The Blood Of Christ’s Covenant
“As for you, also, by the blood of your Covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Zechariah 9:11.[Two other Sermons by Mr. Spurgeon upon this same subject are #277, Volume 5–THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT and #1186, Volume 20–THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT–Read/download both sermons, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.] [Two other Sermons by Mr. Spurgeon upon Verses 11 and 12 are #2839, Volume49–“PRISONERS OF HOPE” and #2883, Volume 50–PRISONERS DELIVERED–Read/download both sermons, free of charge, at http://www.spurgeongems.org.]
THE LORD is here speaking to His ancient people, Israel. That nation had always been preserved, although other nations had been destroyed–and the reason was that God had entered into a Covenant with Abraham on their behalf. Circumcision was the sign and seal of the Covenant, so that God could truly speak of “the blood of your Covenant.” The Jews have never ceased to be a nation, though they have been scattered, peeled and delivered over into the hand of their adversaries because of their sins. They may enjoy various rights and privileges in the different countries where they sojourn for a while, but they cannot be absorbed into the nationalities by which they are surrounded. They must always be a separate and distinct people–but the day shall yet come when the branches of the olive tree, which have been so long cut off, shall be grafted in again. Then shall they, as a nation, again behold the Messiah, the true and only King of the Jews–and their fullness shall be the fullness of the Gentiles, also!
All Believers have some share in that Covenant made with Abraham, for he is the father of the faithful. We who believe in Jesus are of the seed of Abraham, not according to the flesh, but according to the promise, and we are pressed by a Covenant which like that made with Abraham, is signed and sealed with blood even “the blood of the Everlasting Covenant.” We, too, are saved and kept as a separate and distinct people, not because of any natural goodness in us, or because of our superiority over others, but solely and entirely because the Lord has made an Eternal Covenant concerning us, which is “ordered in all things and sure,” because Jesus Christ is, Himself, the Surety on our behalf that its guarantees and pledges shall all be carried into effect.
- So, applying our text to the Covenant people of God in all ages, we have first to consider THEIR NATURAL AND YET PRIVILEGED CONDITION. By nature they are like prisoners in a pit wherein is no water, but by Grace they are in Covenant relationship to God!
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, when we were in our natural state, we were like prisoners. A prisoner is one who haslost his liberty–and that was our condition before Jesus met with us and set us free. We were “carnal, sold under sin,” in bondage to our own lusts and held captive by the devil at his will. No doubt we boasted of our free will, but our will, itself, was enslaved with all the rest of our powers. There is no greater mockery than to call a sinner a free man. Show me a convict toiling in the chain gang and call him a free man if you will! Point out to me the galley slave chained to the oar and smarting under the taskmaster’s lash whenever he pauses to draw a breath–and call him a free man if you will–butnever call a sinner a free man, even in his will, as long as he is the slave of his own corruptions! In our natural state wewore chains, not upon our limbs, but upon our hearts–fetters that bound us and kept us from God, from rest, from peace, from holiness–from anything like freedom of heart and conscience and will! The iron entered into our soul and there is no other slavery as terrible as that. As there is no freedom like the freedom of the spirit, so is there no slavery that is at all comparable to the bondage of the heart!
A prisoner is also one who feels that he cannot escape from his prison–and that is how we felt. We began to have longings after better things. A heavenly Visitor came to us and dropped a new and strange thought into our minds–and we began to pant after something higher and nobler than this poor world could give us–but we could not reach it, for we were prisoners. We could not escape from the cruel grip of our captor and it became quite clear to us that we could never be delivered from the house of bondage by any power of our own. Do you not remember, my Brothers and Sisters, when you used to sorrowfully say–
“I would but cannot pray
I would but can’t repent”–
and when you could use Paul’s words as your own and sadly cry, “To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not?” You were still a prisoner, yet you were beginning to be one of the “prisoners of hope.”
That is a strange kind of prison that is mentioned in the text–“the pit wherein is no water.” In the East, pits were frequently used as prisons. When a tyrant king wished to keep anyone in safe custody and also in ignominy and shame, and sorrow, he would have him cast into one of these waterless pits where the poor prisoner would be beyond human sight or hearing–and with no possible hope of deliverance from his doleful dungeon. Such was our sad state by nature, and well do we remember our first efforts to obtain release! We were in dense darkness and we felt all round the walls of our prison to try to find a door, or window, or ladder by which we might escape, but all in vain. We tried to look up, but we seemed to have been thrust, like Paul and Silas, into some inner prison where no ray of light could penetrate. The fact that there was “no water” in our prison-pit made our agonies all the more terrible! Those of you who have passed through that state of deep conviction of sin know that in such circumstances there is no comfort for the present and no hope for the future–as to the past, there is nothing to look back upon but sin–and as to the future, there is nothing “but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation.” To a sinner in that condition, there seems nothing within but a heart as hard as stone, nothing beneath but a gapping Hell and nothing around but thick darkness. How dreary and dreadful is the state of man by nature–and how painfully conscious he is of his true condition when the Holy Spirit reveals it to him! Then is he, indeed, like a prisoner in a “pit wherein is no water.”
This is the actual state, by nature, of all the elect–they are prisoners, just as other men are–and they are in as dark and dismal a pit and they have as little comfort in it as the very worst of mankind have. Yet, by Divine Grace, they are inan altogether different condition from that of others, for they are in Covenant with God though they are not yet aware of that blessed and comforting Truth! God’s election of His people took place long before their creation. Those whom He has chosen unto eternal life were given to Christ in the Covenant of Grace, in that eternity of which we can form so slight a conception. And when they were born into this world, though they were born in sin and grew up to be the children of disobedience–enemies to God by wicked works–yet the Covenant made with Christ on their behalf remained unbroken all the while!
“Well,” says someone, “that is strange.” Yes, it is strange, but it is true. We must never forget that we were under a Covenant of Works long before we were born. Adam stood as our federal head and representative in that Covenant. You, my Sister, never put out your hand to pluck the forbidden fruit–and you and I, my Brother, never partook of it, yet we all have to share the consequences of Adam’s transgression because he was our Covenant head. Do you object to that and say that it was unjust to visit upon us the sin of another? If you do, then you must equally object to the Gospel plan of salvation by the righteousness and death of Another, even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, the one great federal Head and Representative of all who believe in Him! He took the place of the countless myriads of His elect who had been given to Him by His Father, and died on Calvary’s Cross in their place, although great numbers of them had not then been born and, consequently, could not have any virtue or merit of their own! Through His substitutionary Sacrifice, they were even then “accepted in the Beloved” and, in the fullness of time, they become Believers in Him and so enter consciously into the enjoyment of the Covenant privileges which had been conferred upon them from eternity! The Covenant is not made with them when they believe in Jesus–it was made on their behalf by the Father and the Son in the eternal council chamber long before the daystar knew its place or planets ran their round!
See, then, the twofold condition of the chosen–they are like prisoners in a pit wherein is no water, yet is there an eternal Covenant concerning them which guarantees that they shall be brought out of the bondage of their sins and shall be set at liberty forever! Does someone here say, “I trust that such a blessed Covenant as that has been made on my behalf”? Dear Brother or Sister, if you have a sincere longing to be a sharer in the blessings of the Covenant of Grace, methinks that is a proof that you have an interest in it already! And if you will, at this moment, put your soul’s trust in that precious blood that is their sign and seal of the Covenant, then you may rest assured that Grace has inscribed your name from all eternity in God’s eternal book!
II. Now let us turn to the second part of our subject which is THE MEANS OF THE DELIVERANCE OF THESE COVENANTED ONES–AND THE EVIDENCES OF THEIR DELIVERANCE.
The text says, “ By the blood of your Covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.” Ithink this means, first, that the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the essential matter of the Covenant. In order to makethe conditions of the Eternal Covenant effective for His people, it was necessary that Christ should be obedient unto death and that His blood should be shed for many for the remission of their sins. When, by faith, I look upon the blood of Jesus–whether I see it streaming down in the bloody sweat of Gethsemane or flowing in the crimson rivulets at Gabbatha or in the sacred streams of Golgotha, I see in that precious blood of Christ the essential matter of the Covenant, and I sing, with sadness on His account, but with rejoicing on my own–
“Oh, how sweet to view the flowing
Of His sin-atoning blood!
By Divine assurance knowing
He has made my peace with God!”
Yes, O blessed Jesus, You have fulfilled on our behalf Your part of the Eternal Covenant! You have met all the demands of Infinite Justice even to the uttermost farthing! Your Father justly requires perfect obedience to His holy Law and You have rendered it in Your pure and spotless life. The offended Majesty of that Law demands adequate punishment for man’s multiplied violations of its just requirements–and Your one Infinite Sacrifice has fully paid the penalty, so that Divine Justice is completely satisfied and the dishonored Law is magnified and glorified. Thus it is that God can “be just and the Justifier of him which believes in Jesus,” for in the Person, life and death of Christ, their Covenant Head and Representative, all claims upon Believers have been discharged forever!
Further, the blood of Jesus is also the Seal of the Covenant. Speaking after the manner of men, until the blood ofJesus had been shed, the Covenant was not signed, sealed and ratified. It was like a will that could only become valid by the death of the testator. It is true that there was such perfect unity of heart between the Father and the Son, and such mutual foreknowledge that the Covenant would be ratified in due time–that multitudes of the chosen ones were welcomed to Heaven in anticipation of the redemption which would actually be accomplished by Christ upon the Cross. But when Jesus took upon Himself the likeness of men and in our human nature suffered and died upon the accursed tree, He did, as it were, write His name in crimson characters upon the Eternal Covenant and thus sealed it with His blood. It is because the blood of Jesus is the Seal of this Covenant that it has such power to bless us and is the means of lifting us up out of the prison-pit wherein is no water. Let me put it thus to some of you who have long been under conviction of sin. You have been trying in your poor way to keep the Law of God, but you have utterly failed to do so. You know that there are many precious promises in God’s Word, but you get no comfort from them. Why is that? You feel that you are like a prisoner in a pit–and that you are shut away from the Presence of the thrice-holy God–and that His awful attribute of Justice bars your way like the flaming sword at the gate of Paradise, so that you cannot come near to Him. Then you listen to the Gospel, of which the sum and substance is this–that Jesus Christ has fully atoned for the sins of all His people, that He has suffered everything that they deserved to suffer and that God has accepted His substitutionary Sacrifice as a sufficient Atonement for all who believe in Him. As soon as you trust Him, you are lifted up out of the prison-pit, your feet are set upon a rock and a mug of grateful praise is put into your mouth! You are not afraid of the sword of Divine Justice now–no, you go and stand beneath the flashing blade and trust to it to defend you against all your adversaries! You rightly say, “As Jesus suffered in my place, Justice demands that I should go free! He has discharged all my liabilities. The Law has no longer any terror to me.” So you see, Beloved, how the blood of Christ’s Covenant brings the poor, trembling, despairing soul up out of that dread prison “wherein is no water.”
Now I want, dear Friends, to ask you all to answer honestly one or two questions that I am about to put to you. The first is–Do you know what it means to be delivered from that pit by the blood of Christ’s Covenant ? Perhaps I ought first of all to ask–Do you know what it means to be a prisoner in that pit wherein is no water? Have you ever moaned and groaned under the weight of your sin? Have you ever smarted under the lash of that ten-thonged whip of the Law? Has your conscience, itself, been sufficiently awakened as to condemn you? Have you ever been brought to such a state of self-despair that you could see nothing but death and damnation written upon everything that pertains to you? Was your comeliness withered, your strength dried up and your pride humbled so that you had to sit in sackcloth and ashes and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” as the leper of old had to warn others to keep away from him? If not, I fear that you have never proved the power of the blood of the Covenant, for he who has never been humbled has never been exalted!
I feel sure that some of us here can answer, “Oh, yes! We remember well when we were humbled so that we felt ourselves to be less than nothing and vanity–and we realized that, by nature, we were totally ruined and undone–and blessed be God, we also recollect the time when a Power infinitely above our own, drew us up out of the pit in which we were imprisoned.” But, my dear Hearers, have you also been conscious of the working of this Almighty Power? Have you felt a mysterious influence, which you could not comprehend, drawing you out of your natural state and giving you new thoughts, new desires, new hopes, new joy and also new pains? Certainly you have never been delivered from this waterless prison by any power less than the Divine, so if God’s hand has not yet been stretched out on your behalf, you are still in the pit! Or, as Peter said to Simon the sorcerer, you are still “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.” Is there anyone here who is in that pit, yet who earnestly longs to escape from it? Is your soul yearning to be delivered, not only from the consequences of sin, but from the sin, itself? Are you panting after reconciliation with God and acceptance in the Beloved? Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Then you are already among those whom the Savior calls blessed and to whom He has given that gracious promise, “they shall be filled.” Such longings as these grow not in Nature’s soul–they are the product of Divine Grace. Therefore, be very thankful for them, for they are at least hopeful indications of the Holy Spirit’s working within you! And you may rest assured that where He has begun a good work, He will continue it until He brings it to perfection. He will never lift you part of the way out of the pit and then let you fall back again into the prison–He will bring you right out, even as the children of Israel were brought out of Egypt with a high hand and a stretched-out arm!
If you have been delivered, I feel sure that you will prize your deliverance. I would give little for what you call your grace if you would not willingly part with all else that you have rather that part with that! A slave who has been set free will value his liberty beyond all price. The man who can talk lightly of being free, never knew what bondage meant. I fear that none of us think highly enough of what the Lord has done for us. We get to worrying ourselves because He has not done more for us, because we are not yet perfect–how much better it would be if we would praise and bless Him for all that He has done for us! Remember that you are a free man even though some links of your chain are still clinging to you. Thank God that the chain is broken and that the last links shall soon be snapped–and you shall be perfectly delivered from the badge of bondage! Therefore be of good courage, prize your deliverance and praise Him who has done such great things for you!
Surely, too, if you have been drawn out of this pit wherein is no water, you will love your Deliverer and you will desire above everything else to live to Him and to labor for Him all your life!
I hope you can truthfully say to your Lord–
“Have You a lamb in all Your flock
I would disdain to feed?
Have You a foe, before whose face
I fear Your cause to plead?
You know I love You, dearest Lord,
But oh, I love to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love You more.”
I trust that you have dedicated yourself wholly to your Lord–perhaps not in writing, yet just as truly as if you had set your signature to such a covenant as some have felt moved to leave upon record. If you have resolved thus in your heart, you can say with me at the moment, “Lord Jesus, I am Yours–body, soul and spirit–wholly Yours, only Yours, always Yours. You have bought me for Yourself, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, but with Your own most precious blood and, therefore, You shall have me with all my powers, all my possessions, all my possibilities in life and in death, in time and in eternity! I give all up to You absolutely without reserve, that You may do with me whatever You please and whatever will bring most Glory to Your holy name. I fear there is much dross still remaining in me–in all the gold You have given me in Your wondrous Grace. If it seems good in Your sight, put me into the hottest furnace, but O Lord, do take away all the dross and then fashion me into a vessel meet for Your own use!” The man who can truthfully talk thus to the Lord Jesus is in the Covenant! And by the blood of the Covenant he has been brought forth out of the prison wherein is no water!
Perhaps you are afraid to say as much as this, lest it should seem to be presumption on your part. Well then, possibly you can say, “I dare not talk as some do about their attainments in spiritual things, but I do trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. My sole reliance is upon His perfect righteousness and His one great Sacrifice for all.” Then, my Brother or my Sister, you are among those who have built upon the Rock and you shall be preserved in the greatest storm that can ever beat upon you! You are no longer a prisoner in the pit wherein is no water! Faith in Jesus is not the heritage of the slaves of sin and Satan–it is the portion of those who are free men and free women in Christ Jesus–and if He has made you free, you are free, indeed, and you can never be enslaved again! You are at liberty to walk wherever you will on all the holy land which is the purchase possession of the children of the King! Every promise that He has given to His chosen people is a promise to you, so take full advantage of all your privileges as a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ! You are now His and you shall be His when this world is on fire and when all things that are of time and sense shall perish in the last great conflagration! You shall be His amid the pomp and terrors of that tremendous day and you shall be His amidst the splendor and Glory of eternity!
If any here are still prisoners in the pit wherein is no water, may the Lord even now bring them forth by the blood of His Covenant, that they may share with all the chosen ones, all the blessings of that Covenant now and to all eternity! And too Him shall be the praise and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.