Biblical Story Lesson Plans - The Blood Path Ceremony

In this lesson, I will teach on the Blood Path Ceremony described in Genesis 15. Understanding this passage is crucial for seeing God’s pattern of making one-way covenants, or promises, in which he keeps all the terms. The Blood Path Ceremony is a demonstration of God’s faithfulness, grace, and mercy. Not on that, but it points us toward the Lamb of God, Jesus, who willingly took on the punishment that we deserve for failing to love God with our entire being.


We first learn about Abraham, then called Abram, in Genesis chapter 12. God speaks to Abram and calls him to leave his home country, travel to a distant land, and to truth that God will lead him along the way. With this calling, God promises that he will bless Abram, provide a land for his descendants, and bring blessing to all people groups in the world through Abram. What a promise! So Abram obeys by leaving his home country with his wife Sarai.

A few chapters later, God speaks to Abram again, encouraging him to depend on him, but Abram responds with doubt. At this point, both he and his wife are well past the age of fertility. Abram asks God how he would be faithful to his promise in spite of their barrenness. Abram suggests that maybe one of his household workers would be the heir through which God’s promises would come to pass.

In love, God answers Abram’s doubt by elaborating his promise. He clarifies that Abram own son would be his heir. Then he tells him to look up and count the stars. Abram’s descendants would be just as numerous! After hearing this, Abram begins to believe God. Though his faith is small, it is still faith nonetheless. And upon seeing Abram’s sprout of faith, God declares him to be righteous, or perfect, in his sight.

Finally, Abram has one more question. How can he be sure that this promise from God would come true? Though he has trust in God, he wanted a reason to have more confidence in the promise and its details.\autocite[Genesis 15:8]{Ellicott}

So, God tells Abram to kill a set of animals and to lay out their carcasses, forming a path down the middle. This was the customary way of forming a covenant, or agreement, between two parties in Abram’s day. Typically, the parties would agree on a set of terms and lesser would walk between the animals, symbolizing that they would lose their lives if they failed to uphold their side of the covenant. What’s surprising about this scene is that Abram doesn’t walk between the animals, God does!

Abram had asked God for a sign that would strengthen his faith. Going above and beyond Abram’s request, God makes a one-way, permanent promise to Abram that he would be faithful. If God were to fail to meet his promises, he would cease to be God, if that were even possible. God would uphold all the terms.

Theological Significance

One of the most important lessons of this passage is that God is trustworthy. When he says that he will do something, it’s as good as done. Though God’s timing is different from ours, we can be confident that he is faithful to keep his promises.

Another important lesson from this passage is that God relates to us through grace. There are two ways that humanity can relate to God, either of the basis of our religious works, or on the basis of his free grace. Either we can try to earn God’s love, or we can receive it as an undeserved gift. Abraham is great example of how we ought to receive God’s grace through faith.

God had given Abraham amazing promises, none of which he deserved. Abraham was far from God when God called him. And even after his calling, there were instances where he failed to trust God. The friendship he had with God was totally undeserved. All Abraham did was receive these promises by believing that God would be faithful. He had faith. And on the basis of this faith, God forgave his sin and declared him to be perfect in his sight.

This passage connects with the rest of the Biblical storyline in that Jesus is the promised descendant of Eve and descendant of Abraham, through whom every people group in the world would receive blessing. God could forgive Abraham’s sin and declare him perfect because 2000 years later, Jesus lived the perfect life that Abraham should have lived and paid the penalty that his sin deserved. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, Abraham enjoyed friendship with God.

Like Abraham, we can enjoy unending friendship with God through his Son, Jesus. We cannot earn God’s love; we can only receive it as a gift. That is why God delights in our faith, no matter how strong or weak it is.

Made in the image of God, we have a responsibility to reflect God’s perfect character and goodness to the world. Like Abraham, and the rest of humanity, we have blown it. We have all fallen short of God’s standard and our sin has separated us from God so that, without a savior, we will spend eternity apart from him.

What we have read today is the Abrahamic Covenant, but in the New Testament, there is another covenant called the New Covenant. On the night that Jesus was betrayed and crucified, he ate supper with his disciples. After dinner, he broke bread and shared wine, symbolizing his body and blood that would be shed for their salvation. In the New Covenant, Jesus has made a one-way promise to us, that whoever believes in him will have their sins forgiven and will receive eternal life. That night, Jesus walked through the animals; he took on the penalty that we deserve for being unfaithful to God, so that we can enjoy God forever. As Matthew Henry puts it, “God’s covenants with man are made by sacrifice …, by Christ, the great sacrifice: no agreement without atonement."\autocite[Genesis 15:17-21]{MatthewHenry}

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