Welcome back to Theology Thursday! I left you hanging a bit on my last post about covenants. I’m probably not sorry for it though because maybe that means you’ve come back to hear more. 🙂
Let’s recap. The Covenant of Grace is summed up in two simple statements: God did it all. We reap the benefits. God chose to make a covenant with mankind, and by doing this, He also fulfills the requirements of the covenant for both Him and us. We saw this in the story of God and Abram in Genesis 15, and we find the fulfillment of the covenant at the cross and resurrection.
Christ came as the fulfillment of the covenant. It’s a thing of beauty. Because Jesus is both God and man, He is perfectly able to fulfill the requirements of both sides of the covenant. Just like Abram, we could not keep the covenant, so He did it for us. But this time, unlike the story of Abram, Jesus tangibly became the sacrifice that met the requirement of the covenant. He gave His blood and His body like those animals which Abram dissected and God walked through. Only this time, the effects became permanent. The all-sufficient sacrifice.
You might be wondering why He had to give His blood (and let’s get one thing straight, He didn’t HAVE to give it. He WILLINGLY gave His life – John 10:11,15, 17). What’s up with all the blood?!? Let me take you through a quick trip of the Old Testament concerning the issue of blood (or sacrifice).
Genesis 9:4 – God tells them not to eat an animal that still has it’s blood in it because “the life is in the blood.”
Genesis 9:6 – God then goes on to say never to kill a person because man is made “in God’s image” and from the dead person’s blood, the murderer’s blood will be demanded.
Exodus 12:13 – God tells the Hebrews to paint the blood of a lamb (that they were to kill themselves) on their doorposts and that when He saw it, He would “pass over” them (in other words, not kill them).
Exodus 24:8, 29:12, 29:20-21 – God instructs the sprinkling or splashing of blood on the people, on the altar/horns of the altar, and on His priests as a way to consecrate them.
Leviticus 17:11 (also v. 14) – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” **major verse**
You can see that the life of a person or animal is in the blood, and for there to be a proper atonement for sins, there must be the surrendering of life – or blood as we’ve learned here. God made a covenant,
- starting with Adam (and there was shedding of blood – remember the animals God had to kill in order to clothe them?),
- then with Noah (God makes the covenant after MUCH blood was shed in the flood and required sacrifices after they got off the ark – Genesis 8:1-9:17),
- then with Abram (we already saw the shedding of blood in this story – Genesis 15),
- then with David (this breaks a little from the issue of blood/sacrifice and is a promise of an everlasting kingdom – 2 Samuel 7),
- and finding it’s fulfillment in Christ (Jesus, at the Last Supper, holds up the wine and bread signifying His blood and body, given to us as the “new covenant in [His] blood” Luke 22:20 and see also Hebrews 8-10 for further explanation).
It’s enough information to make your head spin…I realize this. So why does it matter? I could take this in a million directions because there really are lots of reasons why this matters, but let’s keep it simple. We were hopeless to save ourselves from sin, and trust me, everyone has a sin problem. We’re born with it. (I feel another Theology Thursday post coming on…) God comes to us, offering a relationship in the form of a covenant, and it is literally our only hope. Only a perfect sacrifice (the blood) can cover the effects of our sin, and He knows we don’t measure up (it’s that whole sin thing again…we just aren’t pure). So His plan is to be both the One who offers the relationship and the one who makes us acceptable to be in relationship with Him. God did it all. We reap the benefits.
We can go before Him in full confidence knowing that we are acceptable to Him because Christ was the acceptable sacrifice. We no longer approach the holy Father as strangers covered in the dirtiness of our own sin but as children covered by the blood of His perfect Son. He sprinkles it on us, and we are made pure…holy…consecrated for His divine purpose. Are we sinless? No. But the good news is that He empowers us to follow Him, giving us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
So what’s your response to this generous God?