The village of Ur was typical in many ways of the other cites of that time, but there was something special about this city.
Most of the people of this city worshiped many gods and had even built gods of wood and clay. It was interesting that this same wood used to carve an idol was also used to heat their homes.
This city was special (different) because there was a man that went against the custom or worshipping many gods. Somehow he spurned the idols of the others and wanted to know a God bigger than a block of wood. He had came to the realization that there was a God that had created him and all other things, and more importantly, a God he could know personally. Why he felt this way we do not know. Perhaps God realized that this man deeply, and sincerely wanted to know Him and therefore He revealed Himself. The man’s name was Abram.
In Genesis 12 we read:
The Lord had said to Abram. “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.”
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 idol worshipers. The Bible says that even Abram’s father was an idol worshipper. Also, many of the “religious” people of Abram’s time, focused on a system of rules that if practiced, would buy God’s favor or appease Him. Even though thousands of years have passed since Abram walked this earth, even people today exhibit this error in serving their god(s).
In the time of Abram there were a number of different covenants. Today we might call them contracts, but I think that historical covenants were a bit more personal. The most serious covenant of all was the blood covenant. 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 deeply desired a blood covenant with Abram. This covenant would extend to those that would come after Him. This covenant encompassed not only those that were his physical descendants but all people that would seek, trust and serve God through faith.
Genesis 15:9 & 10
9. 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.”
10. 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.
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 pay 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 blood 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 trust in Him alone. He promised this on threat of death.
It appears that Abram and his descendant’s part of the covenant would center on trusting the Lord always and not straying from the commitment to trust Him in all circumstances with unfailing faith. Abram wanted this covenant with God but he also knew that he and his descendants could not keep this commitment perfectly.
Genesis 15:12 says:
As the sun was setting, Abram fell into deep sleep, and thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
Abram was in a real quandary. In his heart he wanted to be closer to God and deeply wanted to establish this covenant. The problem was the same as we would have to day – 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 Him in Abram’s footsteps. Therefore God purposed something astonishing. He would guarantee that He would keep His part of the covenant, at the cost of His life, and He also guaranteed to pay with His life if Abram and his descendants failed to live up to the covenant perfectly. 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 fulfilled 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.
He also displayed an unparalleled commitment to die for those that would place their love, trust, faith and hope whole heartedly in Him. He would die that they might have eternal life in paradise with Him. Many years later He honored this blood covenant when Jesus spilled His blood on an old rugged cross for you. Jesus opened an enormous door for humanity. The unfathomable treasures of eternity were now within the grasp of those who would follow closely to their God even thought they were unworthy.
Consider this story:
There was a man in the United States that was a billionaires. He had a son that had become eligible for the draft during the Vietnam War. In those days when a man turned 18 he could be called “drafted” into the service of his country and compelled 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 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 and “favors” it could buy.
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 about the situation he was in.
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 a little about his son’s action in Vietnam.
The friend and the father met on a number of 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 fire fight, 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 somewhat of an amateur painter but the likeness to the son was recognizable. Parts of the painting were remarkable.
In the father’s mansion was a large area 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.
The years passed and the father died. One of the major assets in 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 friend of the son. 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 he had loved and respected the son and because of this 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 a number of 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 THE SON GETS IT ALL. THIS IS THE AMAZING GIFT OF GOD TO THOSE THAT WILL TRULY FOLLOW HIM.