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  • Rev. Joseph A. Bias


“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7

This is the pattern by which a blood covenant is made.

1. The Call to unite for mutual benefit

2. The Declaration of the Promise

3. The Ceremony of Blood

4. The Swearing of an Oath unto death

5. The Sacrifice and mingling of Blood

6. The Breaking of Bread

7. The Exchange of garments, tokens, (items of identity and authority, i.e. rings, swards, crowns, mantels…)

8. Conferring of authority and granting of access to all

9. The Change of Names

10. Setting up a Memorial, A Remembrance to be passed from generation to generation

This was God’s call and first covenant promise 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

The strength of the covenant rests on the promise of God. The process of this covenant coming into force took place over an extended period of time. The promise of the covenant was declared from the beginning of Abram’s first encounter with God in Genesis 12. Then it was affirmed in subsequent events where God promises to give him the land and to give him the blessing of children unto many generations forever.

“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7
“And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’ ” Genesis 13:14-17

Finally, the promises are confirmed with an oath and that oath was made in conjunction with the slaughtering of three large animals and two birds, cutting the large animals in two parts and laying the parts on the ground in the midst of their blood, but not cutting the birds in two. They are left whole.

The three large animals are a type of the Holy Trinity, Who is God. They represent the trine nature of God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

This Covenant God is making with Abram, for Abram but without the participation of Abram in the sense that Abram himself takes no part in the ceremony other than to observe it. Abram represents all mankind.

The two birds, the turtledove and the young pigeon represent the dual nature of Jesus, being fully God and fully man. The Turtledove represents His God nature and the young pigeon represents His human nature. The birds were not sawn in two because as a type and shadow of things to come it is said of Jesus that though He suffered death on the cross as the paschal Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, not one of His bones was broken. [Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:4; Numbers 9:12]

So God was present an actively participating in this covenant cutting ceremony as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father and the Son are represented in the animals. And as we shall see later, The Holy Spirit is represented as “a smoking oven and a burning torch.”

Now that day for Abram was occupied with bringing the animals from his flocks and killing them, dividing them in two and laying the pieces out on the ground. This is important because there will come a time in this ceremony when the covenant representatives will walk through those pieces making a figure 8 or an infinity symbol and swearing to uphold the covenant promises.

Before this takes place God puts Abram to sleep and gives him a most vivid and troubling dream.

“Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.” Genesis 15:12

Then God begins to speak to him and to prophecy.

“Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:13

So God reveals to Abram what will be the defining moment for the nation which will be born of his descendants. That moment after 400 years of captivity was their deliverance from the bondage of the most powerful ruler on the earth.

Now after the sun went down the ceremony began; each party swearing to the other to fulfill all the covenant promises made to one another that day.

“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 those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:17-21

But wait a moment, you might say. I thought this was a covenant with Abram. Where is he in all of this? Did he walk through the midst of the animals? Did he pledge an oath to God? Did he bring anything of value to this ceremony? What did he have to enrich God? What benefit did he bring to the covenant that would supply anything lacking in God?

More: in Part 6

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