Everything in the New Covenant has its foundation in the Old Covenant. The connections between the two are sometimes confusing because different words are often used to describe the same thing. This is the case with repentance. In the Old Covenant, repentance is referred to as returning to God. For example, in the following passage, Moses is instructing the Israelites before they cross the Jordan to enter the Promised Land.
28 “There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
29 “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
30 “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice.
31 “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them. (Deuteronomy 4:28-31)
In this passage, Moses warns the people of Israel that when they fall away from God’s ways, they can return to Him and be removed from their distresses. In Old Covenant jargon, Moses says they are to search for Him, “With all your heart and all your soul.” The return has to be complete, a total turnaround. All your heart and all your soul means a total change in direction and becoming a new person who displays new thoughts, words and deeds. And take note that the turnaround, repentance, is associated with God’s covenant with Abraham … the same covenant Jesus fulfilled through His death and resurrection.
Here’s the point: Repentance is a covenant-making act.
The article, Portrait Of A Blood Covenant, posted on this blog on May 17, 2012, listed the process ancient Israelites used to make a blood covenant. Listed were the following elements:
- Exchange Robes Or Coats — This exchange signifies giving of one’s self … this could also be called one’s identity.
- Exchange Belts — In Biblical days, belts were used to hold a man’s weapons. This exchange signifies a pledge to be the other’s protector.
- Animal Sacrifice — Blood covenants are said to be cut rather than made … the sacrificial death of an animal (often a lamb) signifies the giving of the covenanters’ own lives; more than their identity, but their very breath of life. It also signifies the consequence associated with not honoring and keeping the covenant.
- Intermingling Of Blood — Cuts in the palms of their right hands would act to intermingle the blood of the covenant makers when they joined their cut hands above their heads. By so doing, their blood would mix, and the intermingled blood would run down their arms. Sometimes cuts would also be made on their right forearms. This would be like a slash mark, and again a visible scar would be desired. The Bible teaches that the life is in the blood, thus, the intermingling of the covenant maker’s blood signifies the intermingling of their lives. Hence, two lives become one new life. The complete joining of two lives is the primary intention of the covenant.
- Create A Visible Scar — A substance that would not lead to infection would be rubbed into the cuts so a clearly recognizable scar would forever be a witness to the fact that each person was joined to another in a blood covenant of peace and security.
- Exchange Names — Each party of the covenant adds a part of the other’s name to theirs, or they may take on an entirely new name, signifying that a new identity has been formed and the two have become one new person composed of both … they are now two in one, or stated mathematically … 1 + 1 = 1.
- Blessings And Curses — Each party of a blood covenant gives their ALL to the other … nothing is held back … there is no regret. Each covenant partner proclaims wonderful blessings and dreadful curses over the other which are intended to act as incentives for each to keep the covenant. And remember, God is the mediator of the covenant and the One who executes the blessings and curses.
- Share A Memorial Meal — This involves eating the same bread and drinking the same wine. This could be done as part of an entire meal such as the Passover meal Jesus ate with His disciples. The bread represents the bodies of the covenant partners, and the wine their blood. Sharing the same bread and wine, therefore, represents the intermingling of two lives as they become one, i.e., that each party is in the other, by symbolically eating and drinking each other’s body and blood.
- Place A Memorial — This could be a pillar as described in Genesis 31:44-52 or a tree as in Genesis 21:33. Either would act as a memorial to the covenant-making event that took place in that spot.
The covenant making process described above is a beautiful picture of repentance. Each party enters into the covenant by willfully giving all they have and all they are to their soon to be covenant brother, or as they are often referred to in the Bible, their friend. It is a complete turning away from the person they are in anticipation of the person they will become. The symbolism of this entire process points to the object of blood covenant, which is the combining of two lives into one.
The act of making a covenant with another is in effect the death of the two making the covenant. Their deaths result in the creation of a new life. This is the second fundamental ingredient of blood covenant making with death being the first. In a blood covenant there must be the deaths of the ones making the covenant, but there is just as certainly a new life that emerges. Thus Jesus promises that everyone who dies in making covenant with Him will also receive a new life.
Making a blood covenant is a process where the death of two individuals produces one new life. Once a blood covenant is entered into, the old persons no longer exist. Now they are both one new creature. Two people who were once separated are now united in every way possible. There is no longer any difference in them. They share a common life. The same new life is in both covenant-making partners. Thus, they could correctly declare that each is in the other. This is why Jesus could say that He is in the Father and the Father is in Him, and that they are one. And because of their covenant, Jesus could also say that to see Him is to see the Father. In other words, they are completely united. Therefore, those who are joined in blood covenant no longer live for themselves, but their sole concern and purpose in life is to please their covenant partner.
The above outline of the covenant-making steps shines the bright light of clarity on what happens when a person makes covenant with Jesus Christ. As He crucified His flesh, so do we when we give all of our heart and soul to Him. We die the same death He died, and we become united with Him. That is, He is in us and we are in Him. Further, the death required in covenant making is followed by the creation of a new life. Jesus died and rose again to a new life. When we make covenant with Him, all of our heart and all of our soul dies with Jesus on the cross, and we are united with Him, but as we share in His death, we also share in His resurrected life. We are born again as new creatures. We have the life of Christ within us. Indeed, old things have passed away and new things have come. Paul describes the covenant-making process in his letter to believers in Rome.
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
[A total turnaround in your nature presupposes a total turnaround in behavior.]
3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus [that is all who have died the covenant-making death as He did] have been baptized into His death?
[Paul is not speaking of baptism in water, but baptism into the death of Christ. That is, when you make covenant with Jesus, you give your whole heart and soul in the covenant making process. You place yourself on the cross with Jesus, and you die. In this way, you are completely submerged into Jesus Christ and His death.]
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, [and following the covenant making death is the new life] so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
[Paul is describing the two major components of blood covenant. First, death is required, and second, death is always followed by a new life.]
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
[Another component of blood covenant is unity, i.e., the uniting of two into one new person.]
6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in [covenant with] Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:1-11)
Through a covenant-making death, we become united with Jesus Christ, but we also join in His resurrected life. This new life that He received is a life that will never again know death (verse 9), it is eternal life. This is the same life we receive when we crucify ourselves in making covenant with Jesus and become united with Him, not only in death, but in His new life as well.
In the next article, Entering The Eternal Covenant: Part III, we look at how a covenant exchange takes place when you make covenant with Jesus Christ.