Matt. 26:19-29 “And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover. Now when the evening was come, He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I? And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.
The Son of man goes as it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. Then Judas, who betrayed Him, answered and said, my Lord, is it I? He said unto him, You have said.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it,and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Jer. 34:12-20 “Then the word of YHVH came to Jeremiah from YHVH, saying, “Thus says the YHVH God of Israel, ‘I made a covenant with your forefathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, saying, “At the end of seven years each of you shall set free his Hebrew brother who has been sold to you and has served you six years, you shall send him out free from you; but your forefathers did not obey Me or incline their ear to Me. Although recently you had turned and done what is right in My sight, each man proclaiming liberty to his neighbor, and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants.”’
“Therefore thus says YHVH, ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming liberty to you,’ declares YHVH, ‘to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts— the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf— I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.”
Some of the main principles of most covenants that we find in the Bible and in secular histories are (taken from In Covenant With Jesus, by Kelvin Crombie, 2013):
–The coming together of two parties with the purpose of entering into an enduring and committed relationship, normally for mutual benefit. Usually there is a weaker party seeking the protection of a stronger one.
–Both parties present their reasons and conditions for seeking the relationship. Previous disagreements or obstacles between the parties would have to be resolved. If one of the parties had been in covenant with another entity, that one would have to be cancelled, buried.
–Once agreement is reached, an animal (or, animals) would be selected and sacrificed, usually in the presence of the two parties.
–The words of the covenant would then be spoken out, including blessings and cursings for either obeying the words and intent of the covenant, or for disobeying the terms and conditions of the covenant agreement. (Gen. 1 – 3; Hos. 6:6-7; Lev. 26; Deut. 27 – 30; Luke 11:28; 1 Cor. 16:22; Gal. 1:8-9; Heb. 10:26-31)
–The pieces of the animal would then be separated, and the two parties would walk between the pieces, stepping on the blood of the covenant sacrifice; or else the blood might be sprinkled over the parties involved in the covenant ceremony. The covenant would be read out, and the participants would say something like this: “May it happen to me as it happened to these animals if I violate the words of this covenant!” In other words, they were pronouncing a curse upon themselves should they be unfaithful to the covenant. (Gen. 15:7-21)
–There would be witnesses to this ceremony, who/which would be a constant reminder that a covenant had been cut and agreed to in that place.
–Often there was an exchange of gifts.
–After all this, there would be some form of banquet of joy, and the sacrificial animal would be eaten as the main course.
–It was clear to all that this covenant was a binding agreement, not to be broken without serious consequences, such as war or death. Breaking a covenant is breach of trust, and is sin.
YHVH God, who came to us in the person of the Messiah Yeshua, has taken full responsibility for His creation and for His plan of redemption. We – as those in covenant relationship with Him – have been guilty of unfaithfulness, of treason, against Him and His covenant relationship and obligations. We deserved to have done to us what was done to those animals who were slaughtered and sacrificed to cut/make the covenant in their blood. Yeshua/Jesus took our place, and we did to Him what was done to those sacrificial animals; and we, and the executors, did it in hatred: we were saying in effect that “we do not like what You have done, we do not like You for who You are, and we do not want to be under Your authority or in personal, religious, or national relationship with You. You have only caused us problems and made life hard for us. Let us go back to Egypt; let us go back to Babylon; let us be like the Gentiles. We do not accept Your authority or Your Law and commandments. Leave us alone!” (And the regiment of soldiers who mistreated Yeshua did to Him what they felt towards the Jewish people — the Chosen People of God — whom He also represented as their “King”.) (Matt. 27:27-31)
But, no! We agreed to being in covenant together with YHVH, and with Jesus. (Also, marriages are covenant relationships, not merely contractual or experimental arrangements.) And even if we did not agree, but are simply created beings by Him in God’s image, we are answerable to Him. By offering Himself as the sacrifice – as if He were the guilty party – Yeshua takes full responsibility for His creation and for His sovereign governance. We did to Him what we thought about God – His holiness, His judgments, His law and commandments. We judged YHVH and found Him guilty, worthy of rejection for all that He is! God, in His goodness and lovingkindness and righteousness and mercy and wisdom offers forgiveness to all, and grants it to whomsoever repents and believes in Him and His Word. God remains faithful even if we do not. He cannot deny Himself.
1 Cor. 11:23-32 “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: 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 Covenant in my blood: this do ye, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
Therefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”
You can see elements of the covenant principles in these instructions. We remember the death of Messiah, the Son of God, who paid the penalty for our transgression and our unfaithfulness against Him and our covenant relationship. This slaughtered Lamb of God took on flesh and blood at His birth, was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead on the third day; was seen alive by hundreds of witnesses for 40 days; and He ascended back to Heaven, now seated at the Father’s right hand, having all authority in Heaven and on Earth, and is interceding for us to help us finish to the praise of the Father’s glory at the resurrection of the believers when Yeshua comes again in great power and great glory. In the meantime, the Lord has left us a covenant meal to remember Him with joy and thanksgiving. Hallelu-Yah!
The New Covenant (Testament) offers sinners (whether Israel as a nation, Jewish people, Gentiles — every human being!) forgiveness of their sin of unbelief, rebellion, and dishonor against their Creator and Redeemer. (Luke 23:34) All are guilty before God without exception. (Rom. 3) And it is this that we – those who have repented and believed the gospel of salvation and the Kingdom of God – celebrate in the Lord’s Supper, the communion of the justified saints through our faith in Yeshua and His death and resurrection, establishing and restoring fully our relationship and fellowship with our Father in Heaven and with His Son Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah. It was the Father’s pleasure to crush His Son for our salvation; it was Yeshua’s willingness to give His life a ransom for many. (Isa. 53; Matt. 26:36-46) Sin has been judged; we have been forgiven; and Messiah is our food from Heaven that sustains us until we are there with Him. We have received the Spirit of God as the guarantor of the eternal life we have received, and we wait for the fulfillment of the promise within the Lord’s Supper – the coming again of the Lord and the resurrection of the believers, and the salvation of the full remnant of all the Tribes of Israel that will be “all Israel”.
As we eat the bread and drink from the cup, let us remember Who He is who has loved us so.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, August 31, 2018, and reposted with permission.