Updated: Apr 7, 2021
Part 3 Our God is a God of covenants
In Part 2 we followed the trail of Jesus blood as it was shed starting in the garden of Gethsemane, then in the barracks and palace, when he was scourged, and the crown of thorns planted on his head.
The blood trickled through the streets of Jerusalem, then from his hands and feet as he was sacrificed on the cross. Finally after he had dismissed his spirit in death, a soldier pierced our Lord's side and the blood and water flowed out onto his dead body and down onto the ground.
We saw that the Jesus’ blood was shed to reverse the effects of the curse that Adam and Eve brought on the creation. Jesus blood was given to reverse the effects of the fall.
Jesus blood was then poured out on the mercy seat in heaven to make atonement for the sins of fallen man.
His holy sinless blood washed away our sins and sealed the new covenant.
What is a covenant?
Today we are going to consider the concept of covenant and then try to find out why the blood was necessary for the new covenant.
If someone made you a promise or a deal, a promise or a deal that was very important to you. How could they convince you that they would definitely keep their end of the bargain?
If they were a person of integrity you might just accept their word.
Sad to say there is little evidence of integrity in today's society.
In the marriage ceremony people make vows.
In legal and business contracts people sign up after taking legal advice.
Abram had the same dilemma he asked God how he could be sure that God would keep his promise to bless him with millions of descendants. See Genesis 15:1-18.
Genesis 15:5 He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."
8 But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"
9 So the LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon."
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.
11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Jumping down to verse 17
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.
18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates--
A Covenant making and keeping God
The bible is divided into the O.T. and the N.T. The word for testament derives from the Latin word testamentum, which translates into English as covenant or testament.
Definition of a covenant; a formal and legally binding agreement between two parties.
In modern life many important things are based on a covenant type agreement e.g. marriage is a covenant with vows taken. In sickness and in health…etc. Such an agreement promotes trust and stability. A covenant usually involves vows or promises made by both parties with mutual benefits and often contain penalty clauses.
In Hebrew ‘covenant’ is the word berith and the equivalent in the Greek diatheke means to 'cut covenant'. Brooker defines a covenant in terms of the Abrahamic covenant as an agreement to 'make a binding agreement by the shedding of blood and walking between the pieces of flesh.
The God of the ancient Hebrews is a God who makes covenants.
A blood covenant is the most sacred or solemn type, also the most significant and unbreakable. Marriage should be a blood covenant at consummation! In a blood covenant you promise to give your life, your love, and your protection forever.
Example of a Hebrew Covenant
Two men entering into a blood covenant would go through nine steps;
Each one would take off his robe or coat and give it to the other, symbolising a pledging of themselves to the other.
Take off the belt and give it to the other, symbolising the giving of our strength for battle (swords and daggers were in belt) both parties do this.
Cut the covenant; they took an animal and split it down the middle. The two parties then stand in between the split halves of the animal with their backs to each other. Each one walks a figure of eight around the two halves and both end up facing each other. This is saying two things.
a) We are giving up our own rights and lives and beginning a new walk (life) with our covenant partner. The two halves figuratively represent the death of the participants.
b) The participants can point to the shed blood on the ground and vow that God should split them and shed their blood in the same way if they were to break this solemn agreement.
 R Brooker The miracle of the scarlet thread.
5. Raise the right arm and mix blood; raise right arms and cut palms and intermingle the blood. While the blood is mixing together they swear allegiance to one another. The mixing of the blood represents them becoming one blood and hence one life. The two become one.
6. Exchange names; they exchange surnames.
7. Make a scar; as the blood has mixed the wounds are rubbed together to make a scar that will be a permanent reminder of the covenant we made. When others see it they will know that if you mess with me then you are messing with my covenant partner as well. The scar seals the covenant. The missionary Henry Stanley received 50 such scars when travelling in Africa. Hostile chiefs would think twice before attacking him when they saw his ‘connections’ i.e covenant scars.
8. Give covenant terms; One says all my goods are yours, my money, my transport, and my house. If you need them don't ask they are yours for the taking. If I die I expect you to look after my family. But he also says that he expects the same privileges from the second party. They might then list their assets jointly and in a sense consider them as joint property (both assets and liabilities).
9. Eat a memorial meal; they took bread and wine, the bread representing animal flesh and the wine representing the blood of the covenant. They fed the bread to each other representing joined flesh, and the wine joint lives.
10. Plant a memorial tree; the covenant must always be remembered. They planted a tree and sprinkled it with the blood of the sacrifice and along with their scars this served as a memorial. The tree will always serve as a reminder to the covenant.
From this point they are known as true friends. Friendship in ancient times, in a sense only applied between those who had cut a covenant. Their children both living and unborn were also included in this at least until they were of age to reject or accept the covenant themselves.
The bible gives several examples of covenant; a particularly lovely one was the one between David and Jonathan (see 1 Samuel 18:1-9).
God's new covenant with us
In a similar manner, before God created the universe, He planned to make a blood covenant for you so that you might be one with Him. When the time came, the eternal, infinite Creator entered into time and space through the person of Jesus Christ. Christ, the Son of God, exchanges names with us and became Jesus, the Son of Man. He was the God-Man who came to identify with us in our human condition and cut the covenant for us so that we might be one with God. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, He was able to cut a perfect covenant with God on our behalf. When it was time, Jesus gathered His disciples together to participate in the covenant meal. Jesus took the bread and wine and explained that they represented His own life which was to be offered in our place as the covenant sacrifice for our sins. He further explained that through His sacrifice, we could have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life through union with Him. Afterward, Jesus planted a memorial tree and stained it with His own blood. That blood- stained tree was the cross. There Jesus paid the judgment of sin for-us by "cutting the covenant" with Father God on our behalf. This is where the exchange of natures took place. Jesus took the coat or robe of our liabilities on Himself He took our sins into His spirit, our sorrows into His soul and our sicknesses into His flesh. In return, He gives us the asset of His garment of salvation and robe of righteousness. Through Him, we can have right standing with God and become partakers of His divine nature. Because Jesus never sinned, death couldn't hold Him in the grave. Three days later, He was resurrected and ascended back to heaven where He now sits on the throne of God with all authority and power over sin, Satan, and death. And He promises to come back to earth to rule over a kingdom of righteousness and peace with His followers.
The New Covenant and You
Anyone who will enter covenant with Jesus by accepting His death on your behalf, Jesus will give you the Holy Spirit and apply the blood covenant exchange and benefits to your life personally. The Holy Spirit will come and live inside you so that through Him you can partake of the divine nature of God. The Holy Spirit will be the divine scar on your heart that is God's personal seal and guarantee that Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you. You will be "born again" as a new person as the Holy Spirit joins you to Jesus in a spiritual union, filling you with His own glorious life.
The Covenant Terms
Here now are the terms of the covenant. God says if you will turn from your sins and fully commit your life to Him through a personal relationship with Jesus, He will give you His life. He will forgive your sins and restore you to a right relationship with Himself. You will receive authority and power over sin, Satanic strongholds, and habits, which left to themselves will destroy you. God will fill you with His own wonderful life of love, joy, and peace. He will renew your mind, stabilize your emotions and empower your will. He will give real meaning and purpose to your life, and finally, He will resurrect you from the grave so that you may live with Him forever.
The Covenant Invitation
God has provided for every human need through Jesus Christ by the sacred covenant in His blood. And now you can experience this for your own life. If you have not yet entered into this wonderful covenant with God. You may do so right now. As an act of faith, pray the following prayer from your heart, and then find a group of fellow believers who can help you live in the fullness of God's covenant life.
The Covenant Prayer
"God, I thank you for the covenant you have made for me through the blood of Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that I am a sinner in need of your forgiveness and salvation. I willingly turn from my sins and commit my life fully to you. I now accept and receive Jesus as my covenant Lord and Saviour. I ask You to forgive me of my sins and send the Holy Spirit to come and live inside me and fill me with Himself so that I can walk with You and enjoy the fullness of Your covenant life forever.