The covenant God ‘cut’ with Abram (later Abraham) was a curious affair. We find the event in Genesis 15.
To the question, “How am I to know that I shall possess it (the land)?” Abram was instructed to lay out a 3-year-old heifer, female goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. All but the birds were cut in half, then laid out in such a way that they could be passed between by the parties involved in the covenant.
But then God did something strange. Abram was put into a deep sleep and a great darkness fell upon him.
How could he possibly participate in the agreement while in this state?
At this point, we are told, God alone passed through the carcasses. Yet, verse 18 states, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram…”
Oops! I missed a verse:
“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between the pieces.”
If this was God alone, then why were two representations of Him present?
God is never alone. He is a triune Being. The Trinity does not act independent of One Another.
Is it possible that in the ‘smoking fire pot and a flaming torch’ we have Father and Son making this covenant? Could the Son have been present that day to represent man?
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it…to live it out perfectly, as no other man had ever been able to do!
That three entities did not cut this covenant is not out of keeping with the rest of Scripture. The Holy Spirit draws attention to God and Jesus, never to Himself.
We see this same symbolism in Exodus 14:19: “And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them.”
“So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” (v. 20)
I always thought it was God alone who led the Israelites. In this I see that I was mistaken!
Further, when the tabernacle was erected, the cloud (by which they were led through the wilderness) covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
On Sinai, the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud…” (Exodus 19)
And in Revelation 1, we have John’s record of Jesus: The hairs of His head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire…and His face was like the sun shining in full strength.”
Ooh, and don’t forget the entrance to Eden! “ He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
Note that this isn’t cherubim with swords in their hands.
Ephesians 6 tells us that we have the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. What is the sword doing at the entrance? Guarding the way to the tree of life; ensuring that there will always be a way to enter in.
Jesus is the door, the Way, the Truth, the Life!
He is the Word.
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
All this to say that it would seem that God and (Christ as pre-incarnate) ‘man’ cut covenant in the presence of Abram – on behalf of all mankind. God, it would seem, was the smoking fire pot; and Jesus was the flaming torch!
Jesus, the second Adam, and God present at this most important event…the Abrahamic covenant. Very cool.
Why do we care? One reason is this: Galatians 3:7 states, “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.” Galatians 3:29 reads, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” In Romans 11 we’re told that we’ve been grafted into the olive tree (a symbol for Israel).
For those in Christ, this covenant concerns us, for we are also considered sons of Abraham.
Israel’s modern-day fight to keep the land God gave them is ours as well!
Thanks for listening to my ramble. I’m mostly thinking out loud. I find the rich symbolism used in Scripture fascinating.
What does it all mean? Not sure; I just found this intriguing…God doing for man what man could not do for himself.
One thing I know for sure, we should care about Israel. Not only is it ‘their’ land…but, as sons of Abraham, it is ours as well. What concerns them also concerns us.