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Jesus and Abraham

January 10, 2012

In this post we’re going to find Jesus in the Old Testament, and in a very explicit way. There’s no tricks with words, no stretching meanings, no re-imagining of anything; just a simple look into scripture in historical context.

We start in Genesis 15: 7-10, where God tells Abraham (then known as Abram) that he will be given what we all know as “The Promised Land”. Abraham then does something that is, by any standard, “gutsy”, to say the least. Abraham says to God “how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”. Think about that for a moment, how huge that is.

Abraham questioned whether or not God would, maybe even could, deliver on His promise.

Gods immediate response is to tell Abraham to get “a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon”.

Notice that Abraham does as God tells him, and gets the animals, but then goes a step farther by cutting the animals in two. Why would Abraham do this?

Because Abraham knew exactly what was going on. It’s the ancient practice of a “blood covenant”, a practice that still is carried on today.

Here’s how a blood covenant worked: A blood covenant was a binding contract between two parties, and always between a “greater” and a “lesser”, never between equals. The greater would set the terms of the agreement, and the lesser could accept or reject the terms, but could not alter them. When the terms were agreed upon, they would get the animals we see Abraham using and cut them in the same way. Then the greater would go first–the greater always goes first–walking through the blood, saying in effect “If I do not live up to my part, you may spill MY blood”. Then the lesser goes, with the same binding “contract”. Now rest assured that if either one broke the covenant you would find the guilty party very bloody and very dead.

This is the means by which God was showing Abraham He “meant business”, so to speak.

And Abraham was terrified.

The Bible says “a thick and dreadful darkness came over him (Abraham)”. This was a colloquial phrase of the time, that today might be said as “Abraham was scared to death”.

See, Abraham knew–or so he thought–that when the morning came he was a a dead man. He had questioned God, and was now in a bargain that he could not keep–and would immediately cost him his life.

See what was understood in this blood covenant that was to take place in the morning is this: God would give Abraham and his descendants the Promised Land, but what in return? What was Abrahams part of the deal? Abraham understood fully what his part was, as would any in the ancient world who read this account: it is without any doubt implied that Abraham AND his descendants would have to live blameless, sinless lives before God. So do you see why Abraham was scared to death? He knew he couldn’t live up to that, and now because he had questioned God, he was going to die (or so he thought) in the morning.

And now morning comes. Time for the blood covenant between God and Abraham. Time to travel between the blood of the animals to seal the deal–with your life.

God goes first, because the greater always goes first. God’s promise of course, being delivering the Promised Land. God goes in the form of a smoking pot. In the old testament we often see God display Himself as fire (the burning bush) or smoke (the pillar of fire).

Now it’s Abrahams turn. He knows the moment he steps in the blood he’s a dead man. There’s no way he can hold up his end of the bargain that he and his descendants live blamelessly before God. But then…

But then… before Abraham can take one step, the Greater humbles Himself to take the place of the lesser, taking the form of a blazing torch and going again through the blood, saying in effect “Abraham, if you or your descendants do not live a blameless, sinless life before Me, you may shed MY blood”.

Do you see the parallel? The Greater humbling Himself to take the place of the lesser? Jesus of Nazareth, “God With Us”, who humbled Himself by becoming one of us, and taking our place on the cross.

Do you see the ramifications? Do you see that when God went through the blood a second time, taking Abrahams place, that He was saying if Abraham and his descendants could not live sinlessly, that they could shed Gods blood?

And so Jesus blood was shed, not only for Abraham and his descendants but for us all.

And we never had to promise a thing in return. Our salvation, through Jesus sacrifice, is a free gift. That’s what grace born of love does.

Jesus, found in a blood covenant between Abraham and God.

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