To help you understand the covenant, and make the challenge interesting, I am including a chapter from Level 4 in my book The Egyptian, the Slave, and the Sanctuary. It is written as an odyssey, an on-foot approach to God’s great system of truth.  Amun is the Egyptian and his mentor, a Hebrew shepherd, is Udi (or Ehud). Udi is the pet name Amun gave him when they used to play together 23 years before the exodus. How they got together and why he was out there in the wilderness you can find out by asking for the story. The book uses lots of footnotes, as you will notice in this article. This is so the reader can read the book as a story, but go back later and read it as a study (following up on the footnotes supporting the facts in the story). The first two levels are available upon request.

Chapter 17

We have approached the sanctuary from the outside, several miles away, as a person would for the first time. And now are just feet from its very center, where God, at times, meets with His people. His room, The Most Holy Place, is especially designed, not for His sake but ours, where He makes known what is expected of us and what we can expect from Him. To stand in the presence of a Holy God who orders and empowers the universe cannot be taken lightly.

We have noticed a radical change in the self-centered Egyptian as he drew closer and closer—a change that will make a difference in his lifestyle, his dreams, and even his conversations, for Amun has seen and experienced the love of God for him. And now, as he progresses, he will be advancing to the highest level of Christian maturity a sinner could attain…by God’s grace – a likeness to his Creator. And what that level entails is what we shall be learning ourselves as we listen in on these childhood buddies.

Ehud is beginning to prepare his friend for what the Most Holy is all about. He expects his friend doesn’t have a clue…but then Amun has surprised him many times already. The shepherd closes his eyes for a moment and whispers a prayer for guidance. When he opens them, he notices Amun’s eyes are also closed, but his lips aren’t moving. Assuming, by the look on Amun’s face, that he is deep in thought, he gets out his snake stick and knife again while he waits on his friend.

After some time, the new convert opens his eyes. They show great concern. The shepherd begins the conversation, You don’t seem at peace, Amun. And you are shaking. What’s going on?

I’m afraid, Udi.


Yes. The more I am learning about God’s goodness and holiness, the more I am seeing my utter sinfulness. How can He use somebody as weak as I am to bring honor to His name?

That’s exactly what should be happening, the closer you get to Him.

I don’t understand. His shaking eased a little bit.

This whole trip has never been about how good we can perform, has it?

Well, ummm, no. It has only been about our willingness to cooperate with what God does.

And has He ever asked more than you have been able to do?

On my own…absolutely! But He has always sent me the strength or help I needed at the right time. Sometimes even when I wasn’t asking, like selecting my little lamb for me.

So why are you afraid? That you might let Him down?

Yes. And his shaking intensified again.

Well, with that perspective, I guess you might just do that.

W…what! Y…you m…mean I’ve come this fa…r to learn th…that?

With that perspective, yes. The shepherd was preparing his friend, but didn’t quite expect what would happen next.

Instead of blowing up as he had in the past, Amun fell to his knees and started sobbing uncontrollably. Ehud drew closer to put his hand on his shoulder, but something told him, “Not yet, give him time alone.” So he withdrew his hand and prayed. Now wasn’t a time for whittling. After what seemed like several moments, the sobbing and shaking slowed and finally stopped, but Amun still remained bowed over and on his knees. Finally, he spoke to his shepherd friend, though still with his eyes closed.

I see now, Udi. I see now…. Then, lifting his face and opening his swollen eyes to look at his mentor again, he continued, This trip is not about me but about how good and helpful and powerful Jesus is. When I look at myself, I will always see my helplessness, and that will get more graphic the more I see God’s holiness. But when I keep my focus on His love, there’s nothing He cannot do through me.[1] This is all very clear to me now. My greatest struggle now is having pride let go. Well, to be honest, it didn’t. He got a funny twitch of a smile beginning, which Ehud didn’t catch.

Oh, Amun, we need to really pray to help you get the victory over that!

It’s too late, my friend. He could see the blood draining from his friend’s face, so he thought he better stop playing with him. My pride would not, COULD NOT, let go, so I just asked Jesus to tear it from me…and He did!

Ehud jumped over to him, fell on his knees next to his friend, and gave him one of those great big shepherd-type hugs that could only express the deep joy…and relief…of finding a lost sheep. Now it was his turn to cry. Finally, he found words to express himself. Praise God! Praise God! Praise God! Then, after a moment, he added, Pride is a very tricky and persistent enemy to do battle against. You used the only weapon I know of that always works. Use it often. And use it daily.

You mean against pride? It never really goes away?

No, my friend. Use it against its memory. Remember what we talked about at the courtyard altar? When something dies, there is often a grieving period, and during that time we become very vulnerable. We can also grieve over pet sins that we have put to rest. During those periods, stay very close to Jesus, as a little child, and let Him and His priorities control the moments.

Oh, I follow. Thank you. Before I married Haqikah, I played around with several other young ladies. One especially captivated me. We had a lot of fun together. She was witty and smart but very self-centered. And she loved using a special and costly perfume, which I soon associated with our good times together. When I finally broke up with her (a few months before meeting Haqikah), I would find myself thinking about her every night. I could not figure out why I couldn’t get her out of my head—which I wanted to very much. Something would trigger those good times and start making me think I should not have broken up with her.

This continued for weeks, until a guy friend came over to my house one evening. The very first thing he did when he stepped inside was to start looking around, as if trying to find someone. I thought his behavior was strange, so I asked him if he was looking for someone. He said yes he was, and then mentioned my old girlfriend by name. He didn’t know we had dated before, so I was really puzzled why he connected her with my house. I told him she isn’t here…anymore. We used to date quite a bit, and had lots of fun, but I couldn’t take her constant talking about herself. Then I asked him why he thought she might be here. He said he dated her, too, recently, and she always wore this special perfume. That’s how he knew. He could smell that unique fragrance in my room! Apparently, I had become so accustomed to it I was not aware of it anymore. I asked him to help me find its source, which he kindly did. It was in my bedroom closet, on the floor—an old napkin she gave me when I had a cold, and a runny nose. I was going to clean it and give it back to her, but I forgot. Boy was I thankful to get that out of my house! Yes, memories can make an earlier decision very difficult.

Interesting story, Amun. But good memories can work in our favor just as well. I need to always ask Jeshu…Jesus (sorry) to help me remember the good times He and I have had together. Especially when old negative ones try to control my thoughts. That has saved me a lot of unnecessary grieving over old habits long dead.

Sounds like practical counsel. And I would guess that seventh-day time with God would help a lot, too. I certainly have had many precious moments to feast on this week!

And you will have even more before we finish up today. Let’s go back to that third door you looked at yester… Just at that moment Amun had a thought flash in his mind he had to share.

Excuse me, Udi, for interrupting. But something came to me about just what we were talking on, feeling very undone in God’s presence.

And what was that?

You said that before Jesus started doing His creative work on our earth, there was a certain condition prevalent.

Oh, yes. It was without form and void.

In other words, the earth was not only in a state of utter confusion and uselessness, but what was there was associated with misery, destruction, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, and death.[2] It was a disgusting, putrid mess. And all this was tumbling over itself in a confused, restless, turbulent state, ready to inundate anyone coming near. Can you think of anything worse to begin with?

Well, no.

So the more I see my miserable condition, the better it will be for my Creator to begin His work in me! Any part of me that I consider “pretty good” will not get His creative attention.

Scary, Amun, but so true.

Now, you were saying, before I interrupted, about going back to that third door.

Oh, yes. There is something very special about it, and an answer to your question a few moments ago, about what would happen if that veil wasn’t there. At this time it was Ehud who thought of something and excused himself for a moment to say something to Princess. When he came out shortly thereafter, Amun picked up the conversation.

The door? Oh, yes…that beautiful veil. It’s funny. When I first saw it, the idea of it being a door to something greater never even entered my mind…at least not like the other doors did. Why is that, Udi?

Interesting. That’s what I wanted to talk about. It had that same effect on me, too, Amun. It didn’t appear as a door to me for a long time, probably because it was rarely used (only one day out of the year). It seemed more just like a beautiful tapestry-covered wall. And that bothered me…until I learned what was on the other side. Here’s my explanation, for what it’s worth…. Then, after thinking a moment, changed his mind. Well, let me ask you a few questions and see if you could guess what my thoughts were. You already stole one of them just a moment ago, He said, smiling.

Oh, good! I like that approach!

You are a teacher’s delight, my friend. We are going to have a little science class. There are four ways God moves things in liquids from one spot to another. What is the easiest, that doesn’t really require a “door” or filter?

I guess that would be diffusion, like when putting a drop of dye into a glass of water. This he recalled from his freshman chemistry class.

Right. Or like a perfume filling a room. What part of your conversion experience would diffusion characterize?

My earliest experiences in coming here. It was the faintest smell of the incense that first caught my attention when I was looking for a shepherd. I  came with a heavy burden of self-centeredness, though I was unaware of it. All I could feel was the pain of guilt and shame and always thought it was caused by the poor performance of others and that I was just a helpless victim. But while passing through the encampment, God spoke to my heart and showed me what life could be like without self being the center of everything, and my heart seemed to be filled with His goodness. That definitely was a God thing. And there was nothing to hinder the filling.

Excellent. So diffusion set you up for experiencing the first door. We can call that Hope, for Hope is like smooth muscle. It acts without our voluntary consent. What mechanism of separation would you say was active at that first door, the one into the Courtyard?

No question. It would be filtration. Filtration works by pressure through a membrane…that can be selective. The first time we went through the door, when we first looked around, I was not an active part of the system. The only way I could benefit from the Courtyard experience was by the Spirit of God preparing my heart for the event by pressing heavily upon me back at the edge of camp with my lamb held tightly against my breast, by showing me the contrast between my old life and the new that I had just gotten a taste of. It’s sort of like that firmament we talked about earlier. I have never experienced such a strong force in my life to get me to do what every fiber of my natural heart cried out against, to step out by faith and do the unthinkable. Yes, filtration was fully active then and the pressure was intense to remove unwanted sins from my life in the courtyard.

Very good. Filtration is affected usually by gravity, an unseen force. If Hope is like our smooth muscles, Faith would be similar to our skeletal muscles.

Because those are always under our voluntary control?

Yes, and also because faith is strengthened by use, just like our voluntary muscles.[3] Now you are faced with a second door (or filter), to enter the tabernacle, which introduces a third kind of movement. Would you say pressure was involved here as well?

No… Well…, hold on. Yes, but of a different kind. I think of osmosis, where things flow from a greater concentration to a lesser. So I guess the “pressure” in this case would be an abundance of gratitude and thankfulness welling up inside me, in my heart, seeking for a way to be expressed.

And how did the Holy Place provide that?

By giving me channels of service by which I could glorify my Saviour who had done so much for me. There, I learned what would glorify Him (the limits of service), how to witness for Him (the provisions to serve effectively), and finally, why (the motives for service). Amun thought for a moment, and then added, If we are comparing these different ways of separation to the levels of conversion, I would think this door would be Grateful Works—not works to merit God’s favor, but rather works to express one’s gratitude.

So would I, Amun. Now, on both of these doors, did the expectation override the experience?

In no way, Udi! In either case I was blown away by how much God has put into that part so I could feel completely accepted, fully supported, and duly challenged.

OK, now we are at the last door…and filter, and the fourth way God uses to move something from one place to the next. Let’s look at what is going on in the Holy Place and why God would need this fourth method of movement. Now please tell me what was going on in your mind when considering the Holy Place? I suspect it was very similar to my own.

Oh, I felt like I was in heaven. Everything was so beautiful, and rich-looking. Even angels were everywhere. We don’t naturally see them on this earth. So why would I need to go elsewhere?

Yep. That’s exactly where I was for several years. I didn’t see a need for whatever was on the west side of the veil. I was surrounded with the trappings of royalty. Jeshua seemed more like a friend[4] to me, not a boss or master. It’s like we were equals, serving my community in loving, unbiased, and nonjudgmental works that not only glorified God but also got many praises from the world around me. I was like a hero, a champion, and highly respected by everyone, even though they may not have agreed with my religious persuasion.[5] No, I saw no need for change.[6]

Hmmm. I’m beginning to get the picture. This final separation is going to need something special to go against the current, the pressures of life that would normally hold us back. So are you referring to active transport? [7]

Exactly. In this system one just doesn’t “flow” naturally from one side to the other, like it does with diffusion. Nor does it flow from external or internal pressures to spill into personal needs or the world’s, like with filtration and osmosis. They are actually chosen and transported one by one by a special agent. And that is possible only through a living tissue.

Yes. That’s the way it is in nature. The cell is actually in control. It selects what it wants and provides whatever is needed to get something inside or put it outside. Do you think that may be why all those angels are there?

Could be, but I don’t think so. However, I’m certain they assist in the transfer. Angels are God’s messengers and are constantly used to protect and guide us all throughout our life. These in the veil have a different purpose than those in the linen curtain overhead, as we will discuss shortly. The “special agent” is a living faith,[8] the very same kind Jesus will demonstrate when He comes to live among us.

What makes His faith so different?

I wouldn’t say it is “different.” It’s just more mature.

Mature means “grown up.” Then what can that kind of faith do that the less mature kind isn’t able to?

It can walk away from everything gained from the earlier levels of faith, Ehud said with serious conviction.

I’m not sure I follow, Udi. In active transport the cell not only selects what it wants and provides the energy to get it inside or outside, but the molecules often go against the current, like something going from a lower to a higher concentration. And now you are saying that this certain type of faith will help us to reject everything God has helped us get in the past. It just doesn’t make sense.

The shepherd sat down and motioned for his friend to sit close by. No, I’m not saying everything, my friend. When I was about ten my dad had a “man-to-man” talk with me about personal responsibility. He told me how important it was for me to learn how to take care of myself so I could take care of others. Eat regular meals, choose foods that will give me nourishment and strength (not just those things that taste good), get plenty of exercise, and some other things. Then when I got married he called me aside again as he did when I was ten, and told me that now I must be willing to give up what my carefulness had helped me gain, if God showed me it was necessary to help someone in greater need, or perhaps to even save a life. Or He might just ask me to do something without giving a reason. A successful marriage would demand such flexibility. The only way I could go against my earlier training and experience is if God would empower me, for the human spirit of self-preservation and self-service are strong.

Oh, I am getting the picture now, I think. The maturity is growing from a self-orientation to an others-one. And this highest level is to grow from an others-orientation to a God one, so His will supersedes all others, even our closest friends and loved ones. Is that what you are saying?

Ehud sighed and nodded his head. Ever hear of catalysts?

Yes. It is used often in chemistry to assist in chemical reactions but never becomes a part of them, like copper does in making chlorophyll. It is necessary for proper chlorophyll formation, but there is no copper in the chlorophyll molecule formed. So how does this help explain this special level of faith?

In order for man to be made right with God by faith, faith must reach a point where it will control the affections and impulses of the heart. This kind of faith is made perfect through obedience.[9] Everything you have ever hoped for and worked toward, even those things God has definitely led you in, must be on the Altar of Sacrifice in order to fulfill God’s will. Like willing to become a catalyst, to help a reaction take place but there would be nothing of you in the final result. God would get the total glory. That’s the way it was with Abraham. God’s covenant was to make Abraham’s seed as the stars of heaven and lead them into the Promised Land, yet it would require a miracle baby from Abraham and Sarah. Isaac came when Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100. During those years Abraham’s faith was tested many times, and he didn’t do very well at times, but he continued to grow in his friendship with God. Finally, he got to the point when God could put him to the ultimate test—to offer His Son as a sacrifice.

You mean on an altar?

Yes, that is what God asked.

But how could God fulfill His promise if Abraham’s only son was killed?

I’m sure that was the very question going through Abraham’s mind and heart. Was God asking him to become a catalyst, and having nothing of himself in the promised seed?

That’s serious! What happened?

He followed God’s command. Like I said, obedience is critical to develop this level of trust… or faith—no matter what the command. It took three days to get to the place God wanted the sacrifice to be made—plenty of time to think things through. And you can be sure Abraham was doing a lot of thinking and praying. Was this really God telling him to do such a terrible thing? Human sacrifices were what the heathens did. It made no sense, but by that time in his life he knew God’s voice, so that wasn’t the question. On the last part of the trip, climbing the hill where the sacrifice was to be made, his son, who was carrying the wood for the sacrifice, asked where the lamb was. This tore at the heart of his dad, but he answered, “God Himself will provide a lamb.”[10]

Is that what happened?

Sort of, but only when the knife was raised to offer his son.

Oh, my! That was going all the way, wasn’t it? Ummm, what do you mean by “sort of”?

Abraham had greatly desired to see the promised Saviour. He offered up the most earnest prayer that before his death he might behold the Messiah. But what the Father wanted to show him was the pain He felt in giving His most priceless gift. So that prayer was answered in the command to offer his son for a burnt offering. Upon the altar of sacrifice he laid the son of promise—the son in whom his hopes were centered. Then, as he waited beside the altar with knife upraised to obey God, he heard a voice from heaven saying, “Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do anything unto him: for now I know that you fear God, seeing thou have not withheld your son, your only son from Me.”[11] Moses told us, “This terrible ordeal was imposed upon Abraham that he might see the day of Christ, and realize the great love of God for the world, so great that to raise it from its degradation, He gave His only-begotten Son to a most shameful death.”[12] And it wasn’t a helpless lamb he found in a thicket, but rather a strong ram! This test required a strength of character that superceded all others.


Same as Jesus. Another name for the Messiah.[13]

All Amun could do was just shake his head. He was imagining God asking him to give up his own son, Azizi, and he started shaking again. He asked his close friend, Udi, could I ever have that kind of faith?

God guarantees it, if you follow on to know the Lord.[14] As in active transport, this kind of faith is what God sees to make the choice of who He wants in this final level of service – the level of faith His Son would demonstrate in His final hours of temptation.[15] It is empowered by a living force, the cell itself, or, in this case, by the divine power in the Most Holy Place. Remember, in this school it is God who does the performing through us until it becomes second nature to us. Our part is to yield and be willing to obey, as Abraham was, no matter how unreasonable it might seem. Here is a promise I learned in the youth classes that I have memorized because it is so precious: “All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Jesus. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Jesus, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.”[16]

Oh, that’s beautiful, Udi. Could you write that down for me to memorize before I leave?

I already did, my friend, he said, as he handed him the paper. I keep this with me all the time to share when appropriate. I’ll just write another one for myself later. That is the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant promise—to have a heart and mind like God’s. And that is what we shall see empowered behind the veil. But before we talk about the furniture I think we need to first tie up what the covenant is all about.

Amun held the little paper close to his heart for a moment, then tucked it into a pocket in his tunic. Good. I’ve heard you mention it a number of times today, but I still don’t have a clue why it was even needed.

Well, it all started about 500 years ago with a man named Abram.

You mentioned Abraham before. Are they related?

Yes. Same person.

So he changed his name, or was it his nickname?

No, God changed it, and his wife’s as well.

You said something earlier about covenants and name changes. Why is that?

Names, as you know by now, are important to God. He has even named the stars![17] Sometimes the names our parents give us don’t match up to the position God has in mind for us in this world. Jacob, for instance means “heel catcher,” or “deceiver,” since he was holding on to his twin brother’s heel at birth. Guess the parents thought that was cute then, but it turned out to define his earlier life of deception, when he tricked his father to give him the firstborn’s blessings.

How did he do that?

I don’t think I will take the time for that now. All I will say is that it wasn’t very nice, and he had to flee for his life. Anyway, we need to finish up so you can get heading back home.

OK. I appreciate that. Sometimes my curiosity takes me places I don’t really need to go. Thanks for the leadership. But you can tell me what Israel means, can’t you? He asked, with a teasing smile.

Oh, of course. It reflects the conversion moment he had when he wrestled with God and prevailed.

What? A mortal wrestled with God and won? I can’t imagine such a thing.

That could only happen when the heart is broken.

Udi, you are not getting through! Try again.

Okay. Sorry. What Jacob did many years before weighed heavily on his conscience. And at that time in his life he was returning to his home country, where his brother still lived. He didn’t feel very safe, and by now he had eleven children and two wives with their handmaids, and who knows how many servants, plus all his sheep and goats.

Oh, I can understand that. This won’t be pretty, I’m guessing. There’s that eleven number again. Is he expecting his brother to finally get even with him for stealing his birthright?

Yes. Well, he sent his family on ahead, and his servants to go ahead of them all and present gifts to his brother and a special message to let him know Jacob was recognizing him as the elder. Meanwhile he stayed behind to pray earnestly. While he was praying during the dark of night, he felt someone get hold of him, and they wrestled all night long. At the break of day, the other man touched Jacob’s thigh and knocked it out of joint, but Jacob wouldn’t let go. By this time he realized it was no mere man he was wrestling with, but God or one of His angels. The man asked what his name was, and Jacob told him. Then the man said, “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince you had power with God and with men, and prevailed.”[18]

Interesting story! Now is he the father of those twelve tribes, then?

Yes. He was Abraham’s grandson, and had the twelfth son a little later (Joseph’s brother), but his wife died in childbirth.

Oh, how sad. Now you said the covenant arrangement started with Abraham. Can you explain what it was all about?

God had a plan. He wanted to raise a nation that would serve Him and become a witness to the rest of the world that was going farther and farther away from Him into sin and toward self-destruction. He had already lost one world and didn’t want that to happen again. He saw in Abram the qualities He wanted to characterize His nation, but He also noticed that the environment he grew up in wasn’t healthy. So He had a chat with Abram.

You mean God talked personally with him?

Well…probably in a dream this time, because there is no record, at that time, of Abram talking back. The Lord told him to leave his country and kindred, and even from his father’s house and head toward a land God would show him. There, God promised, He would make of him a great nation, and through him all the families of the earth would be blessed.[19]

Apparently, the young man obeyed.

Well, I wouldn’t say he was a spring chicken. He was 75 at the time, and his wife Sarai was 65.

Oh, did they have lots of children by then?

None, and they were too old to have any. But they had a big family of servants. They all wound up in Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Isn’t that where you are going?

That’s right. We are returning to the same place, just a little later. Anyway, God and Abram had a real conversation some time later, when he was in Canaan, and this time God established the covenant.

What did they talk about this time, since he was already in the Promised Land?

Having kids. God couldn’t have a nation unless Abram had seed that God could bless. But they were way beyond the age for child-bearing by then. Nevertheless, God had His friend look up at the night sky and try counting the stars, because that was how numerous his seed was going to be. When Abram asked how he should know that he would inherit the land, God told him what to do to initiate the covenant promise.

So this is when the covenant began?

Yes.[20] Abram was instructed to get two birds and three kinds of animals and divide the animals in two, making two rows. He wasn’t supposed to cut the birds, and there is no record that they were even killed.[21] Apparently, he just bound them so they couldn’t fly and put one in each row. Then God told His friend that his seed would become a stranger in a land that wasn’t theirs, where they would serve them in the land and be afflicted for 400 years, but then they would leave with great substance.

That was my country! God told him that, that far in advance?

He did, and then that night a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between those pieces.[22] The smoking furnace represented God’s chosen nation in the bondage of Egypt,[23] and the lamp of fire was an emblem of God’s presence with them all this time, [24] eventually leading them back to the Promised Land, as we are currently doing now.

Burning lamps and pillars of fire seem to have something in common. So, all this was part of the covenant?

Yes. Each part was significant. And it was all God’s doing. He initiated it, and He would complete it, in spite of man’s failures. He would lead a nation, represented as Abraham’s seed, to the Promised Land, and through them, all the earth would be blessed.[25]

That’s it? That’s the covenant that is pictured in this sanctuary? It sounds like this covenant was just intended for the Hebrews. Amun’s tone showed some disappointment or confusion.

That’s the simplified version. The Most Holy Place gives the expanded version.


Concerning the “seed,” they are those whom God considers the “true” seed[26]—those who live by the faith that Abraham used and the Messiah will use.

Hold on. Something isn’t fitting. The “simplified” version of the covenant sounded as if God were going to build up a nation of Israelites, yet all during our conversations about the sanctuary, it made me think we Egyptians could also be accepted. I don’t have a drop of Abraham’s blood in me. I know of no relatives that had any ties to Abraham or his seed.

It wasn’t Abram’s gene-pool God that was seeking. It was his connection with heaven, his character traits. The Creator can change genes, but He must have man’s permission to change characters.[27] So anyone willing to have their characters molded after God’s likeness, as Abram was, could become part of the nation, part of the seed God spoke of. My people, much of them, had the same thoughts you expressed and considered themselves “favored,” whether they lived up to Abram’s standards or not. All Gentiles were considered “unfavored” and a threat to the nation. God will eventually have to intervene to break up this mindset, for it was never His. There were many of your people who came with us during the exodus, and whatever God required of us He required also of them … if they wanted to enjoy the favors of our nation and God, and not be cut off.[28] Moses tells us about a prophecy of the coming Messiah. It calls Him God’s servant, His elect, in whom His soul delights. Then a little farther in, He says, “I the LORD have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and give you for a covenant of the people [nations], for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”[29] That includes, you, my brother. And the expanded version states that very clearly.

You mean the one behind the veil—the one that is willing to give up everything the other three levels gained?

Yes, that one.

But what would make someone willing to do that?

Devotion. This is not put on us while our relationship is still immature, for it requires the strongest bonding agent in the universe (as we humans can experience this side of heaven).

Ummm, you talking about an intimate friendship? Ehud nodded. So what makes devotion so strong?

The love of Another. In this case, God Himself. Once we see and experience the total devotion God has for us, it will fire up our devotion to Him, and nothing but a perverse will can break it. And the human/divine type has an element the human/human kind does not and should not have.

Really? What is that? The Egyptian couldn’t think of anything.

It is giving up the will of the lesser to the greater. Moses told us that even Jesus will have to face this before He dies when He takes on our humanity. And this is followed by total obedience of the lesser to the greater’s will.

Oh, yes, I see that. God told Abram to leave his country and family and go to a place he knew not, and he did! That is faith in action. But to be willing to give up the very son whom God brought forth to be the seed of promise…that would require a very close relationship with God!

It certainly would. And I think you are getting the picture. Now, back to those animals. This is very important in understanding the covenant. What did Abram have to do?

You said he had to cut them in half and make two rows so the smoking furnace and burning lamp could go between them. And if the birds were not to be divided, one would probably have to be on one side and one on the other. So this idea of division really is part of the covenant, isn’t it?

You are on track, Amun. For God to make a people after His likeness, its citizens must be willing to be separated from the rest of the world who are content with their own selfish ways, as well as to separate from their old, unproductive distracting habits and pleasures.

Like Abram did from his family and country?

That’s right, and it’s a characteristic of all the true seed of Abraham. God’s code to represent this aspect of the covenant is His use of twos and halves. Whenever they show up, we can be quite certain God has the covenant in mind—to make a nation filled with citizens as numerous as the stars, but citizens God can use to bless the rest of the world through. And then He would give them their own country, their own land.

Ahhh, now I can see why God would use that number. That’s the number for separations, like at the very beginning of Creation, so He could do His preparatory work for something more glorious in the future! This is all fitting together now. He looked at his arms. Look here, it is even giving me goosebumps! Ehud looked, and smiled.

Pardon me, but I need to interject something here while the young men are mulling over that last thought. One of the study principles I find very helpful is to see what the first use of a word or phrase is in the Bible (as you may have picked up during the young men’s conversations). It often gives a direction to our explorations. Looking for how God uses the word half is a typical example. The first place it shows up in the Scriptures is as late as Genesis 24:22—when God calls out a young woman to become an integral part of His covenant. It’s an interesting story…  Oh wait! It looks like the shepherd is thinking along the same line. Let’s see where he goes with it. I love these guys! 🙂

The time finally came for Isaac to get married and start a family, but his father didn’t want him to take a wife from the Canaanites, among whom they lived, to be the mother of God’s nation, so he asked his eldest servant to return to Mesopotamia, the city of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, where there were still some Hebrew families. The servant, though an old man himself, took an oath to do exactly w hat his master requested.[30] Moses then told us that the servant chose ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all the goods of his master were in his hand.[31] Since he was in charge of all ofAbraham’s wealth, he decided what to take for the trip and dowry.[32] Then this is what Moses adds, once the servant found the right woman…

Wait! How did he know she was the right woman? Amun was not one to leave details of a journey out just to get somewhere. He wanted to enjoy the whole trip as well. Was there a game plan?

Not to begin with, it seems. Abraham left that up entirely to his trusted servant. But he did tell him that God would send His angel to go ahead of him. When the little caravan arrived in Nahor’s town in the cool of the day, the servant had the camels kneel down at a well just outside the town. He knew it was customary for the young women to come there to get their water. He felt overwhelmed with the responsibility of choosing the right woman for the wife of his master, so he asked God to please step in. He said something like this, “O LORD God of my master Abraham, please show your kindness to my master by helping me find a wife for his son Isaac. While I’m standing here by this well where the women of the city come to draw water, when I ask for a drink from her pitcher, let the one of your choice also offer to water my camels.”[33]

Whoa! Do you know how much camels drink?

Not really. All I know is that they can gulp down a lot of water in a short time.

Yes, a LOT![34] And there were ten very thirsty camels?

Yes. It was a long trip.[35] The servant was asking a lot of the woman, it would take many trips with her single pitcher.

How long did the servant have to wait?

A beautiful young virgin came to the well before he finished his prayer! She attended to her own business and would have gone directly to her home if the man hadn’t run over to her and asked for a drink. But being a young woman of industry and benevolence, she offered to help the old man water his camels—even though he had menservants with him![36] He watched astounded as she emptied her pitcher into the watering trough and ran back to the well to get more. She said she would water all the camels until they had done drinking.[37] And all she had was the pitcher she brought.

Oh, my! That must have taken hours![38] What happened next? The Egyptian was really into the story.

After she finished watering the camels, he gave her a golden earring of a half shekel weight and adorned her hands with two bracelets of ten shekels’ weight as a thank-you gift for all that hard work. [That’s the first time ‘half’ is used in God’s Word.] He then asked whose daughter she was and if there would be room in her father’s house for them to spend the night. She told him she was Nahor’s granddaughter and that there was room as well as straw and provender for the camels. The servant bowed his head and worshiped God and then told her that his master was Nahor’s brother! She quickly ran home and told her mother and brother Laban what had just happened, and Laban quickly went to the well and invited the men with their camels to join them at the house.

Is that when he told them the purpose of his trip?

Yes, even before they had supper that night. He told them the whole story, and how God answered his prayer so quickly. They immediately saw God’s providence in it all and agreed for their daughter and sister to become the wife of Abraham’s son. The servant gave them all rich gifts that evening and enjoyed a good meal. The next morning he was wanting to leave right away, but her relatives asked if she could tarry with them a few more days, at least ten. The old man kindly asked if they could leave immediately, seeing that the Lord had so prospered his errand and he was very eager to get back with the good news. So they left the decision with Rebekah.

Oh, that’s your daughter’s name, isn’t it?

Yes. We wanted Isaac’s wife to be a good model for her.

Well, what did she say?

She said simply, “I will go.” So they sent her away with her nurse.624

I can see why God chose her. She was thoughtful for the needs of others, not afraid of hard work, willing to let God lead in a choice for a husband (a big thing for a young woman), had principles of life, and, to top it all off, was a young woman of faith.

Did you catch the covenant indicators in the story too?

Ummm, you mean the numbers?


The only numbers mentioned were the weight of the earring of a half shekel, the two bracelets, and the number ten mentioned several times. I can see how the one-half and two fit the story. God was going to call her out from her family and country as He did her uncle Abraham. On one hand was life as she knew it and on the other hand was life as God would define it. That certainly demanded a trust in His will. But I don’t follow why the number ten showed up so often.

You are very observant, Amun. Yes, the number ten has very much to do with the covenant, especially in the Most Holy Place. This number is necessary to understand the last part of the covenant. What do you know about the covenant up to this point?

From what I understand it is something God thought up Himself. It wasn’t an agreement He and Abraham worked up together. Abraham could either go along with it and let God do what He wanted, or walk away from it.

Good. And what was God’s purpose for it?

To develop a seed through which He could bless all families of the world, right?

Actually, it wasn’t just a bunch of good people God had in mind, but rather a special Person who would come through Abraham’s lineage.[39]

Are you talking about Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Son?

I am. And through Him, all nations of the earth would be blessed. As I understand it, the character traits of the twelve tribes express the whole gamut of character as expressed through human channels.

So Jesus was going to have children too?

Well, sort of.

How can a man “sort of” have children? Amun was scratching his head.

They would be adopted.[40] He would choose those He wanted in His family.

Choose? So we really don’t have a choice in the matter? What about the active transport we talked about? You said God chose those who were willing to do His will. Amun’s countenance fell again.

Let’s assume Haqikah loved puppies, and you wanted to surprise her with one, so you go on a search for the perfect puppy. Of course you would want one that was perfect in every way, but more important would be a good disposition. You see many different kinds of puppies with many different dispositions. Then one in particular catches your attention—a little feller sitting back in a kennel. The others are right by the door yapping and jumping up and down, trying to get your attention. But the little guy in the back seems so happy, but doesn’t come to the front. He just does a happy jump while staying seated. You ask the owner about him and learn he was born with a deformity in one of his back legs. So you bend down to the door and try to encourage him to come. He seems so elated that he stands up on his three legs and hobbles over to you, with his tail wagging wildly. And he’s the one you choose.

How did you know?

Because I know your heart, Amun. Though it is you who does the choosing, the choosing is dependent on the one chosen. You saw a puppy who has risen above its handicaps and misfortunes and remained happy. Now, do you think God would do it any other way?

Amun’s face brightened up . Sure don’t. Thanks, my brother. You don’t know how much that little illustration means to me. So we are not talking about Abraham’s actual seed being as numerous as the stars of heaven.

That’s correct. But they would have Abraham’s likeness…and Rebekah’s.

And that’s why I can be part of His family?

Absolutely! It’s not just a Jewish thing. In fact, Joseph’s two sons, who are part of Abraham’s seed now,[41] had an Egyptian mother[42] and will be portioned a place in the Promised Land.[43] My people will have an opportunity to be God’s chosen nation through which He can bless the whole world, but if we don’t let Him lead us He will choose another way.[44] According to the stated purpose of the Covenant, He is not dependent on the physical line of Abraham beyond the arrival of the promised Seed,[45] His very own Son, taking on human flesh. But everyone will have the characteristics God selected in those making up the twelve tribes and the posterity of Jesus.

You are referring to faith and faithfulness…like good works?

 Well, actually the three areas mentioned in the story that used ten.

At this point Amun raised his finger in the air as a “pause-button,” for he was beginning to make some connections. Now this is getting interesting, Udi! Let me see. The first time ten was used was the number of camels the servant chose. But you said the number was connected more with the idea that Abraham had given his servant charge over all his wealth and that he could take whatever he thought needful to carry out his master’s wish.

That’s right. Abraham’s wealth was what he accumulated, by God’s blessing, to use to bless his family and servants and strangers within his gates. If we were talking about the measurements of a box, which dimension best fits that—its length, width, or height?

Hmmm. When we first approached the sanctuary, the height of the linen wall spoke of our likeness to God, so it wouldn’t be height. Length is often associated with time. [46] And time isn’t a factor here. Width, however, goes horizontal, like the people around us, our peers. So I would think that first ten would be related to what we use to bless our neighbors—the width. If I am talking to someone about an abundance of material things, my gestures would be to throw my hands and arms out wide.

You are right on track, Amun.[47] Now, do you recall the conditions of the second time ten is used?

Yes. The weight of the two bracelets for her hands. But this sounds like another width measurement again.

Yes, it appears to, for she was definitely helping out an old man, but there is something else going on that initiated the gift of the bracelets. It wasn’t just the watering the camels, as a servant would do for his master.

Ahhh. Her God-likeness in service. She did not wait to be asked, but offered, and performed with diligence and cheerfulness, which was illustrated in her hastening to take care of the animals’ need.

Right. I believe that was what the servant wanted to honor by putting a gold bracelet next to each hand. If he were just wanting to pay her for her service, he could have given her coins, which I’m sure he also carried with him to buy things along the trip. But he didn’t do that. He put on her something to “honor” her two hands.

Makes sense. So that would be the height of your box, showing the stranger her likeness to God?

Correct. And what about the length?

 Oh, that one’s easy. It’s the time factor—the minimum of ten days her family requested to say goodbye. But when she was asked, she chose to submit to the servant’s request and leave that day. This shows that she didn’t need the time to “settle” into the calling. She was ready right then!

You are right on, again, my brother. Now what do you make of the point that the same number is used in each dimension?

Maybe that God considers each dimension equally?

Well, that is important, too. In our language, do you recall what ten means?

Something about the most you can fit into a given space?

That’s pretty close, and probably a good definition. It actually means “an accumulation to the extent of the digits.”[48] In other words, like you said, you can’t get any more in. But this was not enough for God. He had greater intents than to just help us get our fill. The number is also used in another way in God’s Word. We refer to it as the principle of tithes and offerings.[49]

Tithes and offerings? What’s the difference?

A tithe is one-tenth of our increase, and it is used specifically for the support of those who devote their time to advance God’s kingdom, such as priests (or ministers),[50] musicians,[51] and teachers.[52] In our system these services belong to the Levites. This allows them to minister freely without the distraction of earning a livelihood. Offerings are freewill. There is no specified amount, and they are given for many different purposes, like to help meet the ongoing physical expenses of a school or tabernacle, helping the poor and needy around us, to support a special ministry not covered by the tithe, etc.

It sounds like a partnership: God works with us to help us become profitable on this earth, and we work with Him to help advance His kingdom. Is that the idea?

Exactly, my friend. However, there is a big difference in the portions each partner contributes with the tithe.

Oh, right. I noticed that immediately. God’s portion is only 10 percent, and ours is 90 percent.

You are correct…from man’s perspective, but that’s not what I was referring to. When we partner with the King of the universe, the Creator and Saviour of mankind, whose side has the most resources to contribute to the project at hand?

Oh, my! I see what you mean. Our portion is a pittance!

Exactly, for there is yet another part of the tithing principle that works in here.

Ahh, something else God requires of us, huh?

No…of Himself.

Oh, this must be good!

God promises us that if we are faithful in returning to Him His own…with a grateful heart, He knows we can be trusted, and He will open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them.[53]

Wow! If ten means as much as we can possibly accumulate, and we return one-tenth of that to God, then He promises that He will fill up that one-tenth with blessings that will overflow what we normally would have had if we kept His portion. Hey, I’m liking this more and more!

This isn’t necessarily like-for-like, money-for-money, time-for-time. God’s blessings may be in health and long life, efficiency in our labor and studies, keeping things from breaking down or wearing out (like our sandals and clothes), safety and direction in our daily pursuits, plus many other ways.[54]

It’s a wonder I made it as far as I have without this partnership!

Yes, we call that mercy and grace. But there is one more part of this partnership. What remains in our hand after returning to God His portion in tithes and offerings, is really not ours to use just as we please (unless, of course, our mind is as the mind of God).[55] It is not really ours to do with as we wish. We are to consider ourselves stewards of God’s property and to use the greater portion wisely, to provide for our own house[56] and bring honor to God with what’s left.

In other words, you are saying it is not supposed to be “fun money,” to spend foolishly on ourselves, or invest in worldly enterprises that have no concern with God’s kingdom?

You are on the right boat, Amun.

So when ten is used, it refers to the total result that can be reached with both our efforts and God’s blessings, plus some! You just can’t get beyond that. And that is included in the covenant?

Yes. That three-fold blessing is addressing specifically the seed part—which includes Jews or Gentiles.

Oh, my! So all three dimensions are an assurance from God that we will become like Him in every aspect of life? That must be the three you mentioned just a little while ago that acts like four.

It is, and that’s exactly what is being promised…in the covenant and in the Most Holy Place. As the one-half deals with the calling out part of the covenant (our faithfulness in obeying God’s expressed will, which Jesus helps us with at every step), the ten deals with God’s part, the three-part quality of the seed, which we will get into more when we talk about the Most Holy Place.

You can imagine how eager Amun was to learn about the mysteries of the Most Holy. But it looked as if he wasn’t finished with the veil yet.     

[1] John 15:5, Philippians 4:13.

[2] The Hebrew meaning of “darkness” that Moses used for that verse.

[3] WHITE, MH 231: “These experiences that test faith are for our benefit. By them it is made manifest whether our faith is true and sincere, resting on the word of God alone, or whether depending on circumstances, it is uncertain and changeable. Faith is strengthened by exercise.”

[4] In John 15 Jesus tells us two relationships are necessary with Him to truly abide in Him and bring forth much fruit (veses 4-5), as well as to have our requests answered (verse 7). The first is a Friend/friend one as we minister to those around us (verse 14). The purpose here is to expand the church.

[5] We see this also in the life of Joseph in Egypt and Daniel and his three friends in Babylon. They were put in influential leadership positions because they applied the elements of sanctification (as illustrated in the Holy Place) to their daily life. This is the popular side of Christianity, the side where we work with Jesus as friends in serving our fellow man (John 15:12-15).

[6] I suspect this is where the rich young ruler was. He already was God-fearing, obedient to the law all his life, still had the energy of youthfulness, and was wealthy. He had the means to do many good works, and that was the core of his question (Matt. 19:16). It appears he turned from Christ, because he saw no need to follow Him. He was (in his mind) already there. So why turn from his wealth? He was just wondering what good work he may have missed that would ensure his gaining eternal life. This is where the popular churches were in the early 1840s. Christianity was respected but only because it filled the voids. The wealth of divine interventions and powerful promises were enough to convince those Christians that they were indeed in the right place at the right time, and they saw no need for change. When a message came, calling people into a new experience of repentance and obedience, they resisted with every righteous fiber in them. How much better could it get? They already had everything, as the Laodiceans felt they had

[7] Active transport describes what happens when a cell uses energy to transport individual molecules across its cellular membrane. And it is often from a lesser to a greater concentration.

[8] Speaking of those living at the very end that the Most Holy Place pictures: Revelation 14:12.

[9] James 2:22  “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” Back to John 15. The second relationship necessary to abide in Christ is a Master/servant one (verse 20) This has to be because God may want us to do something we wouldn’t naturally think of, for the western side of the veil is to purify the church, the side where the Law (and its attending Mercy Seat) are now upheld. Here’s where our hearts are fully exposed to the searching of God’s Spirit to see if there is any defilement left.

[10] Genesis 22:8.

[11] Genesis 22:12.

[12] WHITE, DA 468, 469.

[13] Strongs: G5547 anointed, that is, the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus

[14] Hosea 6:1-3; Hebrews 13:20, 21; Philippians 1:6.

[15] Revelation 14:12

[16] WHITE, DA 668.

[17] Psalm 147:4 With recent technology, astronomers have been able to record color spectrums of stars, to see what they are composed of. What surprised them that with every star, as it is with snowflakes, there are no duplicates. God doesn’t use cookie-cutters in His creations

[18] Genesis 32:28.

[19] Genesis 12:1-3.

[20] Genesis 15:8-18. 

[21] This apparently was to signify how God would deliver them out of Egypt—as birds flying (Isiah. 31:5; Hosea 11:11). Is it just a coincidence that this new freedom was to be represented by five creatures, and the two living ones were to be birds, created on the fifth day? Two birds were also used in Leviticua 14:4, 49 to symbolize the freedom given to a cleansed leper.

[22] Dividing an animal and passing between the two halves was a custom of covenants back then. Jerremiah 34:18.

[23] Deuteronomy 4:20.

[24] Isaiah 62:1: It was by a pillar of fire (by night) that God led them out of Egypt. See also Ezekirl 1:13 (note how these lamps go up and down BETWEEN the living creatures—the same word as used in Genesis 15:17). Revelation 4:5 identifies these burning lamps as God’s Spirits.

[25] Genesis 12:3; Acts 3:25.

[26] Galatians 3:16-29: The “seed” is based on faith in the only One who could make us right, God’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

[27] John 3:16, Mark 8:34, Revelation 22:17

[28] Strangers (not Hebrews) were to also offer sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8-9), be circumcised (Exodus 12:48-49), keep the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10, Deuteronomy 5:14).

[29] Isaiah 42:1-7.

[30] Genesis 24:1-4.

[31] Genesis. 24:10.

[32] Verses 10, 32.

[33] Genesis 24:12-14

[34] A thirsty camel can drink up to thirty-two gallons in thirteen minutes.

[35] Well over 600 miles.

[36] Gen. 24: 23, 32, 54, 59.

[37] Verse 19.

[38] It’s not likely her pitcher would hold five gallons, for she had to carry the water back to her home. And that would weigh a good fifty pounds! But let’s say it would, and that it took only five minutes to fill her container, carry it to the trough, empty it, and run back to the well. That would be about three round trips per camel, or fifteen minutes. That’s only four camels per hour, and there were ten thirsty camels!

[39] Genesis 12:3.

[40] Romans 8:15; Ephesians 1:15.

[41] The nation of Israel started out with twelve sons, who became tribes. But since the covenant was based more on character triats than gene pools, when certain tribes turned from God’s pattern (in the Covenant Seed (His Son), then adjustments needed to be made amongst the tribes, but still keeping the number of twelve tribes intact. For awhile the tribe of Levi was not considered in the portioning out of the land, so the two sons of Joseph were used to replace Joseph and Levi. (This doubling of Joseph’s family was God’s way of expressing His delight in Joseph’s faithfulness.) Eventually Ephraim chose to serve other gods (Hosea 4:17), and the tribe of Dan was excluded because of a serious character fault, too. So the final tally of the tribes in Revelation 7, where the 144,000 are numbered, has Levi and Joseph back in, and Manasseh, his firstborn (verses 6-8).

[42] Genesis 41:45

[43] Joshua 17:8-10

[44] Daniel 9:24-27.

[45] But the lineage for the Messiah was not pure. There was at least one Gentile in it (Ruth, the Moabitess – Matthew 1:5)

[46] “How far is that,” we ask. The answer could be, “A couple miles,” or “Just a few minutes,” depending if you are walking or riding your bike.

[47] Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 11 “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.”

[48] Strong’s Concordance for H6235

[49] Malachi 3:8, 10.

[50] WHITE, COL 300: “The Israelites were taught to devote a tithe of all their income to the service of the sanctuary. Besides this they were to bring sin offerings, free-will gifts, and offerings of gratitude. These were the means for supporting the ministry of the gospel for that time.”

 WHITE, PP 526: “The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the Levites who had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary.”

[51] 1 Chronicles 9:33, 15;16: (the musicians were Levites, who were supported by the tithe)

[52] WHITE, 6T 134, 135: (reference is specifically to Bible teachers) “The best ministerial talent should be employed in teaching the Bible in our schools. Those selected for this work need to be thorough Bible students and to have a deep Christian experience, and their salary should be paid from the tithe.”

[53] Malachi 3:10.

[54] Malachi. 3:11.

[55] WHITE, DA 668:  “All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses.”  

[56] Ephesians 5:29; 1 Timothy 5:8.