The Blood Covenant

Today there is little taught or discussed about an exciting principle found in the Bible and directly applicable to all Believers. Brother Richard Booker wrote The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread in 1981. He has uncovered for us the wonderful concept of the Blood Covenant. This principle of the Blood Covenant is found in ancient cultures and societies all around the world.

According to Brother Booker in his book The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread, there are nine components of a Blood Covenant though they may not take place in the exact order of this listing:

  1. Exchanging of coats or robes
    “What is mine, is yours.”
  2. Removing and exchanging (weapons) belts
    “Anyone attacking you, attacks me.”
  3. Cutting the covenant
    A sacrificial animal is split in half meaning - “May this happen to me if I break my word.”
  4. Cutting of hands and intermingling of blood
    Becoming "Blood Brothers"
  5. Exchanging of names by incorporating part of their name
    Each is now included in the family of the other
  6. The wound of the hand is not allowed to heal properly, thereby creating a scar
    The scar shows that you are under a covenant, and “anyone attacking you is also attacking me”
  7. The covenant terms are exchanged
    Again, “What is mine, is yours, including family, all assets and liabilities.”
  8. A memorial meal is eaten
    In place of the animal and blood, bread and wine are shared with each other
  9. A tree is planted and sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice
    A long-lasting memorial of the covenant
The principle of the Blood Covenant was probably revealed first to Adam and Eve and, later, to their children. We know that Abel offered a blood sacrifice. And the first thing Noah did when he left the Ark was offer a blood sacrifice. This, of course, was long before the covenant between the Lord and Abram or even the Passover Lamb which are usually two of the pictures that come to mind when we hear of a blood covenant.

Like the steps of the Jewish Wedding Ceremony, the Blood Covenant is not always outlined step-by-step in the Bible, but the principle elements are clearly there when you look for them. And now that those elements have been uncovered, we will share more examples in the Bible of this exciting concept, how they are important provisions for Christians of today, including how we have already participated in such covenants. These will follow.

The principle of the Blood Covenant is found in cultures and societies all around the world. In thinking of the Blood Covenant, probably the first covenant that came to your mind was that between the Lord and Abram. This is found in Genesis 15:1-21.

Several of the components of the Blood Covenant are given in this passage from Genesis:

During the covenant between the Lord and Abram, Abram fell into a deep sleep. This is because the Lord was responsible for completing the pledge. Abram had tried to chase the birds from the sacrifices, but the Lord was to take care of that, and Abram slept. Because the covenant was unilateral, the Lord took Abram out of the process and caused him to sleep. Likewise, when the Lord Jesus was in the Garden praying, the Disciples slept. It was the responsibility of the Lord Jesus to complete the covenant, so the Disciples slept just as Abram slept. Neither Abram nor the Disciples could perform the works necessary to complete the covenant. This is confirmed by the statement of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:8-9:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
It is also interesting that when the Lord was making a covenant with the Children of Israel, He appeared on top of Mount Sinai as fire and the smoke of a furnace, just as He appeared as a lamp and a smoking furnace to Abram. (Exodus 19:18)

Before the covenant between the Lord and Abram in Genesis 15, Abram was living in the plain of Mamre (Genesis 14:13), which we find later was known as Hebron. When Abram rescued Lot from the four kings from what is now Iraq, Mamre was with him. (Genesis 14:13 and 24) It seems probable that Abram was living in Hebron at the time of the covenant between himself and the Lord, and the planting of trees as part of the covenant was performed in Hebron.

Here is why I think that is probable. Many years later, upon the death of Sarah, they were living in or near Hebron. (Genesis 23:2) For the burial of Sarah, Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah which was in a field of many trees before Mamre. (Genesis 23:17) I wonder if the many trees were a grove planted by Abraham at the time of his covenant with the Lord. Later, for example, Abram planted a grove of trees to memorialize another covenant with Abimelech. (Genesis 21:23)

There are several instances of a Blood Covenant to be found in the Bible. Frequently, they do not include all of the nine steps because the concept was understood by the people of that culture. An example is the Blood Covenant between Abraham and Abimelech. (Genesis 21:22-34) This passage contains many facets of the covenant.

The provisions of the Blood Covenant extend beyond the death of a participant in the covenant. The covenant applies to members of the covenanter’s family, even those yet unborn, because they are in his body. An example of this is the covenant between Jonathan and David. (1 Samuel 18:3-4)

In this passage, Jonathan gave David his robe, garments, girdle (belt), his sword and his bow. Although unstated, David probably did the same. Evidence of the Blood Covenant follows the death of Jonathan as recorded in 1 Samuel 31:2. It is the story of Mephibosheth.

King Saul had poisoned the minds of his family against David. The exception, of course, was Jonathan. When Saul and Jonathan died in battle, the family of Saul feared that David would kill them all to cement his position as king. Mephibosheth was five years old. In the panic of the moment, his nurse dropped him and both of his feet or ankles were injured and “he became lame.” Mephibosheth was taken to Lo’Debar, across the Jordan River in the territory of Manasseh. It is probable that he was in hiding there.

Years later, when David found out where Mephibosheth was staying, he sent chariots to retrieve him. As Mephibosheth approached David, he was probably expecting death because he fell on his face before King David. But David showed kindness to Mephibosheth for the sake of his father, Jonathan. David restored all of the land of Saul, Jonathan’s father, to Mephibosheth. While the family of Mephibosheth was taken care of by servants in their own house, Mephibosheth lived with David and ate the king’s table continually. (2 Samuel 9:5-10)

This was all because of the Blood Covenant between Jonathan and David. Mephibosheth was treated as a son of David. Mephibosheth had done nothing to deserve this treatment. It was due to the covenant.

Does this sound familiar? As Christians, we have done nothing to deserve to be treated as sons and daughters of the Most High God. And yet we are sons and heirs, because of the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 4:4-7)

There is no retreating from the Blood Covenant. The participants cannot back out of the agreement. In my opinion, this answers the question of “Once in Grace, always in Grace?” As sons or daughters of the covenanter, even though he is dead, the children still are covered by the agreement. As sons and daughters of God, we are still covered by the Covenant. We may walk away, as did the Prodigal Son, but we are still covered by the Covenant.

Ultimately, the most important sacrifice is the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, who shed His blood on the tree (Acts 5:30) as a step of confirmation of the greatest covenant of all. When we take part in the Lord’s Supper, we are memorializing the Blood Covenant with elements (bread and wine) that are even more long-lasting than a grove of trees. We can never thank the Lord enough, in quantity or quality. Praise His name, always!

Praise the Lord! He is Holy! He is righteous! He is merciful and gracious! The Lord deserves all honor, worship and praise – forever!

Here are examples of how the Lord Jesus has completed the Covenant and the part that we also take in the process:

1) Exchanging of coats or robes

We come to this covenant clothed in sin and unrighteousness. He comes clothed in holiness and righteousness. We put on His righteousness.

“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” – II Corinthians 5:21
“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness…” – Isaiah 61:10
He takes our sins upon Him and we take His holiness for ours. What an exchange!

2) Removing and exchanging (weapons) belts

“Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God … and having on the breastplate of righteousness … taking the shield of faith … take the helmet of salvation … and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:13-17
3) Cutting the covenant

“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” – Hebrews 10:16-17
“… and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. – I John 1:7
4) Cutting of hands and intermingling of blood

Jesus was both man and God. He was holy and also human. As we have the shed blood of Jesus Christ applied to our hearts, His blood cleanses us from all sin and we are also made holy. Our lives are forever intermingled with His.

“… Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” – Revelation 1:5
5) Exchanging of names by incorporating part of their name

Jesus took on the name, "Son of Man" and we take on the name Christian. We are forever in the family of God.

“… And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” – Acts 11:26
6) Make a scar

Jesus has the scars of the nails in His hands and the feet and the spear in His side. We have the circumcision of the heart.

“But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” – Romans 2:29
7) The covenant terms are exchanged

The entire Bible gives us the Covenant.

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – Psalm 119:11
8) Eat a memorial meal

“And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.” – I Corinthians 11:24-25
9) A tree is planted and sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice

The cross that Jesus died on was the tree that the blood of the sacrifice was sprinkled on and it still is a memorial of His covenant with us to this day.

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself;” – Colossians 1:20
The Blood Covenant has been in existence from the Beginning. It is found in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Praise the Lord for His wonderful plan! Praise Him for including us, sinners, in His plan. Praise the Lord for the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus!

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