For a large part of the material in this study, I would like to acknowledge the following source:
The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread by Richard Booker, 1981 – Destiny Image Publishers
Hebrews 8:6-7 NKJV But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. (7) For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
What was it Abraham believed?
500 years after the flood, the people of the earth have once again become idol worshippers and have strayed away from God.
Abraham’s family were idol worshippers. They lived in Ur, in Babylon, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. It was culturally sophisticated but pagan community.
So, God shows up in Abram’s life and calls to be a part of a covenant relationship. He was to leave his idols and pagan household and go to a place that God would show him. God promised that He would make Abram a great nation.
There God would bless him and make him a great nation. God would give Abram a land of rest from his enemies. And out of Abram’s seed (singular) all nations of the world would be blessed. (see Genesis 12:1-9.)
Genesis 12:1-9 NKJV Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. (2) I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. (3) I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (4) So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (5) Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. (6) Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. (7) Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. (8) And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. (9) So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.
Four times the Scripture says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.
Genesis 15:5-6 NKJV (5) Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (6) And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:3 NKJV (3) For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Galatians 3:6 NKJV (6) just as Abraham “BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
James 2:23 NKJV (23) And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS ACCOUNTED TO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” And he was called the friend of God.
If we can find out what Abraham believed, then, we too can be counted as righteous, if we choose to believe it. We too can become acceptable to God. We too can be reconciled with our Creator. We can have peace with God.
So, God brings Abram to the land of Canaan and God approaches him in a way that Abram can understand. He established a blood covenant with Abram. It’s the same covenant he established with Adam and Eve when he killed the animals in the garden, clothed Adam and Eve to cover their sin and promised a future redeemer. (see Genesis 3.) It’s the same covenant God reconfirmed with Noah, evidenced by Noah offering a sacrifice to the Lord that was a sweet savory smell. (see Genesis 8:20-21.) That’s the first thing Noah did as soon as he got off the boat. And I don’t blame him.
God later shows up to cut a covenant with Abram and we see the ceremony described here:
Genesis 15:1 NKJV (1) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
- God says to Abram, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” With this statement God is taking the initiative by offering his robe and belt to Abram. God does not have a physical robe to give him so God just simply offers Himself.
- God is saying, “Abram, here is Myself. I offer you me. I am your reward. I am holy; I give you my holiness. I am righteous; I give you my righteousness. I give you My life, pledging to lay it down on your behalf if you will accept this covenant and enter into it with Me.”
- God then says, “I am your shield. I don’t give you a shield, I will be your shield. I will protect you and fight your battles for you. I will be your strength. If anyone attacks you, they are really attacking me.”
- “Out of your seed shall come a blessing to the whole world. But I want you to know that I am not making this covenant with you because you deserve it because you don’t. I’m taking the initiative with this covenant because I love you and for no other reason.
Abram then responds,
Genesis 15:8 NKJV And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”
God then has him go through the entire procedure of the cutting of the covenant with the animals. All of these animals were considered “clean” by the Lord.
Just because of the instructions that God gives him, Abram KNOWS that this is going to be a covenant. It absolutely cannot be broken under any circumstances.
Genesis 15:9-17 NKJV So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” (10) Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. (11) And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (12) Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. (13) Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. (14) And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. (15) Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. (16) But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (17) And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
There is only one problem. How can the Creator enter into a covenant with the creation? How can weak, sinful man enter into a covenant with the Holy, mighty all-powerful God? What does Abram possibly have to offer God? If every human being could offer all of their possessions to God, it still would never merit a covenant with Him. The Creator is beyond reach of the creation’s ability to reach out to Him in their own capacity. There is just no common ground on which man can approach God.
Because there was no one else that swear in the covenant, He decided that He was going to swear by Himself.
Hebrews 6:13-14 NKJV (13) For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, (14) saying, “SURELY BLESSING I WILL BLESS YOU, AND MULTIPLYING I WILL MULTIPLY YOU.”
God caused a deep sleep to fall on Abram and there was great darkness. Then Abram witnessed someone taking his place, passing between the halves of the animals. Someone else was saying, “I’m dying to myself. I’m giving up my rights to my own life. I’m beginning a new walk with my covenant partner. Not my will, God but Yours be done.”
It was such a bright, brilliant glow that Abram saw. Who did He see?
Matthew 17:1-2 NKJV (1) Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; (2) and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Revelation 1:13-15 NKJV (13) and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. (14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; (15) His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
Revelation 21:23 NKJV (23) The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
The eternal Son of God, in His pre-existing glory, stood in for Abram. He is the only one that was qualified to stand in for him. All of Abram’s unborn seed were included in the covenant because they were in Abram.
Remember, Jesus was to be the sacrifice. He, Himself would, sometime in the future, come as the “Lamb of God” to take away the sins of the world. The blood of animals could only cover sins. The blood of Jesus takes them away.
Seal of Circumcision
In Genesis 17, God instructs Abram to seal the covenant so that there would be a scar to be the testimony of the covenant. The scar would be a result of circumcision. Abram would wear in his flesh, the evidence that he had entered into a blood covenant with God through Christ. All of Abram’s descendants would bear this scar so that the reminder or testimony would be passed down from generation to generation.
Change of Names
According to the covenant ritual, God and Abram changed names. God Who is called YHWH in the Hebrew, took the “H” out of His name and put it into Abram’s name. Abram’s name was then changed to Abraham. Likewise, Sara’s name became Sarah. God took on Abraham’s name because from that point on, He was known as the God of Abraham. Abraham is then called the “friend of God.”
Abraham Has No Son
According to the promise, Abraham was to have a son. If this is going to happen, it will definitely have to be a supernatural birth. It will take a supernatural miracle of God. Abraham has never had a covenant partner like God with so many promises but the one thing he does know is that God cannot break the covenant. This gives him complete confidence and assurance in his Partner and his willingness and ability to bring the promise to pass.
God is capable of delivering the promise and Abraham and Sarah have a son.
Genesis 21:5 NKJV (5) Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
The Proving (Testing) of the Covenant
Abraham slept through the covenant – God did it all. Did Abraham really believe in this covenant or was it mental assent or a religious ritual that was instituted?
Remember, when the covenant is cut, each party completely surrenders himself in loving trust to his covenant partner. He must be willing to give his total life, his being, and his heart to the one he is in covenant with. The covenant is a total surrender of yourself to the one you are in covenant with.
The blood covenant is not a mere intellectual understanding between Abraham and God, or you and God.
The only way to totally prove Abraham’s heart in the covenant was to find out would he be willing to give up that which is most dear to him – his son.
This was a common practice among heathen nations.
Would Abraham do the same for his God?
God is asking, “Do you love me as much as heathens love their idols? Are you willing to surrender that which is most dear to you to prove that love Me, or was all of this just talk? Have you really given me your heart?”
Genesis 22:1-2 NKJV Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” (2) Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
You must understand Abraham’s position in this matter. He was already 100 years old. For a middle-easterner, to offer his only son’s life was a greater sacrifice than offering his own life. If God had asked for Abraham’s life, a worn-out old man of 100, it would not have been a true test of Abraham’s faithfulness to the covenant. But for Abraham to offer his only son and once again become child-less at such an old age – this is the ultimate sacrifice.
To the middle eastern mind, to die without a son was the most terrible thing in life. Your whole life would be considered a failure. So, in offering his son, Abraham would prove in the most supreme way that he loved God and would be faithful to the covenant.
Abraham Offers Isaac
Abraham arises early the next morning to begin his three-day journey toward a mountain at a city called Salem, later to be called Jerusalem. Abraham saddled a donkey and took Isaac and two servants with him. For the three-day journey to that mountaintop, in Abraham’s mind, Isaac is as good as dead. This journey is described in Genesis 22.
Genesis 22:5 NKJV And Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”
Mr. Booker, who wrote The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread, says this about the age of Isaac.
“Although I cannot prove it in the scripture, I believe that at this time Isaac is a young man in his thirties, (probably 33). The Jewish age of maturity is 30. Isaac did not marry until he was 40 and had no children until he was 60. So even at 33, he would have been considered a young man. So, Isaac had 3 years of manhood before he was to be offered as a sacrifice.”
Genesis 22:6-8 NLT So Abraham placed the wood for the burnt offering on Isaac’s shoulders, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them walked on together, (7) Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” (8) “God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
Hebrews 11:17-19 AMP (17) By faith Abraham, when he was put to the test [while the testing of his faith was still in progress], had already brought Isaac for an offering; he who had gladly received and welcomed [God’s] promises was ready to sacrifice his only son, [Gen. 22:1-10.] (18) Of whom it was said, Through Isaac shall your descendants be reckoned. [Gen. 21:12.] (19) For he reasoned that God was able to raise [him] up even from among the dead. Indeed in the sense that Isaac was figuratively dead [potentially sacrificed], he did [actually] receive him back from the dead.
What Did Abraham Believe?
- First, he believed in a supernatural birth. He believed that God would supernaturally bring Isaac into the earth.
- He believed God enough to offer his only son as a sacrifice; and he did.
- He believed for three days that his son was as good as dead. And he was.
- He believed God would provide a substitutionary sacrifice on that very mountain and He did.
- He believed that God would raise his son from the dead.
Because Abraham believed these things in his heart, God gave Abraham His own robe of righteousness. Because of Abraham’s faith, God was his shield, his protection. The righteousness of God was imputed or counted to Abraham’s behalf because he believed.
What Are We Asked to Believe?
- The supernatural birth of Jesus.
- That God provided His only Son as a sacrifice for us.
- That He died and was buried.
- That God raised Him from the dead on the third day and now He is Lord!