By Aaron Elder
Both the Hebrew and Greek words used in the Bible translated “glory” in the English carry a sense of weightiness, of substance. It isn’t the type of weight you’d lift at the gym, it’s the type of weight you feel when you’re halfway through your first day on the new job and the excitement wears off as you realize just how unfit you are for this role… unless someone intercedes for you to make you fit for the role you were called (hired) into.
Let’s travel to a powerful passage of scripture that we’re not very familiar with – mostly because I’m not sure we really understand what’s happening. That story takes place in Genesis 15 (go read it!). God is making a covenant with Abram regarding Abram’s offspring. He tells Abram to get five animals and Abram cuts them in two and arranges the halves opposite one another. Notice God didn’t tell him what to do with the animals – he already knew. Which tells us that this was a common practice in Abram’s culture. What was that practice?
Abram knew that God was laying out the ritual for a covenant. During that time, when people made a covenant, they would take animals and cut them in half, lay them opposite one another and the blood would pool. The individuals making the covenant would then splash in the blood – first one, then the other. What they were communicating is this: “If I fail to uphold my end of the covenant, you can cut me in two and splash in my blood just like we did with these animals.” Be honest, is that what you were thinking when you made your covenantal vows to your wife?
Back to Abram. Abram laid out the animals and then he stood there. Long enough that birds of prey came down and he had to chase them away – at least several hours I presume? And then Abram pass – wait a minute, Abram never passed through. Why? Abram knew if he set foot in the blood he was a dead man because he knew he couldn’t uphold his end of a covenant with God. So God passed through twice. Once for God. And once in place of Abram. If this sounds a lot like Jesus, it should, because that’s what Christ did for us.
Are you feeling the weight of a covenant? Does it begin to feel like more than just words said at a ceremony? We should feel its weight… but we should also feel its glory. And to borrow from C.S. Lewis, the weight of glory is this: “To please God, to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness, to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son – it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”