When we come to Genesis 15 we read one of the most explicit descriptions of covenant to be found in the bible. It is represented by the yellow candle.
This covenant is built upon the promises to be found in Genesis 12:
· I will make you a great nation [v.2]
· I will bless you [v.2]
· All the families on earth will be blessed through you. [v.3]
There is just one problem with all this: Abraham is childless. So how will he become a great nation & how will all the earth be blessed through these non~existant descendants? A point Abraham is quick to point out to the Lord: Oh, Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? [[15:2]
Look up into the sky & count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have. [v.5]
Abraham believed the Lord, & the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith… just the same, he wasn’t taking any chances. How can I be sure…? Sure that I will posses the land? Sure that my sons will inherit?
So the Lord cuts covenant with Abraham.
Now understand covenant is a continuous, ongoing process that began in the garden & it was understood to be a covenant between God & mankind for Hosea 6:7 states: But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
So when we come to Abraham, we understand we are still seeing the outpouring of God’s redemptive grace working to restore a fallen world to Himself.
Did Abraham deserve God’s blessings? No more than you or I ~ which is to say not at all ~ but God’s love is not deterred by our limitations. It is He who sets out the terms of the covenant & it is He who keeps the conditions for he is wholly trustworthy. His yes is yes, His no is no & He changes not.
The terms of the covenant required one of each animal suitable for Temple sacrifice:
· A 3 yr old heifer
· A 3yr old female goat
· A 3yr old ram
· A turtledove &
· A young pigeon
We see the terms of God’s covenant working at multiple levels. First the practical.
Covenant is a legal contract. The terms & conditions are very specific, as are the obligations & responsibilities & once entered into it cannot be altered in any detail. It is absolutely binding. To confirm the covenant the animals sacrificed would be cut in half & the people *cutting covenant* would pass between the cut pieces to confirm the covenant. In essence the meaning is: may the same be done to me if I break faith with the covenant I have made.
Secondly, this is a *blood covenant* for Leviticus 17:11 says: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
This makes more sense if we keep in mind that all of Torah is a picture of Jesus … the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel… [Hebrews 12:24] because all the promises are Yes & Amen, in Jesus [2 Corinthians 1:20]
The NLT renders the end of this verse as: which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel . While it is not a literal translation of the Greek I like it because it highlights something found in Genesis 4:10: He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground… The life is in the blood ~ & it has a voice!
As on the cross it is God who sets out the terms of the covenant, God who establishes the covenant & only God who passes through the cut pieces BUT, he ratifies the covenant in response to Abraham’s obedience.
The 3rd aspect is prophetic in nature but I will only highlight some aspects of this.
Five animals are chosen. They will become the temple sacrificial animals but the thing that strikes me most forcefully is the number. Five is the number of Grace. Five is the Number of Torah & 5 is the number of the Gospel! Five is the number of prayer, of protection, of anointing; 5 ingredients are used in the temple incense & anointing oil. There are five books in Torah, a 5~fold ministry, 5 stones to defeat Goliath & fruit is ready to eat from a tree in the 5th year.
Hey is the 5th Hebrew letter & it’s pictograph meaning is breath, Spirit, Behold.
When the number of grace is multiplied upon itself you get Grace upon Grace~ [For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16 ]~ you see this applied visually in the way the temple oil was prepared in multiples of 5:
· Pure Myrrh, 500 shekels
· Sweet cinnamon, 250 shekels
· Sweet calamus, 250 shekels
· Cassia, 500 shekels
· To a hin [about 5 litres] of olive oil.
God’s grace displayed in a tangible way!
The Abramic covenant set in motion the particulars that will pave the way for Christ to become incarnate in the world: One, man, one nation, one people, one bloodline, one family, culminating in Jesus Christ., who blesses the entire world.
Lastly this covenant demonstrates a very particular point. Isaac, not Ishmael, was the child of the promise. Only Isaac fulfilled the terms of the covenant promise because he was the legitimate heir. In Genesis 22:2 he is called *your only son*. It is here in Genesis 22 that you see how great Abraham’s faith was but his faith was built solidly on the covenant promises of Genesis 15.
Remember, the terms of the covenant cannot be altered once they have been entered into. Abraham knew that God was absolutely obligated to keep His promise. He couldn’t change the terms & conditions because they had been sealed in blood.
Isaac was the child of promise so whatever happened when God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham knew that one way or another God had to keep the terms of the covenant! God provided a ram for Abraham but His own son went to the cross. A dead god is no god at all. A broken covenant is no covenant at all.
The son was promised in the garden. From Adam to Noah, to Abraham to Moses, God is continually preparing the way for His son: A son who would defeat satan, destroy the works of the devil, heal the sick, bind up the broken hearted, restore creation & set mankind free so He did the only thing He could have done. He raised Christ from the dead!
Hebrews 8:6 But now He [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
Hebrews is very clear on the matter: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [9:15]
Every time, every single time we come to communion, we remember that covenant.
And having taken the bread, having given thanks, He broke it and gave to them, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me,"
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:19~20And we celebrate His death until He comes again for His death procures for us that new covenant.
Hosea 6:6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Praise the Lord!