Exodus 24:8 – “Behold the blood of the covenant that Yahweh has made with you.”
Hebrews 9:20 – “This is the blood of the covenant which God has ordained for you.”
The blood of the covenant is an important doctrine in the Bible. It comes from the Hebrew word briyth [בְּרִית H1285] and/or the Greek word diatheke [διαθήκη G1242], both of which mean a contract. The contract is often made by passing between pieces of flesh, hence the expressions “making a blood contract” or “cutting the covenant”.
Covenants are one of the many ways Yahweh guarantees his faithfulness.
History tells us that a covenant was and is an agreement between two parties. The agreement, according to custom, consists of several parts:
1) Identification of parties
2) Historical prologue where the deeds establishing the worthiness of the dominant party is established,
3) Conditions of the agreement
4) Rewards and punishments in regard to keeping the conditions
5) Disposition of the documents where each party receives a copy of the agreement (e.g. the two tablets of stone of the 10 Commandments).
The Exchanges of a Blood Covenant.
The coat signifies the identity and authority of the person, group, or tribe entering into the covenant. Each participant in this ceremony says “Everything I am, everything I represent, all my possessions are no longer my own, I now belong to you.”
The belts hold the bow, knife, sword, or any other weapons, and signifies that all my strength now belongs to you. Your enemies and my enemies are now each other’s enemies. Your friends and my friends are now each other’s friends. We will serve each other whenever needed.
An animal is now sacrificed by splitting it down the backbone. It is usually a bull, a goat, or a lamb. The halves are laid open with a pool of blood between them. Both parties walk in a figure eight between the halves and meet in the middle in the pool of blood, symbolizing an eternal or never-ending relationship. Both parties meet face to face and pronounce the blessings and the curses of the covenant. A pledge is given by both parties stating: “Just as this animal gave its life so I will give my life if necessary.”
While standing in the blood, both parties declare that all their possessions are available to their covenant partner if they ever have need of them.
Each participant takes the others name to himself, indicating that both are no longer concerned only with themselves, but with their blood covenant partner. You care for your blood partner the same as you care for yourself because the two of you are now one.
An incision is made in either the palms or the wrists of each participant with a knife. The two participants now either shake hands or put their bleeding wrists together so that the blood intermingles, symbolizing that the two bloods / two lives, have become one blood / one life.
A dark substance such as charcoal would be rubbed into the wounds so that when they healed a dark scar would be clearly visible, clearly identifying both as being in covenant with someone else.
The two partners then break one loaf of bread and place a piece of that bread into their covenant partner’s mouth, demonstrating that a part of each of us has gone into the other and that the covenant partners have become one.
Old Testament Covenants
Yahweh made several covenants in the Old Testament:
● Edenic, Yahweh’s promise of redemption (Genesis 3:15).
● Noachian, for the preservation of the race (Genesis 9:9).
● Abrahamic, granting blessings through Abram’s family (Genesis 15:18).
● Sinaitic, designating Israel as Yahweh’s chosen people (Exodus 19:5,6).
● Levitical, making reconciliation through priestly atonement (Numbers 25:12,13).
● Davidic, Messianic salvation promised through David’s dynasty (2 Samuel 23:5).
The Abrahamic Covenant
Of particular interest is the Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis Chapters 12-17. In Chapter 15, the following verses are found:
9. “And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10. “And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.”
17. “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.”
The Significance of The Shed Blood
Normally, both parties would be pledging their lives to the endurance of the covenant relationship so the shedding of blood represented an inviolable commitment to loyalty on pain of death. However, in verse 17, Yahweh is the only one who walks through the blood sacrifice. Only He will pay the price with His life and blood if the covenant is broken. The covenant is restated in Genesis 17:2-9 and Deuteronomy 1:7-8 for the descendants of Abraham’s son, Isaac.
The New Testament
Scripture gives us three pictures of the Lord’s Supper in which Yeshua proclaims that it is his blood of the covenant, or “new” covenant:
Matthew 26:27-28 “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant (διαθήκη), which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”
Mark 14:22-23 “And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.” And He said to them, “ ‘This is My blood of the covenant (διαθήκη), which is poured out for many’.”
Luke 22:20 “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new (καινός) testament (διαθήκη) in my blood, which is shed for you.”
Scripture also tells us that Yeshua came to fulfill the Law in its entirety Matthew 5;17 – “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”
The words used are:
diathēkē [G1242 διαθήκη], meaning: a disposition that is, specifically, a contract, covenant, or testament.
kainos [G2537 καινός], meaning: new, fresh, new things.
Fulfilled, Renewed, or New Covenants?
So, are there a fulfilled covenant, a “renewed” covenant, and a “new” covenant of the Older Testament Covenants?
● By shedding his blood, Yeshua fulfilled the promise that He made to all humanity to make atonement in Numbers 25:12-13.
● By shedding his blood, Yeshua fulfilled the promise that He made to Abraham that only he would shed his blood in the event the covenant was broken in Genesis 12-17.
● By shedding his blood, Yeshua fulfilled the promise to Abraham, blessed all of Abraham’s descendants, and renewed the covenant for both those of the flesh and those of faith who would be born in the future.
Yeshua, by shedding his blood, has both fulfilled the Levitical covenant by making reconciliation through a priestly atonement, renewed the existing Abrahamic covenant, and also extended it in newness to those who now come to faith in His gift of grace and salvation.
How great and wonderful is our God, and how faithful to fulfill all of His promises, both new and renewed covenants.
Final Thought for 2023
The stage for Yeshua’s return is being set. Prophecy continues to unfold in an escalating pattern as foretold by the Hebrew prophets. The season of the birth pains is here – they are burgeoning and not going away. Time is short – Yeshua Ha’Mashiach is coming soon – be sure you have salvation in Yeshua and keep busy reaching the lost.