AND IT WAS SO
The Abrahmic Covenant was described in Genesis 15:17
7Then he said to him, 'I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.'
8But he said: 'O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?'
9He said to him, 'Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.'
10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other;
but he did not cut the birds in two.
11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12As the sun was going down, a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.
17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram....
A theology lecturer (Peter Mendham, St Mark's Canberra) pointed out that only god went through the slaughtered animals (the smoking fire pot.)
This is an Ancient Near Eastern Covenant Ceremony (DJ McCarthy Treaty and Covenant Rome 1963) that may never have been used. It is certainly very extreme. The parties making (or cutting) the covenant accept a liability to death by this hewing in two. ("May I be also as these animals")
But a deep and terrifying darkness descends upon Abram.
It is the smoking pot alone that moves between the gory remains that remind the partners of their end if they renege.
And Israel breaks the covenant again and again; time after time.
Eventually the Lord is required, by the terms of the covenant (?) to act, and to redeem it.
And god is divided and split asunder in a terrifying consequence of involvement with the creation.
Is it at the time of incarnation? The scandal of particularity? That god made human and incarnate is incarnate in only one; and is not only "the god within" every soul , every part of creation.
Or is it at that time when the temple curtain is rent in two; split from top to bottom; signifying that there is no longer that separation of holiness; no longer a god who is untouched by the world and remote from it; but rather a god who screams the cry of dereliction, of forsakeness, from the cross.
Is this necessary so that finally, at Pentecost, the Spirit can arrive in the rushing, mighty wind.
There is finally something here with which I am uncomfortable. It becomes too slick, too close to a religious and theological understanding of what is essentially a mystery.
Taken to it's logical conclusion the words become trite.
The cartoon says it more profoundly, but keeps it at the cross, where I feel (no, not "think") I feel, it should remain. Isn't this always the problem with theology?
Eventually it become us speaking, not god.
Theories of Atonement (and this is surely one) are especially prone to this. Fortunately the church knows this and does not enthrone any atonement theory in a creed.
It might be well to remember that these days.