THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM – Part 4
“Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then 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. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” Genesis 15:7-11
After surveying the expanse of miles of land declared to be his possession from God, and after observing the stars in the Heaven and imagining his children to be as numerous as those stars, Abram was still not able to comprehend how the miracle of fatherhood would be found in him at his advanced age. So he asks God to give him some sign of assurance.
From the beginning God intended to make a blood covenant with Abram that would be binding forever. So he tells him to go and bring from his flocks a three-year old heifer, a three-year old female goat, a three year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon. So he did as the Lord instructed him and brought the animals to the place where God told him. He cut the three large animals in two and laid each half of their carcasses across from its other half. The two birds he did not cut in two.
Nowhere else in the scriptures do we have an account of another covenant made in this manner. What God called Abram to do here was in many ways like the once and for all time call of Christ to suffer and die once on The Cross for all, for all time. This covenant was to be made once and for all time between God and Abram and his descendants forever.
The first thing we would have noticed on that day was the enormous amount of blood that would have been shed by those large animals. It would have virtually soaked the ground and Abram’s garments would have been covered in it. From his head to his feet he would have been stained with the blood of those sacrifice animals.
The vultures tried to seize the moment as an opportunity for food, but Abram drove them away, until the sun went down.
That there were three of these large animals points to the triune nature of God and the two birds the turtledove and the young pigeon point to the dual nature or Jesus, fully God and fully man.
The basis of the blood covenant is its binding of one person to another unto death. This holds true for groups and nations. The reason for a blood covenant was and is to benefit both parties in the covenant promise. The covenant is the ultimate swearing of a promise and oath by blood unto death. The parties to the covenant swear at the cutting of the covenant that they will not under any circumstances, break any part of the covenant. Any party that breaks the covenant or fails to fulfill his promise is therefore subject to death just as the sacrifice animals were laid open on the ground.
To establish the force of the covenant each party passes through the pieces of the dead animals and the blood swearing that they will uphold fully all the promises made in the covenant and that, should either of them break the covenant the other has the right to treat them as one of the animals slaughtered and dead on the ground.
Blood covenants are made when two parties find they can mutually benefit from an alliance with one another. Sometimes the alliances are made to end hostilities between individuals, families or nations. Sometimes they are made to crate a stronger single entity than the sum of each individual entity. For example: Nation A of farmer’s who have little skill or knowledge of warfare may find themselves vulnerable to marauding pirates who steal their goods an pillage their cities. Nation B on the other hand is greatly skilled in defense and warfare but have no knowledge of the land and how to make it produce for them to keep their armies ready to fight.
So the leaders (Kings) of the two nations come together to negotiate a mutually agreed upon alliance that will join their nations together for defense and for agricultural productivity that will make both nations stronger, richer and more formidable against their mutual enemies.
By combining their nations into one new nation they establish a perpetual bond for themselves and the generations to come. Over time their individual identities give way to their new name, new purpose, new blessing and new prosperity and peace.
Because each has something to gain from the other they prepare a ceremony to declare the oath (promises) of the covenant, to swear allegiance to it in blood. They exchange symbols with one another and they officially change their names to signify the new nation they have become. The final act of acceptance of the covenant is the breaking of bread and each drinking from a common cup mingled with their blood, signifying that they are now one blood, one family one with each other now and forever. Whoever comes against one comes against all. Whoever favors one will be favored by all.
This was God’s first covenant blessing to Abram.
“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3
Next: Part 5