by Bill Burns
P. O. Box 1148
Kremmling, Colorado 80459
When the Lord, our God, was ready to initiate a covenant that would establish His rule in the earth, He looked for a man to make covenant with. The man that God found was Abram, whose name He changed to Abraham. In Genesis chapter 12 the Lord spoke to Abraham and told him to leave his father's house, and Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him. By faith, Abraham obeyed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness and, therefore, the covenant process continued.
The covenant with Abraham is the first of the theocratic covenants which pertain to God's rule (through covenant) over a chosen people. Because God's covenant with Abraham would become the model of the subsequent theocratic covenants (which required blood sacrifice), the Lord revealed His master plan by identifying the three covenants by which He would redeem and bless mankind. The covenant process with Abraham was progressive even as this present covenant of grace that we live in is (Hebrews 10:36). Progression is contingent upon man's obedience to the covenant conditions or laws.
When we follow the Genesis account of God's interaction with Abraham, we find that the Lord continued to speak of covenant promises, but Abraham did not receive the promises until later (as a result of his obedience).
God did not confirm the covenant with Abraham (by blood) until after Abraham saw Christ's Day (Calvary) and had revelation of the blood of atonement which the cross would yield. This truth was revealed by Jesus Himself in John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad."
It is my opinion that Abraham saw Christ's Day through Melchizedek who was a king and a priest of God Most High. Melchizedek was a type of Christ as seen in the communion elements as he brought bread and wine to Abraham. This revelation of the blood and body of Christ brought Abraham's covenant (with the blessings) into the New Covenant. This great mystery is revealed by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:14-29.
Melchizedek blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave him a tithe of all (Genesis 14:19-20). It was after Abraham broke bread and drank wine and gave of his sustenance that God ratified the covenant with the shedding of blood (sacrifices). Genesis 15:1 tells us after these things (meeting with Melchizedek) that he spoke to Abraham these marvelous words. Genesis 15:1, "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.'"
Abraham then asked a question of God: Genesis 15:8, "And he said, 'Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?'" We find the answer in Genesis 15:9-14, "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.' 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. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 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. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.'" In this passage of scripture God reveals three covenants through which He would establish divine rule over His people, those who would choose to live in covenant with Him according to covenant law.
Genesis 15:9 tells us that the heifer, goat and ram were to be three years of age. The number three points to three covenants in three ages or dispensations. The covenant with Abraham (faith), with Moses (the law) and the Christ (grace). The greatest of these would be the third (the ram), which is symbolic of Christ. Abraham saw this on the day of his final test of obedience. The story is recorded in Genesis 22. The fourth verse tells us that it was on the third day that he saw Calvary (in the land of Moriah), and it was there on Calvary that God provided a ram caught in the thicket by its horns.
The three-year-old heifer was symbolic of God's covenant with Abraham, a covenant based on obedience (Genesis 17:1-2) as a result of faith which would produce works of obedience. This covenant would be carried into the New Covenant of grace and was, therefore, foreshadowed by the law as the ashes of a red (blood) heifer. (Numbers 19:2-10). Thus, the second covenant, which would pass away pointed to the blood of everlasting atonement.
The second covenant (the law) is symbolized by the female goat. This foreshadows the removal of the goats from the sheep (sons of the Ram) in the final covenant. The goats will be removed from the covenant promise even as the law (second covenant) was removed and replaced by a better covenant. (Matthew 25:31-34 and Hebrews 7:22; 8:13; 9:13)
The ram represents the covenant that we are presently a part of, the New Covenant of grace. Grace came because of the shed blood of the Lamb of God. Let us look into heaven's glory and see this Lamb: Revelation 5:6, "And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth."
The seven horns represent the fullness of Christ's authority and the seven eyes the fullness of the Spirit which Jesus had without measure.
At this point we must examine Abraham's actions when he offered the five-fold sacrifice before God. Genesis 15, verse 10 tells us that the heifer, goat and ram were cut in two. The word "covenant" means to cut (an agreement). So again, we see that three covenants were cut (made), and God ratified the covenants by walking through the blood as a burning torch and smoking oven (Genesis 15:17). This represents God's promise of the coming of the third covenant of grace in which He would baptize His covenant people with the Holy Spirit and fire (torch), and His glory (smoking furnace) would rest upon them as the anointing.
Abraham must have known this because he did not cut the birds in two. The turtle dove and pigeon represent the progression of the third covenant as it moves into the third day. In the likeness of the Ram (Lamb) with the fullness of the Spirit, represented by the turtle dove (the Holy Spirit) and will become the carrier pigeon--carrying the good news of the gospel unto all the world, and then the end shall come.
It will also be in the third day of the third covenant that the five-fold ministry (Ephesians 4:11) will be raised up under the power of the covenant promise. Ephesians 4:12-13, "For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."
It may also be possible that these five symbols (heifer, goat, ram, turtle dove, and pigeon) represent the five-fold ministry. I will let you determine which symbol represents which ministry office.
I will, however, prophesy to you about the last two symbols. Evangelism is about to become prophetic. The one carrying the message is going to be accompanied by the Spirit, for these two were not divided. Hidden sins will be revealed, and many will come to Jesus. A new wave of healing power will come forth through the evangelist and will testify to the greatness of our God.
This was Abraham's revelation, and
now ours. So now I must warn you that we must do like Abraham did.
Genesis 15:11, "And when the vultures came down on the
carcasses, Abram drove them away." Satan always comes to
steal revelation because revelation unlocks the mysteries of God
and, therefore, releases the great power of God. We now find
ourselves at the end of the age when great darkness covers the
land. Genesis 15:12, "Now when the sun was going down, a
deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness
fell upon him." We find ourselves in the midnight hour when
darkness is upon the people. Therefore, our glorious God will
become a flaming torch and a smoking oven of His glory--the cloud
by day and the fire by night--and He shall lead His covenant sons
of glory into the final victory! Even so, come Lord Jesus! Amen.