Too often we, the people of God, fail to lay hold of the fact that the God to whom we give account is a God of absolutes. According to the world’s belief system, truth is never absolute, holiness is obsolete and promises are conditional upon the prevailing circumstances. In our rush to conform to this modern world, in which there are no absolutes, we find ourselves in conflict with our God, whose absolutes are both clear and final. One of those absolutes is truth. The Holy Spirit was sent to lead the church into “all truth”. All Truth is not a belief system, but a Person, Christ Jesus (Jn. 14:6; 16:13). We must be led out of the world, which says there is no absolute truth, and into All Truth if we are to be made free of this world and it’s ever changing condition. We cannot discover all truth through study, sacrifice or separation – in fact we are not capable of finding it at all. We may only be led INTO the truth, which is Christ, by the Spirit of Truth.
Another one of God’s absolutes is that He does not change (Mal. 3:6). We worship the Christ who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). What He has said He will fulfil, and what He has promised He will keep. We fail to understand Him when we fail to recognise that faithfulness is one of His everlasting attributes. He remains faithful even when His people do not, because faithfulness is an intrinsic attribute of His Personality and He cannot be other than Who He is (2 Timothy 2:13).
God has chosen to demonstrate His faithfulness to His own by initiating and keeping covenant. The idea of covenant keeping is not something we in the modern western world embrace or even give thought to. It does not fit easily into our culture or lifestyle, and I am speaking of the church as well as the world. However, the covenant the Lord has made with His people is an everlasting and holy covenant that does not alter according to the atmosphere in which we find ourselves living (Luke 1:72; Heb. 13:20) The sacredness of His covenant and our responsibility to honour it has not, and will not diminish, simply because the world opposes our commitment to that covenant. God is a covenant-keeper and He is requiring a people who are covenant-keepers after His own heart. (Ex. 19:5; Deu. 4:23; Deu. 7:9; Ps. 25:10.
There is a cry going out in the Spirit from deep within the heart of the Heavenly Bridegroom for a Bride who understands and honours His Covenant. That Covenant is a Blood Covenant. The Bride of Christ must come to the realisation that her Bridegroom is indeed a Bridegroom of Blood.
The Sign of Blood Covenant
In Exodus 4, which deals with God’s call on Moses, we catch a glimpse of the supreme importance with which God views His blood covenant. At this point in Moses’ life he had already had an encounter with the Lord at the burning bush and had received His command to leave the wilderness and lead Israel out of bondage in Egypt. Hesitantly, even reluctantly, Moses had taken his wife and two sons and begun the return journey to Egypt. In the middle of this journey we find this mysterious passage:
Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”–because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24:26 NASV)
After calling Moses out from the backside of the desert, instructing him, authorising him to perform signs and wonders, and sending him forth to the powerful Egyptian Pharaoh, why would God then appear in the midst of this journey with the intention of killing him? We find a clue in Exodus chapter two.
So God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob, and God looked upon the children of Israel and God acknowledged them. ( Ex. 2:24-25 NKJV)
Under the cruel and harsh tyranny of Egypt, the Israelites had been earnestly crying out to God for deliverance, and God heard them. And in hearing them He remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham and his descendants. The seal, or sign of that covenant was shed blood, through the circumcision of every eight day old male born in Israel (Gen. 17:7-14). (For further insight into the Old Testament practice of cutting covenant, please read Oh, the Blood of Jesus!).
The Hebrew word for “covenant” is “beriyth” which means “cutting”.
God regarded Israel as His firstborn son with whom He had cut blood covenant (Ex. 4:22). Moses, however, had failed to circumcise his own firstborn son Gershom (which means “stranger in a foreign land”). He had not honoured that covenant nor passed it on to the next generation by ensuring his own son carried the sign of it. How could a covenant keeping God send forth a man who had failed to honour His covenant to an idol-worshiping uncircumcised nation like Egypt? Moses, who had been raised in the house of Pharaoh, had not yet made up his mind whether he was absolutely a Hebrew or still partly an Egyptian. And God, who was now calling to remembrance His holy blood covenant with the descendants of Abraham, could not console Himself to Moses’ divided heart.
It was Zipporah, Moses wife, who perceived the reason for God’s anger, and hastily carried out the circumcision of her son. Much has been speculated about this mysterious passage, but the scripture clearly indicates after circumcising her son, Zipporah then presented the evidence of the circumcision at someone’s feet. Commentators vary in opinion on whether it was Moses or the Lord, as Moses name does not actually appear in original manuscripts in verse 25. His name has been added by later translators seeking to align this verse with their own limited understanding. Furthermore, the phrase often translated either “cast” or “threw at his feet” equally means “to touch”. Did Zipporah, in bitterness, throw down the foreskin at the feet of Moses as many have surmised, or did she touch the feet of the Lord with it in an act of reverent worship? I will allow you to make up your own mind on that possibility. What we do know for certain is that the Lord was satisfied with her actions, because the scripture goes on to say “So He let him (Moses) go.” (v.26) It was then that Zipporah prophetically proclaimed “You are a bridegroom of blood to me!”.
Being Circumcised with the Circumcision of Christ
So what has all this got to do with us, the modern-day Bride of Christ, called out to be His witnesses in a world of increasing darkness, idolatry and bondage under sin? The message the Lord would have us hear is this: the Bridegroom to whom we have become betrothed is a Bridegroom of Blood to us. He has cut a blood covenant with us, the sacredness of which penetrates to the very essence of His Being, and He requires a Bride who understands, honours and keeps His Blood Covenant.
Many have come to understand the significance and role of the Blood of Christ in freeing us from the power of sin. We give thanks for the Blood, partake of the communion cup, and go our way thinking how blessed we are to understand that the Blood was shed to redeem us. How many understand that His Blood has far greater significance for us than our salvation alone? Do we really believe we can carry on claiming His Blood, while not honouring His Blood? Do we really believe we can partake of the benefits of Blood Covenant while not keeping it, and still be called His Bride? The Blood Covenant of which we have become partakers calls for a sign – that sign is circumcision of our hearts. We are to live as the set apart people of God, circumcised with the circumcision of Christ (Col. 2:11). This is not a circumcision that belongs to Christ, but a spiritual circumcision that Christ Himself performs in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, in order that He may present us a holy, spotless, covenant keeping Bride before His Father. The scriptures indicate that God’s mercy and His covenant are closely associated (Deu. 7:9; 1 Kings 8:23; Neh. 1:5; Neh. 9:32; Dan. 9:4). It was not possible for Israel to be called out and set apart as God’s own covenant people and still practice idolatry, without crossing from God’s mercy into His judgment. Neither is it possible for the church.
It was not possible for Moses to enter into the work of God while dishonouring the Blood Covenant. Neither is it possible for the church. There is no room for misunderstanding here. The covenant we have with our Bridegroom is not the same covenant God established with Israel (Heb. 12:24). The temporary blood of bulls and goats was no more than a shadow and sign pointing the way to the everlasting Blood Covenant that would come (Heb. 10:4, Heb. 13:20). Circumcision of the flesh was merely an outward shadow of the true worship to come through the Spirit, through whom our inner being becomes circumcised (Deu. 30:6, Phil. 3:3). We are not under law, but under grace and therefore obey God out of reverence and not out of fear of punishment (Rom. 6:14,15). Nor should we believe keeping covenant is a keeping of Old Covenant law, for it is not. In fact the blood covenant with Abraham was established well before the giving of the law (Gen. 17:13-14 ; Gal. 3:17). However, the essential place of blood covenant in God’s relationship with His people then and now has not changed, because without blood there is no remission (Matt. 26:28, Heb. 9:22).
Blood is not a pleasant thing for our overly-sensitive flesh natures to consider. It is not talked about in polite company, except perhaps in medical centres. In the church we often pay lip service to the Blood Covenant and then continue on with our compromised lives, paying it no attention until the next communion or Easter service. We take the little cup and portion of bread into our mouths as tokens, in the same way as we wear a cross around our necks or put a scripture in our car window. They have become no more than meaningless outward signs of a certain religious identity, while inwardly we refuse to keep our covenant with the One they represent.
The Cup of Blessing is the Blood of Christ
When Jesus gave the church the sacrament of communion He did so with one purpose in mind – remembrance of Him. That remembrance was to infiltrate every aspect of our daily lives, setting us apart unto Himself in covenant relationship and keeping us immersed in ongoing spiritual communion with Him even as we walk in this world. The outward cup and bread were to be symbols of an inward circumcision of heart taking place in a people emerging into holy Brideship. If you do not believe this consider the following facts. The cup of blessing which Jesus said symbolised His Blood was only used in Jewish tradition at one other time – a betrothal ceremony, where the intended bride and bridegroom drank from the same cup and made a covenant of faithfulness to one another (1 Cor. 10:16). The promise Jesus gave His disciples that final night before His death was the promise a young Jewish man would traditionally leave with His betrothed bride when he returned to His father’s house to prepare for their lives together. He would not be returning until their wedding feast and he would say to her: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3.
The Jewish disciples present at that meal understood these actions and statements related to betrothal and marriage, even though they could not then understand the full implications of Jesus’ words. Jesus proclaimed He would not again drink of that cup until He could drink it with His Bride in His Father’s Kingdom. He told then He had fervently desired to partake of that communion meal with them. How much more does He fervently desire that His Bride should understand and honour the depth of the covenant He established with her that night, the sign of which was to be His shed Blood? Truly His ways are not our ways. Many times as we partake of the communion cup we are thinking only of what His Blood has done for us, but He is thinking of the Blood Covenant with which He has bought unto Himself a Bride (Acts 20:28, 1 Cor. 6:20).
Whose Cup Do We Drink From?
There are many things we can worship, even while we continue to pay lip-service to the One who bought us. The church is full of idols in religious disguises. The greatest of them is self. We worship self through the indulgence of our own desires, needs and intentions over His claim on our time, our sincere worship and our very lives. Living in any way independently of Him is idolatry of the highest order because it enthrones self into the place that belongs to Christ. Exalting anything at all above the Lord is idolatry, whether it be our career, our children, our spouse or our religious tradition. We must come to depend on Him as our spiritual Bread and Wine daily, even more so than we depend on daily food and drink to maintain our physical bodies (John 6:53-57). We cannot eat at His table and another’s. We cannot drink His cup and the cup of demons (idolatry) (1 Cor. 10:21). Keeping covenant with Christ is about acknowledging that the bride price has been paid and we are therefore no longer our own (Acts 20:28). It is about loving God with all our hearts souls and minds. It is about honouring His Blood Covenant to the point where we will lay down our lives rather than deny that covenant (Rev. 12:11). This covenant is exclusive and beyond price. It is not an optional addition to our lives. It is to be the very core of our lives.
The Spotless Bride is Not What We Think
We often hear it said that Jesus is drawing unto Himself a bride without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:27). And many of us in the Western church associate that terminology with a picture we like to hold of an immaculate bride adorned in the purest of white. As the Lord was preparing me to present this message, He showed me a picture of what the word “spotless Bride” actually means to Him. It was not that romantic image of the traditional, immaculately gowned bride we love to imagine. Instead it was a Bride whose glorious white bridal gown was stained with great splashes of crimson Blood. And His Bride wore that gown without shame. Can you imagine the offence and shock that would be generated by a bride arriving for her wedding dressed in an ornate, snow white gown freshly smeared with blood? This is not how we like to think of ourselves as His Bride, is it? Yet, it is truly the way we MUST begin to think of ourselves, if we are to be conformed to the image of our Bridegroom of Blood.
‘But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.’ (Heb. 9:11-12 NKJV)
Have you ever wondered how Jesus conveyed His precious shed Blood into the true Holiest Place that is in Heaven, as is written in this verse?
I believe our Lord actually wore His own Blood into that place as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. If you have ever beheld a slain lamb you will know it is a bloodied lamb. And yet the scripture tells us He presented Himself “without spot” to God (Heb. 9:14). Just as the spotless, sinless Lamb is a lamb bearing His own Blood, so is the Lamb’s Bride also “without spot”, yet stained with the Blood of the Bridegroom.
He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. (Rev. 19:13)
People of the Blood
This spotless emerging Bride we frequently refer to is made up of believers who are daily counting the cost of keeping that Blood Covenant that binds them to the One they follow. They do not esteem the Blood of their Bridegroom lightly, and they honour that Blood with their whole beings. They are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. Do you consider yourself a member of this faithful, corporate Bridal company? Then you too will honour Him by keeping His Covenant above all. This is what it means to overcome by the Blood of the Lamb.
There are those in this world who refer to followers of Christ as “people of the book”, in deference to the fact that our holy book, the Bible, includes the Old Testament. In fact, that is an inaccurate and incomplete name for those who are truly keeping covenant with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let them be known instead as the people of The Blood, for surely He is a Bridegroom of Blood to us.
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant. Ps. 25:14
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 1 Cor. 11:25-31
Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? Heb. 10:28
Copyright 2006 Cheryl McGrath, Great South Land Ministries, Australia.
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Cheryl McGrath – Great South Land Ministries, Australia