Monday, April 30, 2007

among us

In Genesis 15 God forms a covenant with Abram

God promises Abraham that he will have descendants as numerous as the stars of the heavens. He will also give Abram this land after 4 generations and enslavement, exile and living the nomad. Yet as for Abram, he will die and be buried with honor after a long life. Abraham asks God for a token of his promise. And God asks for a blood offering of three beasts and two birds. Abraham cuts the beasts in half and lays them out as birds of prey harass him for the carcasses.

The key part of the enactment of covenant in a treaty such as this is demonstrated by two parties in this manner. The animal is cut in half and the two parties swear to each other as they walk among the pieces of the broken, lifeless animal essentially saying, “if I break this covenant with you, let it be to me as is with this broken, lifeless animal.”

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. (v. 17)

The sun is gone and a darkness, like the darkness that fell at the crucifixion, covers the earth. A smoking firepot, like the pot of fire—the censer—that contained the holy fire of incense—worship—for the temple of God. It was a consuming fire, a purging fire, a fire that judged the 250 representative leaders of the uprising of the portion of the congregation that held them in the rebellion of Korah AND it was the fire pot of salvation that stood between the death of the plague of the “wrath of God” and the living who were saved from the wrath of the presence of God in that same rebellion (Numbers 16). The blazing torch or lamp of fire like the pillar of fire that lead the children of Israel out of the land of bondage at night. A light that represents presence and sighted guidance for the eye and drawing warmth for the body. You are a lamp unto my feet. We are the living body of Christ, not the dismembered body of the sacrificial animal.

In Revelation 1 from the revelation of Jesus Christ to John on the island of exile, Patmos, John is given a message for the 7 churches (the 7 lampstands).

And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands (like the menorah, like the blazing torch or the lamp of fire) v.12, And among the lampstands (among them like among the pieces of Abram’s sacrifice) was someone like a son of man (he is like us) dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest (he is our priest) v.13. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, (he is God) and his eyes were like blazing fire (like the torch or the lamp of fire). His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace (he is the burning fire pot), and his voice like the sound of rushing waters v. 14.

And when John saw him he fell down as though dead but is told to rise for he that is among the lampstands places his right hand on us and he is the living One who is us and is God and he holds the keys of death and Hades (v. 17, 18).


In word studies we learn to pick out key words from the texts and analyze their meaning as compared to other places in scripture where the term is used. This offers us a more robust understanding of the term and the scripture. I’ve been experimenting with doing the same sort of thing with movement and symbol and the expansive concepts attached to them. The covenant is a theme throughout scripture. The meaning of the movement…the darkness…the fire…the pieces in covenant ceremony is what attracts me here.

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