Summary: Of all the things I have read, learned and studied over these past 10 years, there are two truths that have revolutionized my life. One of them is “The Perfect Circle” and the other is the revelation of Covenants.
Part 1; covenant between man and man
Malachai 3:6 "For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Of all the things I have read, learned and studied over these past 10 years, there are two truths that have revolutionized my life. One of them is “The Perfect Circle” and the other is the revelation of Covenants. I’ve already dealt with the first in minor detail in an earlier rant, and now I shall begin to mine the mountain that is Covenant. This will be broken up into 3 parts, Part 1 is covenant between men, Part 2 is covenant with God and man. And finally the culmination with Part 3 covenant between the redeemed and Christ.
Now what is covenant? In literal Hebrew it means to cut, but that is only a sign of its true nature. It is the oldest form of contracts and agreements in existence. It was and is a common practice in every ancient and “uncivilized” culture. It was an immovable force that would bind families, tribes and nations together for generations. A source of great blessing for those bound to one and a source of curses and death for those who dared to break them. Though covenants are world wide and all originate from Adam and Noah, I will be using the Hebrew form of covenants and ceremony during this entire endeavor.
How or why would someone enter into a covenant with someone else? On a personal level covenants were enacted because family A had something family B did not and family B lacked something family A had. Covenants were not entered when two parties had the same strengths rather they were brought together because of their differences. So that the two would be complete only in unity. And the same can be said for entire tribes and nations. For the sake of illustration lets say we have a family of farmers and a family of soldiers. The farmers keep losing their crops to bandits, and the soldiers have no means to grow their own food year round. Each side has something to offer the other that they lack themselves.
Now if these families were to enter into a covenant, it is a very serious issue, you see because covenants are for life, most often for multiple generations. The only way out was death, and the punishment for breaking the covenant was death. If these families enter covenant they become one family and are bound to the terms of the covenant. If a famine arose the farmers would feed the soldiers first, if an unstoppable army approached the soldiers would lay their lives down to save the farmers. Anything else would invoked the curses of the covenant and summon the avenger to kill the traitor.
The first step is negotiations, the patriarchs of both families meet and discuss the obligations of each family and blessings and the curses that would follow. Once that is complete they would begin the covenant ceremony. Both families and witnesses would gather in am open place where all could see (either an open field or a valley). And before all would stand either the heads of each family or a representative who embodied all the family was. They would take a heifer or another large animal and sacrifice it. It was split along the spine so the sides fell off, then split it in two leaving a pool of blood. The two patriarchs or representatives would walk within the blood and remains reciting the obligations, blessings and curses of that covenant, an image not soon forgotten. After that they would exchange their coats (symbols of authority) with one another. Followed by the exchange of weapons from one to another (symbols of strength). Next came the cutting of the covenant where each patriarch would make a deep obvious cut either in their hand or wrist and they would place their wounds together allowing their blood to mingle binding them as blood brothers, a true friend who sticks closer than a brother (prov 18:24). This is also the origin for the phrase blood is thicker than water, for you were bonded more to your covenant brother than your own flesh and blood. This is also the origin of modern hand shakes. Once the blood was mingled, the families moved on to the covenant feast. Where the patriarchs would eat and exchange bread symbolizing their bodies and wine symbolizing their blood (in all other cultures the blood of the patriarchs was mixed into the wine) they were now one family they would also exchange and merge their names together there was no longer two but one. They would also after everything else was completed erect a memorial, either the planting of a tree or the building of a stone pillar or altar, as a permanent reminder of their oaths.