The Call of Abram
The Cross-Before the Crown
THE former Lecture brought approximately 2,000 years down the stream of
time. We halted in the
In the promise much was involved. It was not merely that at a certain period, in the history of the Adamic family, a seed should come through whom the things promised should be accomplished. Four thousand dark and dreary years were to roll by before that event. Meanwhile a Law of Truth was to be made known, and extended among the sons of men, to reach the hearts and minds of some who would hear it, and believing would respond to it, that they might be saved. This we saw in the quotation from Jude 3. “That ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”
The Law of Faith, which is a Law of Truth, was made known after sin entered the world, thereby to counteract the evil, which had gained sway. Its development was by precept- here a little, there a little. Line upon line, precept upon precept. The stream of humanity was ever widening in its courses from the Way of the Lord. The faith appertaining to the “common salvation” would reach some and direct them God-ward by the Light of Life. Of necessity they must be guided by such revelation as was given in their generation, serving God and manifesting their faith in His promises; offering sacrifices in the light of their faith, both in thanks-giving and in supplication.
Following the account
of the people being scattered, and their language confounded, the record
reveals “the generations of Shem,” out of which we have “the generations of Terah.” To quote Dr.
Thomas, “The descendants of Noah were beginning to tread in the footsteps of
the antediluvians. They were ambitious
of making ‘a name’ for themselves, irrespective of the name of the Lord. This their way was their folly; yet their
posterity approved their endeavor.
Idolatry was beginning to prevail; and they proceeded to build a
city. But the Lord came down and put a
stop to their enterprise. Noah had lived
292 years after the flood, when three sons were born to Terah,
a descendant of Shem, Terah being 70 years old. Shem
was a worshipper of the true God, whom Noah styled, ‘the Lord God of Shem.’ Terah, however, seems to have departed from the simplicity
of the truth; Be this as it may, we find him in
we are told, “begat Abram, Nahor, and
Such is the
introduction given us to Abram, and Sarai, who were
destined to play so important a part in the Plan of the Ages. It is therefore both interesting and
profitable to spend some time now in company with the Patriarchs. While Terah’s
family dwelt in
THE CALL of ABRAM is simply, yet clearly, stated in the first nine verses of Gen. 12, from which the following quotations are given:
“Now the Lord had said
unto Abram, Get thee out of thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of 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. And Abram took Sarai
his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had
gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in
A famine caused Abram
to go further, even into
another stepping-stone toward the grand climax, which, however, at that date
was in the far-distant future. This
change having taken place it was evidently appropriate for Abram to receive
further instructions, and more detailed information, which is made known to us
in the closing portion of Gen. 13. “And the Lord said unto Abram, after that
Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes,
and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward and eastward,
and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to
thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can
number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise; walk through the land in the length of
it and in the breadth of it, for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and
dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in
“Abram the Hebrew” (Gen. 14: 13), was not without trials and troubles. His contact with the “battle of the kings” illustrates this. An outcome of this incident was that Abram met Melchizedek, “King of Salem, and priest of the most high God,” by whom Abram was blessed, and to whom Abram gave tithes. This notable event is stated in but three verses; it is, however, not lost sight of, for long afterwards an apostle wrote of it, and gave it the highest significance. Of this we cannot now speak particularly. Attention must be directed to the definite statements recorded in regard to the promise to Abram. And to these consideration must be given if we would apprehend the full force of their application to the development of God’s Plan on the earth. For, as we proceed to unfold the purpose of God and the hope of Salvation we shall find that the promises to Abram constitute an important “first principle,” without an understanding of which we cannot perceive the Gospel of the Kingdom of God; and, moreover, if we attain unto “the hope set before us” we must, indeed, he “blessed with faithful Abraham.”
When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord again appeared to him, and said “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, And I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17: 1-8).
Following this announcement instructions were given concerning the covenant of circumcision, and the name of Abram’s wife was changed to Sarah. At the same time a definite promise was made that Sarah would bear a son of Abraham. So unexpected, and- naturally speaking- impossible did this seem to be, that Abraham laughed, and said, “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? But God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
STEP-BY-STEP THE PLAN OF GOD WAS BEING DEVELOPED. We now retrace our steps to consider more fully the details of this development. We are noticing the more salient features; these help us to condense the Plan as it appertains to the Abrahamic Covenant, whilst the details enable us to perceive the reason why this “hope of the promise, made of God unto the fathers” had within it the scheme of salvation. Following on, therefore, our quotations from Gen. 17, we have these pregnant words in Gen. 21: 12, “For in Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Isaac grew, and the love of the father was centered in his son; hope also, for the promise that this son should be born had been fulfilled. Why then doubt that all other things contained in the promises would also be fulfilled?
FAITH IN GOD caused hope to shine brightly, even though at times dark shadows mantled the brow of the patriarch. “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold me. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Meeting the test, perhaps with a heart bowed down, yet not doubting the ultimate outcome of this unusual demand, Abraham was ready early in the morning, when, with two of his young men, Isaac his son, wood prepared for the burnt offering, ass saddled, he rose up, and went toward the place to which be had been directed. Twas not until the third day that he saw the place afar off. Then, leaving the ass with the young men, Abraham said, “Abide ye here; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.” So father and son went forward, with wood, fire and knife, doubtless in quiet meditation, until Isaac spake: “My father, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Heart-searching question: faith-testing words, yet not hope destroying thought! Isaac, as yet, knew not what had been required of his father. Abraham, like another yet to come, in a much later day, and for another more glorious manifestation, “kept these things, and pondered them in his heart.” For the immediate need all he said to the lad, was, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” What was said as the altar was being built, and preparation for the offering being made, we are not told. The record is wisely brief. “Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”
CONFIDENCE IN GOD alone actuated the compliance with Heaven’s mandate. How much Abraham perceived of the hidden meaning we are not told; he had, however, seen sufficient demonstration of the power invested in the Elohim since he first received the call to get out from his father’s house, and the land of his nativity to allow his trust not to be broken. Whilst prepared to carry out to the full the obligation placed upon him, the patriarch went so far as to tell the young men, “I and the lad will come again to you.” That was not the voice of pretence, but of hope based upon confidence as the outcome of knowledge. So we find it recorded in an epitome of men of faith: “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, That 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: 17-19).
The knife in the stretched-forth hand was sufficient; it demonstrated belief in God, and confidence that the Judge of all the earth would do right. The angel called, “Abraham, Abraham,” and said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” What relief to both father and son, and with what satisfaction would Abraham “lift up his eyes, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.”
The place was named “Jehovah-jireh; i.e., The Lord will see, or provide.” Now all this had been seen, and noted, by the angel who was the name-bearer of the Lord, and the executioner of His will. Proof of faith, hope, confidence and obedience having been so demonstrably given; the Lord well pleased, and the men of His choice strengthened to continue and endure that they, and others, might at last “receive the promise” in glorious fulfillment, a further stage in the divine (and human) drama was consequently established. Heaven’s proclamation was once more heard; “The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
so it came about that “Abraham and the lad” returned to the young men, even as
he had said. Together they went to
We note in passing the death of Sarah, and also of Abraham. “Abraham gave up the ghost (breath), and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people,” being buried in “The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth; there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.”
THE development of God's Plan was now centered in Isaac, and therefore we find “the promise” extended to him. Of this we read, “The Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (Gen. 26: 2, 5).
Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob, “two manner of people.” It was foretold that “the elder shall serve the younger.” The subsequent history of these “two peoples” showed the accuracy, and the wisdom, of this divine foretelling. Our present interest is in the development of the Abrahamic Covenant, which permits our passing over much of the domestic happenings in their family circle.
WE take up the thread in Gen. 28. “Isaac called Jacob and said, God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” Isaac sent Jacob away, and Jacob followed the instructions given to him. In the course of his journey, we read of Jacob: “And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land where thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
What a dream from which to awaken and wonder! Sensitive to the high calling which had befallen him, he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.” Of the place he said, “This is none other but the house of God,” and of the revelation and promise extended to him, “this is the gate of heaven,” i.e., the knowledge of the will and purpose of God, by reason of which an entrance may be found into the kingdom of heaven when the promises made of God unto the fathers find their fulfillment; guaranteed by God unto Abraham and his seed. Jacob called the name of that place Bethel, and having “vowed a vow” went on his journey; found his uncle Laban,, and stayed with him twenty years.
A few years later,
again having been recipient of a divine favor, in that God once more instructed
him as to what he should do, and where to go, Jacob said unto his household,
and to all that were with him, “Let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will
make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and
was with me in the way which I went.” This was accomplished, and in verses 9-12
of the chapter from which these events are obtainable (Gen. 35) we read, “And
God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram,
and blessed him. And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not
be called any more Jacob, but
WAS THE LAND RECEIVED ACCORDING TO THE PROMISES?
THE promise of the inheritance of the
We must again retrace our steps, and in doing so lay hold of some of the details, which, when fitted into the general picture already presented, will enable us to comprehend why the patriarchs, and many others, “died in faith,” without having witnessed the fulfillment of their hopes in the consummation of the Plan of the Ages; so vividly made known to them in the promises and testimony of God. The fifteenth chapter of Genesis is extremely interesting, enlightening, and of the utmost importance in regard to the promise to Abraham. Indeed; so much is involved in the revelation therein given that we may truly say, it is astounding. That Abraham (giving him now his later name) had thought long and well concerning the promises made to him is quite evident. Without any lack of faith, or distrust in God, Abraham could not fail to see the difficulties in the path. Before the promises could become actualities the difficulties must be removed. But how? Must he, himself, open up a way to overcome the obstacles? It was natural that, without further enlightenment, he should conceive such a scheme. The plan, however, was of God, and his mind must therefore ever be God-ward. Abraham had been with Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, who had blessed him, saying, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” And Abraham had said to the King of Sodom, “I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth . . . I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.” (Gen. 14: 19,23).
God knoweth our thoughts, “even before they are our own,” and so, He who has “by dream, by oracle, by seer” made known His Will, approached the patriarch to answer some of his troubled thoughts. “After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” God knew the mind of the man who had so well responded to His call; and would not Abraham feel, when the vision came to him, that here was an answer to the inquiry which had been formulating in his mind? He would feel that this was a message to give him strength, encouragement and hope, all being sorely needed to help him carry on amidst the trials of a period of waiting and watching. He, therefore, placed his hand in the hand of God, when he said, “Lord God what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? Behold, to me thou hast given no seed; and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.”
There was the problem, which perplexed his mind. A promise to Abraham and his seed, and yet he had no child. Was it that a human construction was to be placed upon the promise, under the circumstance of his domestic difficulty, which apparently was against the fulfillment of the promise, as the patriarch might well have hoped it should be? The idea of an adoption seemed to provide a solution, but if with man, it was not so with God. For yet again the word of the Lord came, saying, “This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” Abraham probably did not realize that he was being tested whilst also being prepared. Hence, the full knowledge of “how” it should come about was not immediately made known to him. In God’s own time it would be imparted to him, and by the longer process Abraham would be fortified to meet the requirements of the way. Having discarded the human suggestion, and made known that the seed should be direct, not adopted, the way was not yet opened to Abraham. Nor had the time come for it to be made known. Yet “the possessor of heaven and earth” thought well to offer a means of strength to the man of His choice. He, therefore, “brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; and he said unto him, so shall thy seed be.”
The experiences through which Abraham had passed had been sufficient to engender in him a disposition of conviction, trust and confidence. Therefore, even though he could not yet understand how and when these things should be, he could still believe that what God had promised He would fulfill. It is there recorded of him, “He believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Again Abraham is reminded of the promise as it was first presented to him. And mark this well, my friends; it was belief in the promise as given, and confidence in the word of God that the same would be fulfilled “according to the promise” that Abraham's “belief” was reckoned as the basis of righteousness before God. This “hope of the promise” was a “gospel” unto Abraham. Would any other interpretation placed upon the promise, in regard to how, when and where it should be fulfilled, have been acceptable to the giver of the promise? Did it matter what Abraham believed? Would any other view of this gospel-hope, than that which is definitely stated, have been right before God? And would any interpretation contrary to the specified terms of the covenant have been acceptable, and sufficient to constitute Abraham “the friend of God?” (Jas. 2: 23). Do you believe in the promise as Abraham believed, and do you look for its fulfillment in the same way, and in the same place, as he did?
As if to emphasize the
reality of the “place,” after God had directed attention to the “stars,” and
promised, “so shall thy seed be,” “He said unto him, I
am the Lord that brought thee out of
Following is a synopsis of what is revealed in Gen. 15. “In reply to this, he was commanded to take ‘a heifer of three years old, and a ram of three 3 years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon.’ Having killed them, ‘he divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another, but the birds divided he not.’ This sacrifice was representative of the qualities of the Christ, concerning which confirmation was about to be made, attestative of Abram’s and his seed’s possession of the land in the fullness of the times afterwards to be arranged. From the time of the sacrifice until the going down of the sun, Abram was engaged in watching the carcasses, so as to keep off the birds of prey. It is probable that the sacrifice was exposed about three hours; at all events ‘when even was come,’ and the sun was going down, Abram fell into a state of figurative death, by a deep sleep, and horror of great darkness coming over him. This was a very remarkable feature in the case before us. Abram had built altars, and had called upon the name of the Lord before; but there were no such attendant circumstances as these. Here, however, he stands watching the exposed sacrificial victims until even; and then is laid powerless in the similitude of death, and in the intense darkness of the grave. While he was in this state, the Lord revealed to Abram the fortunes of his descendants in the ensuing four hundred years; the judgment of the nation that should oppress them; their subsequent exodus from bondage with great wealth; his own peaceful death in a good old age; and the return of his descendants into the Land of Canaan again. The following are the words of the testimony: ‘Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years, and also that nation whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full’.”-Elpis Israel, p. 206.
Here, in part, was an
answer to the question, “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” But
that was not all. “And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it
was dark, behold a smoking furnace and a burning lamp that passed between those
pieces.” What did this answer reveal to Abraham? “In the same day the
Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed
have I given this land, from the
The promise and
covenant involved a territory “from the
It is interesting to note that although the descendants of Abraham, at a later date, occupied this land, as a kingdom and nation; they did not possess the full extent of the territory. And when their past occupation of the land is compared with the description of the land as it is to be divided among the tribes in a yet future day we must realize that the past was but a partial fulfillment of the terms of the promise and covenant.
We have already seen the record of Abram’s name being changed to Abraham; the covenant of circumcision; the name of Abraham’s wife changed to Sarah; the promise to the patriarch, which made him laugh, and yet how “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bear Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him” (Gen. 21: 1, 2). We saw also the suggestion to provide “a seed” through the house of Eliezer, which however was rejected. Even Sarah tried the idea of accommodation, for, seeing she “bare him no children,” she proposed to her husband that he take unto him her maid, “that I may obtain children by her.” Hagar, the Egyptian maid, bore a son, whose name was called “Ishmael.” Then trouble arose, as might have been expected.
God waited, for with
Him “time,” as we know it, does not count. In all that took place God
considered the end, for to Him “the end is known from the beginning.” And
whilst laws were given for the time then present, there were also lessons to be
imparted for those who should come after. It was so with the ordinance of
circumcision; it was something since “sin entered” and man was cast out of
One important feature of Heaven’s declaration to Abraham, after he had manifested such implicit faith in God- evidenced by his obedience- must not be overlooked. It is found in verse 17 of Gen. 22. “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” Here are two seeds. Obviously the first is multitudinous, and refers to the natural descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; whilst the second is an individual seed, and therefore personal. Were these promises fulfilled? If, to the full extent, they were fulfilled in the days immediately following the giving of the promises to the patriarchs they would not, in later scriptures, still be referred to as “promises.” And yet, as time went on, some matters were fulfilled, as is seen in the history of the natural descendants of Abraham, The partial fulfillment, however, does not interfere with the ultimate accomplishment of all that was spoken.
If in one instance we read, “Thou hast fulfilled,” and in another, “Thou wilt perform,” there is no contradiction. It is a matter of “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” and this we are able to do, if we keep before us the fact that the promises involved “two seeds,” and that certain features could be fulfilled during the period of development of the natural and national seed, but other matters having reference to the individual seed could not, and would not, be fulfilled “until the seed should come to whom the promise was made;” and these would only find full fruition at “the appointed time.” As these promises have to do with the scheme of salvation it behooves us to see things in their correct perspective. To accomplish this we must do, as others of old; “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Neh. 8: 8).
To illustrate what I have advanced in the preceding remarks, I now quote: “Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; and foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous; and didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red Sea. Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and speakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and laws of truth, good statutes and commandments. Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their father’s, that they should go in to possess it. So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would.” (Neh. 9: 7-9, 13, 23, 24).
Whilst this truly speaks of a fulfillment, and a possessing of the land, it does not meet all the requirements of the covenant God made with Abraham; therefore, there must be a future application. This we find expressed by a prophet in these words: “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” (Mic. 7: 20).
Hear now a summarization of “these things” given by Stephen, when he answered the high priest, “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.” (Acts 7: 1-7).
This testimony is strengthened by the words of Paul, which demonstrate conclusively to whom the individual aspect of the promise refers, and clearly shows that though this individual seed is in process of development, it yet remains for “the seed” to inherit the land, under the terms of the promise, and “to possess the gate of his enemies.” Mark well the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles:
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they, which are of faith, the same, are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying; in thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. 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. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hands of a mediator. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Such is the remarkable testimony of Paul in Gal. 3. Jesus Christ is definitely declared to be the seed to whom the Abrahamic promise was made. The statement, however, goes beyond the direct seed, the person of Jesus Christ. Yet it is here interesting to note the opening words of the New Testament. “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” Whilst carried beyond Jesus, we are also carried backward. We recall “the way of the Lord,” as made known from the beginning. Men “called upon,” and were “called by” the name of the Lord. The truth underlying “the name of the Lord” was embodied in the promises to the fathers, and the highest Name-bearer was designated “the seed to whom the promise was made.” The work of the Father, in the Son, was to bring many sons unto glory.” (Heb. 2: 10). These “many sons” would also be “in the Name,” because they would be “in the way of the Lord.” Hence, the word: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed.” Thus the individual seed was also to become multitudinous; but, first the natural and then the spiritual. Howbeit, the spiritual, though multitudinous, were one seed, “all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3: 28).
That the promise to the fathers was not fulfilled in the day when Jesus was upon the earth is so obvious that no one should hesitate to affirm it; it must, therefore, appertain to a yet future period, of which we shall see much more as we proceed.
And now, Paul, what
more will you say? “And now I stand and am judged for
the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: Unto which promise our
twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which
hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” “But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar;
not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. For this
cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you:
because that for the hope of
THE story of their going into
The statutes, ordinances, and commandments of the Lord were then given to the people. “The Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them” (Ex. 24: 12). This law became known as The Law of Moses; it was designed to instruct, and to regulate a people released from slavery, who henceforth were to live under totally different conditions to those in which they had been cradled. Though referred to as “Moses’ Law,” we must ever remember that it was the Law of God given through Moses. The period, in which it was destined to play its part in The Plan, was one of great importance. It was “added” to the promises, and (as did the promises) the Law pertained to the people to whom it was given, and- directly- to no other people. If this principle of application is not recognized and maintained confusion will be the result. And although God’s Covenant with the Children of Israel, under Moses’ Law, came after the promises were made to the fathers, we find it spoken of as “the first covenant,” and also as “the old covenant” (Heb. 8: 7, 13). It was also “a shadow of good things to come.” (Heb. 10: 1), a “shadow” in the sense of being a dim outline, or type. It was not intended to supercede the covenanted-promises, and, accordingly, it was not perfect, or complete. The meaning of this is clear when seen in the light of Paul’s testimony, where, in reference to the Abrahamic covenant, he says, “the law was added till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”
Moses’ Law must serve its purpose in relation to The Plan, for the specified period; when that period should expire it would necessarily cease to operate. Being taken out of the way, something else would take its place, which would be another development of The Plan. When “added to,” the Law had also a relation to the promises. The effectiveness of The Law, in its relation to the Abrahamic Covenant, is embodied in the words of Paul, when he says, “which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.” (Rom. ). If this “form” were merely seen as a form by the Children of Israel it would fail to enlighten them in the eternal riches of the promises. When the meaning of the “form” was discerned by the light of “the truth,” which was “in the law,” it transferred the Israelite beyond the Mosaic to the Abrahamic Covenant. The Children of Israel were thus born in the way of understanding; it depended however upon the fidelity of the parents, associates, and themselves as to whether they discerned the hidden wisdom. If they failed in this, “the knowledge of the truth” would not benefit them, and this their way would be their folly, even as it is written, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead” (Prov. 21: 16).
discernment of the hidden wisdom of “the truth in the law” obedience to the
statutes and commandments could only benefit in the present life. Obedience to
the Law of Moses could not bestow Eternal life upon any of the Children of
Israel. One only, of all
THE sacrifice of Jesus was prefigured in many ways. To one of these “types
and shadows” attention is now directed. The people of God’s choice were not
long, after leaving Egypt, in demonstrating that they had “a rebellious heart,”
out of which they “spake against God, and against
Moses.” For this they were punished, as God “sent fiery serpents among the
people, and much people of
In that we have the
“shadow;” and where shall we find the substance? There is no room for guess,
speculation, or interpretation here. The Great Teacher Himself has answered the
question; hear His words: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the
wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; That whosoever believeth
in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3: 14, 15). Wherein
is the parallel and lesson? All mankind has been “bitten” by the serpent- they
have felt the serpent’s bite, and the consequences of sin are upon us all. And
as they only who beheld the serpent of brass were relieved of the plague and
lived, so also they only who “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh
away the sin of the world” can be saved from the sting of sin, which hath
reigned unto death. To look upon the Lamb of God in this way does not require
an actual sight of Jesus in a physical sense. “Look unto me, and be ye saved.”
(lsa. 45: 22), is a
mental process. Approach unto God is by “a strait and narrow way” (Matt. ). That “way” is the Truth as in Jesus. We may
look upon Jesus by an intelligent understanding, and an affectionate appreciation
of the things of the
Now let us demonstrate
from the Chart. Commence with EVE, and
follow the line marked “seed of the woman” from its beginning to the cross,
under which we have written John 3: 14. “Even so must the Son of Man be
lifted up.” Going back to the Book of Genesis we hear
again the words to the serpent, “Thou shalt bruise
his heel.” The first break in this line brings us to Abraham. The “seed of the woman” was to be developed
through the line of Abraham. He would therefore be the seed of Abraham, as well
as the seed of the woman. The line,
however, goes further- even to David.
There are promises, which were made to David (of which we shall deal
later) and these form a very important element of the covenants of promise.
Take now another span, marked “Son of David;” this carries on to
THE CROSS-BEFORE THE CROWN
“HOW is it that the cross of Jesus has come to be so impressive a thing among men?” A writer has asked this question, and doubtless many answers can be given. “The symbol of The Cross” (whether seen in the light of Truth, or viewed through the colorings of the many and varied perversions which have come down from the dark ages, when Truth had almost perished from the earth) has exercised a powerful influence over men and women of different race, color and creed. Sculptors have wrought, artists have painted, and many have composed and sung the praises of The Cross. Whether it be “When I survey the wondrous cross,” “Beneath the Cross of Jesus I fain would take my stand;” or, “The old rugged Cross,” the underlying thought of hymns and poems has been the recognition of the death of Jesus, as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the World. Comfort, both true and false, has been the result to many through the generations.
God’s Plan, as revealed in the Scriptures, is to make known- to those who will give heed- what is Truth! Error is of darkness, Truth is of the light. “I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”(John 8: 12). All who follow Jesus, in His way, and “continue in His Word” are His “disciples indeed;” and consequently as they thus “know the Truth,” according to the Master’s Word, “the truth doth make them free.” These “disciples indeed” look upon The Cross as the climax of all that has gone before during 4,000 years in which THE PLAN had been in operation, typically shadowing forth that “without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9: 22).
The true disciple sees
in The Cross more than the cross of
There is a battle to be fought,
An onward race to run.
The race must come before the prize,
the cross before the crown.
Jesus Christ lived and died, according to the will of God, to perform His part in the execution of The Plan. To the Romans Paul wrote: “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers.” (15: 8). But God raised Jesus from the dead, and exalted Him “to be a Prince and a Savior.” He will come again, for God “hath appointed a day, in the which he will rule the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts ).
IN HIS STEPS
ARE we willing to bear the Cross- that we may also share the Crown? For such indeed is the
promise made to those who “follow in His Steps.” “Be thou faithful unto
death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2: 10). Are we satisfied
with “the old covenant,” the mere “shadow,” and fail to grasp the Substance,
which is in Christ? Are we satisfied
with the covenant of Sinai, “which gendereth to