Reading: Ex. 12:1-8; Jer. 31:31-32; Rom. 7:4; 1 Cor. 11:25; Eph.
5:25-28; Rev. 19:7,9.
"This is the new covenant in my blood."
"The covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I
took them by the hand to bring them out of Egypt... I was a
husband unto them".
It is quite clear from the Scriptures relating to both the Old
Covenant which God made with Israel, and the New Covenant in the
blood of the Lord Jesus, that the basis of the covenant, the
nature of the covenant, was that it was a marriage covenant. "The
covenant that I made with their fathers... I was a husband unto
them". Many Scriptures will occur to our minds in that
connection. The Lord said that He had espoused Israel to Himself.
He mourned through the prophet Jeremiah, "I remember for thee
the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals; how thou
wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown"
(Jer. 2:2). There are other Scriptures which establish this fact,
which we will not discuss now.
Here in the New Testament the same idea comes in. In this chapter
in the letter to the Romans, the apostle is speaking about being
married to the law, then dying to the law, that husband; and in
resurrection being free from that husband in order to be married
to another, even to Christ. That is passing from the old covenant
to the new, from Moses to Christ. The great truth of Christ and
the church in marriage relationship is brought out in these
matchless words of Ephesians 5:25: "Christ loved the church and
gave Himself for it", and so on. And all this is pointing on
to that great consummation, the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is
a great and a glorious thing, far beyond our power to understand.
Certainly we cannot compass it, but here are one or two thoughts
for us to ponder.
A Marriage Relationship
A marriage relationship is in view between the Lord and His
people, and that is constituted by His blood. The relationship
between the church and Christ is established in His blood, the
blood of a New Covenant. We were seeing something of the meaning
of the blood in our previous meditation - its nature and therefore
its tremendous power. What then comes into this covenant
relationship of marriage is the actual establishment of a
relatedness which is a sharing of one life, becoming
common participators in one nature, one Life, one essential
Person. That is the meaning of the blood.
From what we know now in the full revelation of this matter in
the Scriptures, we are able to see what lay behind those
sacrifices, those blood sacrifices, from Abel's onward. It was the
reaching out to secure a relatedness of perfect oneness and
fellowship with God. Abel in his heart was reaching out for that.
He was reaching out for the meaning of a covenant relationship
with God, and he found it in virtue of the blood. The same was
true of Abraham, and God made a covenant with Abraham by means of
the blood; and in Israel's case also, the whole nation was brought
onto this basis in covenant relationship with God by blood.
The meaning is plain. It is a position and a life of absolute
fellowship and oneness with God as sharing His own very Life, that
is in view. That is what God meant by this. That is why God
appointed the lamb and the blood. His thought was perfect oneness
with Himself to the forsaking of all others forever. That was His
mind about it, and of course that explains the terrible things
that are said from time to time about Israel's unfaithfulness as
an unfaithful bride, because of the utterness of God's thought. No
two lives any more, no two interests, no two lines of concern, but
a single Life, a single nature, a single object - an utter oneness
is represented in the blood of the everlasting covenant. It is a
marriage relationship with all that God means by that
relationship. We know how sacred God holds that relationship, what
it means in His eyes.
The earthly relationship, as we have so often said, which God has
established, the marriage relationship is meant to be an earthly
reflection of a great heavenly eternal thing God has in mind
between Himself and His redeemed - a marriage relationship in
terms of one blood, one Life, one nature - no dividedness, no
double elements at all, a singleness. "This is the new covenant
in My blood." "Drink ye all of it."
Living by the Lord
There is a mystery about our eating and drinking. How something
happens, no one knows. The processes can be described, things can
be analysed, but there is a point at which no one can give an
explanation. That point is where the food that we take becomes the
thoughts that we think, the very sound of our voice. The meals
that you have taken up to this point are now expressing themselves
in your being able to be audible. Stop eating and drinking long
enough, and you will lose your voice! Your thoughts will go, you
will not be able to think. Somehow or other, those meals that you
have been eating, that drink you have taken, has now become
thought and sound and many other intangible things which are the
very expression of our being.
The point is this - "eat My flesh, drink My blood". There
is a mystery of how by receiving the Life of the Lord Jesus,
receiving Him, He becomes assimilated so that He becomes expressed
in us. There is a change from what we are, to what He is. Our food
and our drink - they make up our personality presently. If you
only feed on a certain restricted line of things, your very
demeanour will change, you may become morose, sullen. What you
need is a change of diet or you become something else, a different
person according to what you mainly take in. It is a mystery,
strange, wonderful, how our very personality is affected like
that. Anybody who understands will at once say, "You have taken
too much of so-and-so and it has made you like this. You must
change, you must have something else". What we feed upon makes us
what we are.
Take, eat; take, drink. There will be a result, a spiritual
result. The very basis of your being, of your life, will be what
you take in, and if you are taking in Christ, assimilating Christ,
the miracle will be taking place in you that you will think
Christ, express Christ. Christ will come out in intangible ways,
but very real ways. That is the relatedness: a change taking place
in us that is no longer ourselves, but it is now Christ our Life,
Christ our thought, Christ our object, Christ our line of things.
It is all Christ. No two lines, ours and His; no two ways, no two
interests, no two worlds: only one. "For me to live is Christ"
(Phil. 1:21). We have received Christ. We are constantly receiving
Christ, and the result is that what we receive means that what we
give is Christ, what we express is Christ.
Now it seems perhaps going a long way to say that is God's
thought about a marriage relationship, but it is. The marriage
relationship according to God is this, that the wife joined to the
husband receives, participates, in his life and she has but one
life - that is his; one interest - that is his. She comes into
line with him. How important, therefore, in a decision of this
kind to be quite sure that that is what God is going to look for,
and we have got to see that that is possible. I do not want to
diverge to a homily on the marriage relationship, but this is
God's idea - one life, and the other being altogether yielded up
to that one life, being governed and dominated by that one life so
that they are no longer two lives, but one. That is God's thought
because it is a reflection of this higher relationship between
Himself and His redeemed, between His Son and His Son's Bride;
assimilating Christ so that it is one Life.
Our Committal to the Lord by Faith
Now notice that whenever we find in the Scriptures a covenant
being brought into view, a covenant in blood, the factor of faith
is always present. "By faith Abel offered a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain". A covenant was made then, was entered
into. When you come to Abraham a little later, you have the same
thing. Faith is the basis of the covenant made with Abraham. God
made a covenant with Abraham and that covenant was entered into in
that day described in Genesis 15, when Abraham prepared the
sacrifice, divided it in two, laid it there before the Lord and
the lamp passed between. A horror of great darkness
assailed, the birds of the air came down to devour, and he fought
them off until the going down of the sun. Then God made His
covenant; there was the blood shed, there was the ground provided
for the covenant and God made His covenant with Abraham. But we
are told so much about the faith factor coming in over it. "By
faith Abraham..." it is all by faith; his whole life is by
faith. The same is present with Noah. "By faith Noah..."
and God made a covenant with Noah and the altar was built and the
sacrifice offered and the rainbow was given as a sign of the
covenant. There was the blood. By faith, all by faith. And with
Israel. Every time there is a covenant coming in, the faith
element is basic.
How true it is in the New Covenant. It is all to them that
What does this mean? In the covenant in blood, the marriage
relationship is set forth.
What does it mean that it is all in faith? I think it is quite
simple. In a marriage relationship there is a big step of faith
taken - on the one side especially. On the side of the wife, it is
a tremendous step of faith. It means nothing less than this: an
utter committal over on to another. I am giving myself for good,
for bad, for better or worse. I am giving myself, my life, my very
being, right over to another, and now I have simply to believe
that that other one will not fail me, will not let me down, that I
shall have been justified in the end in giving myself to that one.
That is what Abel did; he handed himself right over in faith to
God and took the blood as the sign, the token, that he had done
that. That is what Abel did. He handed himself right over to God
and made the blood the basis of that handing over. That is what is
in God's mind all the time with the blood - the handing over
utterly in an act of faith, complete faith, which says, "I give
myself in perfect trust to another; I have no questions, no
reservations". It is a great act of faith, abandonment in faith.
That is one side of the covenant. That is the meaning of our
taking and drinking. We are saying that we have handed right over
to the Lord in utter faith, we trust in Him, count on Him, as a
bride in a right relationship, in the relationship which God means
to be represented by marriage, as the bride hands herself right
over in perfect confidence, lets herself go, no longer tries to
realise her own life but lets another do it. Of course, if there
were more marriages like that, it would be a very happy world. But
that is God's thought, at any rate, to hand over for the other to
realise the life and trust the other one to do it. That is what we
have done when we have entered into the covenant in the blood of
the Lord Jesus. We have handed over to Him to realise everything,
and we trust him to do it. He has taken us for that very purpose.
The Lord's Committal to Us
But there is the other side of the covenant. A covenant always
has two sides, and when we, on our side, enter into the covenant
in His blood by faith, which means our utter abandonment to Him,
He from His side, the other side of the covenant, says, "I am all
for you when you are all for Me; I am committed to you, all My
resources are at your disposal!"
And, you know, we are tested on this matter. We are so much
tested on the question of the covenant relationship. Abraham was
tested on this thing. "Take now thy son, thine only son, whom
thou lovest, and offer him" (Gen. 22:2). It was almost as
though God said, "Did you mean it - all for Me? Prove it". It
says, "God did prove Abraham". God is proving us as to
whether we mean it from our side, whether we are so over to Him
that we have no other outside interests, and trust Him absolutely.
That is what the blood requires, calls for, and means.
But is it not true that after every test, whenever we have been
tried anew in this matter of trusting the Lord, committing all to
the Lord, of standing true to the covenant relationship, the Lord
comes back Himself from His side and says, "Because thou hast
done this thing... in blessing I will bless thee, and in
multiplying I will multiply thy seed" (Gen. 22:16-17). From
His side He is always ready to come in and to give that increase
of His when He has proved our faith, and through trial got us more
deeply established in the relationship with Himself.
This is just a little glimpse further into the meaning of the
blood of the New Covenant and into the meaning of what we do here
so often, what we mean by the Lord's Table, what we mean by the
blood of Jesus Christ - an established relationship in utterness
of abandonment to the Lord and faith in Him to realise all that is
possible in our lives to His glory.