- Rev. Joseph A. Bias
THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM – Part 6
“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
The ceremony of blood covenant requires that the covenant representatives of each group or nation would walk through the midst of the blood and the animal carcasses on the ground as they swear to keep every tenant of the Covenant, of its promises and to its demand to forfeit their lives if they breach or break the covenant. This is no light thing. It is a binding oath that guarantees blessing and guarantees the ultimate judgment for the transgressor. And it is for life.
Now we see that there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. These two entities are images of God and of Jesus.
The prophet Ezekiel provides us a description of the appearance of Jesus before His incarnation.
“AND IN the sixth year [of the captivity of King Jehoiachin], in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house [a captive of the Babylonians] with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me. Then I beheld, and lo, a likeness of a Man with the appearance of fire; from His waist downward He was like fire, and from His waist upward He had the appearance of brightness like gleaming bronze.” Ezekiel 8:1-2
So the burning torch is a representation of Jesus, the Son. The smoking oven points to the pillar of cloud that guarded Israel in the wilderness by day. It is also likened to the cloud that covered Mt Sinai where God appeared to Moses. It is also likened to the cloud and fire God created on Mt. Zion.
“And the Lord will create over the whole site, over every dwelling place of Mount Zion and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a canopy (a defense of divine love and protection).” Isaiah 4:5
So it was God who walked through those pieces as a smoking oven and a burning torch. It is God who swore a covenant for Abram and his descendants.
But wait a moment, you might say. I thought this was a covenant with Abram. Was he not the other party in this covenant ceremony? 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?
Abram was not required to make an oath. He did not walk through the blood and the carcasses. God did it all for him. Abram as a man was represented in this covenant ceremony by the man Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man. And remember this all happened before Jesus was born as a man in the world. In His Godhead looking down through the ages as a descendant of Abram, His human birth would be the fulfillment of man’s opportunity to participate in the blessing of the Covenant with Abraham.
Now to understand the gravity of the blood covenant penalty, hear these words from the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah.
“And the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not kept the terms of the covenant or solemn pledge which they had made before Me, I will make them [like] the [sacrificial] calf which they cut in two and then passed between its separated parts [solemnizing their pledge to Me]—I will make those men the calf! The princes of Judah, the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf, I will give them into the hands of their enemies and into the hands of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth.” Jeremiah 34:18-20
The Covenant with Abram was not made to provide God a means for ensnaring people and destroying their lives because of their sins. No. The covenant was made to insure Abram that God would be his God and that he would have offspring so numerous that they cannot be counted. Moreover, the Covenant was cut for Abram so that he would know that God would never fail him, forsake him or his generations, forever, and that through him ultimately the Messiah, the Savior, the deliverer would come and restore all things to the perfection, purity, holiness and Godly order of the original nature of man in the Garden of Eden.
All that Abram could bring to this covenant was to believe God. And so it is for us today. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Salvation has been made available to us by no work or payment on our part. The only thing we need to do to receive it is believe that God is, confessing with our mouths the Lord Jesus and believing in our hearts that God has raised Him from the dead.
Continuing the covenant cutting process in Part 7