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What is Covenant? and Why is it Important?

In order to get a full understanding of the blood-covenant that Jesus cut for us in the new covenant be sure to read this entire section of material entitled the new covenant. When we begin any discussion or teaching about covenant you have to begin with an understanding of the ceremony involved. We will also begin to realize that the entire understanding of the covenant kingdom begins with understanding the blood covenant.

The term "cutting the covenant" comes from the Hebrew word "BERITH", or the Greek word"DIATHEKE", which means to make a covenant by cutting to make the blood flow. This act is usually referred to as "cutting the covenant" and is performed in a sacred ceremony because of the tremendous significance of the event.

The blood covenant is the most binding covenant any two people or groups of people can enter into. Once committed to the only way out of it is by the death of one or both of the covenant makers. It is something that is never entered into lightly.



These are the steps that are normally involved in cutting the covenant.

  • There is an exchange of coats
  • The coat signifies the identity and authority of the person, group, or tribe entering this covenant
  • The coats are exchanged with each participant in this ceremony
  • This exchange is saying "Everything I am, everything I represent, now belongs to you. All my possessions, all that I am, my very self, I give to you. I am no longer my own, I now belong to you.
  • The exchange of weapon belts
  • On these belts are the bow, knife, sword, or any other weapons. This exchange signifies that all my strength now belongs to you. Your enemies are now my enemies and your enemies are now my enemies. Your friends are now my friends and my friends are now your friends. I will serve you if you ever need me and you will serve me if I ever need you.
  • The exchange of vows in the walk of blood
  • An animal is now sacrificed by splitting it down the backbone. It is usually a bull, a goat, or a lamb. The halves are laid open with a pool of blood between them.
  • We walk in a figure 8 between the halves and meet in the middle in the pool of blood. The figure 8 is significant because it represents "infinity" or a never-ending relationship. We meet face to face and there pronounce the the blessings and the curses of the covenant. The curses are usually pronounced against anyone who would break this covenant. It was usually said like this, "the one who breaks this covenant will die just like this animal has died". A pledge was also given that went like this, "Just as this animal gave its life so I will give my life if necessary."
  • The accounting of all belongings for exchange if and when needed
  • While standing in the blood, we give an accounting of all of our possessions and declare that they become available to our covenant partner if they ever have need of them.
  • The exchange of names
  • Each participant takes the others name to himself. The persons name represents his individuality. This exchange of names demonstrates a death to being an "individual". Remember that covenant is the union of two individuals or of two groups. In covenant you are no longer concerned only with yourself, your concern now includes your blood covenant brother. You care for your blood brother the same as you care for yourself because the two of you are now one. When the names are exchanged the primary sound of each participant'sname is incorporated within the other participant's primary name sound. Say for instance somebody named Ken Jones was making covenant with Bill Brown. The new names would be Ken Brown Jones and Bill Jones Brown.
  • The exchange of blood in the cutting of the covenant
  • While still standing in the blood face-to-face a knife is used to make an incision in either the palms or the wrists of each participant. This was done to allow the blood to flow freely. The Bible teaches us that life is in the blood. The two participants now either shake hands or put their bleeding wrists together so that the blood intermingles. This act symbolizes the two bloods, or two lives, have been joined into one blood or one life. In some cultures, the blood from both participants is drizzled into a cup of wine and stirred together and then the two participants drink from the common cup so that each one's blood enters into the other. This mingling of blood creating this new union of "oneness" is why this called a "blood covenant". It is the strong bond of relationship known to humanity. It is the way that God has chosen to interact with all humanity.
  • The "mark" of the covenant
  • While still in this position and blood is dripping from the wounds some dark substance such as charcoal would be rubbed into the wound on each arm so that when the wound was healed a dark scar would be clearly visible to everyone who saw it. By doing this everywhere these blood covenant partners went they would clearly be identified as being in covenant with someone else.
  • The exchange signified by the covenant meal which usually consisted of bread and wine is that the covenant partners have become one.
  • We break one loaf of bread and we each place a piece of that bread into our covenant partners mouth. When we do that we are demonstrating that a part of each of us has gone into the other. We then drink wine from a common cup indicating that our blood has gone into each other. Since life is in the blood, we are demonstrating that we have taken each others life into ourselves.
    At the end of the blood covenant ceremony the two covenant heads, or primary participants, are now called "friends". And there has now been a new relationship formed that is a union called covenant. This relationship, with this union, is now governed by an attitude towards each other called "loving-kindness". From the Hebrew the word used to express this relationship is "hesed" and the Greek word for this is "agape". This is simply a love relationship that says "I will never leave you or forsake you", "I will always do what is best for you even if it is to my own hurt." We are now in union with one another and we are called "blood-brothers".

    The word "friend" has been greatly watered down. In the time of Jesus and the early church the word "friend" referred to a blood covenant partner, not just someone you palled around with. It had real significance.

    When you see the actual steps involved in making a blood covenant your eyes become opened to what Jesus did and said to make the new covenant in His blood so we could enter into an everlasting relationship with God in union through a blood covenant.
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The Blood Covenant
What it Means to Abraham, God, Jesus Christ and You

Covenant is another word for promise but much stronger. It’s more like a contract signed in blood. God has different types of covenants. The Blood Covenant is the strongest most serious binding contract because the life of every living thing is in the blood. (Leviticus 17:11)

Let me tell you, if God makes a promise with you, you can take that to the bank. God does not break His promises under a blood covenant.

Circumcision is an example of the blood covenant between God and Abram. God later renamed him Abraham. God promised to protect Abram, grant him a family larger than all the stars that he could count in the sky, give his family a large area of land to live on, and they would become a great nation whose descendants will bear kings and ultimately the Messiah.

God told Abram that his children must become part of their covenant and enjoy the benefits thereof as long as they do that “one thing” too. *Snip Snip* If they didn’t, they would be cast out of the family and put out of their nation.

If they took part in the covenant and broke it, then the was penalty death. A blood covenant was not entered into lightly. It’s THAT serious.

This is all recorded in Genesis chapters 15-17. This particular covenant is still valid today. People all over the world, mostly Jews, continue participating in it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Entering into a solemn promise with God is always a good thing. It’s just that there’s a better one to choose now. We’ll be getting to that soon.

Sometime after Abraham’s family grew to be a nation, God ordained animal sacrifices, and the spilling of their blood, to provide a temporary covering of sins (Leviticus 4:35, 5:10).

A pure virgin firstling of the flock is chosen to die for the sins of its owner. The priest lays hands on it, says a prayer transferring the owner’s sins to it, and then kills it. The blood is poured out onto the alter and the body is broken, then burned on the alter.

This ritual is a foreshadowing of the perfect and complete sacrifice to be made for us by our Messiah. Animal sacrifice is an important theme found throughout Scripture because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

More than a thousand years later, along comes Jesus our Messiah. He is to be the “sacrificial lamb” for all mankind. He is from the flock of Israel, the firstborn in his family, unblemished and perfect.

In Matt 26:26-28 Jesus speaks of the blood covenant He’s about to enter into with us thus fulfilling God’s plan for redemption of all mankind.“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus is referring to the prophecy about him in Jeremiah 31:
31) “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,”
33) …this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
34) … “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

This passage is paraphrased in Hebrews 10:16-17:
16) “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.
17) … Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more."

The author of Hebrews goes on, adding:
18) “And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.”

During the Last Supper, Jesus was proclaiming that he is the way in which God will usher in the new covenant that renders the old one obsolete. Is the old blood covenant between God and Abraham still in effect today, nearly 4,000 years later? Yes it is. It’s a tough way to live, being under the law, but if one so chooses that path he’s welcome to follow it. God does not break His promises.

But now, because of what the Messiah accomplished for us, there is a better and easier way with many more benefits. Simply follow Christ’s instructions and enter into his blood covenant with him. No cutting required like when joining Abraham’s blood covenant or in the nasty business of sacrificing animals.

The bread and wine of the Lord's Supper remind us of two elements of our redemption: the bread signifies the body in which a perfect life was lived on our behalf. Remember they were eating the Passover dinner so it was unleavened bread on the table. That represents purity. The cup of wine signifies the blood shed in atonement for our remission of sins.

Participating in this new covenant has its price. You have to leave the world behind, follow Christ accepting him as your Lord and obey his commandments. When you do that, his sacrifice applies to you. You are now under his protection and benefit from his perfect relationship with God. This blood covenant with Christ is not to be entered into lightly. The penalty for not doing your part is death.

1 Corinthians 11:
27) Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
28) But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29) For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
30) For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep
31) But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.
32) But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

It’s not like God instantly puts us to death if we break the covenant. Thankfully we’re not under the law, but under grace. What happens is, through separation from Christ, death finds US… and we’re powerless to stop it.

The Blood Covenant is serious business. Penalty for breaking this promise is death. Neither God nor Jesus ever welch on a deal. To become a born again Christian, one is entering into a blood covenant with Jesus Christ. Are we as Christians holding up our end of the contract?

The Blood Covenant between God, Jesus and You by Daniel Sweet, Minister of Christ
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