity.
They say down to partake of a covenant meal . One broke placed bread and placed it in his partner's mouth, then the other did the same. You are eating me and I'm eating you.
Finally a memorial was set up. A pile of stones, a planted tree, a written contract, as a testimony of the covenant they had made.
These were the customs of covenant, each portraying a truth that applies to you, to your daily walk with the Lord. These are all customs we will examine one by one. We will come to understand the ramifications of the solemn, binding agreement that they portray.
A covenant is a bond in blood. A covenant is a pledge to the death. A pledge that is born of love. A pledge cut in blood. This is the root of the covenant. Let's think about that one for just a minute. To be in covenant with someone is to pledge yourself to them to the death. We don't comprehend what covenant even means in the society and time that we live. Marriages are thrown away every minute of every day like they are nothing. Children's hearts broken, lives ruined because we think that our rights are above those of the other person.
Remember one of the customs? In a figure eight path, both walked through the pieces of flesh lying opposite one another. It was a walk into death. I am dying to my independent living, and to my rights. This world has no concept of that. No concept of how deep, how important, how important being in covenant is...either with another person or with God. People walk away from business deals that they have sworn to complete like there is no reason not to. People walk away from others, they abandon their relationships, because the other person is not meeting their needs or because the love is gone or because they are different now than when the covenant was made. Where then is the commitment? When did a temporary need trump a permeant agreement?
Covenant does not allow for such. And I don't care who the covenant partners are. It doesn't matter if it's between men or between men and God. A covenant is a covenant. We must understand that fact to really get a grip on the relationship we have between us and God. Breaking the covenant, any covenant has horrible consequences. That is the absolute truth that we must understand to really understand our relationship to God, to Jesus. To many time we think that we can have God, we can be co-heirs with Christ, have eternal life and all the blessing that go with it on our terms. That we can interpret for ourselves what it means to be in this relationship, this covenant with God. We are in serious trouble if this is the way we are thinking this morning.
This why our Christianity is not working. This is why we see families and friendships falling apart. This is why the church's statistics of moral and social failure is no better than that of the world's. We treat each other just as badly in the church as people do outside the church, maybe worse. I'm serious. Think about it. We divorce just as much. We argue and back stab maybe even more than the world does. We mis-trust each other. We gossip. We treat our very brothers and sisters with disrespect. We care more about our own feelings than we do anyone else's. We're self centered and self involved to the point of neglecting those that are really hurting because of our own desire's.
This is what happens when you ignore what a covenant is. This is what happens when we don't hold up our end of the deal. This is also why we must understand covenant and the One who instituted it. Our God is a covenant God. He is a covenant make. He is a covenant keeper.
It is no accident that covenants were almost always symbolized by the mingling or the shedding of blood. As part of the ceremony, the covenant partners would cut their wrists, then mingle their blood by clasping forearms. That would be an unforgettable way for the covenant to begin. The 2 became one. They were blood brothers.
Dr. Clay Turnbull wrote a book called The Blood Covenant. In that book he explained that this sort of blood covenant existed in virtually every culture that there has ever been. Why all this blood? The blood represents life, the giving of blood represents the receiving of life. That co-mingling of blood represented the co-mingling of lives, of natures. The root of this rite of blood friendship seem to include the belief that the blood is the life of a living being, not merely that the blood is essential to life, but that the blood in a peculiar sense is life. The inner co-mingling of the blood of two organisms is, therefore, according to this view, equivalent to the inter-commingling of the lives, of the personalities, of the natures thus brought together; so that these is, thereby and thenceforward, one life in two bodies, a common life between friends.
The story of covenant is even deeper than that. It's deeper than ancient man's customs. It is a basic aspect of life in God's creation.
The book of Leviticus is a book of feasts and sacrifices--ordinances that explained the ways in which a holy God was to be approached and worshipped. It is a very bloody book. It makes it clear that life is in the blood.
Lev 17:11 (NIV)
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life
When you go to the doctor because your sick, what does he do? He draws blood. Most doctors won't even guess what's wrong with you until they have analyzed your blood. Whether they are Christian doctor or not, they know the fact that God put life in the blood of every created being.
Lev 17:14 a (NIV)
because the life of every creature is its blood.
This is a medical fact with a Spiritual application. Everything is in the blood.
Heb 9:11-22 (MSG)
11But when the Messiah arrived, high priest of the superior things of this new covenant, he bypassed the old tent and its trappings in this created world and went straight into heaven's "tent"--the true Holy Place--once and for all. 12He also bypassed the sacrifices consisting of goat and calf blood, instead using his own blood as the price to set us free once and for all. 13If that animal blood and the other rituals of purification were effective in cleaning up certain matters of our religion and behavior, 14think how much more the blood of Christ cleans up our whole lives, inside and out. 15Through the Spirit, Christ offered himself as an unblemished sacrifice, freeing us from all those dead-end efforts to make ourselves respectable, so that we can live all out for God.
16-17Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant was put into action at Jesus' death. His death marked the transition from the old plan to the new one, canceling the old obligations and accompanying sins, and summoning the heirs to receive the eternal inheritance that was promised them. He brought together God and his people in this new way.
18Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. 19After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law--God's "will"--he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. 20And then he attested its validity with the words, "This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God." 21He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. 22Moses said to the people, "This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you." Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That's why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.
verse 22 in NLT says...
In fact, we can say that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified by sprinkling with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.
It is because life is IN the blood that the cutting of covenant has such meaning, such security.
The 3 Characteristics of a Divine Covenant
1. A Covenant is a bond
A covenant is agreement between 2 or more parties that form a bond, a relationship that can never be broken. It is an agreement made in blood to the death.
2. A Covenant is a Bond in Blood
God never enters into a covenant in a casual manner. His covenants always extend to the ultimate issues of life and death. It is that intensity that gives meaning to the covenant. It is the blood, the life of the parties in the covenant that give the covenant power and meaning. To make a blood covenant is to pledge commitment to the other party in the covenant that lasts until death.
3. A Covenant is Administered by God
A covenant is an agreement governed by God Himself. There is no such thing as bargaining, bartering, or negotiating. God dictates the terms of His covenants. Period. End of discussion.
These statements are absolute truth, but they are not very well received in the time and the society that we live in. Kay Arthur states that we live in a time where everything is relative....and it's relative to me. I either accept or reject something according to its therapeutic value to my well being. Something is only true if I accept it as true.
To believe such a thing is believing in a lie. We have been told and taught that we should always have a say, that we should always have a vote and that out opinion and our perception of whatever situation we are in matters and it simply doesn't when we are talking about a divine covenant. A divine covenant is just that, divine. Either you come to God on His terms or you don't come. It is that simple, that clear and it truly doesn't matter what man thinks about it.