I have already described how I went every week to the large, high-security prison, at Gainesville, Texas for boys ages 12 to 19. I did this for 20+ years to present the Gospel Story to each new boy who came into the prison. Over the span of those years that amounted to thousands of youth (for at least 12 each week).
Most of these sincerely prayed to accept Christ into their lives. I admonished them to not “mess around” with God, but to really, really mean it. I followed up with very many of them later. On that occasion, I would tell them stories. One of the stories that seemed to mean very much to them was the story of what a “Covenant” is. I put that story in the Appendix of my soon to be published book, and below I am sending that story to you. The story is written in the exact words that I used in telling it to those boys.
The Covenant – (In the same words as told to the prison boys)
I wanted you to know what a “covenant” is.
The closest thing that we ever had to a covenant in this country and in Mexico was when the Indians would cut their wrists and put them together and let the blood run together as they were becoming Blood Brothers with each other. The reason that they did that was because they did not have police are FBI back in those days. They needed to have someone to watch their backside or their family’s backside.
It was the same way back in the Bible Times. They needed someone to watch their backside and their family’s backside. In those long ago times they did not call it “blood brothers” they called it going into covenant with someone. It was really for mutual defense and was most always in secret.
For nearly 3,000 years they had the same ceremony that they would go through when they went into covenant with someone. It was a strange affair. The first thing that they did was to build a fire.
Then they were to walk a figure-8 with their covenant partner between two walls of blood. And you say, “ what do you mean……two walls of blood”? Well, they would take a big animal, like a bull or an ox, and they would split them into two halves. Then they would hang up the two sides or prop them up to make two walls of blood. The Bible says that when Abraham did his covenant, he took birds and goats and cut them in half and put them on bushes to make two walls of blood. Blood was important back then.
Anyway, after that, they would sit down across the fire from each other and exchange their outside coats or their outside robes. That was a symbol of putting on the other person.
Then they would exchange belts with each other. Now why would they do that? They did not wear pants. They wore robes. They did not have any pants to hold up with a belt. Their belts held their weapons…..like their sword and their dagger and their head-knocker. The belt went around the outside of their robe so that they could get at their sword quickly. This exchange was a symbol that if someone attacked one of them, he was attacking both of them.
Finally, they did cut their wrists a little bit and let the blood run together.
And then they would do a strange thing. They would rub the black soot or the charcoal from the fire into the cut. Now why would they do that? They wanted to make a scar. That is how you make tattoo ink…..by grinding up charcoal and mixing it with water. See, you may be away from your “home boys” and someone is giving you trouble. You just cool roll that wrist over and they see the scar and realize that this guy is in covenant with someone. We are not facing one sword and two fists; we are facing two swords and four fists. He may be in covenant with some big, ugly dude…..with a big sword.
And another thing about the covenant that I want you to remember is that it lasted until the second generation, to the children. But the children would not be under the terms of the covenant unless they said “yes” to it or signed off on it. It would not be fair to put them in the covenant otherwise. Their fathers many have gone into the secret covenant with each other before they were even born.
And the most famous Covenant Story in the Bible was the story of David and Jonathan. They were in this strong, secret covenant with each other. Jonathan was King Saul’s oldest son and he was in line to be the king someday, which must have been confusing for David; because when he was a young boy, the High Priest had this secret ceremony and put this oil on his head and said that he was going to be the king someday.
Anyway, Jonathan and King Saul both got killed in this big battle. So, David started up to the Palace to become the new king. All the people already wanted him to be the king.
And in those days when someone from outside the king’s family came to be the new king, the custom was that he always killed all of the old king’s children and grandchildren. He did not want them to grow-up and take the kingdom over again someday. Of course, David would not do that, but if you did not know any better, you might assume that he would.
Well, before he died, Jonathan had this little boy named, Mephibosheth. And when the nurse that took care of that boy heard that David was on the way to the palace to become the new king, she was terrified. She was sure that he was going to kill this little boy. She grabbed that boy up and went racing through the palace, and she stumbled and the little boy went flying through the air, and he hit on these marble steps on his back. And the bible says that “he never walked any good” after that. It probably paralyzed his legs. But they took that boy way out to a town in the desert called, Lo-debar, and hid him out there with this family.
Well, David gets there and goes through all the ceremony of becoming the new king. He takes over the army. But he knew about this little boy. And he knew that the boy had the right to be in the covenant. He never mentions the covenant; that is a secret. But he keeps asking where the boy is. And nobody will tell him. They think that he wants to kill him. So, 17 years go by. That boy is over 18 years old now. And after all that time, finally, one of King Saul’s old advisors realizes that David is a good man, a godly man; he wouldn’t kill that boy. He tells him: “Sir, the last that I heard, that boy was still out there in the desert, in Lo-debar where they hid him.
Wow, David sends the royal chariots racing out there…….the sun glinting off their gold and silver…….they are throwing up a plumb of dust. That was like the Hummers in those days, but with horses. They circle around that town and come in there, and they found that boy. They put him on one of those chariots and race him back to town. They let him off right there in front of the palace. They say: “Boy, you walk straight up through there, the king is waiting on you right now.
Well he goes up there on his little crutches…….”clump, clump, clump”. And when he got there right in front of the king, he just threw those crutches out, just like that. Well, he just fell down right on his face. And King David says: “Stand that boy up”! Oh, gee, he thinks that his head is coming off right there…..whoosh, with a big sword.
No, King David gets up off of his throne (He never does that.) and goes down and talks to that boy quietly. He says: “Son, see that scar on my wrist? I was in covenant with your father. I am prepared to return all of your father’s and your grandfather’s lands to you; and all of their assets…….millions of dollars in gold.” All this little dude has to do is say “Yes” to the covenant………to get all of that…………..
Man, he is no dummy. Of course he says “Yes” to the covenant. And Kind David says: “Son, I want you to live right here in the Palace. And you have the right to eat at the king’s table any time that you want, the rest of your life.” Wow, you can hear him up there the next morning. He is having breakfast with all of the princes and princesses. He says: “Pass the jam, man!” And they say: “Why you sorry-ass little bugger, what right do you have to be here at the King’s Table anyway.” And he says: “Ask the King about that scar on his wrist.” He was in covenant with Mephibosheth’s father. And now he has signed-off on the covenant. That makes him like the King’s own son, with all of the rights and privileges.
So why do I go through all of that long story of what a covenant is with my prison friend here? Because, Jesus used the story of what a covenant was to explain to those dumb-head people back there why he had come down from Heaven to the earth. They knew what a covenant was, but they did not have a clue why he had come down to the earth. He explained to them that he had come down from Heaven to the earth to, in effect, complete a covenant between God and man. So, if you are part of that covenant, you become like part of God’s family and inherit eternal life, and all that goes with that.
So, my friend, that time when you and I were looking at that little yellow Four Spiritual Laws book and we were looking at those two circles in the back, and I looked you right in the eye and said: “Which one of those circles do you want to be?” That was just like Mephibosheth standing there in front on Kind David, and King David saying: “Son, do you want to be part of the covenant or not part of the covenant?”
And you were not any dummy either. You said “Yes” to the covenant; and we prayed together and you asked God, in effect, to put you in The Covenant.
So, I thought that story would have lots of meaning for you. And I want you to remember all your life that you are part of the Covenant. Don’t ever doubt it.
And God is not like some big judge up in the sky who whaps you up the side of the head whenever you do wrong. (Of course, I wish that he would.) But He expects us, out of gratitude for what He has done for us to try our best to keep his rules and to for sure be part of his church. So, I want you to get into a really good church when you get back to the free, and participate, and to be in its Sunday School, especially.
And I will be praying for you.
P.S. This is to all my many friends in China who read these stories ……………这是向所有读过这些故事的中国朋友问好。 请，请，如果您不介意，请给我发电子邮件并告诉我有关您的信息。 我的E-mail地址是………..email@example.com