Have you ever heard of “the walk of death?”
I’m in the middle of a study on “Covenant,” and for the past two weeks we’ve looked at the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 15. This was before God changed his name from Abram to Abraham. As a sign of His promise to give Abram an heir from his own body that would be a blessing to the whole earth and that He would give the promised land to Abram’s descendants, God asked him to do something we find very strange.
Genesis 15:8-11 – So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.
After this was done, Abram fell into a deep sleep as the sun was going down. The Bible says “terror and great darkness” fell upon him, which I believe was the presence of Almighty God. God spoke to him while he slept, revealing that his people would be enslaved for four hundred years, but after that, they would return and possess the land God promised.
Then Abram saw something very unusual.
Genesis 15:17-18 – It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.”
This was a covenant ceremony. The smoking oven and flaming torch were representatives of God’s presence. He alone walked the “walk of death” between the torn and bloody halves of the animals, indicating that He alone would be the covenant keeper. Abram would receive the benefits of the covenant by grace, through faith.
This is a picture of what Jesus did for us when He took the walk of death to the cross. His body was torn and bloodied in our place – fulfilling the terms of the eternal covenant of salvation for humanity which God made with His Son before time as we know it began.
There’s also a “walk of death” that we must take – not FOR salvation, but FROM salvation, and BECAUSE OF salvation.
Mark 8:34 – And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
The word “deny” in this context means to forget one’s self and lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests. It is to abjure, to deny utterly. The literal meaning of “take up” is “to take upon oneself and carry what has been raised, to bear.”
Our walk of death is a daily practice of putting off the old nature, which was crucified in Christ, and put on the new nature we have gained by our covenant relationship with Jesus – taking on His nature as He lives in us.
Galatians 2:20 – I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me.
This topic deserves a much longer post, and perhaps I’ll write one in the future. It’s not some vague ideology, but the very practical application of what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. It is a laying down of everything we want in our human flesh so that the image of Christ can be formed in us.
I’ll leave you with some wisdom from Peter, a man who faced his human nature in his own strength, and failed miserably, but was transformed into a mighty warrior for God’s kingdom when he surrendered to the life-changing power of the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus promised.
2 Peter 1:1-11 – Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 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. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
We really have no excuse. As followers of Jesus, our daily life is a “walk of death” until we take that last step into our eternal life, where we will be revealed as fully formed, glorified image-bearers of the One who died for us.
What needs to be put to death in your life today?
2 Corinthians 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.