Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why cut an animal in half to establish a covenant?

What was the significance in cutting the animals in half (Genesis 15:10-17)?

In those days, when people made a covenant, they would take animals and literally cut them in two pieces and set the two pieces next to each other, side by side. Then they would go for a covenant walk. They would pass between the pieces of the animal, and the symbolic meaning of this was, “May this be my fate if I don’t live up to the covenant, if I don’t honor the covenant, if I’m not faithful.” Jeremiah 34:18 says, “Those who have violated my covenant … I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between its pieces.” When people cut a covenant, blood was shed. It was a way of saying, “I take this very seriously.”
–John Ortberg

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