I would summarize this section of Galatians 3 as His promises to us. According to Webster, a promise ‘as a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act.’ In Exodus 19:5-6, God gives us this promise: ‘Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation….’ God promises us that if we obey Him and keep His covenant, then we will be His. If we trust in Him, then we must trust in this promise on becoming His. Since all His word is true, we must reconcile all His word to this promise.
The promise of being His, the promise of eternal life. Why did God tie His promises to His covenants? 2 Peter 1:4, tells us: “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” God promises us life forevermore (2 Pet. 1:11) when we walk inside of His commandments standing against the corruption of our sinful flesh, making us partakers of His divine nature. Outside of His covenants exists only death and despair. In Matthew 7:14 we see this confirmation in His description of the narrow road: “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Galatians 3:15: “Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it.”
The NASB calls it ratified, the NIV duly established, and the NLT an irrevocable agreement. The word ratified according to the dictionary means: ‘sign or give formal consent to (a treaty, contract, or agreement), making it officially valid.’ God did not want the world to end again in punishment, so He gave us a clear pathway to life. So we know His promises will stand forever and He will never change His mind, He put in place two irrevocable agreements. Agreements we cannot change, adjust, set aside, or add to. We can only live inside of these agreements or outside of them. Inside of these agreements is our promises of being His and of life forevermore.
Three Blood Ratified Covenants
There are only three blood ratified or duly established Covenants in the whole Bible so we best take notice. First, the Abrahamic Covenant the covenant for those who have faith and trust in Him (Genesis 15). Second, the Exodus 20 Covenant, (what I call our Salvation Covenant) our covenant of instructions (Ex. 24:1-12, Ex. 34:27-28, Deut. 4:13+23, Deut. 5). Instructions for His faithful. Third, Jesus’ life and blood sacrifice on the cross, which covers the sins we commit in ignorance (Heb. 9:7+11-12) and our past violations of His Salvation Covenant and His law we committed through our faithlessness or our lack of understanding in His word (Rom. 3:25). We receive our forgiveness when our faithfulness and understanding increases to where we are turned back to His covenant instructions (Acts 3:19).
We enter the Abrahamic Covenant when we have a faith like Abraham. This is a faith that causes us to trust Him and creates in us a desire to know His word and to carry out His instructions (Gen. 26:3-5). The Salvation Covenant is His words of instructions designed to transform us when we have a faith like Abraham (Ex. 19:5). We enter this Salvation Covenant only through the Abrahamic Covenant, through a faith which causes us to want to obey Him. The two covenants show us how we are to receive salvation; faithfulness with leads to lawfulness. It is only Jesus’ who perfectly fulfilled these covenants thereby making Him the sole possessor of His promises.
As the sole possessor of His promises and through His sacrifice, Jesus exchanged the penalties due us for the promises given to Him. Thus, He fulfilled our obligations under the Salvation Covenant (Rom. 8:3-8), regarding our past sins and our sins committed in ignorance. His sacrifice covered our obligation of walking out the Salvation Covenant until the moment our faith in Him turned us back to His covenant thereby making us His people. We first enter the Abrahamic Covenant through our faith in God and in our savior Jesus. A faith which causes us to want to obey and follow both because we know His word is true. Then we enter the Salvation Covenant’s set of instructions following the example Jesus gave us, recognizing Him as our new high priest. It is then the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice covers our past sins and our sins committed in ignorance. Salvation does not come through one covenant but only through all three (Rev. 14:12, Rev. 12:17).
Why a Blood Ratified Covenant? Blood Ratified means that a person gives formal consent to an agreement under penalty of their blood being shed. We enter God’s Blood Ratified Agreements as our pathway to eternal life escaping the death due us. If we do not keep His covenants or we cannot enter them (because of a lack of faith), the penalty for us is the same, death (Jer. 11:3). However, if we enter them and walk in them showing a genuine faith in Him and His word, then our reward is life (Deut. 4:40, Deut. 5, Deut. 6:24, Ez. 18:21).
In Jeremiah we see the death penalty carried out for breaking the Blood Ratified Covenant. We can read this for ourselves in Jeremiah 34:18-21: “I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts—the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf—I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life. And their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.” That death penalty sounds very similar to the death penalty carried out in Rev. 19:21. The penalty of death for us breaking His Blood Ratified Covenant.
A Blood Ratified Covenant Cannot Be Set Aside
We cannot set aside a Blood Ratified Covenant, God wrote it in stone, if you will. This verse debunks the idea we can set aside His Duly Established Covenants. His Covenant Commandments cannot be the Old Covenant. His blood covenants are irrevocable, no one has the authority to set them aside. Yes, Jesus came to set aside an Old Covenant and to bring in a New Covenant, but that Old Covenant could not have been a Blood Ratified Covenant. The Old Covenant could only have been a non-blood ratified covenant. Neither could the law be the Old Covenant because God never said He would set aside the law. Amos 3:7, tells us: “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.”
Confirming the Covenant
We see Jesus confirming the covenant over and over throughout the Gospels. We can see the Father confirmed the covenant to Jesus (Psalms 89:28, Psalms 89:30-37). In Matthew 5,6, and 7 Jesus confirms the Salvation Covenant to those who will listen. He went up on the mountain in Matthew 5 He came down the mountain at the end of Matthew 7, similar to God going up on Mount Sinai in Exodus 20. In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus shows us how we should live out His covenant (not in a new way) but through the eyes of a circumcised heart. A heart full of faith, trust, and love for His Father, His word, and His instructions. He carried out His commandments as a servant in full understanding of His perfect will. Jesus begins His witness of the covenant by telling us in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Fulfill He did and He continues to do.
No One Adds Conditions to a Covenant
No one can add conditions to a Blood Ratified Covenant. We should, therefore, understand no one can subtract conditions from it either. Jesus Himself confirms this in Matthew 5:18: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” God will only have fulfilled all of His word when heaven and earth pass away and He gives us a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-2). Until then we hold tight to His Blood Ratified Covenants, His laws and His statutes.
16: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.”
God gave His promises to His seed. Only Jesus carried out the terms of His covenants perfectly. Therefore, He is the one with the promises. He holds the promise of eternal life inside of Him. We can only receive the promise of eternal life through Him. By walking as He walked (1 John 2:5-6), we become joint heirs with Him (Rom. 8:17). We become joint heirs with Him only because Jesus in His mercy gives us access to the promises that belong to Him. Jesus did not shed His blood for us to live in the practice of sin. He shed His blood to give us a fresh start so we can walk as He walked, in the perceived perfect will of the Salvation Covenant.
He carried the penalty of our debts by covering our past lawlessness that we repent for and our sins committed in ignorance (i.e. our shortcomings). He did not lay down His life for willful sin that we do not repent or turn from (1 John 3:8, Heb.10:26-32). For the willful practice of sin, we will pay our own debts (Rom. 2:5-6). It is not His intention to share His inheritance with people who hate His Father’s commandments or do not trust His Father’s word or His instructions. Exodus 20:5-6, tells us: “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Our Promises Are in Him
The promises are in Jesus, so we must be in Him by walking like Him (John 15:4-6). As our savior and chief priest; it is Him we must listen to (Acts 3:23, 1 John 5:10-12), follow (John 10:27), and abide in (John 6:56). We know it is Jesus who perfectly walked out the commandments of His Father (John 14:31). It is Jesus who is directing us back to His Father (John 14:6). It is our Father who will be our judge after the Millennial reign (1 Cor. 15:28, Rev. 21:3). We are to walk in the word and the instructions of God with a circumcised heart with the Holy Spirit guiding us. We are told in 1 John 2:3-6: “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”
17: “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.”
The Law does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified. Paul distinguishes between the Blood Ratified Covenants and the law administered by the Levitical Priesthood. God gave the people the covenants personally, first to Abraham, then to the people at Mount Sinai (Deut. 4:13, Ex. 20). The law came from God through Moses (Deut. 4:14), administered by the Levitical Priesthood. Both are valid, but a covenant ratified by blood and written in stone carries with it the power of life or death. The Blood Ratified Covenants are our salvation and His laws are to help us keep the covenants. Paul directs us back to our entry point, the Abrahamic Covenant. Why? Everything hinges on our faith; our salvation, our obedience, the desire to seek His truth, the receiving of the Holy Spirit, everything. It is not a question of either faith or His law. The question is do we have enough faith to keep His law on our own with the Holy Spirit guiding us (Rom. 3:31).
18: “For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.”
In my last blog, I said, many people have a common misunderstanding about the law. Somehow the law was how we were saved before Jesus’ sacrifice, and now we are saved by grace. However, if we understand the significance of the Blood Ratified Covenants, we can see the law itself was never our means to salvation. The promise of salvation for us has always come through His Duly Established Covenants, faith unto obedience. God established this as true with Abraham, and it is true today. What God establishes as truth will always be true. We might ask ourselves; If Jesus’ sacrifice fulfilled the obligations of the covenant for us, why do we still have to keep the covenant to receive our salvation?
Again we go back to the fact we cannot set aside a Blood Ratified Covenant. This means we must still adhere to it and walk in it. Jesus’ sacrifice only covers our past failures or sins, that we repent for, and those sins committed in actual ignorance. Jesus’ sacrifice does not cover willful violations of His Duly Established Covenants after we have turned to Him in true faith. If we claim to be His by faith and then refuse to obey Him, it is either our faith is not strong enough to get us into the Abrahamic Covenant or our understanding is skewed. Let us keep in mind God designed His covenants to transform us so we would not have to suffer the death the entire world will receive for walking in their sinful flesh.
Destroying the Works of the Devil
We are told in 1 John 3:8: “… the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus destroys the works of the devil by getting His people to follow His ways by faith and trust in Him, thus destroying the works of the devil in us. If God had set aside His ways, then we would only have our flesh to walk in, thus increasing the works of the devil. God would not and could not set aside His own instructions and then claim to be destroying the ways of the devil. The Blood Ratified Agreements could not be set-aside and Jesus did not change the laws that were given to us to help us carry out His covenant inside of His perfect will. He only changed the administration of the law, and perhaps our understanding of His law, (Heb. 7) becoming our new high priest.
Every person holding the word of God in their hands has His laws in their hands, and since most countries base their laws on His laws, we are also carrying them in our minds and hearts. Jesus set aside is the Levitical Priesthood so we could be His kingdom of priests under Him as high priest. It is this covenant with the Levitical Priesthood (Mal. 2), which is the Old Covenant, Jesus came to replace. We are told this many many times in His word that God would set the priesthood aside for a time and by Jesus Himself in the gospels. We can see Jesus as our new high priest directing us into His ways leading us by our faith, making each of us into His kingdom of priests. Our New Covenant with Jesus as our high priest does set aside the law. Our New Covenant with Jesus provides for us a living example of keeping His covenant instructions, which we are to follow, by faith.
Always By Faith
The Abrahamic Covenant is the basis of everything. By faith we desire to be in His word, to learn His word, and to know His word. It is by our faith we trust His ways and walk in His ways, not because we are told to by man but because our faith leads us into His ways. Through our faith we desire to show Him we love Him, by keeping His ways and His purposes in the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds. It is our faith that transforms us from people living in the ways of our own sinful flesh destined for destruction to people living in His ways destined for life. By this we destroy the works of the devil (Rev. 12:11).
We can see that neither the Salvation Covenants nor the laws of God could be set-aside, added to, or subtracted from. They are what God tells us they are, and they do what God tells us they do. The Blood Ratified Covenants not the law is our means of salvation. However, His laws and ordinances help us keep His Salvation Covenant in the proper understanding of His perfect will. As joint heirs with Jesus in death, we are to look like Jesus in life. It is Jesus’ sacrifice and our walk coupled together with our Father’s instructions under the tutelage of Jesus that make us His people.
Until next time, Shabbat Shalom.