When Jesus said that his death was the new covenant in his blood the disciples, who were brought up on the Old Testament covenants made the correct associations, even though the full implications were not clear. Today when we read the term 'blood of the covenant' our eyes glaze over as we quickly move onto the next verse. This is a sad indictment of how we treat the word of God, for we have become a fellowship of believers who are lazy and care little about Gods word.
The Old Testament word for covenant is 'berit' with a root meaning of 'cut' and hence coming to mean 'cut a covenant' or 'cut an agreement. This is vividly illustrated in Geneses 15. When the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek the only word that could be used for 'berit' was diatheke which comes to us as testament. It was from this that the two division of the Bible were named.
When two parties made a covenant certain rituals took place for this was a solemn, serious and binding agreement between two parties. I do not intent to go through all of the eight stages of the ancient covenant making but if anyone is interested any good web site on ancient covenants in biblical times will provide a rich tapestry for Gods covenants were modeled on such agreements. In doing so, one can see the shadow of Christ covering all the eight points.
This blog will dwell on one of these points. Each party swore an oath which stated that death would result to one of the parties if they failed to honour the covenant. After slicing the sacrificial beast from top to tail and laying the two pieces side by side, the two parties would stand in the ground soaked blood. They would then cut their wrists and mix both bloods with wine and drink this mixture, swearing to uphold the covenant on the penalty of death.
The one major difference with Gods covenants is that he is by far the stronger participant, but this does not mean there were no obligations on the other party. In the OT this was obedience to the laws as outlined continually by the prophets but seen most clearly in Deuteronomy.
Such an arrangement is true of the new covenant in Christ blood. God has agreed to do certain things such as; forgiveness of our sin, cancelling the enmity between us, not imputing our sins to us, clothing us in Christ righteousness, never leaving us desolate, providing for our needs, protection from our enemies – the list is endless. See Ephesians 2 for a small glimpse of Gods great work towards us.
God has gone out of his way to more than uphold his side of the agreement that has been established because of Calvary, for his Son has gone outside the city gate and suffered death to make his people, those that God has called to him; holy and washed in his blood.
What are our obligations in this new covenant established through his blood? One cannot miss these requirements that are plain to see scattered throughout the New Testament – those that have eyes to see will see these obligations. To summarize, we who have been born again by the will of the Father, for the blood of Jesus has opened up a new and living way into the throne room of God, are called to have the mind of Christ.
Therefore, I urge you,brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritualact of worship.2Do not conformany longer to the pattern of this world,but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasingand perfect will. Romans 12 (NIV)
The KJV renders verse one as this is your 'reasonable service.' The Greek word has the understanding that presenting your bodies is the only logical rational response to Gods act of redemption. Paul throughout his letters is constantly urging his readers to 'grow up unto the head, which is Christ,' or to 'put on the qualities that Jesus displayed.'
My question is, why do so many of those who call Jesus Lord fail to honour the agreement won by the blood of Jesus? Under the Old Covenant God would have every right to smite those down that were not honouring his agreement? But God in his great mercy and because of the intercessory work of Christ has 'stayed his hand.' For God longs that no one should perish, but all come to salvation.
But there will come a day that is clearly outlined in scripture that we will have to give an account of our work. This is outlined in 1 Corinthians 3 for our works will be tested by the holy fire of God.
Why is it that so many of those that call themselves Christians are resting on their oars? Do we not know that we are all running a race and we all must run to win? What has stopped us from running?
So much scripture one can list here. Scripture that is ignored or else not believed by so many. Our secular culture, and the false teachers and prophets within christendom, are some major reasons, and vessels used, to deceive self and others, in answer to the questions you ended with.
In my country, many turn universalist, at a funeral, or in what they teach and preach. Simple truth is it is Jesus Christ Himself who said "few" find it, are chosen. It isn't their theological doctrines, with all the words involved, that place them among the few.
It is how they have lived, in their faith and obedience to Jesus Christ, in love for Him. What they "do". These are the ones God gives His Spirit to.
Good blog. Much needed. Though not real popular in this day and time. God bless brother.
A number of years ago, I listened to a study on the blood covenant and one of the things discussed was "The Blood Path". When you read Genesis 15 in English, at least, much is lost in translation partially because the Israelites would have been familiar with the ritual that was taking place and there would have been no need for further explanation. God makes a blood covenant with Abraham and passes between the animals. Abraham is absolutely terrified because he knows what must happen next. He must walk that path as well and if he breaks the covenant then he will broken and ripped apart like the animals with his blood flowing down. However, God passes through once again on Abraham's behalf and in essence is saying, "If I break this covenant, let me be broken and ripped apart with my blood flowing down and if YOU break this covenant let ME be broken and ripped apart with my blood flowing down. And that is exactly what happened on the Cross.
"God has gone out of his way to more than uphold his side of the agreement that has been established because of Calvary, for his Son has gone outside the city gate and suffered death to make his people, those that God has called to him; holy and washed in his blood."
Your entire blog is powerfully enlightening and convicting; and the above quote is so reaffirming of the patience, love, and mercy of God. This has really ministered to me.
The New Covenant in Christ blood was such a complete turn-around for Jewish believers that they had a difficult time accepting all that it meant. Which is one reason Paul had so much difficulty with the Judaizers. People still have a problem with it today. If we aren't well-grounded in what the Bible says it is easy to slip into legalism on the one hand or lawlessness on the other. Paul is consistent in his teaching throughout, this is what you are, now, because of all that the Lord has done for you so act like it. Live your life for the Lord Jesus Christ and not for yourself, "pick up your cross daily and follow me." Put the old man to death, daily, by obedience to the teaching of the Apostles and the Lord. Why that seems so difficult for some to grasp I don't understand but if they never hear the truth, how will they know? You have been given great discernment in understanding the truth of God's word and I thank God for you. God Bless, Phil
Enjoyed this much. So much of His word and today is either ignored as mentioned, or thought gruesome to the 21st century reader (i.e. - such as blood covenants). I pray God continues to open eyes and His people walk in trust and obedience of the calling God in Christ Jesus.