Help me as together we focus our minds. I want all to establish a mutual focus by reading together Genesis 15:7-17.
And He [God] said to him [Abraham], "I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it." He said, "O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?" So He said to him, "Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete." It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. And on that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram ...

  1. The context of the situation:
    1. The five kings in the area in which Lot lived rebelled against four kings who controlled the area (Genesis 14).
      1. The five kings lost the war.
      2. Not only was their territory plundered, but Lot, his family, and everything he owned was captured and taken.
      3. Someone who knew Abraham reported what happened.
      4. Abraham took his own private fighting force, surprised and defeated the forces of the four kings, and freed everything and everyone including Lot.
    2. After that occurred, God came to Abraham in a vision to encourage him.
      1. "Do not be afraid, Abraham."
      2. "I will protect you and reward you."
    3. Abraham said, "How are you going to do that, Lord?"
      1. "You promised me a son long ago, and I still do not have that son."
      2. "If I don't have a son, a slave is going to become my heir."
      3. In the place Abraham lived, a childless man's heir was a slave he chose.
    4. God said, "That will not happen."
      1. "You will have a son to be your heir."
      2. Verse 5 said God had Abraham go outside and look up at the stars.
        1. He asked Abraham to try to count them.
        2. Then God promised Abraham's descendants would be as numerous as the stars.
      3. Abraham believed God, and God made Abraham's trust to be righteousness.
        1. God said, "I brought your out of your homeland to this place.
        2. "I give this land to you.
        3. "One day your descendants will live here."

  2. Abraham asked, "Lord, how do I know you are giving me this land?"
    1. To make the agreement in a way that Abraham clearly understood, God had Abraham to prepare for a blood agreement or covenant.
      1. God gave these instructions to Abraham: "Bring me a three year old heifer, a three year old female goat, a three year old male sheep, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
      2. God wanted Abraham to understand the certainty of His promise, so God had Abraham prepare for a blood agreement.
        1. The animals were cut in half, placed so the blood drained downward to form a path way.
        2. When such agreements were made, the two making the promise, agreement, or covenant walked in the blood between the halves of the sacrifices.
        3. Apparently this act said, "If I do not keep my promise, may I be killed just like these animal were."
      3. This was a terrifying occasion for Abraham.
        1. How can a human swap promises with God?
        2. God will never fail to keep any promise He makes.
        3. A human can never keep a promise as God does.

    link to graphic source
    Art used by permission of Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright © 2000.
    Click here to visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.

    [Song #31 "Be still and know that I am God."]

    Read with me again. This time I want to read a New Testament scripture about a covenant that involves you and me. I now read to you Hebrews 10:26-29.
    For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

  3. God said to each of us who are in Christ Jesus, "I promise you that you will live in heaven with me. Your salvation is as certain as My promise."
    1. "You cannot save yourself, but I can give you salvation--just like I gave Abraham Canaan, I give you salvation."
      1. "This time I bring the blood sacrifice for our agreement, covenant."
      2. "Just as it was a blood agreement when I gave Abraham Canaan, the agreement I make with you is a blood agreement."
        1. "Abraham brought animals for the blood of our agreement.
        2. "I bring the blood for the agreement I make with you.
        3. "It is the blood of my Son."
    2. The writer of Hebrews had some things to say to Christians because they entered a blood agreement with God.
      1. These Christians were very discouraged and were considering ignoring their blood agreement with God.
      2. "You would enter a blood agreement with God and deliberately ignore that agreement by continuing to sin?
      3. "If you deliberately keep living like a sinner, the only thing ahead of you is God's fury.
      4. "You know what happened when an Israelite removed himself from God's mercy.
      5. "How much worse punishment do you think you will receive if you walk on God's sacrifice (the body of His Son) and walk through Jesus' blood as if it were just mud?
      6. "What do you think will happen if you insult God's spirit of grace?"

    [Song #176 "Lamb of God" by Twila Paris, 1985]

    Read with me a third scripture. This statement is written by the author of Hebrews to those same Christians. It is very relevant to our blood agreement with God. The scripture is Hebrews 10:19-25.
    Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

  4. There are times when I witness a baptism or assist in a baptism that I am very afraid.
    1. God is not the reason for my fear.
      1. I have every confidence in God's love, God's mercy, and God's grace.
      2. No sin is too difficult for God to forgive.
      3. No life is too messed up for God to transform.
      4. No person is too unholy for God to sanctify.
      5. No wicked life is too black for God to purify.
      6. God can do and will do what He promised to do.
    2. The person entering a blood agreement with God is the reason for my fear.
      1. When a person gives me reason to think that he or she does not know what he or she is doing, I am afraid.
      2. When a person places his or her confidence in their act instead of God's act, I am afraid.
      3. When a person thinks or says, "God is promising everything and I promise nothing," I am afraid.
      4. When I see men or women who were immersed into Christ, who made a blood agreement with God, live and act like that agreement does not exist, I am afraid.

My terror does not come from being scared of God. God's mercy and grace are dependable. My terror comes from being scared of us. We are not dependable.

Do you, as a Christian, ever ask yourself, "What am I doing? What am I doing here? What am I doing with these people who care nothing at all for God?"

When Abraham offered the animal sacrifices of Genesis 15, he walked in animal blood. When you were immersed into Christ, God washed you with the blood of His son. In your everyday life, how often do you ignore your blood agreement with God? Do you exist in that agreement as you thank God for His mercy and promises?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 10 March 2002

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