Jeremiah 34:18-20 is an important passage for understanding covenant imagery in the Bible. If you think back to Genesis 15 when God “cut” a covenant with Abraham, you will remember that a number of animals were cut in two and spread apart to make a pathway of blood. The lesser party was generally to pass through the pathway of blood as a way of proclaiming a self maledictory curse upon themselves: “So shall it be done to me if I break the terms of the covenant.”
The Mosaic Covenant put a great deal of emphasis on these self maledictory curses and here in Jeremiah 34 that imagery comes once again to the foreground. God says to the prophet:
“And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.” (Jeremiah 34:18–20 ESV)
Interestingly, the Abrahamic Covenant, which is logically and chronologically prior to the Mosaic, did not involve Abraham walking the pathway of blood. Quite unexpectedly, it was God himself who passed through the pieces under the figure of a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. This was God’s way of saying that he himself would pay the price for our covenant rebellion.
That’s what Jesus did on the cross!!
He passed through the pieces!
He paid the death price for our covenant failures!
The New Covenant is not an extension or renewal of the Mosaic covenant but is rather the fulfillment of the Abrahamic! It is the covenant of blessing that God guaranteed by taking our responsibilities upon himself.
The Gospel is the Good News of what God has done FOR US through the life and death of Jesus Christ. It is him doing what we could never do for ourselves and him paying for what we had done through Christ’s body on the cross.
Thanks be to God!!
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast visit the TGC Canada website; you can also find it on iTunes.