Derek Prince - History Is The Outworking Of God's Covenant With Man
Now let’s study briefly the principles of covenant that apply to all the covenants in the Bible, Psalm 50:5. Psalm 50, we have to read verse 4 as well. This is God speaking to the world, to the earth. It says: He [the Lord] shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people. [And then He says this:] Gather my saints together to me; those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. So, who are God’s saints, His holy ones? The Hebrew word, incidentally, is hasid. Probably quite a number of you have heard of Hasidic Judaism, It’s taken from this. A hasid is somebody who claims to be totally devoted to God.
So, whom does God call His hasidim, His holy ones? What’s the requirement? Those that have made a covenant with Him on the basis of a sacrifice. No sacrifice, no covenant. Every covenant has to be based on a sacrifice. And, the Hebrew word for making a covenant is not make, but cut. It suggests a sharp knife and the shedding of blood. Actually, if you follow through the teaching of covenant in the Bible, you’ll find that there is no covenant without a sacrifice and no sacrifice without shed blood. Every covenant demands that a life be laid down. In Hebrews 9:16–17, the writer of Hebrews deals with this truth. You have to know that there is one word in the Bible, which is alternately translated covenant or testament. But, it’s the same word.
So where you meet testament in the New Testament, which is the New Covenant, do you understand that? Incidentally, bear in mind that all God’s revelation comes to us in the form of two covenants: the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. That shows you how important covenant is. But wherever you read testament in the New Testament, you’ve got to understand it is the word for covenant. You see, for us, a testament is something that only comes into effect when a person dies. Whereas, we don’t think in that way of a covenant. But what the writer of Hebrews says, a covenant is not in effect until there has been a death. A covenant is only made effective by a death.
So, this is what he says in Hebrews 9:16–17: And there is at least one modern version that uses the word covenant. I don’t remember which one it is. For where there is a covenant, there must also of necessity be the death of the one who makes the covenant. For a covenant is in force after men are dead: since it has no power at all while the one who makes the covenant lives. So when you make a covenant, you really are signing your own death warrant. See that? It’s a very solemn affair.
Now, we’ve already said that marriage is a covenant. So there has to be a sacrifice. For those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrifice has already been made. It’s the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Turning back for a moment to the story of Abraham in Genesis 15, we read that Abraham said to the Lord in verse 8: How shall I know that I will inherit it? That is, the land promised to him. His question was: How shall I know? How did God answer him? He made a covenant with him. In other words, the final commitment of God in any area is a covenant. When God has made a covenant, there is nothing more He can do. He is totally committed.
We won’t read the details, but in the making of this covenant, Abraham was instructed by God to do something which was a custom at that time in the Middle East: to offer certain animals as sacrifices because without a sacrifice there can be no covenant. Then he slew the animals, cut the bodies in two pieces, placed the two pieces over against one another, with a space in between, and then the accepted way to enter into covenant, was that the two parties making covenant passed between the pieces of the sacrifices. So, we see here that Abraham entered into a covenant with God. It always blesses me to think that Almighty God would have such a close relationship with a man. Abraham entered into a covenant with God by passing between the pieces of the sacrifice.
Then it says at the end of the chapter: And it came to pass when the sun went down, and it was dark, that behold, there was a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. That was God Himself entering into covenant with Abraham. God the Holy Spirit in the form of a burning torch passed between the pieces. So, God and Abraham through that sacrifice entered into covenant with one another. What does that mean to pass through the sacrifice? It means that when you’ve passed through the sacrifice and you look at those dead bodies, you say: That death was my death. From now on I die to myself and I live for the one with whom I am in covenant. So, Abraham renounced his life to live in covenant with God. But bear in mind that God renounced His life to live in covenant with Abraham.
Now, because they were in covenant with one another, each of them could lay claim to whatever the other owned. Do you understand? So, later on, on the basis of this covenant, the Lord said to Abraham: I want your son, Isaac, your only son, the one you love. Offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham was a covenant keeper. He didn’t argue, he didn’t delay. All right, God. Here I am. I’ll go to the place, I’ll offer the sacrifice.
Well, you know the story. Right at the last moment when Abraham had his hand upraised to plunge the knife into the body of his son, the Lord spoke to him and said: All right, Abraham. You don’t need to do it. Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from me. That’s covenant. But that’s not the end of the story. Because about 2,000 years later, what happened? The Lord said: You and your descendants need a sacrifice. There’s only one person who can make that sacrifice, it’s my Son. You offered your son to me, now I’m offering my Son for you. And viewed in that light, you see, history is the outworking of God’s covenants with His people.