Today we are continuing our study of the Blood Covenant. Understanding Blood Covenant is essential because it undergirds the whole Word of God. A covenant is a binding obligation, something that binds two people together as one. It’s not just a contract, its something that’s far stronger than that because God is involved in it.
The ultimate expression of committed love and trust is to establish and bind that relationship in a covenant. It was God who revealed covenants to man, because He wanted to reveal Himself. God’s love for us was such that He wanted to bind us to Himself forever in a covenant of love. By understanding the covenants we can know how strong our relationship with God is. It is not based on something feeble, but it’s based on something that’s so strong. So we’re studying covenants so that we can understand the reality and the power of our covenant with God - the New Covenant that is established, not in the blood of animals, but the blood of God, the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. It’s an unbreakable covenant, because it wasn’t made between two fallible people. It was made between the Father and the Son, Jesus being the perfect mediator of this covenant. So we are in the most secure and the strongest covenant.
When one group or one family made covenant with another family they did it through a representative. That representative would gather up into himself his whole family and when he entered covenant with the other family they too would have a representative. If the representatives were acceptable, then they would both be cut and their blood would flow and covenant would be made. Thus through the two representatives the two families would be forever bound together. Everyone who was in their representative was now bound into that covenant. Adam, the first man, the head of the human race was our representative before God and when Adam said ‘No’ to God, we were in Adam. Through Adam man rejected being in a covenant with God, and if God had not done anything about it, that decision would have made us to be eternally lost.
Adam was not fit now to put things right with God, because he was now a sinner. He was cut off from God and no longer acceptable before God. Likewise everyone who was born in Adam was a sinner. Nobody born in the human race could put things right with God and establish us back in covenant with God. But, praise God, God had a solution. There had to be a righteous man. A representative man who could take our place before God and cut a covenant with God, whereby we could be reconciled to God,
and made one with God through that covenant.
One of the great men of the Old Testament was in great suffering as he was feeling the effects of Adam’s sin and of the curse in his body, and he cried out: ‘How can I get back in touch with God. How can I make the connection with God.’
It is Job in 9:32 who explains the problem saying: ‘For God is not a man, as I am, that I can answer Him, and that we could go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, who may lay his hand on us both, that he would take away His rod of anger from me, and not let the dread of Him terrify me. Then I would speak and not fear Him, but it is no so with me.’ Job says: ‘I’m out of touch with God, because I can’t stand befor God on my own. I need a mediator. Somebody to represent me before God and then I could stand before God and I could be one with God. But there is no mediator.’
But later on in Job 19, God revealed to Job that there was such a man and that He was alive, He was in heaven at that time. v23. Job gets this revelation and says: ‘Oh, that my words were written, that they were inscribed in a book!’ and they were in the Book of Job, ‘That they were engraved on a rock with an iron pen and lead, forever!’ This was the revelation: ‘For I know that my Redeemer lives’
There is a man who is alive even now, and He is going to redeem me. He is going to come and pay the price to save me. He’s going to cancel Adam’s decision, and establish me in a new covenant before God. He then predicted this redeemer is going to come to the earth: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at last on the earth.’ He says He’s coming to the earth and that’s the first Coming of Christ. Then he predicts his resurrection by this Redeemer (fulfilled at Christ’s second Coming): ‘And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God …’He says: ‘this Redeemer will come and He will redeem me back to God and as a result I will be resurrected out of death and I will see Him. I will see God. He will be God in the flesh.’
And he says: ‘Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!’Job is crying out for the coming of this Redeemer who would represent him before God, who would undo what Adam did.
This Redeemer has come His name is Jesus. Hallelujah. He was born into the human race, He had to be a man, He couldn’t be an angel, because He has to truly represent us before God. He has to be a perfect man otherwise, God would not accept Him as a representative.
1Timothy 1:5: ‘There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus who gave Himself a ransom for all Jesus, the 2nd Adam, represents us before God. He cancelled Adam’s ‘No’ with a ‘Yes’ to God.In every moment of His life, every breath of His life, He was saying ‘Yes’ to God. In the garden of Gethsemane He was saying ‘Yes’ to God. When He died on the Cross He was saying ‘Yes’ to God. He made the perfect sacrifice, making Blood Covenant with God on our behalf, and God accepted Him because He was obedient, even unto death, and so God raised Him from the dead. Thus on our behalf an perfect eternal covenant has been made between God and man in the blood of Jesus, and all we have to do is say ‘Amen.’ Jesus said ‘Yes’ and we just have to add our ‘Amen’, and we are put in Christ and are in that perfect covenant with God. Praise God.
In covenants we always see sacrifices. Animals were slain and split in two and the covenant partners would walk between the pieces and would declare their loving loyalty to the covenant and to each other. Then they would make the covenant oath where they promised before God to keep that covenant. Thus they invoked God into the covenant, inviting Him to witness and support the covenant, and to punish anyone that broke the covenant. They would make promises to one another that: ‘I will be there for you’ and declared blessings upon each other, as well as curses upon those who would break the covenant.
They would also shed their own blood, usually on the right hand forming a permanent scar, as the sign of the covenant. When Jesus showed Thomas the holes of the nail in His hands and feet, those were the covenant scars. He still has those scars today. When you go to heaven and see Him you will see He still has them, because they are the covenant scars to be worn proudly, displaying the covenant made in His blood. By this Blood they were saying: ‘I will keep this covenant even to the shedding of my blood’.
Once the covenant was made it was non-negotiable. It could not be reversed.The legal basis for the covenant then, is that shed blood. When Jesus died on the Cross, God saw and accepted His covenant sacrifice and stood in that Blood and upon the basis of that Blood, He declared all the blessings of eternal life upon Jesus and upon all those who in Him (that’s us!)
That’s why it says in Ephesians 1:3:
‘God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.’ Standing in the blood of Jesus, God declared the blessing backed by His oath. Now God’s Word contains the power to bring itself to pass, so when God speaks the blessing the blessing is given. God spoke healing, prosperity, life, wisdom, forgiveness, dominion and He put them all into Jesus. He spoke all the blessings of the New Covenant into Jesus, so if you are in Him, those covenant promises are yours, not because you are good, but simply because you are in Christ. If you accept this covenant then you are in Christ and those blessings are yours, because they have been secured through Jesus Christ.
Another most important part of the covenant is described by the Hebrew word ‘Chesed’.
This is such a deep word it is hard to translate into English. In the equivalent of the unconditional ‘AGAPE’ Love of the Greek New Testament. It’s translated as loving-kindness or mercies as in: ‘the mercies of the Lord endure forever’ or ‘steadfast love’, as in:
‘the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.’
It’s faithfulness to the Covenant, it’s devotion. The word ‘Chesed’ is a covenant word, that represents the heart and essence of covenant life. It is loyalty of one covenant partner to another. It’s their commitment to fulfil the covenant promises, of always being there for the other one - that when the other is in weakness your strength will be there to fill that weakness.
It is the chesed love of God that caused Him to make covenant with us, so that we would be forever united in love, and that same chesed love is His commitment to fulfil every part of the covenant to us. This love of God is unchanging, unconditional, eternal and absolutely dependable.
In Jeremiah 31:3 God says: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness (with Chesed) I have drawn you’ By His love, He’s drawn us into a covenant with Him, binding us into a loving relationship with Him that will last forever. Then He says:
‘I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt.’ He will rebuild and restore our lives through His covenant love for us. As in a marriage the chesed love of God begins even before the covenant was made to make the relationship permanent and sure, and it’s the motivation for the covenant.
As John 3:16 says: ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him
would not perish but have eternal life.’
Eternal life means having a forever relationship and fellowship in covenant with God. It was God’s love that caused Him to give His Son to die on the cross to establish that new covenant through which we could have life and an eternal relationship with God. It was God’s chesed that initiated the covenant, so that we could be bound to Him forever in an eternal union of love. Marriage is an earthly picture of this. The two lovers, in their love for each other, desire and chose to enter into a covenant with each other that will make their loving relationship permanent, so that they will be bound to each other by chesed love for the rest of their lives. So in the same way, God in His love for us, initiated the new covenant, so that we would be united to Him by the strongest possible bonds of unbreakable covenant love.
‘Chesed’ is often translated ‘mercy’, because when God, in His love for us, makes a covenant with us for our blessing, we don’t deserve it. But when we accept the covenant, His loving mercy to us is made sure because now it is based upon a covenant established in Christ’s blood.
We can say the words of Lamentations 3:22,23: ‘Through the Lord’s mercies...(the Lord’s ‘chesed’) we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.’
The strength of any relationship is the bond of ‘chesed’ love that each one has for the other - that committed, self-giving love. This love undergirds the whole covenant, for the covenant is motivated and initiated by this ‘chesed’ love, and it binds the two parties into a permanent relationship that is now governed by this chesed love where each one promises with an oath to be faithful to their covenant with each other. Therefore the heart, the spirit, the essence of covenant is‘chesed’ love.
This ‘chesed’ love is expressed and sealed in the shedding of blood, so that it produces a Blood Covenant, within which it can be forever fulfulled. This is all a manifestation of chesed love. The covenant therefore is the manifestation, the expression and the fulfillment of that love. It makes that loving relationship permanent and so the essence of the covenant, the strength of the covenant is that chesed committed-love that each has for the other. True covenant love is where each one gives their life for the other, and if necessary dies for the other. Praise God! He has that kind of love for us.
I want to tell you a story from the Bible that is one of the greatest illustrations of the power of Covenant and ‘chesed’ (covenant faithfulness). It is in the story of Gibeon in Joshua 9 and 10 - an amazing storyabout a covenant that Israel made that was actually based on the deception.
Joshua 9:1 says: ‘as Israel were invading the Promised Land the kings that were in the land heard about it and they gathered together to fight against Joshua and Israel.’
v3 But the inhabitants of Gibeon realised that God was with Israel, and that they would be foolish to try and fight Israel, and so when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard about this: ‘they worked craftily, they pretended to come from miles away. They took old sacks, old wineskins, and old bread.’ They just lived a few miles down the road from Israel but they knew they’d had it if they try and fight so they come in as if they have been travelling for two hundred miles. Coming with all their bread and wineskins worn out, saying: ‘We’ve come from such a distance will you make covenant with us? Verse 6:‘They went to Joshua and said ‘we come from a far country; now come make a covenant with us.’ They thought the only way to be safe is to become covenant partners and the Israelites believed the story. It’s all an elaborate lie but the Israelites did not ask counsel of the Lord and they believed it.
Verse 15 says: ‘So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them the oath.’ So now they have made a covenant. This is a covenant based on a lie. This was a covenant made under deception; the people of Gibeon deceived Joshua into making a covenant. (Notice a covenant brings PEACE, ending all argument. Peace is a covenant word, the result of a covenant that has been made between 2 peaples. Thus we have peace with God through Jesus).
The question is, will it hold when put to the test?
Well, three days after they’d made the covenant they heard that they were neighbours who just lived down the road. God had told them to kick everyone out the land, including the Gibeonites, but now they were in covenant with them. What was a stronger claim on their action? Would the covenant hold up and be honoured by Israel and by God? We see in v 18 that the covenant held: ‘but the children of Israel did not attack them because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel.’ Isn’t that interesting? The covenant was stronger. They might think: ‘well they lied to us, they deceived us, so we’re not bound, we can break it’ No, they had sworn before God. They didn’t just make a little promise. They swore before God. There’s no get out clause. A covenant ends all arguments.
You should stop thinking about: ‘Oh, do they deserve it?’ In covenant you don’t base you actions on whether they deserve it, but upon you covenant commitment. Husbands and wives are in covenant, but its not correct thinking, if he says: ‘Well, she doesn’t deserve it, she hasn’t been nice to me this week.’ No. If you understand covenant, you don’t love her because she has been nice to you or she has been reasonable or anything like that. You are in covenant with that woman, and that means your chesed covenant love is your primary motivation that controls your actions. Now, of course, it’s helps when she is nice to you, but you are to act on the covenant, showing constant covenant love rather than being controlled by your feelings. You are in covenant; it’s an end of argument. You are committed to love her no matter what, and she’s committed to love you no matter what. That’s what covenant is all about.
When people get married and then they find out that their partner isn’t perfect! They feel deceived ‘You didn’t tell me that you snored sometimes.’ ‘You didn’t tell me that you get upset sometimes.’ ‘Oh well, I’m out of this thing now.’No, you have made a covenant before God. Maybe they did deceive you. Maybe they had just put on such a wonderful act while you were dating, and now suddenly you find there is more to them than that face. Well, I don’t care, you’ve made covenant. Amen.
Israel understood that and they did not attack them. It says that the congregation complains, but they said it’s no good arguing about it, for: ‘we’ve sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel therefore we cannot touch them, he says this we will do we will let them live. Lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.’ They knew if they break covenant there is going to be wrath, God’s judgement upon them.
One interesting thing about World War II is that we had a covenant, a treaty with Czechoslovakia and if we would have kept that Peace Treaty. If we would have kept our covenant to defend them then World War II would have finished a lot easier. In the end it wasn’t expedient for us. We thought we’d let Hitler take Czechoslovakia for the sake of peace. Then we drew the line at Poland and the War started when Hitler invaded Poland, but we broke covenant there. We had promised: ‘if you are attacked I will be there for you’, but we broke it and paid the priceas a result. There is judgement on covenant-breakers- it is a serious issue. Don’t enter into covenants easily or lightly because it is a major thing.
I want you to see what happens when this covenant is put to the test in Joshua 10 resulting in one of the most amazing miracles in the Bible.
Verse one tells us that when the King of Jerusalem heard about Joshua’s victories and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, by coming into a submissive peace covenant with Israel , they were afraid because the Israelites are having all this success. So he sent a message to the other kings saying: “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” (v4). he wants to attack Gibeon and make an example of them. So ‘therefore these five Kings of Amorites gathered all their armies and made war against Gibeon.’ (v5). Ah, what happens now? Israel’s covenant partner is being attacked. Will Israel just do nothing, thinking that they deserve what’s coming to them? Well, let’s see:
v6: ‘The men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp of Gilgal saying, “do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all kings of the Amorites have gathered together against us.’ What are they doing? They’re calling on the covenant. They are saying: ‘we are in covenant with you. We are under attack. We call on that covenant commitment that you have made to defend us.’
Our Petitions to the Lord are really calling on our covenant with God.. You don’t just send up ‘Oh God, help me.’ In your mind should be an understanding you are in a solid Blood Covenant with God. He’s promised to be with you and to help you. He’s your covenant partner, and if you are under attack, if you are in difficulty, He’s promised to help you. When you call on the Lord, you are calling on your faithful covenant partner. You have a covenant established in the blood of your representative Jesus Christ, who has perfect righteousness with God. And when you are calling on the Name of Jesus you are calling on the Name of your covenant representative before God, standing on His righteousness with God and God has to answer. If you understand your covenant, your prayer life will be changed. So these men of Gibeon call on their covenant with Israel. They are not standing on their own righteousness. They know they have deceived Israel, but that’s not the point. They have a covenant and that’s the strongest thing in the world, and they are calling on that covenant.
What is Israel to do? Well, Joshua knew about covenant. Immediately ‘Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all mighty men of valour’ (v7). They are rushing to the defence of their covenant partners.
Even under these conditions, with a weak covenant based on a lie, when Gibeon called on that covenant for Joshua to defend them against attack, Joshua didn’t think twice, but went to their rescue, because he knew he was in covenant.
But there is more: ‘And the Lord said to Joshua “Do not fear them…’ Now notice God is involved in this, and He is supporting this action.
He doesn’t say: ‘well they deceived you, you don’t have to keep the covenant.’ No, God backs that covenant 100% and He proves it by doing one of the most outstanding miracles in the Bible when the moon and the sun stood still in the heavens. That’s how much God backs covenant.
The really interesting thing is that God, acting as Joshua’s covenant partner, intervenes and gets involved in this situation, to uphold and fulfil this covenant We read in v8: ‘And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” God is supporting Joshua’s actions to fulfil the covenant he had made with Gibeon, even though it was a weak covenant based on deception and not initiated by the Lord. He’s a covenant keeping God. Joshua came on them suddenly, routed them and they flee and as they are fleeing, in verse 11, God gets in on the action and He throws large hailstones from heaven! God is backing this covenant up even though it is a weak covenant. A covenant based on a lie, on a deception, a covenant that wasn’t God’s perfect will, but even so God is supporting it and helping Israel defend His covenant partner by throwing hailstones down from heaven.
But that’s not the end of it, because Joshua needed more time before dark to completely destroy this attacking army so they could not regroup and attack again. What does Joshua do? He has a gift of faith and suddenly the faith rises up in his heart and says (v12):
“Sun stand still over Gibeon; the sun stood still and the Moon; in the valley of Aijalon.” v13,14 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down
for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.”
I want you to notice that God will stop the Sun and the Moon and the rotation of the earth, He will stop time itself if necessary, to enforce a covenant. If God’s got to stop the Sun for you to make His promise come true, He’ll do it and that was for a covenant that was a weak covenant. How much more is He going to uphold His covenant with you, which He planned from eternity past, which He sealed in the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. He’ll do anything. He’ll stop the universe. He will enforce and He will fulfil His covenant. He can do nothing else. God did one of the greatest miracles in the Bible to uphold this covenant. When Joshua needed the Sun and the Moon to stand still God backed him up and if God will stop the Sun and the Moon to uphold even that covenant that was made under false pretences, how much more will God stop the Sun and the Moon, if it takes that to uphold His covenant with you made in the blood of His Son? That’s the strength of His chesed love for you, as Romans 8:32 says:
‘He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?’ That’s how strong Blood Covenant is, and that’s how much God is going to back the covenant up. It’s the strongest thing in the universe. It’s what binds you to God.
That’s why Hebrews 13:5 says: ‘God has said “Never will I leave you never will I forsake you.”’ But that doesn’t give you the force of the words because there are three ‘No’s’ in here. Young’s Literal says:
‘No, I will not leave, No, No, not forsake you.’
The Amplified says it well: ‘God has said:
I will not in any way fail you, nor give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not. I will not. I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down or relax my hold on you.’
Assuredly not, no way, because you are in covenant with Him. If you have accepted Jesus as your representative before God and as your Lord, you are now in Christ, and you stand in His righteousness and in His position in the covenant, and as sure as Christ’s relationship is with God, so you stand in that same relationship (righteousness) with God. You are in covenant with God. He cannot let you go. He cannot do anything else but bless you.
This is the power that we don’t understand, that’s behind the promises of the Bible. They are soaked in the blood of an everlasting covenant. They are backed by the faithful ‘chesed’ love of God, and by His oath for He has sworn by Himself that He will fulfil His covenant promises.
It is knowing the reliability and firmness of our covenant with God that causes our faith to be strong. It is knowing that His promises are based in a covenant that is established in His blood. It is knowing that the character, the ‘chesed’ of God stands behind His word, and that His word is backed by His covenant oath. If our faith is based on this revelation of the Blood Covenant then surely it will be strong.
One interesting thing is that God will again stop the Sun in the heavens one more time, and again it will be to fulfil His covenant. In the Second Coming of Christ, He is going to do it again. When Jesus returns it is to fulfil His covenant with Israel who are under attack at the battle of Armageddon and are under the threat of annihilation. The armies of the antichrist have invaded Israel and are about to annihilate her, but God has made a covenant with Israel to protect and preserve her. Israel cannot be destroyed because of a covenant that God has made.
Lamentations 3:22 says this when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians, Jeremiah knew ‘Yes, this is terrible but we cannot be destroyed because we have a covenant with God that assures our future.’ You too cannot be destroyed because you have a covenant with God through Jesus. Jeremiah says: ‘Through the Lord’s mercies…’ (that’s covenant love) ‘we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not they are new every morning.
Great is Your faithfulness.’
Yes, if we didn’t have a covenant we would be blown off the face of the world, but Israel’s still here because they have that covenant with God that assures their future. Great Britain has no assurance. It could be destroyed tomorrow. It doesn’t have a covenant with God. Israel does and that’s the difference. But if you have a covenant with God through Jesus you are indestructible. You have eternal life. You have a future guaranteed by covenant and there is nothing stronger than that.
Now Habakkuk 3 describes the Second Coming of Jesus. Verse 3: ‘God came from Teman…’ Teman refers to a place in Edom, which is now in modern day Jordan. This is a place where the Jewish remnant in the Tribulation will escape to and will be protected by God for 3 and a half years. Believers in Israel in the Tribulation will escape to Petra (in the region of Teman) half way through the Tribulation and that is in the country of Edom and that’s where Jesus will return at first. Its also called Bosra and at the battle of Armageddon the armies of the antichrist will cover the land from Megidoo in the north, all the way down to Petra in Jordan where the Jewish remnant is being kept safe - more than two hundred kilometres. These armies now gather round Petra to destroy the remnant there, but the remnant are now calling in faith to the Messiah, to Jesus saying: ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Come Lord and save us.’
And so Jesus returns first of all to Petra to save His people there, to fulfil His covenant with them in response to them calling upon His name in faith. Jesus returns there first and starts destroying the armies of the antichrist, going through the land like lightning that flashes from the East (Jordan) to the West (Isreal). Then once He has finished He will ascent the Mount of Olives in triumph. With this background we can understand what’s happening in Habakkuk 3:3on:
‘God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.’ This is the return of Jesus. Teman and Mount Paran are where the remnant is in Jordan and now Habakkuk sees the Messiah marching towards Israel in His glory having just liberated the remnant from the armies of the antichrist. Let’s now continue to read in Habakkuk 3:3: ‘His glory covered the heavens, and His praise filled the earth, His splendour was like the sunrise.’ Just before His appearance there is a total blackout of the sun, moon and stars and then only His glory will appear. v4: ‘His splendour was like the sunrise, rays flashed from His hands, where His power was hidden’ v 11, notice this: ‘Sun and moon stood still in the heavens.’ Jesus is coming out of heaven to fulfil His covenant and He stops the sun and the moon again for a day.
He’s the covenant keeping God and if necessary to keep covenant, He will stop the universe. He’ll turn out the lights. He will do it for Israel He would do it for you!
He says, v 12: ‘In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. You came out to deliver Your people (Israel). ‘to save with Your anointed One.’ You see it’s the Messiah doing this.
‘You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness’ That’s Him destroying the antichrist So the sun and the moon will be stopped again. God will do anything to keep His covenant. That’s our covenant keeping God.
*Address them personally to put their trust in God and His covenant promises, to call upon their covenant in faith. If God did such miracles for Israel to uphold a weaker covenant, will He not do miracles for you who are in a far better covenant established upon better promises and far more precious blood!
*Pray with thanksgiving for the covenant.