Genesis 15:1-21 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. ” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” 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. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
In the above scripture in Genesis, the bible says God made covenant with Abraham. The process of covenant ceremony was outlined. In Abraham’s day it is by a covenant that people show their unbreakable commitment and loyalty to one another. So God wanted to show is unbreakable commitment to bless, provide for and protect Abraham and his descendant he then cut a covenant with him. God made an oath and gave a promise to Abraham. Without a revelation of the covenant, it is nearly impossible to grasp the strength and integrity of God’s promises to us.
Webster’s dictionary defines covenant as a usually formal, solemn and binding agreement: compact, a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. It means mutual undertaking between two parties or more, each binding himself to fulfil obligations.
While these definitions and many other could very well define our modern use of the term contract, it is through divine revelation that we can actually comprehend the meaning of covenant. Due to lack of depth in the meaning attached to the modern definition of contract most people usually think nothing of getting out of the responsibility of a contract. Example is marriage, more than half of the marriages entered into the western society in recent decades ended in divorce. A marriage contract is two people promising to love and cherish one another ‘until death do us part’. But in our society it has become extremely easy to break such promise when the going gets tough. There is a growing lack of integrity and loyalty in many circles today including Christians because covenant has been reduced to paper agreement and not heartfelt commitment.
The word covenant in Hebrew means to cut or divide, in allusion to a sacrificial custom in connection with covenant-making. God is a God of covenant. The bible is a book of two covenants, Old and New Testament. All through the bible God operated with mankind through covenant in order to show is commitment and loyalty to mankind and to make himself accountable to his covenant man and vice-versa. God makes covenant with man to give man a level playing field and to strengthen relationship with man.
The true covenant relationship is not easy to break. The strength of a covenant is truly till death do us part and even then the commitment is not over. Some manmade covenant was made to last up to eight generations. God’s covenant is to a thousand generations. It is said that 25years makes a generation. So God keeps his covenant for 250, 000 years. Imagine how marriages, business, relations etc will be if they are operated on the principle of true covenant and not on personal convenience?
Covenant is more than a word, it is a conscious deliberate action. In many cases the practical meaning of covenant is lost. In ancient times covenant was a common cultural practice that cements trusts in relationship. When two families are about to cut covenant is it actually a big ceremony. This type of ceremony was demonstrated between Abraham and God in Genesis 15:1-21. The revelation of the strength of covenant relationship is the only thing that can lift us to the level; of God’s integrity and commitment. You will note in the New Testament Jesus insists that his disciples would do the same works he did and even greater works. That is not a master-slave relationship, it is covenant relationship. God raised us up together with Christ in heavenly places and mage us sit together with him and made us joint heir with him. That is bible covenant being demonstrated to us.
In order to understand what happened in between God and Abraham in Genesis 15, I will explain ancient covenant practices to you. In all ancient civilisations blood covenants are recorded. Covenant agreement was entered into to bind two tribes together. The grounds for this union were always based on their differences not their similarities. You will notice that this is exactly opposite of man’s natural tendency i.e. racism, denominationalism, to name a few, which are direct opposition to the purpose of covenant agreements, are perfect examples. These beliefs(racism, denominationalism) cause a separation between those who are different either because of skin color, or religious preference. They separate people which are different and bind together those who are similar. The problem with this is that you not only have the same strength but you also have the same weaknesses. So in the end you are left with nothing to save you from your weakness. In our case we were sinners and without strength and doomed for destruction. Jesus Christ took our sin and our place and entered into covenant with a sinless and mightiest God on our behalf. So our sin and weakness were removed and we are given his strength and we in return are to show forth his glory to bring more sons and daughters into the kingdom. The foundation God’s covenant with us is love.
For Further Bible Readings
Hebrews 6:13-20 , Hebrews 8:6
Questions for you to reflect on
- What do you know about covenant?
- What is the difference between modern contracts and covenant agreement in ancient times?
Personal declaration for the day
I have a covenant of life, peace, prosperity and blessing with God therefore I will experience life, peace, prosperity and blessing has God Has it.