In Genesis 15, God tells Abram that he is to bring a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon to the Lord(Genesis 12:9). If you look at the passage, God does not tell Abram what to do with these animals and yet rather than build an altar and sacrifice them, Abram cuts the heifer, the goat and the ram in half (not the birds) and arranges them on opposite sides. Thus the blood from the carcasses which had been ripped apart would flow down towards each other, forming a "blood path". How did Abram know this was what he was supposed to do?
In order to answer that, we must look back to the culture from whence Abram came and Abram was a product of Mesopotamia. Is there historical evidence of such a practice as described in Genesis 15. Yes, there is. Though the selection of animals differs, it follows the same procedure. Theanimals are slaughtered, their bodies arrangedtheir bodies so that the blood flows down and forms a blood path. The particpants then pass through the "aisle" formed by the blood.
It is small wonder that Abram was filled with a terrible horror. He knew exactly what this meant and he also knew the consequences of breaking such a covenant.The penalty for breaking the covenant is this: if you break the covenant than the one you made it with has the right to do to you what was done to the animals. In other words, rip you in two and let your blood flow out. We have another example of a blood covenant in Jeremiah 34:18-19.
Something interesting happens, however, in the Genesis account. Only God passes between the carcasses. He passes between the pieces first in the form of a smoking oven and then as a burning torch. God in essence is passing through on Abram's behalf as well. He is saying, "If I break the covenant, may I be ripped and torn apart so that my blood runs down and if you, Abram, break this covenant, may I be ripped and torn apart so that my blood runs down."
At the moment, I am thinking about how the body of Jesus was broken, ripped and nailed to the cross. It was not because of anything He had done. It was because of what all of us had done. Humanity's relationship with God had been broken, not by God but by Adam. We are the ones who deserved to be broken, ripped apart and nailed to that cross, not Jesus. We were the one's upon whom God should have turned His back on.
InsteadJesus Christ stood in our place... so that we might live.
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