I am preparing to teach the next lesson on Covenant to my Monday night Bible study. So far, we have covered 4 lessons from this great study, a study much needed in our modern churches. If you have not been following from the beginning, the previous 4 lessons are here:
It is such a convicting study and freeing all at the same time. I believe that one of the reasons that we have so many spectators in the modern church is because we have almost zero understanding of the subject of Covenant. God is a Covenant God and everything that He does is based on Covenant. If this is true, and it is, then we must understand the subject of Covenant in order to understand the will of God.
In this lesson, number 5, we are going to cover an important aspect of making covenant, that is, walking between the pieces of flesh. We saw during our last study that walking between the pieces of flesh is a walk into death, to die to your independent way of living and to pledge to live for your covenant partner. Also, what we see implied here is the fact that if I do not keep my end of the bargain, may it be done to me as it has been done to these animals. Covenant is a SOLEMN binding agreement.
We have already seen from studying Genesis 15, that God walked through the pieces of flesh when He made a covenant with Abraham. Do Abraham’s descendants ever walk through pieces of flesh to bind themselves to God in covenant? That is what we want to examine today.
I. The Abrahamic Covenant
Let’s examine Genesis 15 one more time in order to refresh our memories on the covenant that God made with Abraham. In verses 1 and 4, the Word of the Lord comes to Abraham (as It had done previously in Abraham’s life). The Word of the Lord brings promises, specifically the promise of a seed, the Promised One or, in other words, the Messiah. Abraham has a choice, he can either believe and trust God’s Word or not. Abraham chooses to believe the Word of God. The Lord counts this as righteousness before Him. God them sends Abraham to bring 3 animals to sacrifice in order to make a covenant. God passes through the two pieces of flesh and binds Himself to mankind for all of eternity. As a cross reference, Galatians 3:6-9 teaches us that Abraham believed the Gospel that was preached to Him and righteousness was credited to him. Abraham becomes a believer at this point. Faith is described in these two passages as taking God at His Word. In other words, faith is trusting the Word of God. In Romans 4:1-3, Abraham is not saved by his good works. Abraham is saved by faith and that saving faith produces the good works. Galatians 3:16 teaches us that the promised seed that God mentions in Genesis 15 is none other than Jesus Christ, Himself. Again, we have seen that God is the only One to walk through the pieces in the Abrahamic Covenant. What about his descendants, do they ever walk through the pieces of flesh and bind themselves to God in covenant? Let’s examine the New Covenant to find out.
II. The New Covenant
According to Malachi 3:1, Jesus is the Messenger of the New Covenant. In John 1:29, we learn that Jesus is also the perfect sacrifice for this New Covenant. His sacrifice takes away the sin of the world. I Corinthians 5:7 reveals to us that Jesus is the Passover Lamb and that He has been sacrificed once for all. When Jesus instituted the New Covenant with His disciples, in Matthew 26:17-29, He teaches us that His blood is the blood of the New Covenant and that His body is the Sacrifice for the New Covenant. These are all important truths that help set up the beauty of the New Covenant. Under the Old Covenant, God explained to Moses how the people could enter His presence. God wanted to dwell among His people but for their own safety, He needed to be separate from them. He is holy and they are sinful. If they were to see Him or walk in His presence, they would immediately die. In order to be able to dwell among them, the tabernacle was constructed with specific rituals that led to the presence of God. Let’s examine those rituals because they will help us understand the beauty of the New Covenant and appreciate it even more.
- the door – it faces East and is the only entrance into the tabernacle
- the bronze altar – upon entrance, an animal was sacrificed for sin
- the bronze laver – once the sacrifice was offered, the next step was to wash in the water contained in the bronze laver
- the golden lampstand – upon entering the holy place, the only source of light comes from the candles in the lampstand
- the table of showbread – the only source of food in the tabernacle was the bread on this table
- the altar of incense – after passing the table of showbread, we encounter the altar of incense where a soothing aroma filled the tabernacle
- the veil – on our journey to the presence of God, we encounter the veil that separates God’s holiness from sinful people. The veil is for the people’s protection
- the ark of the covenant – this is the presence of God
The New Testament explains how the types and shadows of the tabernacle are all explained in Jesus Christ.
- John 10:9 – Jesus is the door. No one can begin walking into the presence of God unless first coming to Christ
- John 1:29 – Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
- Ephesians 5:25-26 and John 15:3 – Jesus washes us with the water of His Word
- John 6:35 – Jesus is the bread of life and we must enter into covenant with Him to have life
- John 8:12 – Jesus is the Light of the world
- Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with prayers
- Hebrews 10:19-20 – Jesus is the veil, torn in half inviting us to enter into covenant in order to enter the presence of God
So, when Jesus was crucified, according to Matthew 27:51, the veil in the temple was torn in half from top to bottom. As we just saw in Hebrews 10:19-20, the torn veil is the body of Jesus Christ, therefore, if you are going to enter the presence of God, you have to walk between two pieces of flesh. In other words, when we enter into the New Covenant, we complete the Abrahamic Covenant. God passed between the pieces in the Abrahamic Covenant and we pass between the pieces in the New Covenant. God binds Himself to us and we bind ourselves to Him. So, when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, in essence, we enter into the New Covenant. We die to our old, independent way of living and pledge to live for our covenant partner. This is what it means to have faith or to believe, the same way that Abraham did. Have you entered into the presence of God? Do you realize that by doing so, you have entered into a solemn, binding agreement with the God of the Universe? What are my responsibilities under this New Covenant? Can I live as I please or have I bound myself to certain responsibilities? What does the Word of God have to say? Let’s check out the words of Jesus Christ, our Covenant Partner.
III. My Responsibilities
In Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus explains what His Covenant partners’ responsibilities are.
- Love our Covenant partner more than anything or anyone else
- Take up our cross – which means that we are dead to our old, independent way of life and now we have a new way of life, to live for our covenant partner
- Follow after Jesus – follow, here, in this passage means to be in constant contact, moment by moment, day by day
- Lose our lives for His sake – I build my life around Christ’s will and not my own
In Mark 8:34, we see similar language to what we saw in Matthew. We are to deny ourselves, our old self, our sin nature, our old, independent way of life. We take up our cross (die to our way of life) and we follow Christ moment by moment, day by day. According to Luke 14:26-27, we must be willing to give up everything to follow Christ. It does not say that we have to give these things up. It says that we must be willing. It is no longer I who lives, but, it is Christ living in me and through me. I bow my knee to His Lordship and submit to His leadership moment by moment, day by day.
My dear friend, based on all that we have discovered, I have a few questions that I would like to ask you. Are you ready to die to your independent way of living, to take a walk through death by entering into Covenant with God? Remember the Covenant is for your own benefit because you gain life with meaning, with a purpose on this earth and ultimately, eternal life. Do you realize that the Lord Jesus Christ truly is the only way to God? Are you searching for another way? If you are in Covenant with God are there things that you are not willing to give up for Him? Are you ready to give up everything to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, your dreams, your job, your money, your friends, your family, your talents etc.? May the Lord help us die to our selfish ways of life and live for Him, our Covenant Partner!