Otherly Holiness

Psalm 22:23-31; Genesis 15:1-21; Romans 3:21-31 (read online ⧉)

In Genesis, we read of the covenant God made with Abram. When we look at the blood and sacrifices from a modern perspective, it is easy to be repulsed or disgusted by the concept. In Abram’s time, this was a normal way to seal a covenant.

A covenant is a promise. When making a covenant such as this, there were two parties, the strong party and the weak party. If was often an agreement where the strong party would agree to defend and/or take care of the weak party, and the weak party would submit—both in authority and tribute (i.e., think taxes)—to the strong party.

If we think of this logically, then, God would take the role of the strong party, and Abram would take the role of the weak party. However, in this instance God takes the place of both parties. Abram is more of a witness to the making of the treaty, rather than a party to it. How can God take the place of both roles? This is a foretelling of what is to come.

For generations, God protected and watched over Abram’s descendants. Even when they wandered or ran away from God, God still was watching and caring.

In Romans, Paul writes: “…since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood…”

This is where we can see the submitting party of the covenant. Jesus Christ’s perfect submission to God’s authority, and sacrifice of himself, fulfills the weak party’s role. It is, of course, just an analogy, yet there is a huge truth in this. God created the universe, yet because we are unable to save ourselves, or able to fulfill the entirety of God’s holiness, Jesus took our place, and fulfilled the requirements of submission and tribute.

We, like Abram, are often more witnesses to God’s holiness and fulfillment of his righteousness than actual participants of either. Yet, we are called to be holy.

1) What do you think the responsibilities are of a witness? Are fulfilling them?

2) When you think of God being both the strong and weak party, what comes to mind?

3) How does it make you feel to understand that God took your place as the weak party?