Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 5a-The Covenant of promise in Christ to Abraham

The Covenants-Chapter 5a-The Covenant of promise in Christ to Abraham

Abraham’s place was “Ur of the Chaldees.” There he received a divine command indicative of some future purpose of Jehovah, what he knew not. ‘The God of glory’ appeared to him, and said, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and go into the land which I shall show thee.’ Promptly he obeyed, ‘and went out, not knowing whither he went.’ Providence directed his steps to Haran, where he remained until he had performed the last sad rites of sepulture for his aged father. Then again, ‘The Lord said to Abraham, Depart to a land that I will shew thee, And I will make thee a great nation. And I will bless thee, and make thy name great. And thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee. And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’ (Gen 12:1, 3). In this simple narrative we have the original promise made to Abraham, which Paul calls ‘the covenant of God, in Christ’, or the pledge that Messiah should come of his family. The promise was made when the patriarch was seventy-five years old, in the year of the world two thousand and eighty-two, and nineteen hundred and twenty-two years before the advent of Messiah. He received and embraced it with unwavering faith, and devoutly and promptly complied with the command with which it was associated. He ‘departed as the Lord had spoken to him’, with all his family and substance. And as Moses instructs us, ‘They went from Haran, to go into the land of Canaan ; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land, to the place of Sychem, to the plain of Moreh’ (Gen 12:1-3), a beautiful valley between the mountains Ebal and Gerizim, where he fixed his residence, and ‘builded an altar unto the Lord,” who there again appeared to him, and said, ‘To thee will I give this land’ (Gen 12:4-6). Upon these events, and in explanation of the full import of the covenant, an inspired apostle says, ‘Now to Abraham and his seed, were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed; which is Christ’ (Heb 11:12).

But Abraham had subsequently, assurances on this subject, still more full, and emphatic. More than forty years he had resided, ‘as a pilgrim and a stranger,’ in Canaan, when the covenant was renewed, “and ratified with an oath.’ Mean time his faith had been subjected to various trials of the severest character. He and his wife had now both reached a very great age; he about a hundred and his wife ninety years, and they were still without issue. In the ordinary course of things, as respects posterity they were both, as Paul justly remarks, ‘as good as dead’. The promised son came not! How could he believe that he would come, or that the promise would, or could, ever be fulfilled? We are assured however, that ‘Abraham staggered not’. His faith was unshaken. “With God nothing is impossible.” Isaac at length was born! And under the circumstances, his birth was as truly miraculous, as was that of the Saviour himself. All his cherished hopes were realized, and this son so dear to his heart, was now verging towards manhood, when occurred another trial of his faith, infinitely more painful and appalling than the former. ‘Take now thy son,” said God to the aged patriarch, ‘thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering!’ But could this command be really from on high! Had he not in this case, every reason to distrust the evidence of even his own senses? Could infinite goodness require of a father, a deed so horrible? Thus Abraham might have reasoned. But no such inquiries were in his heart. It was enough that God had spoken. Of this he was assured. He therefore, hesitated not to obey, but hastened to the appointed mountain; builded there the prescribed altar; placed upon it the necessary wood; bound his son, laid him upon the pile, grasped the knife, and stretched forth his hand to strike the fatal blow; when his proceeding was arrested by a voice from above! ‘Abraham, lay not thy hand upon the lad; neither do thou any thing to him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld from me thy son, thine only son’ (Gen 22:1-13). Another glorious victory was achieved. Faith had again triumphed. Paul illustrating this cardinal grace, thus refers to the incident before us:- “By faith Abraham when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called; accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure” (Heb 11:17-18). When these and other scenes had passed, and which are recorded, that “we upon whom the ends of the earth have come,” may imitate the unwavering confidence in the word of God, which characterized “the father of the faithful,” then Jehovah said to Abraham:- ” By myself have I sworn,” “that blessing I will bless thee; and multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the earth be blessed” (Gen 22:15-16). These trials of Abraham’s faith, and repetitions in the strongest forms, to him of ” the covenant of promise,” were, like the sufferings of Job, not especially necessary on his account, but were for our advantage. Therefore said Paul, “When God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.” “Men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them, an end of all strife.” So “God, willing more abundantly to show unto [us the true] heirs of promise, the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath, that by two immutable things [the promise in the original covenant, and the oath in its repetition] in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail, whither our forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus Christ (Heb 6:13-20).

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

  1. December 28, 2018 at 3:45 am

    Might have forgotten to say this: Got your gift in the mail!

    • December 28, 2018 at 4:24 am

      Thank you for letting me know brother. It took longer than expected. I suppose the holiday hustle and bustle of packages slowed it down. I hope you enjoy it. God bless.

  2. December 28, 2018 at 11:28 am

    As a boy, I was fascinated by the action stories of Joshua, Gideon, and David. As an adult, I ponder the amazing faith of Abraham.

    • January 1, 2019 at 4:32 am

      Amen brother. Also I enjoyed reading your first post on what it was like growing up as a child over on your blog. That was an experience and a blessing from God.

  1. January 19, 2019 at 1:56 am
  2. January 27, 2019 at 7:59 am

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