Why did God commend and accept Abram and not many of the others of his generation? One obvious reason was that most of the people of Abram’s time were die hard Idol worshipers. Abram obeyed when God told him to leave this corrupt city and go to the land He had promised him. His faith was shown to be sincere by his behavior.
Also, many of the “religious” people of Abram’s time, focused on a system of rules (works) that if practiced, would buy their god’s favor or appease Him. Even though thousands of years have passed since Abram walked this earth, people today can exhibit this error in serving their god(s).
In the time of Abram, people used covenants to establish standards for their agreements. There were different types of covenants to fit different situations. Today we might call them contracts, but I think that covenants in the ancient world were a bit more personal.
The most serious covenant of all was the “blood covenant.” This covenant was designed for two individuals that desired to make a very serious agreement. This covenant required the two participants to put their lives on the line. That is, if they would break the blood covenant they would pay with their lives.
God desired a blood covenant with Abram. This covenant would go beyond Abram and extend to his posterity. God’s dealings with men and women required a whole-hearted participation. He was not looking for individuals that had a halfhearted commitment. He was looking for people that will give, voluntarily, their all to the covenant with Him. This covenant included not only Abram’s physical descendants but all people that would seek, trust and serve God through faith.
So, the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other: the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Genesis 15:9 & 10
In the blood covenant the two parties would first define their promises to each other, and then they would perform the requirements of the blood covenant. I picture a scene with a slight trench in the dirt with halves of the animals cut in two on each side and the blood running to and collecting in a slight trench between them. The two individuals that were committing to keep the covenant, on penalty of death, would then remove their sandals and walk up the path of blood. Then they would say:
“Our covenant is sealed with this blood. I commit to paying with my life if I should break this covenant.”
Ray Vander Laan, in his book Echoes of His Presence, describes the elements of the covenant that God wanted to have with Abraham. With this covenant God gave His word to Abram and his descendants, that He would be their God and dwell with them if they would seek Him in faith and put their wholehearted trust in Him alone. He then promised to keep His side of the covenant or give His life.
It appears that Abram and his descendant’s side of the covenant would center on trusting the Lord always and not straying from the commitment to trust wholeheartedly in Him under all circumstances.
Abram wanted this covenant with God, but he also knew that God’s standard was too high for a human to do perfectly. Therefore, he and his descendants would fall short which would result in their death.
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into deep sleep, and thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Genesis 15:12
Abraham was in a real quandary. In his heart, he wanted to be closer to God and deeply wanted to establish some type of covenant. The problem was the same as we would have today – he knew he would fail to keep this commitment “perfectly.” Therefore, it appears that he fell into a deep depression as he pictured a trap closing slowly around him.
God intensely desired to have this covenant with Abram and all those that would follow in Abram’s spiritual footsteps. Therefore, God purposed something absolutely astonishing and beyond all convention. He guaranteed that He would keep His part of the covenant, at the threat of losing His life, and He would also guarantee Abrams side of the covenant. That is if Abram or any of his descendants failed to live up to their side of the covenant He would pay the penalty for their failure – He would die for them. God knew that this was His Only Son’s death warrant. The future would show, on an old rugged cross, the consequences of the innocent dying for the guilty.
That evening God showed His great love for us [those of us that would trust Him and follow Him in faith] as He came to Earth and took responsibility for both sides of the blood covenant.
When the sun had set, and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. Genesis 15:17
God walked the path of blood twice. The first time was not necessary as this great God was perfect and would keep His side of the covenant. The second time was desperately needed for mankind could never be perfect enough without His grace to fulfill their side of the covenant.
Jesus opened an enormous door of opportunity for humanity. Humanity could have the wonderful hope of eternal life in Paradise. This is a gift that ellipses all gifts. It doesn’t last for only a trillion years – it lasts forever. Those who accept this amazing gift have an eternal hope that will never end. It is impossible for humans to grasp the enormity of this gift. The love, joy, peace, well-being and excitement will go on forever.
The unfathomable treasures of eternity were now within the grasp of those who would follow closely to their God even thought they were unworthy.
There was a man in the United States that was a billionaire. He had a son that had become eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War. In those days when a man turned eighteen, he could be “drafted” into the service of his country. That is, he would be forced to enter the armed forces. Normally there was little recourse to the draft and most men drafted, joined the armed services.
It just so happened that this man’s son received notification that he was being called into the Army and would probably serve in Vietnam. His father was a very influential man and told his son that he would talk to the “right” people and get him out of this situation.
Many sons, raised by a very wealthy father, were spoiled and would jump at the chance to avoid entering a war that could cost them their life. This son was not like this. Even though he had enormous wealth at his disposal, he chose to answer the call of his country.
The father tried everything within his power to convince his son not to go but all to no avail. The son had integrity and commitment and would not compromise these virtues for money and the power that could purchase “favors”.
His father loved his son and was very concerned for him when he left home and traveled Vietnam. His son was put into action upon his arrival and because of his courage and leadership skills was promoted rapidly. Of course, his father was proud of him, but since he loved him, he was very concerned.
One day a very official looking car pulled up in front of his mansion. He received a letter that stated that his son had been killed in action.
The father was devastated. He mourned for his son and never seemed quite the same after that. One day he received a call from a young man that had served under his son. This young man said he was a friend of his son and would like to meet with him and tell him about his son’s action in Vietnam.
The friend and the father met on several occasions, and the friend told the father how he deeply admired his son. He described his son as a real man of integrity, a man who cared for those under his authority. He also described the firefight, deep in the jungles of Vietnam, in which his son died helping rescue one of his men.
The father found a great deal of comfort from his meeting. On one of the last meetings, the friend gave the father a painting he had made of his son. He was an amateur painter, but the likeness to the son was recognizable.
In the father’s mansion was a large gallery dedicated to paintings of the “masters.” In fact, his private collection of paintings, by the masters of old was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In the very front of these paintings, he placed the painting of his son. Those that came to see this fabulous art collection would see what the old man considered most valuable, first.
The years passed and the father died. One of the major assets of the father’s estate was the very valuable paintings he had in his collection. The auctioneers were instructed by the old man’s Will to send out an invitation to all the noted buyers of valuable paintings in the world. Everyone was to have a chance at buying these paintings. Since one of the paintings was of his son, the friend was also granted an invitation.
The day of the auction arrived with buyers from all over the world. In the back row and feeling a little out of place, sat the son’s friend. The auctioneer brought the meeting to order and then stated that the auction would follow the old man’s Will closely.
“The Will first states,” the auctioneer said, “that we are to give everyone a chance throughout the world to be part of this auction. The second part of the Will states that the first item to be auctioned is the painting of the son.”
With this, there was a moan throughout the room as this painting was probably worthless. The auctioneer started the bidding at $10,000 and not receiving any interest began to drop the price. Finally, he was down to several hundred dollars. The friend and painter of the picture began to show an interest. He was not a rich man, but felt he could afford the $200 and he raised his hand. The auctioneer tried to get others involved in the bidding but to no avail. He finally raised his hammer and shouted “sold” to the gentleman in the back row.
Then the auctioneer said something that caused the audience to gasp. “The third part of the Will states,” said the auctioneer, “that after the painting of the son is sold we are to close the bidding.” With this statement, some the buyers stood up and shouted that they had come half way around the world to bid on this famous art collection.
“As I stated from the first,” the auctioneer said,”we are going to follow the old man’s Will to the letter. In his Will, he specified that all those throughout the world that might have an interest were to be invited. We were then to offer the painting of his son first and whoever bought the painting of his son was to get it all.”
Whoever gets God’s son gets much, much more than several hundred million dollars’ worth of art. This gift from God is the most amazing gift that has ever been offered to any man or woman. Don’t miss this opportunity – if you haven’t committed your life completely to Christ make it part of your personal pack today.