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The Cross is a Blood Covenant

Inscribed in Blood: Tracing Bible Covenants

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the profound truth of blood covenants. The people who lived on the pages of our Bible used blood to make a solemn agreement when two parties swear an oath.

Cutting a covenant involved two men but had beneficial consequences for the wife and family members.

We live in a time when we can sign a contract in good faith on paper or in ink, and we can cancel it on a whim or with the help of a good lawyer.

But the biblical covenant was cut in blood. The Hebrew word “berith” means more than a promise; it is a solemn agreement with unbreakable obligations. It was the beginning of a binding relationship.

Covenant-making is the backbone of the Bible and the Gospel.

Biblical Covenants are Written in Blood
Biblical Covenants are Written in Blood

 

COVENANTS: CONDITIONAL AND UNCONDITIONAL 

God’s covenants in the Bible are all unconditional; He upholds both sides and the outcome depends on Him, except for one.

God’s Mosaic covenant with Israel for the law was the only conditional one. Subsequently, the story of Israel’s failure to keep the law and uphold their side of the Mosaic covenant unfolded until God sent his Son to represent them. Jesus was the only Jew who could ever keep the law. 

Then, God and Jesus Christ made the ultimate covenant between them at the cross, the New Covenant. It is an international covenant for Jews and Gentiles. Jesus Christ is our representative, and we are the beneficiaries. 

Hebrews 8:6: “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”

THE MAJOR 5 COVENANTS IN THE BIBLE

 

1. NOAHIC COVENANT

God promised that He would never flood the whole earth again. (Genesis 9.)

2. ABRAHAMIC COVENANT 

God promised land for Israel, thus “the promised land.” (Genesis 15.) 

3. MOSAIC COVENANT

God promised to bless Israel if they kept the law and to punish them if they didn’t. (Exodus 19-24.)

4. DAVIDIC COVENANT

God promised a Messiah would be born from David’s line to rule and reign in Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 89.)

5. THE NEW COVENANT

God promised to “forgive iniquity and to remember sins no more.” This promise is international and applies to Jews and Gentiles. However, it also replaced the only unconditional covenant for the law with a “new covenant”, one that is unconditional. Thus, it is also known as the grace covenant. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.)

 

5 COVENANT INGREDIENTS

Every covenant had to have specific ingredients to make it a valid covenant. 

  • The Representative Man

  • The Oath; a solemn agreement

  • A Blood Sacrifice

  • The Covenant Meal

  • The Covenant Memorial

 

1. THE REPRESENTATIVE MAN

In the Western world today, life begins and ends with the individual. In Biblical times, one man could represent a whole family or clan, but he had to have the same blood as those he represented.

Likewise, one man could bring a nation into victory or slavery. Remember the story of David and Goliath, when David represented Israel, and Goliath represented the Philistines? This concept of a representer was at play here.

1 Samuel 1:8 “Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I, not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. 9If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.” 

By the same token, because of one representative, Adam, we all fell into sin and death. And because of one representative, Jesus, we were made alive. He was born to represent the human race in the New Covenant; He was 100% man and 100% God.

 

2. THE OATH, A SOLEMN AGREEMENT

The two parties laid out and agreed on responsibilities and made a solemn agreement, calling upon God to be the witness. God promised Noah He would never again flood the earth. He promised Abraham the land of Israel, and David a Messiah who would be born from his bloodline.

The New Testament is painted with the language and drama of the New Covenant, God’s responsibilities, and our hope as the beneficiaries.

3. THE BLOOD SACRIFICE

During the covenant-cutting process, blood would be shed, either from the individuals or animals. Those referred to as blood brothers were friends who sealed their bond by cutting their fingers or arms, allowing their blood to intermingle as they scraped their wounded body parts against each other.

The Bible gives a picture of this cutting in blood at the making of the Abrahamic covenant. God put Abraham to sleep after laying animal carcasses on the floor, and He walked in the blood, in vivid symbolism.

Genesis 15

“10Abram 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. 

12As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 

17When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 

18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land.”

And then, an even more bloody picture at the cross. The nails driven through the hands and feet, the crown of thorns pressed onto Jesus’ head, contributing further to the overall bloodiness of the scene. Jesus’ crucifixion was a covenant cut in His own blood.

The Cross is a Covenant Written in Blood
The Cross is a Covenant Written in Blood

 

4.THE MEAL

Every covenant ended with a meal, drinking from the same cup and eating the same bread. In Exodus, there is a peculiar moment when they saw God and ate and drank. Yes, and now you know, this was the covenant meal.

Exodus 24: “9Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

Of course, we are all familiar with the covenant meal: Holy Communion. At the last supper, Jesus broke bread and drank from the cup, declaring it the New Covenant meal.

Matthew 26:26 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body. 27Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

The Holy Communion is a Covenant Meal
The Holy Communion is a Covenant Meal

 

5.THE MEMORIAL

The two parties commemorated this event with an enduring memorial. Often, they built a monument at the place where they made a covenant. Other times, they changed the place’s name to reflect the covenant they made there. 

The cross is the memorial of the New Covenant cut at Golgotha.

 

A NEW RELATIONSHIP: COVENANT-FRIEND

Today, the word “friend” has become stripped of its emotional resonance and authenticity. Two can enter friendship and part ways in the flip of a hat. It is most often superficial interactions and fleeting connections.


However, in Biblical times, it refers to two men who entered a covenant relationship, and this is why the Bible refers to God as a friend of Abraham forever.

2 Chronicles 20:7 “Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?”

One of the most beautiful covenant stories in the Bible is the covenant friendship between David and Jonathan. Even after Jonathan died, David fulfilled his covenant obligations to Jonathan’s family and beneficiaries. See more here: Uncovering the Fantastic Story of Mephibosheth.

2 Samuel 9: 3: “The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” 5So King David had him brought from Lo Debar… 7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.

This is why Jesus called you and me friends; it is based on the New Covenant. And brought us into a new relationship with Jesus, that of friends.  

John 15:15 “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends“. 

 

WRAP IT UP

Knowing and understanding the covenant is at the root and foundation of the Christian life. Our salvation is anchored in an unshakeable and unchangeable blood covenant, the New Covenant. Jesus is our warranty of better things to come.

2 Timothy 2:13:  “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”

THE END

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