Covenant Seed

the lord provides the sacrifice

The Lord will Provide

“Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, 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. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:6-11)

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” (Genesis 15:17-18)

“By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:16-18)

Between Genesis 15 and Genesis 22 multiple occasions are recorded of God making covenants with Abraham and swearing oaths to Abraham. I see all these as God repeating one covenant in various ways to illustrate different aspects of the covenant.  Regardless of whether it is viewed as multiple oaths to a single covenant or as multiple covenants, it is clear that the covenant vows focus on Abraham’s seed and on all nations being blessed through Abraham’s seed.

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed… (Galatians 3:16)

So, in Genesis 15, we have this blood covenant ceremony called the walk through death.  In the walk through death, animals were slaughtered, cut in half, and laid out on the ground with an aisle between the animal halves.  Together, the covenant partners walked a figure-eight between the animal halves while reciting the covenant vows, ending in “Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:17).

The walk through death ceremony was intended to convey the solemnity of the occasion as the covenant partners called on God as witness and judge.  It also represented both partners dying to their former life and beginning a new life in identity with their covenant partner.

But let’s look again at the walk through death in God’s covenant with Abraham:

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. (Genesis 15:17)

Only God walked the path through death. Abraham did not.

How can a covenant be ratified by one party but not by the other party?

Moreover, we see only two persons of our triune God represented in the covenant ceremony. We have the flaming torch and the smoking oven, representing God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  What about God the Son?

The answers to these questions are found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

The covenant was not made with only Abraham, but with Abraham and his seed…Jesus Christ. By including the seed, Jesus, in the covenant oath, God was also making provision for the covenant to be ratified.

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.” (Genesis 22:13-14)

“This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:20-22)

Jesus went to the cross as the Son of Man…heir of Adam…seed of Abraham. The covenant initiated by Father and the Holy Spirit walking between the pieces of the slaughtered animals was completed as Jesus walked through His own death…pouring out His own life blood.

Abraham could not ratify the covenant, because he was unable to keep the covenant vows. But “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).  What did Abraham believe?  That God would provide…provide an heir…provide a seed…provide a sacrifice.

Jesus ratified the covenant that Abraham could not ratify. Jesus, as Abraham’s seed, ratified the covenant on Abraham’s behalf.  Not only did Jesus ratify and keep the covenant, but he also paid the penalty for our failing to keep the covenant.

And this covenant between God and Abraham…between God and Jesus…you and I are invited to become heirs of this covenant!

Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. (Galatians 3:6-9)

This is the basis for our security as believers in Christ. Our covenant with God was ratified on our behalf by the Son.  To put it in modern contract terms, Father and the Holy Spirit signed on the God signature line while Jesus signed on the man signature line.

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Your thoughts?

 

[Linked to Messy Marriage, Unforced Rythms, Wellspring ]

 

14 thoughts on “Covenant Seed

  1. My thoughts are Hallelujah! You showed that even in the old covenant, it was still about grace. Not about what man could do perfectly, but about what God would do perfectly. You always bring out nuances of scripture that make me think a little bit more, Joe. Thanks for another one!

    • “Not about what man could do perfectly, but about what God would do perfectly.”

      Yes! God’s grace from start to finish. Abraham and the other OT patriarchs believed God would provide…we believe God has provided.

      Thank you, Lisa, for adding this perspective!

  2. So Joe, what are your thoughts on marriage and “the convenant”. Is it the same thing? You know its used in the same context with the same guilt offering hanging over our heads. Just wondering your opinion on this ….

    • Yes, I do see marriage as a blood covenant and believe that to be a biblical perspective.

      As a covenant, marriage should neither be entered into lightly nor dissolved lightly. Covenant is serious stuff.

      Our God is a covenant God. God invites those He loves to enter into covenant with Him, then faithfully acts on the basis of His covenant promises. God remembers His covenant promises to His children, and eternally lavishes His loving-kindness on those with whom He is in a covenant relationship. Through covenant relationship, God imparts His nature to us, and causes our hearts to be conformed to His image. All of God’s interaction with mankind is based on covenant.

      God created man in His own image. We, as His creation, as His children, as His covenant partners, are to honor and live out our covenants in faithfulness, just as He honors and lives out His covenants.

      However, God never uses covenant as a tool to enslave or abuse, nor does He desire for His children to be enslaved in a covenant that has become abusive bondage. For His children who have become enslaved in abusive relationships, God offers redemption from covenants of bondage.

      In the case of an abusive marriage, that redemption from bondage is called just divorce.

      When one partner repeatedly intentionally violates the covenant vows, that covenant is broken, and the injured party is free to leave and divorce.

      This is precisely why it was so important that Jesus ratified the covenant with God on behalf of Abraham. Abraham would not have been able to keep the covenant vows, and the covenant would have been broken. Our covenant with God is eternal, because it is dependent not on our keeping the vows but on Christ keeping the vows.

  3. Thanks so much for this interpretation. I’ve saved the link to read again. I especially like how you say that Abraham didn’t complete the covenant, that it was Jesus who “signed on the line of man.”
    I had not made the connection before between this covenant and the symbolism and Christ’s atonement.
    The Lord’s intricate plans are continually a spiritual education.

  4. Glory to God! Knowing that God cannot break His covenant even gives me more confidence and courage to ensure that by I His grace do my part to ensure there are no loose ends on my side. Thanks for sharing Joe, have a super blessed day!

    • Yes, the end goal of the covenant is to bring us into intimate relationship with God while being transformed to the image of Christ.

      Thank you, Ugochi, for pointing out this aspect!

  5. As always you bring new insights to something I thought I totally understood, Joe. I’m so grateful that Jesus was able to fulfill that covenant that Abraham {and we} could not keep. We truly serve an amazingly loving and powerful God! Thanks for this inspiring and well-researched post, my friend!

  6. The more my eyes are opened to the fine details, the lengths to which God has reached to lay out a trail of evidence of his grace in his story, from beginning to end, the more I wonder how many things I have failed to see along the way. Crudely, like watching an incredibly artistic film, with layers of nuance, so that you have to watch it over and over to catch all the symbolism and how it all adds to the beauty and purpose of the film… that’s kind of how reading God’s story is – in the bible, as well as in the world. I love that you caught this, Joe. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Tim! Glad you enjoyed it.

      Paul, in his letters, does a good job of tying the Abrahamic covenant to the New Covenant in Christ…of demonstrating that one is an extension of the other…that the New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant.
      joe recently posted…Narnian AbuseMy Profile

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