The Abrahamic Covenant: Part 13
The Testament and the Blood

John Plunkett
July 25, 2015

Last time in Part 12, we continued our study in the book of Hebrews, in chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 9 where we looked at the symbolism of the tabernacle, the priesthood and their services.

Today I would like to continue in Hebrews 9 and to begin by examining our long-deferred study of the symbolism of the blood.  

At first it sounds like a very negative subject; but when we really get into it, it is not so.  In some of the parts of today’s sermon, you might want to shut the children's' ears; but I assure you that this is all scriptural.

Before we get into the chapter 9 mentions of "blood," let’s go all the way back to Hebrews 2 and look at the very beginnings of the blood symbolism, and how it relates to the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenants:

Hebrews 2: 
9:  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man...
14:  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He
{Jesus} also Himself likewise took part of the same {i.e. flesh and blood}; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.

What is the connection between the flesh and the blood?  And why is the blood so important to God?  Let’s make a brief detour and hopscotch through a couple of Old Testament scriptures, just to remind ourselves.  First to Genesis 9 where we find the God talking to Noah after the flood:

Genesis 9:
1:  And God
{Elohim} blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2:  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moves upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3:  Every moving thing that lives shall be meat
{food} for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4:  But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall you not eat...

So God’s people are not to eat meat that has not been properly been bled.

God then warned Noah against the shedding of human blood... i.e. in murder:

5:  And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
6a:  Whoso sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed...


6b: ... for in the image of God {Elohim} made He man.

A few hundred years go by and the LORD God deemed it necessary to give a treble reminder of this law to Moses and the Israelites:

Leviticus 17:
10:  And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eats any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people...


11:  For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. 
12:  Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, “no soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood.”
13:  And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunts and catches any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
14:  For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, “You shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eats it shall be cut off.”

God had Moses repeat these commands yet again towards the end of his life:

Deuteronomy 12:
20:  When the LORD your God shall enlarge your border, as he has promised you, and you shall say, “I will eat flesh,” because your soul longs to eat flesh; you may eat flesh, whatsoever your soul lusts after...
23:  Only be sure that you eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and you may not eat the life with the flesh.
24:  You shall not eat it; you shall pour it upon the earth as water.
25:  You shall not eat it; that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, when you shall do that which is right in the sight of the LORD...
27:  And you shall offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD your God: and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD your God, and you shall eat the flesh.
28:  Observe and hear all these words which I command you, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you forever, when you do that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God.

So then, after all of those repeated warnings over and over again from God what do our physical Israelite brethren do? 

They eat things like Black Pudding!... which is a type of blood sausage, commonly eaten in Britain, Finland, Ireland, Sweden, and other modern Israelitish countries!

And to make it even worse, the encyclopedia also tells us that Black Pudding and some other blood sausages are generally made from pork blood!

And to make it even worse!... When I first left school many moons ago, I worked at the office of an abattoir, cold storage and meat importer company.  The butchers there told me that when they were processing a pig, they would hang it up by its back legs and slit it down the middle; but in doing so, they burst its bladder so that its urine ran out with its blood!  I realize that that is disgusting; but I want to get across to you that the eating of blood is a horrible thing.  But let’s try to put that revolting image out of our minds, and let’s back to Hebrews 2, repeating verse 14 to review the context:

14:  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 
15:  And deliver them
{through the shedding of |His – Jesus’ – blood} who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage...

Deliverance and bondage!  I’m sure we all remember from our earlier discussions, the deliverance aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, which, you also might remember, is also the "Sarah Covenant," as compared with the bondage aspect of the Sinai Covenant, which is also the "Hagar Covenant" (Galatians 4).

16:  For verily He {Jesus} took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.
17a:  Wherefore in all things it behoved Him...

Behoved?  It means that it was virtually a debt for him!... something that, according to the terms of the Abrahamic and New Covenant agreements, He had to do! 

What was that debt?...

17b: ... To be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest {of the Melchizedek order} in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people...

How did He make that reconciliation?  Through the shedding of His blood!

This is all part of the core aspect of the New Covenant and of the grace aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant that the Sinai Covenant and its sacrificial law could not fulfil.

18:  For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted {the Greek word can also mean “proved” or “tried”}, He is able to succour {to aid or to help} them that are tempted {and who are proved and tried}.

All of us are being tempted, proved and tried.

How did Jesus suffer?  How was He tempted, proved and tried? 

In many ways, of course; but perhaps primarily, at the end of His life, through the shedding of His blood through the wounds of the crown of thorns, the scourging, the crucifixion and, of course, that fatal, final spear thrust.

Now let’s go back to Hebrews 9 where we left off last time in part 12 of our study.  And let’s repeat verse 7 that we read then:

Hebrews 9:
7:  But into the second
{i.e. the second room of the tabernacle; i.e. the Most Holy Place} went the High Priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

"Not without blood" means "with blood."

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place with the blood of a bullock and the blood of a goat, both of which had been sacrificed and offered for himself and for the errors of the people. 

The bullock was offered by the High Priest for himself and his family.  The blood of the goat was offered  for the sins of the people of Israel.  We often read the details about this in Leviticus 16 on the Day of Atonement . 

All this blood was typical of the blood of Christ, by which He entered in once into the real Most Holy Place in Heaven. 

But Christ, the antitype of the High Priest, having no sin, had no need to offer for Himself; but only for the sins of the people. 

12:  Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His {Jesus’} own blood He entered in once into the {Most} Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

When you think about all of these Day of Atonement sacrifices year-after-year, for fourteen or fifteen hundred years, that is a lot of blood! All of it, every drop of blood from every sacrifice was typical of the blood of Jesus Christ.

But unlike the Aaronic High Priest who was human and therefore did have sin, Jesus had no need to offer for Himself.  He only had to offer for the sins of the people.  He never sinned.  But even though He never sinned, just the fact that He was on earth and among sinful mankind for thirty three and a half years, we can consider that He was somewhat "besmirched" by being amongst sinful mankind for that time.  Also, on the very last night of His human life, He had all the sin of the whole world laid on Him.

On the Wave Sheaf Offering Day following Jesus’ resurrection, He entered – not only the Holy Place – but the Most Holy Place; and not just the earthly copy of the Most Holy Place in the stone temple at Jerusalem; but the real one in His Father’s throne-room in Heaven.

This was the fulfillment of two different offerings.  When He went back to God the Father on that Wave Sheaf Offering Day, that was the fulfillment of the Wave Sheaf Offering, which was a "cereal offering"; but it was also the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement blood offerings of goats and calves (bullocks) which were commanded in Leviticus 16.

The inclusion of the word “redemption” is interesting here in verse 12.  I have noticed that there are two words that are often specifically associated with blood and blood offerings.  One is "remission," which we will come to later.  The other is this one: “redemption,” which, in English, is the noun form of the verb “to redeem.”

In the Greek, the noun form is lutrosis (Strong’s 3085) which stems from the verb lutroo (Strong’s 3084).

Both the noun and the verb forms mean deliverance… or more accurately, release from bondage... by the paying of a ransom.

When I see the words redeem or redemption in the scriptures, I translate them in my mind to the idea of “buying back.”  And in this case, that is exactly what has happened here. God's people have been bought back from Satan and this world of his.

Paul wrote twice (likely for emphasis): “You are bought with a price” (I Corinthians 6:20; 7:23). 

Yes. We have all been bought – bought back – with a price – with a ransom.  But what was that price – that ransom? 

We’ve already been told in Hebrews 9:12; but Paul tells us even more specifically – in Acts 20:28: "The Church of God, which He {Jesus} has purchased with His own blood."

Back to Hebrews 9:

13:  For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:

What we are being told here is that the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer provided a relatively inferior kind of partial, incomplete, physical sanctification and purification.

Then, in verse 14 we see what that animal blood and ash of the Sinai Covenant – as well as their inferior level of sanctification and purification – are compared with in the New Covenant:

14:  How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge {cleanse} your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

So, in comparison with the Sinai Covenant blood of bulls and goats, the New Covenant blood of Jesus Christ provides superior, full, complete, spiritual purging, cleansing, sanctification, and purification.  And it gives us at-one-ment with Jesus and with His Father, so enabling us to serve them.

When it says that the blood of Jesus Christ purges our consciences from dead works – and you have probably heard me say this before because it is something that constantly amazes me – the concept of blood being used as a spiritual cleansing agent.  It really is an amazing concept, especially for you mothers who know so very well  that blood is one of the worst stains to have to wash out of your kids’ clothes!  So the very idea of blood being used as a spiritual cleansing agent just proves even more how God can make possible the impossible!

15:  And for this cause, He {Jesus} is the mediator of the New Testament, {Greek: kainos-diatheke: the New Covenant}, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament {Greek: protos-diatheke which is the Sinai Covenant}, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

This promise of eternal inheritance alludes to the "grace" promises of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.

The sins of those called by God the Father – yes, even those sins which transgressed the Sinai Covenant laws – were redeemed – paid for – by the terribly bloody death of Jesus, who was and is our mediator and redeemer.  He is the one that God the Father uses to buy back His chosen ones.

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews now switches gears and takes us into the interrelation (in the Greek language even if not in the English) between the concept of a covenant and a testament as in “last will and testament.”

16:  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 
17:  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives.

When we translate the word diatheke as the English word “testament,” this makes good, common sense, doesn’t it?  But if we were to use the English word “covenant” or “agreement” in this context, it doesn’t carry the same logical weight as the word “testament”. 

In our modern minds, we wouldn’t think that a mere agreement would ever necessitate a death to seal it; but considering the Sinai and New Covenants as testaments, deaths were necessary.  In fact, bloody deaths were necessary!

What is a testator?  My dictionary tells me that a testator is a person who has written and executed a Last Will and Testament which is in effect at the time of his/her death. 

The English word testator is a noun.  But interestingly, the bible-Greek word used in verse 17 is a verb: Diatithemai (Strong’s 1303). 

Just as the English word testator is grammatically similar and related to the word testament, so the Greek diatithemai is similar and related to the word diatheke.

In the King James Version, as well as testator, diatithemai is translated three times as make and twice as appoint.  It means:

• To arrange or dispose of a person’s own affairs 
   or of something that belongs to him/her,

• To dispose of by a will (today, we might use the word “bequeath”),

• To make a testament,

• To make a covenant, 

• To enter into a covenant.

Let’s take a look at some very appropriate scriptural uses of the word diatithemai that are very significant in respect to our topic.  The first one is from Jesus – the Testator of the New Testament; and He says:

Luke 22:29: 
And I appoint
{diatithemai: bequeath} unto you a kingdom, as my Father has appointed {diatithemai: bequeathed} unto me;

Of course, this did not come into effect until after He – the Testator – died.

Acts 3:25:
You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant
{or testament; the Greek word is diatheke} which God made with {diatithemai: bequeathed to} our fathers, saying unto Abraham, “and in your seed {singular seed – Jesus} shall all the kindred’s of the earth be blessed.”

Again, this promise of God’s blessing on the whole world through Abraham’s seed – Jesus – is the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant!

Hebrews 8:10: {repeated in Hebrews 10:16}:
“For this is the covenant
{or testament: diatheke} that I will make with {diatithemai: bequeath to} the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord; “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”

I’m sure that we all recognize this verse as part of the Hebrews author’s quotation of the New Covenant prophecy from Jeremiah 31:33.

Jeremiah 31:33:
But this shall be the covenant
{Hebrew: beriyth} that I will make {Hebrew: karath} with the house of Israel...

We see here that the Hebrew language words for “covenant” and “will make” in the  Jeremiah 31:33 original are not grammatically similar to each other – as they are in the English and Greek languages.  However, they are still very significant and worth looking at.

We looked at beriyth – the Hebrew word for covenant – in an earlier episode of this study; but let’s just take another peek:

As well as covenant, beriyth (Strong’s 01285) is also translated in the King James Version as league, confederacy and confederate.  Its extended Hebrew meanings are: alliance (in marriage or friendship), pledge, treaty, constitution, ordinance and agreement.

This noun beriyth stems from the root verb barah (Strong's 1262) which can mean eat, consume, devour – and especially relative to the idea of cutting!

A more significant version of barah or bara’ (Strong’s 1254) can mean create, choose, make, shape, form, fashion, cut down, and perhaps most significantly, cut out.

This is significant because, when this word beriyth is set in a sentence – as it is in Jeremiah 31:33 – with the word karath – the Hebrew word for “will make with,” the idea of cutting becomes even more clearly significant.

Karath (Strong’s 3772) is a verb which can mean to hew, to cut off, to cut down, to cut and most specifically, to cut a covenant!

It is common for us today to talk about “cutting a deal” – which I always previously thought referred to a card game!

Why is this cutting aspect significant?  And why is it relevant to the blood aspect of the covenants?

It doesn’t take much imagination for us to think of the relevance of the multiple bloody cuts that Jesus suffered from the nails, the spear, the crown of thorns and the cruel flagellum – all of them very relative to His necessary blood offering for the New Covenant/Testament.  And also for the millions of blood offerings of the Sinai Covenant, for which much cutting and bleeding was necessary.  As we read earlier, all of those animals had to be properly bled.

But the idea of cutting a covenant goes all the way back to Abram’s sacrifice at the very inception of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Let’s go back and read it again:

Genesis 15:
7:  And He said unto him, “I am the LORD that brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.”
8:  And he said, “Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”
9:  And He said unto him, “Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
10a:  And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst...

The Hebrew phrase for "divided them in the midst" is "bathar-tavek" – which means that Abram cut the heifer, the she-goat and the ram right down their middles. 

Bloody?  You bet!

10b: ... and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
11:  And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away...
17:  And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, there appeared a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.
18:  In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

So here we see a cutting and a blood sacrifice that were directly associated with the very beginnings of the Abrahamic Covenant.

And so we are led to understand the necessity for blood sacrifices in the “cutting” of all three covenants: the Abrahamic, the Sinai and the New Covenants.

Let’s go back to Hebrews 9 and let’s repeat verse 17:

17:  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator lives.
18:  Whereupon neither
{not even} the first testament {the Sinai Covenant} was dedicated without blood.
19:  For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law
{the Sinai Covenant law}, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
20:  Saying, “This is the blood of the testament
{diatheke} which God has enjoined unto you.”

All of this is recorded in Exodus 24:

Exodus 24:8:
And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you concerning all these words."

Comparing this verse with Hebrews 9:20, we see that the English translations of the two differ. 

According to the Exodus verse, what Moses actually said was not: 

"This is the blood of the testament {or covenant diatheke} which God has enjoined unto you."  

But rather:

"Behold the blood of the covenant {or testament beriyth}, which the Lord has made with you." 

The Hebrew word for “made” here is the one we looked at earlier – "karath" cut!  

So, in effect, Moses said, “Behold the blood of the covenant/testament, which God has cut with you.”

Back in Hebrews 9; but still referring to Exodus 24:

21:  Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.
22:  And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

So again, no shedding of blood?  No remission!  No covenant!  No testament!  No deal!

But there’s that word “remission”!  I mentioned earlier that there are two words that I’ve noticed are frequently associated with the shedding of blood – one being "redemption" (which we looked at earlier) and this one – "remission."

In English, it merely means reduction, decrease, lessening, diminution, cutback and retardation.  But that’s not all.  That’s not enough!  Jesus’ kind of remission of sins is much more!  The Greek noun that is translated as "remission" here, is "aphesis" (Strong’s 859), which is also translated in the New Testament as forgiveness, deliverance and liberty. 

Its extended Greek meanings are a little more revealing to our context and can include:

Release... from bondage or imprisonment,
• Forgiveness or pardon of sins,
Letting sins go... as if they had never been committed,
• Remission of the penalty.

Yes.  This is getting closer to the real meaning.  But I believe that there’s even more than this – as implied by the extended Greek meanings of "aphiemi" (Strong’s 863), which is the source verb of the noun "aphesis":

• To send away (e.g. a husband divorcing his wife),
• To send forth, to yield up, to expire,
• To let go, to let alone, to let be,
• To give up, to keep no longer.

In these phrases, we see some implication of a forceful – even violent – expulsion of all those sins.

To repeat, the word remission is often associated with blood; and in this regard, it ties in closely with Jesus’ violent death:

The human circulatory system can be thought of as a closed, pressurized “pipeline and pump” system – in which the heart is the pump and the arteries and veins are the pipes. 

Under normal circumstances there is a natural and healthy level of blood pressure. 

But, as anyone who has witnessed major injuries knows all too well, once major holes or cuts are introduced into the system, the blood gushes out with amazing violence!

Please disregard the old renaissance-era paintings of the crucified Christ with tiny trickles of blood seeping from His hands and His side.  In reality, His formerly innocent blood was filled with the sins of the world – which, I believe, were put there by His Father – or His angelic agents – on that historic Passover night.  During the daytime portion of that Passover day, Jesus’ sin-filled blood (plus fluids that the scriptures refer to as “water” and “gall”) violently gushed out onto and into the soil and rock of Golgotha. 

The important thing is that when His blood exited His circulatory system, along with it went every sin that was ever committed (and repented of) on earth by man – in the past – in the present – and even in the future.