We continue with the story of Abraham and God cutting a covenant in Genesis 15. Let’s start with Genesis 15:1:
Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
The “after these things” that is refers to Abram rescuing Lot and returning to meet Melchizedek, king of Salem. Melchizedek brought Abram bread and wine to refresh him. That is the first type or shadow of the Lord’s Supper mentioned in the Bible. Abram gave Melchizedek a tithe of all.
It was after this that God came to Abram in a vision and told Abram that He, El Elyon, was Abram’s reward way beyond anything he could imagine.
But Abram did not understand how God could reward him because he was childless.
Genesis 15:4-6 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Abram asked for a sign to know he would possess the land God had promised him. So God told Abram to bring animals and birds to cut a covenant with him. Abram killed them and, except for the birds, cut them in half and laid the halves opposite of each other in preparation to walk between them with God to complete the covenant.
Abram thought he would be walking between the animal pieces with God. But God had other plans. So, at sunset, a deep sleep fell on Abram.
Genesis 15:17-18 17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:
“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates —
Instead of Abram and God walking between the animal pieces, now a smoking oven and a burning torch passed between them. Everything in the Bible has significance so what does a smoking oven and a burning torch mean or signify? Once again, the Bible provides the explanation. In Exodus 19 we are provided the meaning of the smoking oven:
Exodus 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly.
Alright, so God was one of the covenant makers. Who, then, is the burning torch? Please turn to John 8:12 for the explanation:
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
A burning torch provides light, so Jesus was the other covenant maker. Before He came to earth as a man, the pre-incarnate Jesus took Abram’s place in cutting the covenant. God knew Abram, being human, would fail at keeping the covenant. There are many examples in the Bible of Abram’s transgressions. But God knew His Son cannot fail. The blessings of Abram are now guaranteed to his seed (if you are a believer that is you) because they do not depend on Abram’s performance. They depend on the performance of Jesus.
Exodus 13:21 shows us another type of the smoking oven and burning torch:
Exodus 13:21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.
God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son agreed together in Abram’s behalf to uphold the promise. Jesus the Son of God was Abram’s substitution in that covenant. He ensured that it would never be broken or dissolved.
That unfailing promise of the blessings of Abraham is wonderful. But, often events in the Old Testament are given to us as shadows, types or patterns of thing to come. So, we need to see if we can see the same pattern in another covenant.
Hebrew 8:4-6 4 For if He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the law; 5 who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” 6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
He, being Jesus, is a mediator of a better covenant based on better promises.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
On the night of the beginning of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus Himself said this:
1 Corinthians 11:25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
So, once again, just as He did with Abraham, He stepped in to cut the covenant with God. Only this time it was for us, for you and I. We would never have been able to keep the covenant of the Law because we could never keep God’s laws perfectly. But Jesus did. He was God, but He became a man, a perfect man. He stepped into our place and took our sins into His Body. He stepped into our place and took on Himself the anger and wrath of a just God demanding justice of the Law. He stepped into our place and took on His Body all sicknesses and diseases. When all of our sins had been put away; when all of God’s wrath had been absorbed, when all sickness and disease had been taken on His Body, there remained Jesus. No offering under the Law made it through the sacrifice. But Jesus did. He was and is fully God, yet He was and is fully man. And now we have one of our own in heaven, sitting at the right hand of the Father! He is our hope, our savior!
Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Hebrews 8:12-13 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 13 In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
And here, in the words of Peter, is the real significance of the new covenant:
2 Peter 1:3-4 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Abraham’s covenant gives us the blessings of Abraham. These are wonderful and exciting. But as great as those blessings are, they do not meet the “better promises” of the new covenant. The new covenant of Jesus Christ gives us His divine nature and eternal life!
John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
So once again, Jesus is the light of this new covenant. He finished His work perfectly. He guaranteed the covenant for us. Now all we have to do is rest in His finished work and believe and receive His covenant blessings!
My friend, if you do not know Jesus, you need to surrender your life to Him today. He has completed the hard part, the impossible part, so that we can participate in His divine nature and be with Him forever. Pray this prayer with me.
Jesus, I am a sinner. I need a savior. Come into my life right now. I surrender my life to You. I will follow You from this day forward. Fill my heart with Your peace and love. Guide me in how to partake in Your divine nature. Thank You, I pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, contact us and tell us about your experience. We care about you.