One of the most important subjects in the Bible, is the Blood Covenant. This is a secret key to understanding the whole Bible. It will unlock the meaning, the fullness of the Bible to you.
Blood Covenant is something that is at work behind the events and the promises of the Bible, which if not understood, means that we cannot properly relate to what is going on in the Bible. This secret was the main and the deepest and the strongest reality governing the life and the faith of the characters of the Bible. In our world today we do not know about it and we do not live by it, but back then it influenced everything: how they understood God and His salvation and how they could have such a strong faith. They knew something that we don’t know nowadays. This revelation of the Blood Covenant was the basis of their prayers and their worship and it was the foundation upon which they built lives. It was the secret of their life with God and the basis of their exploits they did in His name. It was the whole lens through which they looked at life. Many of the key Bible words we think we understand depend on it. Its something that stands behind all of scripture and holds it all together and without knowing about it we lose much of the meaning and power of the Bible words.
The whole Bible can only be understood in terms of the Blood Covenant and in the next few programmes we will investigate the secrets of the Blood Covenant and through this we will come to a deeper knowledge of the New Covenant in blood that God has made with His people.
It’s unfortunate in a way that the two halves of the Bible are called the Old Testament and the New Testament. Really they should have been called the Old Covenant and New Covenant. The whole understanding of the Bible is in terms of Covenant. The Old Covenant was through Moses and involved animal sacrifices at the Temple. This was just to be a temporary Covenant until the New Covenant came along through Jesus Christ which was established in His Blood and that made it an Eternal Covenant.
The word ‘Covenant’ is the Hebrew word Berith which means to bind. It is a binding obligation, binding two parties together. The ultimate expression of committed love and trust was to establish and bind a relationship by covenant that had already been in the making. So when two people get married, it’s not like they have never met each other before. There has been a relationship building, but there comes a point where they want to establish that relationship and make it permanent and make it binding forever unto the death. In their love for one another, they establish this covenant which seals that relationship forever, and this is the closest thing we have in modern society to a covenant, when people enter into that with true understanding.
A covenant is a binding, unbreakable obligation between two parties or two peoples based on an unconditional love, sealed by blood and sacred oath that creates a relationship in which each one is bound by specific undertakings on each others behalf. They place themselves under the penalty of divine retribution should they later attempt to avoid those undertakings. This relationship is only broken by death. This goes way beyond the kind of contract on paper which we are used to, that governs the exchange of goods and services for money. It is not just a contract where you give something to someone who gives something in return. Covenant is a total giving of oneself to the other and receiving from the other.
The strength behind covenant is the fact that God is involved in the covenant. God is brought in as a witness to that covenant and the judge in that covenant and that’s why in a secular society that we live in today, that doesn’t really acknowledge God in public life, there cannot be a concept of covenant. As a result we live in a society that does not understand covenant and unless we get an understanding we cannot understand the Bible because the Bible was written in a society where covenant is an assumed knowledge.
Often covenants were unequal, often they would be imposed or initiated by a superior. For instance if somebody had just conquered a country, rather than destroying them, what they might do is offer a covenant with them, and the superior would offer the covenant and graciously impose that covenant and it was up to the others (the defeated ones), to accept the covenant or not. Then those two countries would be bound together by that covenant. God actually uses human covenants as a kind of pattern to understand ‘The Covenant’, the New Covenant that He makes with man.
Why does God make a covenant with man? So that God can bind Himself to man forever. God in His love for us. wanted to make sure of our eternal relationship with Him and the way to do that, the way to reveal His love, and the way to establish and make firm forever His love for us was to make covenant with us, as the Superior graciously offering that Covenant to us. As sinners (rebels against God) man was headed for judgement and destruction. But God offers man a way out, turning the whole situation around by accepting His Covenant offer, changing us from enemies into close friends (Covenant-Partners). Then it’s just up to us to say ‘Amen, I receive that covenant.’ Or we can reject it, remain in rebellion and suffer the consequences.
Today we will look some aspects of a Covenant One is that there would be a representative. Lets say my tribe wanted to make a covenant with your tribe. Then what we would need is a representative from each tribe. Maybe the leader or someone else would represent that tribe. To be a representative, they had to be of the same blood, the same family. They would then represent the tribe and this representative would make the covenant on behalf of his people and when he made covenant his whole tribe came into the covenant and came under the covenant through him, because they were in him when he made the covenant. It is as if they themselves had personally made the covenant, and so through the representative, covenant was made and was binding upon the whole tribe.
We don’t understand this nowadays, for we all just think of ourselves as individuals.
1Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. Israel and the Philistines are war, and Goliath, this massive guy comes out and stands and cries out to the armies of Israel in v8 and challenges them:‘Why have to come out to line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine and you the servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come out to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him,then you shall be our servants and serve us’
We don’t understand that nowadays. Suppose in the cold war USA and Russia were struggling for power and lets imagine
what would have happened if the President, let’s say Ronald Reagan would have said:
‘We’ve got Muhammad Ali. Now I challenge you to put up your best fighter and we are going to have a world-wide fight and whoever wins this fight, if Muhammad Ali wins then America is victorious over Russia, Russia surrenders, but if your guy wins then we’ll surrender to you.’
We would think that was crazy wouldn’t we? We don’t think like that, but you have to understand this was a serious challenge. Why? Goliath was the representative for the Philistines. Saul should have been the guy that went out there, he was head and shoulders above all the other Israelites in stature as well as being King.
But David, little David, maybe a 16-year-old lad, had the faith to stand up and say:
‘I will be the representative for Israel.’ Goliath represented all the Philistines, and if Goliath would have won, then the Philistines would have won, because they were in him. They were in Goliath when he fought and when David came out to fight, all of Israel was
in David, and so when Goliath fought David, it was the Philistines fighting Israel. They were in their representative men.
We know about this, of course, unfortunately, because Adam, the first man was our representative (head). With a representative man his victories are our victories, and his defeats are our defeats, and when Adam failed, when Adam sinned, we sinned and fell in Adam. Well, Praise God we have another representative Man, Jesus Christ, and all His victories are now our victories in Him. If you are in Christ, everything He’s done is yours, because He is your representative.
Let’s go back to David and Goliath. Goliath was the representative for the Philistines, but none of the Israelites were willing. He said in v 10:
‘I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we might fight together.’ And when Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were afraid and greatly afraid. This was a valid challenge. Choose your representative and let him fight on your behalf.
Then David spoke to the men who stood by him and said: ‘What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and take away the reproach from Israel? Watch this now:
‘For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?’ That’s David’s faith speaking. David said I don’t care how tall he is. The bigger they are the harder they fall!
The key was: he’s uncircumcised. What does that mean? For the Jews circumcision was the sign or mark in their flesh of the covenant with God. Every covenant involved blood, and in circumcision, blood was spilt creating a mark in their body, signifying their blood-covenant with God. This Philistine was uncircumcised.
What does that mean?
He does not have a covenant with God! David knew that although Goliath was strong, Israel had a Covenant-Partner, who was much stronger- God! Because of the Covenant God Himself was with them, and was committed to fight for them.
What about Israel?
He says they are: ‘the armies of the living God.’ God had attached Himself to Israel, because Israel was in covenant with God. David is saying: ‘Why are we afraid of this guy, because we’ve got something they don’t have? We have a covenant with Almighty God, and he is just an uncircumcised Philistine. Why should we be afraid? He is the one that should be shaking in his boots! Who is he that he should defy us?’
David knew something. He knew that when Goliath took on Israel, he didn’t just take on Israel, they took on Israel’s covenant partner who’s a lot taller than Goliath! He is a picture of satan. Do you know that when satan takes you on, he is not just taking you on, but he is also taking on your Covenant Partner. So fear not, God is with you and His covenant promise to to you is that He will never leave nor forsake you!
Now v 40. Let’s see what happens. David
‘took his staff in his hand; and he chose for himself five smooth stones from the brook….’ Goliath had 4 brothers so David took along 5 stones - one for each of them: ‘and put them in a shepherd’s bag, the pouch in which he had, the sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine. So the Philistine came, and began drawing near to David, and the man who ore the shield went before him. When the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and
good looking. The Philistine said to David:
“Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.’
You see this is not just a battle of two men, this is a battle involving gods: David’s God and the Philistine’s gods. ‘And the Philistine said to David “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field” Satan always tries to intimidate you. But if you know your covenant with God you will not be intimidated. You’ll have an answer for him as David did: ‘David said to the Philistine,
“You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the Name of the Lord of hosts.... ”’
That’s covenant talking. This is a man who knows he has a covenant with God. He is not alone. His Covenant means that he can act in the name of his Covenant Partner and he knows his Covenant Partner is going to back him up. David fought in His Name, which means He was calling upon His Covenant-Partner to back him.
‘I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts and the God of the armies of Israel …’
‘You haven’t just taken on a boy. You have taken on my God, and I am coming to you in His name. We have a covenant with Him. He is the God of Israel. He has pledged Himself to be with me and for me, and I am for Him.’ Hallelujah!
‘This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you …’ His confidence was in the God who was with him, not in himself
He said: ‘I will strike you and take your head from you. And I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air.’
When the Devil intimidates, you’ve got to give the Word of God back to him. Don’t be intimidated. He goes on to say, v 47:
‘Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.’ What’s going on here? David knows his covenant and he knows he is going in the Name of God and the battle is the Lord’s. He knew God was going to fight for him.
You know what happens, David rushes towards Goliath and he slung the stone at him (the Word) and there was one little weak spot in his armour. The stone guided by David’s skill and the Holy Spirit hits him right there and killed him instantly and David took the sword and cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead they fled in terror because they were now defeated. You see when their representative man was defeated, they were defeated.
Israel didn’t contribute anything to their victory.
Their representative man had won the victory. Now they all cheered and rejoiced in the victory because it also was their victory. Praise God!
Our representative man, Jesus Christ, took on won a crushing victory over death, hell, satan sickness, and all the powers of darkness in His death and resurrection. He took them all on and has conquered every Goliath that you are going to face in this life. Jesus did it all, but it’s our victory, because we were in Him when He did it. Thus: “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
So the first essential aspect of a Covenant is that there is a representative who makes covenant on behalf of his family or tribe or people.
Another key aspect is that a covenant is made by an oath before God, with blessings and curses. It is not just a limited contract, but a total commitment to be there for the other one, whatever it costs.
A covenant is made with an oath to God, a solemn binding affirmation, calling upon God, appealing to God to be the witness, saying,
‘I want God to witness this covenant.’
God is invoked into this covenant to be involved in upholding it. They appeal to God for help to fulfil the covenant, and also to be the judge of any one who breaks it (which is the most serious sin, worthy of death). Then they invoke all the curses: ‘if I or you break the covenant let these curses come on us. Let God be the judge. If any of us break this covenant let death come upon them.’ That’s the solemn oath that was involved.
In other words, once a covenant had been made with an oath, it was non-negotiable. It couldn’t be revoked. You couldn’t come back a year later and say: ‘You know that covenant we made before God, well I don’t feel like that anymore let’s forget we ever did that.’ No, that would have been unthinkable. The Bible says that once a covenant was made with oath that settles the issue. That’s the end of discussion. Often it would settle a dispute. There would be no more argument because that covenant is the final word.
In Genesis 31, we see a covenant between two people, not exatly enemies; but you might say extreme competitors: Jacob and Laban. The story is that Jacob married Laban’s 2 daughters, but Laban made him pay for it. Eventually Jacob decides to leave home and there is an ongoing dispute between them, which is finally settled by a covenant. They were not friends. There was much distrust. But when they made this covenant to create trust and peace, it ended all dispute.
Genesis 31:44: Laban says:
‘Now therefore, come, let us make a covenant, let it be a witness between you and me.’ So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar.’ Often they would make a monument (using some stone or a tree) at the place of the cutting of Covenant as a permanent memorial of it. Often they would re-name the place. A memorial was set up, so people would remember the covenant.
Jesus set up a memorial to the New Covenant - the Lord’s Supper. Jesus said ‘Remember Me.’ This word ‘remember’ means to keep it at the fore-front of your mind. That’s a covenant word. This means that whatever covenant you have made, you must remember it as of first importance, so that it governs your whole thinking and controls your actions, for loyalty to the covenant and the covenant-partner was now the prime-directive. They were now bound to live in ‘Chesed’ = Covenant Loyalty, Faithful Love, Steadfast Love toward each other unto death. In the New-Covenant, Jesus calls us to this kind of committed love to Him and to one another, for we are bound together by Blood Covenant: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends (My true Covenant-Partners) if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:12-14). Thus it was vital they kept the covenant at the fore-front of their mind, so they were always ready to move in Chesed when called upon. So, they would have memorials to help them do that.
‘And so Jacob said to his brethren,
“Gather Stones.” And they took stones and they made a heap, and then they sat down and ate together upon the heap of stones.’
This was the covenant meal. When they made covenant they would have a meal together to show their new fellowship and their unity in the Covenant. Of course the Lord’s Supper is such a thing. It’s the Memorial and the Covenant Meal.
Finally, they invoked the Lord to watch over the covenant: ‘May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. If you afflict my daughters, or you take other wives see God is witness between you and me.’
Can you see they are making a covenant?
They are making an oath and they are involving God and let God be the judge in this covenant. ‘If I break this covenant let God deal with me.’ Once covenant is made by an oath that was that. That’s the end of the issue. It’s the deepest thing.
One special covenant I want to share with you is the Covenant in 1Samuel 20 between David and Jonathan. These 2 young men had a wonderful friendship and in 1Samuel 20 they make a covenant. v12 says: ‘Jonathan said to David: “The Lord God of Israel is witness!”’ They are invoking the Lord because they are about to swear covenant with one another.
Jonathan promises to protect David against his father Saul who is out to kill him. So he makes that promise and then he goes on in v 14 saying: ‘You shall not only show me the kindness (Chesed) of the Lord while I am alive, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness (Chesed) from my house forever, no, not when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David.”’
Now there is an amazing thing going on here, Saul was the King, but yet he had rebelled against God, and so God had rejected Saul, and David had been anointed King in waiting. Jonathan was Saul’s son. He was the heir to the throne, but yet he knew that God had chosen David. Rather than being jealous of David and wanting to kill David so he could be King, he accepted God’s will. He loved David and so he made a covenant with him.
He knew that nothing could hurt David, because he was God’s chosen one, and so he made a covenant with David saying:‘I will protect you David and you will protect me, not just me,
but the children after me.’ Jonathan wanted to set up a covenant for his children’s sake. He knew David would be King and he said:
‘I want you to make covenant with me, that you will show mercy to my children’, and it says in v17: ‘Jonathan caused David to vow.’
So he made a solemn covenant, the effects of which will be seen later in this series.
Also of course in the making of a blood-covenant had to be the shedding of blood. There was the covenant sacrifice. Very often an animal or animals were slain and they were split down the middle and there would be a pathway created from these animals split down the middle. The two covenant partners would then walk through the middle on that road of blood declaring the covenant before God, and the blessings of keeping it and the curses that would come if they broke it. What they were saying was: ‘I will keep this covenant even unto the shedding of my blood and if I break this covenant let me be like this animal split open’
God made a covenant in this manner with Abraham in Genesis 15.
Genesis 15:7: “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”
God says: ‘I’m giving you this land Abraham.’
He says: ‘I promise you,’ and you would have thought that would have been good enough wouldn’t it? But Abraham is wanting more.
What does he say? v 8 ‘Lord God, …how shall I know that I will inherit it?’Now that sounds cheeky doesn’t it?
I mean God’s promised it, isn’t that enough? ‘How shall I know?’
What’s Abraham wanting? He’s wanting the ultimate confirmation.
What is that? A Blood Covenant with oath! He is saying: ‘God I want you to sign it in blood then I can really know the land is mine.’
God knows that we need certainty, so that we can have absolute faith in Him. How can we have absolute faith, that we have forgiveness and eternal life?
God knows there was only one thing that would be strong enough, by which we would know that we were eternally secure in His love. That was by the Blood Covenant of His only beloved Son, and He shed His blood for us that we would know that we know that we know that we have God’s love. Hallelujah. For when the Bible says ‘God is love,’ it doesn’t just mean God has gooey feelings for us. No, it means that it is a faithful covenant love. It’s a love that will not give up. It’s an indestructible love. It’s the steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases. He’s faithful to His Covenant in Blood and that’s the strongest love there is. For even among men breaking a Blood Covenant was unthinkable. So Abraham says: ‘How can I know that I will inherit it? I need something stronger.’ This is where God says OK bring the animals, cut them in two, we are going to make a Blood Covenant:
v9: “Bring Me a 3-year-old heifer, a 3-year-old female goat, a 3-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” v10Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.”
God got Abraham to kill these animals and to create a path of blood and God was going to promise Abraham that he would inherit the Promised Land, and seal that promise by making a blood covenant with Abraham.
There is so much dispute now about the Promise Land and who it should belong to, but what we have to realise is there is nothing to argue about. God has settled the issue by making a Blood Covenant with Abraham and his seed. It’s established in the Blood Covenant that God has made. God promised it to Abraham and confirmed that promise to Isaac and Jacob. Therefore that land is given by God to Israel.
When it was time for them to walk through the animals and to declare the covenant one to the other God put Abraham to sleep.
“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram.” (v12) and then it says in v17: ‘And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between the pieces.’ That’s the glory of God going through the Blood making covenant with Abraham. v18 “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land.”
God put Abraham to sleep, because He wanted to make it an unconditional covenant. You see if Abraham and God would have walked through the blood together, Abraham would have said:
‘I promised that I and my children will always be faithful to you, to always obey you, Lord’ and God would have said: ‘
Abraham, I promise to give you the land.’ What’s the problem with that? Somebody’s going to break that covenant. Abraham is just an ordinary man. He’s going to fail. Then God could say: ‘
Well OK. I would have given you the land, Abraham, but you messed up so forget it.’
A lot of people think that way concerning Israel. Well if Israel, had been obedient they would have had the blessings, but they disobeyed God, so therefore God’s finished with Israel. But God walked through the blood alone making the covenant vow, and thus it was not conditional on Abraham’s obedience but upon God alone. This made it an everlasting, unbreakable covenant. God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham and Israel and didn’t let Abraham participate. God made all the declarations and the Bible says: ‘He swore by Himself’ because there was nothing higher to swear by. God swore to give Abraham his seed and the Promised Land. He walked through the blood and He swore and that means that the land of Israel and all His promises to Abraham are sealed in an eternal covenant that cannot be broken. So men can fight their little wars over the land, but it’s to no avail because God has spoken and He’s established it by blood and by oath and that is unbreakable, and you just watch history work itself out and you will see it come to pass.
Let’s talk now about one of the key covenant words- the Hebrew word Chased. It is translated in different ways: mercy, kindness and steadfast love. ‘His mercy endures forever.’ It’s His covenant keeping love, and if you have accepted that covenant that God offers you in Jesus Christ, you have received the love of God, the steadfast love of the Lord, the love of God that will fulfil all His promises to you, He’s totally committed to you, that’s what it means. He will fulfil all of His words, whether or not you deserve it. He is committed in His covenant love for you that will not back down. He will always work for your good. It’s not just His mercy, but it is His total love for you; His total commitment to you; His devotion to you. Hallelujah.
God is love. He didn’t just love you when you accepted the covenant, but even before that. When two people get married they are in love (hopefully) before they even make the covenant. So the love doesn’t begin with the covenant, but covenant is an expression of that love and within that covenant that love is fulfilled and made firm.
And so God has loved us from all eternity.
Jeremiah 31:3: “God says: “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn you (into a covenant, so I can show My love for you forever).” God’s love for us started way back in eternity, before we were even born and because of His love He wanted to bring us into a covenant so that we would be one with Him forever, a covenant that could not be broken.
But how can this be done?
There is no representative man, because we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is no man that could stand up and say: ‘I will represent the human race before God and enter into a covenant with God,’ because no man would be acceptable. So God in His love sent His Son to become a Man to represent mankind before God and to cut covenant on behalf of mankind to reunite us to God. That is why He is called ‘the Son of Man’.
John 3:16 is a covenant verse: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (to be the covenant; to die for us on the cross, and shed His blood, to seal a perfect and everlasting Blood Covenant with mankind. ‘that whosoever believes in Him’, whoever accepts this covenant, ‘will not perish but have eternal life (union and fellowship with God forever).’
God sent His perfect Son to be the representative man, who would stand for the whole human race, and on behalf of the human race He lived a perfect life of righteousness, and dominated and defeated sin, satan and death on our behalf. By His blood He made an eternal covenant with God on our behalf so that if we are in Him (in our representative) we are in that same Covenant. When He said on the Cross: ‘It is finished,’ He was really saying ‘I have made the New Covenant. It is now established in my Blood.’
His blood was shed and the scars in His hands and in His feet are the sign of the covenant that has been made. That’s why He showed unbelieving Thomas the holes in His hand, which proved He had made the covenant.
This covenant was made before you were born almost 2000 years ago in the blood of Jesus. God doesn’t make a separate covenant with you. No, the covenant has already been made between God the Father and Jesus, between the Father and the Son. They made the covenant in Christ and that is why it is secure and unbreakable because both are perfect. Now God says to us through the Gospel,
that while Adam is our representative head we are headed for destruction because of sin and death. But there is another representative man! Jesus Christ has come as the Second Adam
and He has died for you. He has cut a covenant with God, and if you will accept Him as your covenant representative; if you will put your faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done for you, then you are in that covenant and you are saved.
All you have to do is receive the covenant that is graciously imposed by God. By grace it is offered to you and you either trample the blood under foot and say: ‘the blood of Jesus is of no worth to me, I don’t need it, I will do things my way’ or you accept the covenant saying: ‘Thank you, Lord God, I receive the Covenant in the blood of Christ.’ From the moment you said:
‘Amen, I receive Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’ you entered into an everlasting covenant with God through Jesus. You are now under His blood and God’s steadfast, dependable, faithful covenant love is now secured for you and will be upon you forever. “His Covenant Goodness and Mercy shall follow you all the days of your life and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
PRAYER: Lord we thank you. We are awed at Your covenant love for us, that You loved us so much that you want to be one with us forever and that You shed Your blood for us to establish that union through an indestructible covenant. Thank You for your precious blood poured out for us. You have made the covenant with God and you represent us perfectly before God. We thank you for your love that will not let us go.
INVITATION TO RECEIVE CHRIST AND HIS COVENANT..... SINNERS PRAYER:All who accept the blood of Jesus shed for them and who call upon Him to be their Lord and Saviour shall be saved. If you have done this then you are now in unbreakable covenant with God. Hallelujah.