Home > Covenant Theology > The Covenants-Chapter 7e-Philology of the Covenants

The Covenants-Chapter 7e-Philology of the Covenants

Another of these promises guarantees to Abraham and Israel the perpetual possession of the land of Canaan :- ” Unto thy seed will I give this land;” “I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it;” “I will give to thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.”

But how could Abraham and his seed possess forever, literally, the land of Canaan? In the sense intended, God assuredly gave them the land. Personally however, Abraham did not himself possess it; nor did his descendants, until after nearly five hundred years. At last they received it, and God protected them in its enjoyment for many ages. But did these events complete the fulfillment of the promise before us? Israel inherited Canaan for a season; they were then driven thence; many centuries have since passed, and they are to this day, wanderers among all nations. The promise is not literally fulfilled in all its extent, nor indeed can it, in the nature of things possibly be, in the present world; since to possess an earthly inheritance forever, men must live forever upon earth, and the things of this life must have no end. The promise evidently contemplated not alone a Canaan upon earth, but more especially a Canaan in heaven, an immortal spiritual life. The former he gave to Abraham’s natural seed; the latter he bestows upon his seed by faith; all those who believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. And so Abraham and all the early saints understood, and received these promises of the covenant. They took them not alone in their literal import, but also in their higher spiritual signification. Of this fact the apostles give direct testimony. “By faith,” said Paul, “Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive as an inheritance obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles, with Isaac, and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off; and were persuaded of them, and embraced them; and confessed that they were strangers, and pilgrims in the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better, that is a heavenly country.” Their faith was directed therefore, not exclusively to the earthly country, but also, and more especially to the “heavenly country,” of which the earthly was but an emblem, and which clearly, they understood to be included in the promises of the covenants. The latter, and not the former, was to be, to all who had the faith of Abraham, “an everlasting possession.”

R. B. C. Howell- The Covenants

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