Cut a covenant
In our Sunday School Men’s Bible Study we have talked about covenants a couple of times, so I thought I would spend some time on this subject. Just saying that you have a covenant with someone is not enough. You see, in the Old Testament the meaning of covenant is to “cut a covenant.” This seems strange, so let’s take a look at what the Bible says; I think it will help explain this idea better. In Genesis, God makes a covenant with Abram; I want us to take a look at that.
7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
8 And he said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
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.
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. …..
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.
18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
Here is an example of a very elaborate covenant, for a normal covenant they would cut a bird or possibly a sheep. They would do just as described, they would kill the animal and split it in half then the two parties would take off their sandals and walk between the animals, getting the blood on their feet. The idea is that if you break the covenant, you were to die and be bloody like the animals you walked through. You see that only God walks through the animals in the example in Genesis.
The second point is that man broke the covenant with God by sinning. Thus, man must die to fulfill the terms of the covenant, so God sent His Son Jesus, who is fully man and fully God to pay the penalty for man breaking the covenant. This is why the idea of cutting a convent is so important. It shows why Christ had to die a bloody death to save us from consequence of our sin.
I would like us to look a little further into this idea of cutting a covenant and how it keeps showing up in scripture.
4 And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.
You may ask, “Why is Ruth uncovering his feet?” You see feet talked about a lot in the Bible and you may wonder, “Do the Jewish people have a foot fetish??” No, it goes back to the idea of the covenant and getting the blood on your feet. Therefore, Ruth is asking Boaz to make a covenant with her; she wants him to marry her.
Let’s take this one step further. We see that Jesus also has a foot thing going.
1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him;
3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5 After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
Jesus is symbolically washing the blood from their feet, thereby cleansing them from the broken covenant. When Jesus asks us to do this for one another, it is to be a reminder of what Jesus has done for us. Just like we take communion in remembrance of what Jesus did for us on the cross, He asks us to wash each other’s feet to remember what Christ did for us. This all goes back to the idea of cutting a covenant and getting the feet bloody. I hate how we have lost some of the beautiful pictures in the Bible that help us see and understand God better.