The Covenant of Blood
“Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” And he said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” (Gen 15:7-11)
Let’s just say that a woman is supposed to meet this man. They promise to meet the next day at 7pm in front of the church because he wants to buy her a present. So the woman waits until the next day. And she trusts what he said; she is not just trying to believe what he said. So the next day, she gets ready to meet him at 7pm because she trusts him. She is not stuck in a dilemma as to whether or not she can believe his words. Of course, it may be that she doesn’t trust him considering the way he conducts himself normally. In that case, she may decide that she doesn’t want to trust him and not go out to meet him. However, even if he broke his promises many times before, if she decides to trust him this time, she will go out at the agreed time and wait for him. In this way, whether to believe or not is one’s choice. It’s not a matter to deliberate over. Moreover, if he had always been a man who always followed through on his promises, he would be well trusted. It’ll make it easier for her to choose to trust him.
It’s the next day and it happens to be raining a lot. The guy lives some distance away and it takes a long time for him to get to the church. But there was such heavy rain in his area that it was flooded. So the woman assumes he won’t be able to make it and doesn’t go out either. This means she didn’t believe he will be able to keep his promise. But he could even ride a boat through the flood in order to keep his promise to her. If she knows from experience that he is a man who would do anything to keep his promises, then she would go out to meet him despite the downpour. But if he was known for often breaking promises, she would assume that he is not coming. Whatever the case, it is up to the individual to decide whether they want to trust the other person or not. I used to be the type of person who would always make it to an appointment no matter what. And then I’d wait even if it’s 2 hours or 3 hours. If the person still didn’t turn up, I waited longer and one time, I waited up to 5 hours. I would wait until the other person rang me up. And make them feel sorry on purpose.
Now, it was God who made a promise with man. Faith is not unilateral; it is a promise made between God and man. God promised Abraham that He would give this land to him. So he asked how he may know that will come true and God said He’ll make a promise with him, like a pinky promise. How was the promise made? A three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon were brought and they were cut in two, down the middle. Imagine a heifer cut in the middle symmetrically and placed opposite each other – it would be like a mirror image. And the goat and the ram were also cut in two. That’s easy for us to say but imagine what it would’ve looked like. There would’ve been a sea of blood. There was blood everywhere. The cut pieces were placed opposite each other and when the vultures came down, Abraham drove them away. And when the sun had set, a burning torch from Jehovah appeared and passed between those pieces. After that, a covenant was made. A blood covenant was established. When Abraham asked, “How will I know what You said would come true?” without the need to say more, God told him to cut them in two. And He passed through them. Back in those days, people used to do that when making an oath with each other. What that meant was that they would end up like that animal if they didn’t keep their promise. In other words, it’s going to get bloody. If one failed to keep their oath, they would be cut into two. But also, it was a way one guaranteed his oath would be kept even to the point of shedding his blood or getting cut into two.
This promise was not made by a man, but God swore upon Himself. When Abraham asked, “How will I know Your words will be fulfilled? What guarantee is there?” And God said nothing further but passed through the sea of blood between the pieces of meat and thereby confirmed His covenant with him. In other words, it is a blood covenant; a covenant that must be kept unto death. He would give His life to keep the promise.
Whether to believe this or not was up to Abraham. If God promised, but Abraham decided not to believe, then there is nothing more that God could do. So they made a promise first and then established a blood covenant. For God, He swore on His own life, His blood in keeping His promise, and demands Abraham and even us to keep the promise to the point of bloodshed.
However, Abraham is unable to keep the promise. Man cannot fulfil his side of the covenant. Nevertheless, God shed His blood by slaying Himself in order to keep His promise to the end even though the other party clearly broke the covenant and is a sinner. Initially, the covenant was mutual, but we terminated it unilaterally. We broke the covenant. Yet God didn’t punish and abandon those that broke the promise but rather slew Himself to fulfil the promise in the end. Though God has done all of that, people still don’t believe. They still won’t believe that God would keep His promise when He’s already done all of that. They still wouldn’t believe. But you cannot say you don’t believe. If one believes that God who had done this would keep His promise, then they would go out by 7pm and wait. Otherwise, they won’t go out.
So they promised to meet each other at 7pm the next day. But the woman says, “How can I be sure you’ll be there?” which offends the man. How can she not trust a man’s words? So he draws out a knife and cuts himself so that blood drips down and says, “I’ll be there at 7pm!” Would she still not trust his words? She would believe him then. But one way or another, it would be decided. Do you know which is the most dangerous type of person? You are ready to fight someone and about to attack. But the other person takes out a sword and cuts himself rather than strike you. He says, “I’m ready”, and cuts himself first. Don’t ever try to fight a person like that. Run away from him because he is not afraid of anything. You may be able to beat him in the fight, but he won’t ever give up. And you’ll end up surrendering to him because you’ve had enough.
God shed His blood and made a covenant and that covenant was later fulfilled on Calvary. But Jesus had promised saying, “I will give you the kingdom of heaven. I will come back and take you to be with me where I am”. “How can we believe that you will give us the kingdom of heaven?” Instead of saying anything more, Jesus shed His blood on the cross and died. Yet if people still cannot believe that He will keep His promise, nor believe that God is with them and loves them, and that He will take them up to heaven, then what hope is left? God has already done all of that – Jesus even died on the cross – and they still do not believe. At least we have to believe this to the point of bloodshed. If he promised to meet up at 7 pm, then we should at least show our trust by turning up at the place at 7 pm. Hence it’s not a question of whether we can believe this or not; rather we just need to obey the words of the Lord Jesus. The reason a person obeys is because he believes. Whoever does not believe will not obey. It is I that has to obey, not God.
The ball is in my court now, and I am the one that has to take action. Having faith is not done by somebody else. Even God cannot do it for you. You have to believe. And if I believe that God will take me to heaven as He promised and obey the words of the Lord, there is no need to have any doubts as to whether or not God will surely keep His promise. If a person does not believe even after all that God has done, there is no hope for him.
We have confirmed how faithful our God is – the One who made this covenant – and thus believe. If you are still struggling to have faith, then look at everything He has done and how He has been to you all this time. Once you confirm that, you will come to have faith automatically. Hence, we need to know first in order to believe. We must know what God has done. Since He has done so much already, we can be sure that He will continue to do the same in the future. Let us pray that we obtain faith through the Bible, and by using our own will to know and believe in God, we are able to acknowledge Him whom we know rather than having a passive faith.
God our Father, help us to believe and trust that our God will surely fulfil His promises. Faith means to believe in the One who made the covenant, not believing in our own feelings or subjective judgments. God our Father, help us to have abundant experiences and testimonies of everything God has promised while we are on earth. When we lay hands on the sick, may they be healed. When we curse the demons, may they take all the illnesses and curses and flee. When we bless others, may they be blessed. And may everything we do in Jesus be prosperous through Your help. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center