The blood covenant ritual
November 1, 2009
This morning we’ll continue to follow the scarlet thread that runs throughout the Old Testament. In 1 Samuel Chapter 18 and verse 3, we read 'And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him ...' In the Bible the word `covenant' implies a binding agreement between two parties. The word literally means `cutting an agreement by shedding blood'. When two Hebrew men entered into a covenant, they embarked upon a ceremony that involved nine steps. We’ll look at them today.
First, each would take off his coat or robe, symbolizing the giving of themselves to each other. Second, each would take off his belt, indicating (as the belt contained weapons of warfare) that `your battles are now my battles'. Third, they sacrificed an animal, cut it in half and stood together between the divided portions. Fourth, they raised their right arms, and after cutting their palms placed both of them together. At this moment, as their blood intermingled, they would swear their undying allegiance to each other.
The depth of this covenant ritual becomes shallow by the side of the covenant Christ seeks to make with us. The Bible says that He stands knocking at the door of our hearts, desiring to enter into a blood covenant with us by sharing His life with us (Rev. 3:20).Way back in eternity, He divested Himself of His glory, and came to this earth that He might take our sin and shame upon Himself. Early believers recognized this, and spoke of Him as Immanuel — `God with us'. On the cross, He gave Himself as our sacrifice, and when we receive Him, He pledges that our names are written on the palms of His hands for all eternity (Isa. 49:16).
Then, in 1 Samuel 20 verse 16, we read So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David ..
The fifth step was to exchange names. Each took part of the other's name, symbolizing their newly established bond. Sixth, they made a scar in each other's palms by rubbing their wounds together. The scar would remind them of their covenant responsibilities. Seventh, they identified their assets and said, at the same time, 'From now on all that I own is yours.' Eighth, they then shared a memorial meal by cooking the flesh of the sacrificed animal and eating it together. Finally they planted a tree as a perpetual memorial to their covenant, and sprinkled it with the blood of the sacrificed animal.
When placed against the background of this ancient Hebrew ritual, the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ comes alive with new and special meaning. Not only did He divest Himself of His robes of glory and take upon Himself a state of weakness and humiliation, but He gave us His name. For all who enter into covenant with Him, He sends the Holy Spirit, and through the Holy Spirit, we become partakers of His nature. The Holy Spirit is like the scar that seals us into the body of Christ (Eph. 1:13-14). Prior to going to the cross, Jesus ate a covenant meal with His disciples. The bread, He said, represented His body and the wine, His blood. After that meal, Jesus went out and left a memorial to that covenant. He planted a tree (the cross) and poured out His blood upon it. What a covenant! What a Savior!
Now before we come forward for the cup and the bread, symbolizing the blood and broken body of our LORD, let’s pray for the consecration of the elements:
Father, God, we come before you this morning as Your children to express our gratitude for Your sacrifice. You loved us so much that you were willing to give Your only begotten Son so we might join you in paradise when our time on this earth is done. LORD, we look forward to seeing You face to face. As we partake together with these symbols of Your broken body and Your blood, we pray we will do so with full and deep understanding of how precious was this blood which reconciled the world to You. It is by the suffering of Your innocent Son that we are saved, and by Your blood we are redeemed. We delight in singing, “Oh, precious is the flow that makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Thank You, LORD, for opening our eyes and enlightening us to what you have done to pay the price for human sin. When I realize that my sins put You on the cross for my salvation, I am in awe and wonder. You did not cry out from the cross for my judgment, but for my salvation. There are no words to express how thankful I am for Your willingness to die for me, to ensure I would be called Your child. You came so I might have life and have it more abundantly. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN
Communion is open to all believers; you don’t need to be a member of this church. The only qualification is that Jesus is your Savior and Lord and that you are in right relationship with other believers. So, let’s pray silently. Ask God to reveal to you if there is a need for repentance before you partake. As you come silently before our LORD and God, ask Him to also reveal to you the deep and wide trail of blood leading to the cross for our sake.
Starting on my left, please come forward to be served the elements, please hold on to your serving until all have been served so we may partake together.
(When all are ready to partake) “The Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me” Let’s partake.
(When all are ready to partake of the cup) “In the same way, after supper He took the cup saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”