Old Testament covenants among various people groups carried the idea of ‘kinship’ with the god of the covenant. This was an ‘adopted’ kinship. While the Lord God did adopt Israel as His people, Israel was unable to aligned herself fully with God in a spiritual sense. This was because of the fall of Adam. The history of Israel was a history of continual straying into various forms of idolatry. True spiritual alignment with God would only take place through the cross of Jesus Christ.
In the new covenant the idea of ‘kinship’ with God changes. The reality in the new covenant is that believers actually become ‘blood kin’ of God. This is why Paul said, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom 8:16)
But let’s come back to the Old Testament idea of covenant. It was the tribal fathers who cut the covenant. The children entered into the covenant of the fathers. To cut the covenant in the former testament was generally done by taking a sacrificial animal, splitting it in two, with the parties of the covenant passing between the pieces. In the cutting of the covenant, the god of the fathers became known as ‘the father’s god.’ Thus we have the statement, ‘The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’
In a blood covenant the members were considered one blood. If aggression is made against one, it was aggression against all. Blood covenants ran deep. This thinking is still prevalent in the middle east today, and this is why you see acts of blood vengeance and blood feuds.
You also see a picture of ‘blood kin’ in the dedication of the tabernacle of Moses. Listen to Hebrews 9:19-22:
“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood.”
The sprinkling of blood was not simply to the forgiveness of sins, but signified oneness with the God of Israel. Thus if anyone touched Israel, they touched the God of Israel. But this brings us back to the idea of adoption. The people of Israel were not spiritual children of God, that is, they were not children by blood. They were adopted children.
When the blood of the animal was sprinkled the people ‘came under’ the blood of the covenant. The people themselves were adopted. But they were still not by nature God’s children. Their nature was unlike His. Thus the sprinkled blood served as a symbol. The blood of the eternal covenant was yet to be sprinkled.
Aaron brings out this fact when Moses became so angry over the calf idolatry of Israel. Aaron says to Moses, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil.” (Exodus 32:22) The term ‘prone’ speaks of an evil impulse that was theirs by nature.
Paul explains Israel’s issue of adoption, when he said,
“Who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory, and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.” (Romans 9:4)
Notice when Paul speaks of ‘the adoption as sons,’ he precludes any idea of a spiritual birth. No one in the Old Testament could be born of God until the Lamb came on the scene. Moses himself makes this distinction. Before I quote from Moses, let me first draw attention to how Peter concluded his Pentecost message.
As Peter is concluding his message, he says, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” (Acts 2:40) Why would Peter make such a disparaging remark? After all, he himself was of the same lineage as the people he was addressing. Peter was quoting Moses.
Those listening to Peter would have recognized what he meant by ‘perverse.’ In the natural Peter was saying no more than what could be said to any lost man; “You must flee from the land of lostness, and into the land of salvation.” But the idea went deeper for the Jewish people of the time. They minds would be drawn to the great lawgiver of Israel, a man to whom they were deeply devoted.
When Moses was completing his final address to Israel, he broke into a prophetic song of redemption. It is this song that Peter quotes from on the day of Pentecost. In the song Moses brings attention to the ‘unspiritual’ state of the people. He sings,
“They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.” (Deuteronomy 32:5)
He says Israel was not God’s children because of their defect? The term ‘defect’ is ‘mum’ in Hebrew. It refers to any physical or moral blemish. Moses was saying that Israel had a moral blemish. He was calling attention to the fall of Adam.
All unsaved peoples carry in them the blemish of Adam. This is also why the sacrificial animals under the covenant of Moses had to be without blemish. The sacrifice was a picture of Jesus, who would offer Himself “without blemish to God.” (Hebrews 9:14) But until Jesus came, all men had the defect.
We don’t have space to get into the song of Moses, but in the book of Revelation this song is spoken of as ‘the song of Moses, the bond servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.’ (Rev 15:3) It is a song of redemption. It is also a song of the history of Israel. It would only be through the sacrifice of Jesus, the true unblemished Lamb of God, that a person could be born again, and in this birth, the person would be born into a true spiritual and blood kinship with the Almighty.
Peter again draws attention this fact, when he writes,
“If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:17-19)
Peter says our redemption is with ‘precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.’ The blood of the ‘unblemished’ Lamb of God is sprinkled on the human spirit, and thus, we become children of God without defect. (Cf. 1 Peter 1:1,2)
Also note that Peter calls attention to a “futile way of life inherited from your fathers.” Peter is not disparaging the patriarchs of Israel, nor is he drawing attention to the wickedness of their forefathers. He is simply calling attention to the same thing that Moses called attention to. The term ‘futile way of life’ fits every class of the human family, aside from those born of Christ.
The apostle’s point was that no person who has ever lived on this planet could be said to be of ‘blood kin’ to God without the Lamb’s precious blood being applied. To become kin to God, a person must pass through the cross, from the death side to the life side.
This issue of salvation must never be overlooked. The Jewish peoples during the time of Christ believed that they could not be lost because of their blood line to Abraham. John the Baptist and Jesus Himself and all the apostles came against any such notion. This is why John said that God could raise up stones to be children of Abraham.
The whole human race was contaminated by sin. We were all of a ‘crooked and perverse’ generation. This came from our father Adam. The bloodline of Abraham was no exception.
But now through Christ Jesus we have the reality of what the Old Testament types could only point to. The blood that Moses sprinkled on the people could only speak of their adoption to God, but it could not remove their sins, nor could it actually make them true spiritual children of God. No animal blood could do that. Only the blood of Jesus could make our kinship a reality.
It is Peter once again who explains what happens when a person is born again. He says,
“By the sanctifying work of the Spirit [our separation and drawing to Christ], to obey Jesus Christ [receive him as Lord and Savior] and be sprinkled with His blood.” (1 Peter 1:2)
The apostle Paul explains that the blood than ran through the veins of Jesus was literally God’s blood. So when the blood of Jesus is sprinkled on the human spirit, that human being becomes a totally new creature, both from heaven. This corresponds to the promise given to Abraham, when the Lord said, “’Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Genesis 15:5)
Are you kin to God? Yes, if you are born again, you are born of His blood and His Spirit. You are His very child, nature of His nature, blood of His blood, seed of His seed. And it is our ‘blood kinship’ to God that holds the promise of a future resurrection to glory. We are marked out as the very children of God. We have a destiny that is beyond anything to be imagined.
Paul said it plain enough:
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Act 20:28)
What is it all about? Listen and you will find the answer…
Here is one final Scripture potion to consider:
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb 13:20-21)
Think about it.