THE BLOOD COVENANT

I n ancient times the blood covenant was common among

almost all of the people of the middle east. It was a way of

establishing a binding contract between two men. What we call the

Old and New Testaments could easily be called the Old and New

Covenants. The typical blood covenant contained nine parts, or steps.

These steps are as follows,

1) The two people exchange coats or robes. To a Hebrew, the

coat or robe represented the person himself; so when he offered the

other person his robe, he was offering himself; even his very life itself.

2) They take off their belt and offer it to the other person. The

belt, also called the girdle, was used to hold your sward, your knife,

and other fighting instruments. In this way you were saying to the

other person that you were offering him your protection. If someone

attacks you, they also have me to deal with. Your battles are my

battles.

3)”CUT THE COVENANT”. In this part, an animal is killed

and cut down the middle and the two halves are laid opposite each

other. The two parties to the covenant pass between the two halves

of the animal and are saying, “May God do so to me and more if I

break this covenant. This is a blood covenant, and can not be broken.

4) Raise the right arm and cut the palm of the hand and clasp

each other’s hand and mingle your blood. This is saying to the other

person, “We are becoming one with each other. To intermingle the

blood is to intermingle the very life of both people.

5) Exchange names. Each one takes part of the others name and

incorporates it into their own.

6) Make a scar or some identifying mark. The scar was the

outward evidence of the covenant that others could see and know

that the covenant was made. Some times they would rub the cut in

the hand to make the scar, then anyone who wanted to fight you

would know that he not only had to fight you but another as well.

7) Give terms of the covenant. Both parties to the covenant

stand before a witness and list all of their assets and liabilities, because

each one takes all of these upon the himself. You are saying, “Every

thing I have is yours and everything you have is mine. If something

happens to you, your covenant partner will see to it that your wife

and children are taken care of.

8) Eat the memorial meal. A loaf of bread is broken in half. Each feeds his half to the other saying, “This is my body, and I am now

giving it to you.” Then they take wine as a symbol of his blood and

says, “This is my blood which is now your blood.”

9) Plant a memorial tree. The two then plant a tree as a

memorial to the covenant and sprinkle it with the blood of the animal

that was killed for the covenant offering.

These nine steps do not have to take place in the same order

that they are listed here. There are a lot of covenants listed in the

Bible and there is not great detail about them because everyone is

familiar with the procedure and the writer assumes that we know

what was done.

In our Bible we have the old and new testament,(or covenant).

The old covenant was made with Abram and we have a record of it in

the Bible. We can look in on it starting in the fifteenth chapter of

Genesis. In verse one we read; “After these things the word of the

Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, `Do not fear, Abram, I

am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.’.” Here we

see God offering His robe and belt to Abram. He offers to be his shield

and His rewards. He cuts the covenant in Genesis 15:7-21 “And He

said to him, `I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the

Caldeans, to give you this land to possess it.’ So He said to him,

`Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old male

goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtle dove, and a young

pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two,

and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the

birds. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses,

and Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going

down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and

great darkness fell upon him.” And God said to Abram, `Know

for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land

that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed

four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they

will serve; and afterward they will come out with many

possessions. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in

piece; you shall be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth

generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the

Amorite is not yet complete.’ And it came about when the sun

had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a

smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between

these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with

Abram, saying, `To your descendants I have given this land,

from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river

Euphrates; the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite

and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the

Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the

Jebusite.’.” Here God is giving the terms of the covenant to Abram.

But who are the ones passing between the pieces while Abram is in

the deep sleep? I submit to you that it is the pre-incarnate Christ. In

the Revelation 1:14-15 we see a description of Christ as

follows, “And His head and His hair were white like wool, like

snow, and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were

like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a

furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters,”

Here we see Christ, a descendant of Abram, standing in for Abram in

the covenant procession. In Genesis 17:4-5+15 we see the exchange of

names as follows, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you,

and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No

longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall

be Abraham; for I will make you the father of a multitude of

nations….Then God said to Abraham, as for Sarai your wife,

you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.”

In Hebrew, God was called YHWH. Here we see Him taking part of His

name and combining it with that of Abram and Sarai. From that time

on God was known as, “The God of Abraham”. Next we see the

making of a scar or symbol of the covenant. In Genesis 17:10-12 we

see, “This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me

and you and your descendants after you; every male among

you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the

flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant

between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight

days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a

servant who is born in the house or who is bought with

money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.”

The scar of circumcision bears witness of the covenant. Abraham was

tested when God told him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a small

mountain called mount Mariah near the town of Salem. Abraham

passed the test. Two thousand years ago, the other party to the

covenant was to sacrifice His only Son. The names had been changed

by then; Salem was then called Jerusalem, and Mariah had been

changed to Calvery, but the places were the same.

The new covenant took place in the same area of the world and

contained some of the same players. God was there, of course, and

Jesus; now incarnate, and the descendants of Abraham. This time

Jesus was not only the representative of Abraham’s descendants but

He was also the offering; the Lamb that was slain. This time it was

God’s only Son and not Abraham’s. Let us see how the new covenant

was completed in Christ.

1) EXCHANGE COATS OR ROBES. We come to this covenant

clothed in sin and unrighteousness. He comes clothed in holiness and

righteousness. We put on His righteousness. IICorinthians 5:21, “He

made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we

might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He takes our

sins upon Him and we take His holiness for ours. What an exchange!

2)TAKE OFF BELT: He protects us and provides us with

protection. Luke 10:19, “Behold, I have given you authority to

tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of

the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.” Ephesians 6:13-17

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be

able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to

stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with

truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and

having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of

peace; in addition to all, take up the shield of faith with which

you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the

evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sward of

the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

3)CUT THE COVENANT: Hebrews 10:14-18, “For by one

offering He has perfected for all time those who are

sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for

after saying, `This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws upon their

heart, and upon their mind I will write them, And their sins

and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Now where

there is forgiveness for these things, there is no longer any

offering for sin.” Jesus was not only the one making the covenant,

but he was also the sacrificial lamb.

4)RAISE RIGHT ARM & MIX BLOOD: Jesus was both man and

God. He was holy and also human. As we have the shed blood of

Jesus Christ applied to our hearts, His blood cleanses us from all sin

and we are also made holy. Our lives are forever intermingled with His.  5) EXCHANGE NAMES: Jesus took on the name, “Son of Man”

and we take on the name Christian. We are forever in the family of

God.

6) MAKE A SCAR: Jesus has the scars of the nails in His hands

and the feet and the spear in His side. We have the circumcision of the

heart. Romans 2:29, “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and

circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by

the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.”

7) GIVE THE COVENANT TERMS: Jesus gives the terms of the

covenant in the whole Bible. It is our responsibility to know it so that

we can live by it.

8) EAT MEMORIAL MEAL: I Corinthians 11: 23-26, “For I

received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that

the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took

bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said,

`This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of

Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also, after supper,

saying, `This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as

often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as

you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

9) PLANT A MEMORIAL TREE: The cross that Jesus died on was

the tree that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on and it still is a

memorial of His covenant with us to this day.

This is our covenant with the God of the universe. He will live up

to His end and He expects us to live up to ours.

  Paul Ziegler

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