by Barry Newton
In similar settings today, we are accustomed to the ubiquitous flash of cameras, pens, official seals, and at least two human representatives. Sometimes such days have impacted our lives forever.
However, neither camera nor pen was present on three of humanity’s greatest days, one of which holds the potential to utterly transform our lives. Instead, on those days long ago the air we breathe was filled with blood and death as promises were extended.
Darkness shrouded the heifer, goat and ram lying flayed in half beside the carcasses of a dove and a pigeon. The presence of God represented by a smoking firepot with a blazing torch passed through the midst of this carnage as God sealed his covenant with Abraham. One of those promises, which God later confirmed in his covenant with Abraham, was, “to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
The possibilities for human history had changed. In love and grace God had offered Abraham the unilateral promise of entering into relationship with a man and his offspring.
Hundreds of years later, human history reached another plateau at the base of Mount Sinai. As the blood of young bulls drained from their sacrifices were sprinkled on the Israelites, the altar and the Book of the Covenant, this time God promised to claim an entire nation as belonging to him. Israel was in no position to determine any of the terms of God’s gracious covenant.
It would be more than another thousand years before the possibilities for human life would take its greatest and final leap forward. Blood ran down wood, and darkness shrouded the cross as Jesus exhaled his last enabling God to offer to all of humanity his final and greatest unilateral covenant comprising two promises. With this New Covenant, God promises to forgive every sin and to claim as his own people, those from every nation who will trust in Jesus and his blood.
Throughout history, God has revealed that he has been consistent in how he identifies those belonging to him. They are those who have entered the promised relationship he has offered them in love and grace.
The signing of the New Covenant by Christ’s blood has forever transformed the potential for all of our lives. We are in no position to dictate to God or haggle over the conditions for receiving the greatest promises ever extended to humanity. Jesus’ story dictates that we can begin our trust in Jesus by being buried with Christ in baptism that we might receive the promises of being forgiven and be born as children of God.
by Barry Newton