By Eugene Garner
GOD'S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
(Part 1 )
Scripture Lesson: Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:14-17; 15:4-21; 17:4-16; 22:15-18.
God's covenant with Abraham is recognized as basic in the revelation of His purpose of redemption. Abraham was a chosen instrument through whose "seed" redemption would be provided for mankind. Surely this covenant should absorb one's interest; it deserves close and earnest attention. Without a basic understanding of God's eternal purpose, as set forth in this covenant, one is not prepared to grasp the spiritual significance of what is to follow. Without spiritual discernment of the blessings, symbols and conditions found in this covenant, one can only misinterpret all that follows in the progressive course of divine revelation.
Though unable, in such a limited study, to examine every detail of God's covenant dealings with Abraham, it is important to diligently and prayerfully examine its basic ideas. Having once grasped the purpose of God, as revealed in His covenants to men, one will be able to rejoice in His faithfulness and wisdom in working that purpose out. But, let it be recognized from the beginning, that this is a covenant of INHERITANCE;
it is NOT a covenant of salvation
I. MANY RICH BLESSINGS ARE PROMISED IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
- GOD WILL MAKE OF ABRAHAM A GREAT NATION, (12:1-3; 18:18).
- Blessing him, (22:17).
- Making his name great.
- Apart from Jesus Christ, what name in the history of religion has been greater?
- He holds a very high position in the Christian, Jewish and Moslem religions - and the respect of all men.
- Blessing or cursing all others according to their treatment of Abraham, His friend, (Comp. 27:29; Num. 24:9; Matt. 25:40, 45).
- In him all the families of the earth will be blessed, (12:3; 18:18; 22:18).
- Herein was the gospel preached to Abraham, (Gal. 3:7-8).
- The New Testament repeatedly refers to this as "the promise," (Acts 2:39; 3:25; 26:6; Rom. 4:13; Eph. 2:12).
- SINCE THE COVENANT COMMUNITY WAS NEEDING A HOMELAND, GOD PROMISED THE LAND OF PALESTINE AS AN EVERLASTING INHERITANCE, (12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18; 17:8.)
- It is promised to Abraham, personally, and to his seed forever.
- This promise has not yet been fulfilled, (Acts 7:5; Heb. 11:13-40; Lk. 1:68-75; Micah 7:20).
- He was told that it should be fulfilled only after he had slept with his fathers -- requiring a bodily resurrection, (Gen. 15:12-16).
- The "memorial name" of God is a pledge that these promises will yet be fulfilled, (Ex. 3:15; Lk. 20:37).
- Paul associated the "promise of the Fathers" with the resurrection, (Acts 26:6-8).
- Abraham's descendants never possessed the full territory promised, and what they did possess was only a temporary possession, (Isa. 63:16-18).
- Proprietorship in the land is reserved for God Himself, (Lev. 25:23; Joel 2:18; Ezek. 38:16; Isa. 8:8).
- Christ will ultimately inherit it -- having desired it for His "habitation," "rest," etc., (Psa. 132:13-14; 68:16).
- The fulness of this promise will be fulfilled in Christ, and shared by His saints, ONLY when the Kingdom of God has come on earth, (Psa. 69:35-36).
- ABRAHAM'S SEED WILL BE AS NUMEROUS AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN AND AS THE SAND BESIDE THE SEASHORE.
- This seed will be counted through Isaac -- the child of "promise" that God will give to Abraham and Sarah in their old age.
- How greatly God multiplied Abraham's physical offspring is seen in the fact that from one grandson, Jacob, there developed a community of two million over a period of 400 years.
- Considering the seed, through identification with Christ, it is impossible to imagine what the total will involve when all are identified in the coming Kingdom, (Comp. Isa. 54).
- HE SHALL BE THE FATHER OF A MULTITUDE OF NATIONS, (17:4-5; Rom. 4:11, 16; Gal. 3:14).
- KINGS SHALL COME OUT OF ABRAHAM, (17:6; 35:11).
- God promised to make of Abraham's "great nation" a "kingdom of priests," (Ex. 19:5-6; I Pet. 2:5, 9; Psa. 138:4).
- A great number of saints are to share with Christ the rule of the coming Kingdom, (Isa. 32:1; 43:21; Rev. 1:5-6; 2:26; 3:21; 5:10; 17:14; 19:16; II Tim. 2:12).
- Even the idea of "anointing," in the Scriptures, suggests a priestly or kingly service -- sometimes both, (Psa. 23:5; 92:10).
- THERE IS A SPECIAL SENSE IN WHICH JEHOVAH PROMISES TO BE ABRAHAM'S GOD; ABRAHAM AND HIS SEED WILL BE GOD'S PECULIAR PEOPLE. This idea may be traced from Genesis to Revelation, (Gen. 17:7-8; Ex. 6:7; 19:5-6; 29:45; Lev. 26:12; Jer. 7:23; 24:7; 31:1, 33; 32:28; Ezek. 11:20; 14:11; 36:28; 37:23, 27; Hos. 1:9-10; 2:23; Zech. 8:8; II Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3).
- ABRAHAM'S SEED SHALL POSSESS THE GATE OF HIS ENEMIES, (22:17).
- "Gate" is suggestive of authority and dominion.
- The saints, Abraham's seed in Christ, will be given dominion over their enemies at God's appointed time, (Dan. 7:25-27).
- As the New Testament church is considered the "seed of Abraham," Matthew 16:18 is a most significant promise; the "gates of hell" shall not prevail.
- Death will have no power over it.
- In the power of Christ's resurrection, it will be enabled to stand.
- By faith, it will prevail over the realm of death; God's promises are all faithful and true.
- This promise will have its complete fulfillment when Jesus Christ exercises universal dominion as "King of kings and Lord of lords."
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
- Does the Abrahamic Covenant deal with the way of salvation, or with an inheritance in God's Kingdom?
- How much does God promise to multiply Abraham's seed?
- How will God deal with men in regard to their relationship to Abraham?
- Who was to be blessed through Abraham?
- What did God promise to Abraham as an everlasting inheritance?
- Has that promise yet been fulfilled?
- Did God tell Abraham anything about the time of fulfillment?
- When will the promise be fulfilled?
- How much did God multiply Abraham's seed, numerically, in 400 years?
- Of what was Abraham to be "father"?
- Who were to come out of Abraham?
- Was there a special sense in which God promised to be Abraham's God?
- Do the Scriptures teach that God has a special, peculiar people -- the seed of Abraham?
- What is meant by "possessing the gate" of one's enemies?
- When will this promise find its perfect fulfillment?