The Covenants of Promise
MAN, through sin, having fallen from the exalted position in which God had placed him, becomes an outcast, an alien from God and in the language Of the Apostle Paul, was "without hope and without God in the world”. He was then so far as he himself was concerned hopeless and absolutely powerless to help himself. He had fallen. He was lost. While he had thus brought evil into the world, dethroned himself and become the subject of sin, resulting in the deplorable history of human affairs which followed, he placed himself in a predicament to become the subject of Divine mercy. This gave scope for the manifestation of the love of God, to show that His tender mercies are always manifest towards those who will believe His word and obey His commandments He does not leave man to die under the sentence and go down into dust without hope, but He comes to his rescue opening up a new relationship.
COVENANT WITH ADAM
Here, we may safely say is the first covenant of promise to be found in the Bible. While the promise is made in so many words the covenant feature is only implied The implication however is sufficient to assure us that a covenant relationship was opened up between man and his creator. The Scriptures lay down the principle that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin" (Heb. 9: 22). A covenant, therefore, providing for man's redemption must always provide for a sacrifice for the remission of sins. Was there such a sacrifice in the case of our first parents? May we not safely conclude that the coats of skins made for covering their nakedness implied a sacrifice involving the shedding of blood? That by the goodness of God an arrangement was entered into between God and man at that early stage, requiring sacrificial offerings, is clear from the words of the Apostle Paul By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain by which he obtained witness that he was righteous God testifying of his gifts: and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh (Heb 11: 4) This alludes to Gen 4: 3, 4 - “And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering." How could Cain and Abel know that it was necessary to make offerings unless they had received the revelation from God? That a covenant had been entered into, God promising redemption and requiring submission to his prescribed conditions, would seem to be more than implied in what the apostle says. He first defines faith, saying, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Our first parents and their sons could know nothing of future life and could hope for nothing after the fall, unless God had made promises to them. In these promises they had "evidence of things not seen," things far in the future, involving human redemption. Without this faith "it is impossible to please God" (Heb. 11: 6). This is what is called in other parts of the Scriptures "the one faith,” the "one hope.” We may safely conclude also that this one faith is what is termed the one gospel, and therefore the gospel from the beginning and throughout all ages since has been the same, involving the redemption of man and the "restitution of all things spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." Having defined what the one faith is, the apostle proceeds to say, "Through faith we understand that the worlds (ages) were framed." and then he adds, "By faith," this faith already defined, "Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." The one faith was therefore revealed to them, and this one faith instructed them that God required an offering from them, or rather offerings, for evidently there were two kinds of offerings to be made - one of the fruit of the ground and the other of the firstlings of the flock. It does not appear that God found fault with Cain's offering in itself, it was all right in its place, but where he fell short was that he did not do all that God had required as Abel his brother did. That it was not displeasing to God to offer the fruit of the ground us shown by the fact that such offerings were instituted in the Mosaic law. The difference between the two was that the one was an offering of gratitude to God, while the other, the firstlings of the flock, involving the shedding of blood, acknowledged man as a sinner and his dependence upon God for forgiveness and redemption through the shedding of the blood of the typical victims, which pointed to Christ, whose blood has been shed for redemption. An offering which acknowledged the justice of God in inflicting death for sin and His goodness in granting remission of sin and release from its evil effects was esteemed very important, sufficiently so to cause God to have respect to Abel's obedience and to bring frowns upon the disobedience of Cain. The words spoken to Cain, "Sin lieth at the door" (Gen. 4: 7) should be rendered "A sin-offering croucheth at thy door," intimating that an animal proper to be offered for atonement, and which Cain had failed to offer, was within reach. We may safely say that "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" was in the gospel or the faith known to our first parents, and that their offering pointed directly to Him, as all the types and shadows of the Mosaic law did, of which the apostles assure us. Here then in the Garden of Eden, as soon as man fell, we have a covenant of promise.
THE COVENANT WITH NOAH
Coming down to the time of Noah when the wickedness of man became great and God's justice and vengeance required the destruction of almost everything that existed, provision being made for the safety of Noah and his family and sufficient of the animal kingdom to give the world a fresh start, another covenant of promise was made. In the building of the ark which saved Noah and all that went in with him we have a figure of Christ The apostle Peter says, "The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us" 1 Pet 3 21 ) The storm and flood having subsided God enters into covenant with Noah, instructing him in certain details concerning thie various animals by which he could discriminate between the clean and the unclean, He then says,
Gen 9: 9-17 And I, behold I establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you and with evey living living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle and and every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you neither shalt all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood, neither shall all there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said This is the token of the covenant which l make between me and you and every living creature that is with you for perpetual generations I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth And it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud and I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh And the bow shall be in the cloud: and I will look uipon it that l may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
Again we would pause here and ask the reader to remember that these covenants, so far is we have gone pertain to the earth and the creatures upon it that they deal with the results of the curse which was the origin as cause of all the evils necessitating the covenants and the end they are intended to reach. No doubt there were many details in these covenants communicated to the people of the times that are not recorded revelation not seeming to abound in giving particulars from Adam to Abraham as it does from Abraham to Christ and His apostles. The outlines given, however, with references made in more recent writings in the Scriptures, are sufficient to assure us that God's promises and all His arrangements with man in those early ages dealt with things as they had come to be in the earth with a view of ultimately righting all wrongs and eradicating every vestige of sin and its woeful effects. Over two thousand years pass away before the details of the covenants of promise begin to be clearly revealed and assume tangible form, which brings them well within the scope of the comprehension of following ages.
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
is told to leave his native country and to go into the
Gen 13: 14-17 - The Lord
said unto Abram after that
Gen 15: 5-8 - And he
bought 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. And he
believed in the Lord: and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said
unto him I am the Lord that bought thee out
Verse 18 - In the same
day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying Unto
thy seed have I given this land from the
Gen. 17: 1-8 - And when
Abram was ninety years old and nine the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto
him, 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 be called Abram, but thy name shall he Abraham: for a
father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful,
and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 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 seed
after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee the land wherein thou art a
stranger all the
Gen -18 - And 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.
REPEATED TO ISAAC
Gen 26: 1-5 - And there was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar And the Lord appeared unto him and said Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which l shall tell thee of sojourn in this land, and I will he with thee and will bless thee for unto thee and unto thy seed l will give all these couniries and l will perform the oath which l made unto Abraham thy father; and l will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heavn, and I 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.
REPEATED AGAIN TO JACOB
Gen 28: 13, 14 - 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 whereon 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.
Those who have departed from the Abrahamic faith and subverted the covenants of promise will claim that these Scriptures found their fulfillment in the history of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; at any rate in that of their descendants, the twelve tribes of Israel They are astonished when we quote these testimonies and apply them to ourselves. They have no idea that the gospel the only true and saving gospel is found in these very promises Perhaps you, dear reader have taken this ground but let us reason together a little. You will notice that in making the promise to Abraham it is said, not simply that I will give this land including the blessings promised, to thy seed but I will give it to thee and to thy seed. Therefore it was intended that Abraham himself and Isaac, and Jacob should personally receive the inheritance and enjoy the blessings contained in the covenant That Abraham did not understand that he was then to receive the inheritance is clearly shown from the anxious inquiry he makes when he says, "Lord God, whereby shall I know that l shall inherit it?" What could make him ask such a question as this if when the promise was made the inheritance was given to him and he already inherited it? There was no reason why he should ask for evidence that at a future time he would come into the possession of the inheritance if it was then given into his possession. It is evident that he saw how far-reaching the promises were, that they reached away beyond the time of his natural life; and may we not conclude that it was in this that he saw the day of Christ, of which our Saviour speaks when he says, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad." The manner in which Abraham asked for assurance show's that this was the case. He was not answered in so many words, but he was commanded to take an heifer of three years old and with it and other things make an offering which shows that the realization of the promises depended upon sacrifice. All sacrifices, especially those in which there was the shedding of blood, pointed to Christ. If we view this typically we may safely conclude that the answer points out that the inheritance could not be realized except through Christ, and that he would be the covenant sacrifice, whose blood would be shed to bring the covenant into force.
There is another reason why we may conclude that this promise reached down the ages beyond the time of the resurrection. The matters recorded in the fifteenth chapter seem to follow each other in natural sequence. The first command given to Abraham in answer to his inquiry whereby he should know that he should inherit the land, is to offer sacrifice. This takes us back to the sin of our first parents which necessitated sacrifice in order that men might escape the curse which Adam brought upon the race. Had God never interposed in mans behalf, man must have died under the condemnation and gone into the perpetual darkness of the grave. But sacrifice having been provided, pointing to Christ hope is given of escape from the power of death and the bondage of the grave through resurrection Hence the next step in the answer to Abraham's inquiry was one that removed the grievous difficulty which, no doubt, stood in his way. He felt and confessed that he was “but dust and ashes”: realizing that in a few years; his life must end, and he would be ''gathered to his fathers and see corruption.'' How then could he inherit such wonderful worldwide endless blessings as had been promised? How could he pass over the dark chasm of death and the grave and reach the time when all the nations of the earth would be blessed in him and in his seed and he would receive the everlasting inheritance promised? He exclaims in the earnestness of his soul, “Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” In answer after commanding that offerings be made the sun is going down and Abraham is caused to pass into a ''deep sleep and a horror of great darkness fell upon him. . . What can this be but death and the grave that perplexing obstacle which Abraham saw between him and the realization of the grand promises? Why is he thus caused to symbolically die, to pass into the darkness of the grave? Is it not that God might awaken him out of this sleep, and thus show him by symbol that the obstacle standing in his way would be removed, and that by him ultimately being awakened from the sleep of death and brought victoriously forth from the power of the grave he would realize the promises?
If this is the gospel involved in the Abrahamic promises it surely concerns us as much as it did him. The same gospel that suited his condition and his future prospects suits ours. Therefore these promises seriously concern us, and let us not be persuaded that they are out of date and pertain to the ages of the past, having no reference whatever to our salvation.
Previous to the Lord appearing to Abraham the second time to amplify the covenant, he was subjected to the severe test of offering his son his only heir, as a sacrifice to God. We have only to imagine ourselves in Abraham's place to realize what a trying ordeal it was for him to be the recipient of such momentous promises. Had he not been the right man in the right place, he certainly would have faltered and fallen under the weight of such responsibilities as he must have felt devolving upon him, by reason of being the one upon whom in the hands of God, depended such wonderful eventualities. God's goodness however always provides for the weakness of fallen men and "the word of the Lord" came unto Abraham in a vision, saying, “Fear not Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” ( Gen l5 : 1). Still the question pressed itself, How could such great things be accomplished through his seed when he was a childless man advanced in years? He exclaims "Behold to me thou hast given no seed: and lo, one born in my house is mine heir” (verse 3). All through the trying ordeal Abraham is in anxious and intelligent inquirer doubting not the power and veracity of God but seeking "the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen which is always well pleasing to God who even condescends to say to the intelligent creatures of his creation, "Come let us reason together". As Abraham's anxiety grew in intensity, one by one the obstacles were removed and the light increased, shining ''brighter and brighter unto the perfect day" He is assured and strengthened by the words, “This (Ishmael) shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir” (verse 4 ). When Abraham was ninety years old and nine the Lord appeared unto him to renew the covenant and said. ''As for Sarai thy wife thou shalt not call her name Sarai but Sarah shall her name be. And l will bless her, and give these a son also of her: yea I will bless her and she shall be a mother of nations: kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed and said in his his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old bear? And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall hear 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" (Gen. 17: 1-5 19). In due time Isaac was born; and after a while, when the mocking of Ishmael sorely displeased Sarah, she said to Abraham, "Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Gen. 21: 10-12).
Thus far all obstacles have been removed, everything made clear and Abraham could more fully trust in God, and wait in faith the fulfillment of the covenants of promise. But still a more trying ordeal awaited him, one that without the faith developed by irresistible evidence and by intelligence concerning the power and purpose of God, he could never have endured. The indignant scoffer flushes his cheeks and cries out against God's demand of Abraham to “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" (Gen. 22: 2). To the mere natural man it appears cruel; but to one who knows God's power, authority and wisdom it is quite intelligible. Had Abraham reasoned from the standpoint of the mere natural man, to slay his son and heir would be to frustrate the purpose of God and defeat the plan the covenants of promise provided for. But was not Isaac's existence a token of God's power? Had not God in various ways shown His power and faithfulness? Even if I slay my son, cannot the God, who supernaturally gave him to me, prevent the pangs and pains of death, even though he die by the knife, and then restore him to life again? This was a faith based upon the power and veracity of God, and one that required reason and intelligence concerning His plan of a character too high for the unenlightened mere natural man to reach. It was, however, the faith that strengthened Abraham for the trying test; for the Apostle Paul says, "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). Here we have a representation of God's love in giving His Son, and of Christ's resurrection to life through sacrifice, which is the real and final confirmation of the covenants of promise. As the sacrifice of the victim brought Isaac from the dead in "a figure" so the "God of peace brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Heb. ). And thus was Christ "a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers" (Rom. 15: 8)
NOT YET FULFILLED, BUT WILL BE
Should you, dear reader, not feel disposed to accept what seems to be the unmistakable meaning of the types or symbols we have called attention to, we are pleased to assure you that the futurity of the Abrahamic promises is not dependent upon these alone. The Scriptures positively declare it in words that cannot be mis-understood. Coming down to the first century of the Christian era, over two thousand years from Abraham's time, we have the words of the Apostle Paul declaring, "By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, * * * 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" (Heb. 11: 8, 9). There can be no question that the apostle here refers to the very land promised to Abraham for an inheritance, including also, of course, all the blessings involved I must again remind you that there is not one word indicating a promise to Abraham of an inheritance in heaven. It all has to do with the earth. He is told to "look northward, southward, eastward and westward, and all the land which thou seest," it says, "to thee will I give it." When he is commanded to arise and walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it, and he is assured that to him God would give it – the land. Abraham believed this and it was accounted to him for righteousness, Had he changed this and believed in "reading his title clear to mansions in the skies," he would not have believed the promise, but something else, not promised; and that would not have been accounted to him for righteousness, for "he that believeth not God hath made him a liar;" and surely God cannot be well pleased with those who, by refusing to believe His promises as they are given, without perversion, make Him a liar. In this very land he sojourned; and in this very land he was a stranger; of this very land he was heir, not yet in possession; of this very covenant, of these very promises made to Abraham and others, the apostle says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, hut having seen them afar oft, and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth" (Heb. 11: 13). At that time they were strangers and pilgrims, but when they come to the realization of the promises they will no longer be strangers and pilgrims, for then they will be of those spoken of by our Saviour, in His promise, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth," and they will join in that grand song of redemption, "Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on the earth."
Some base the claim of a past fulfillment of the promises to Abraham upon the words from Neh. 9: 7, 8 - "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."
A moment's thought will show the fallacy of such a claim, and those who make it forget that if they succeeded in proving that Nehemiah meant the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, the passage would be a flat contradiction to what is said in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul declares that the possession of the promised land under the Mosaic law, or the added covenant, did not disannual to make the Abrahamic covenant of none effect (Gal. 3: 17, 18). Supposing we were to make the words of Nehemiah read as some would have them read, "And madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorties, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say (to thee and) to thy seed, and hast performed thy words." Then we should be met with the words of Stephen in Acts 7: 5 where he declares, "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." No one who has any regard for the Scriptures would force a claim that necessitates the admission that the Bible contradicts itself. There is no disputing the words of Stephen, and if the words of Nehemiah say the very opposite a contradiction necessarily must be admitted. Numerous testimonies show clearly that the promise has not been fulfilled to Abraham and to his seed; for it centered in Christ, and cannot be fulfilled until Christ takes possession of the promised inheritance. But how would we harmonize the apparent contradiction? Very easily if we pay strict attention to what Nehemiah says. He does not say, "to give it, I say, to him and to his seed." He simply Says, "to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words." The seed here referred to were the descendants of Abraham according to the flesh; and the possession of the land by them was under the Mosaic covenant, which was added to the Abrahamic "till the seed should come to whom the promise (the great Abrahamic covenant, to which the Mosaic covenant was added) was made." The possession of the land under the Mosaic covenant was a small matter compared with the promise to Abraham in its amplitude and was simply an added affair to illustrate a greater and grander constitution, that to which it pointed and of which it was a type. It was the lesser involved in the greater, and when it had served its purpose was abolished and Abraham's natural seed driven out of the land and scattered among all nations of the earth. Hence Paul says of the two covenants represented by Sarah and Isaac, and Hagar and Ishmael, "which things are an allegory for these are the two covenants the one from the Mount Sinai which gendereth to bondage which* * *is Agar and answereth to Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children But Jerusalem which is above” or as some translate it, "Jerusalem the exalted” the one that will be higher and more glorious than the one that was is free This one is represented by Sarah and Isaac Hence he adds " Now we, brethren as Isaac was are the children of promise." The Abrahamic promise is therefore still a promise and not a thing fulfilled. Upon the principle of the greater involving the lesser, which is characteristic of the Scriptures in many cases, there is a double fulfillment provided for. The possession of the land under the Mosaic law was involved in the promise made to Abraham, but it was not the fulfillment of it. As an illustration of this principle we may refer to the words, “Out of Egypt have I called my son”, which were originally applied to Israel coming out of Egypt but they are applied also to Christ and it is a question if they are not still applicable to the future and larger fulfillment God knowing the end from the beginning, can give expression in the same words to events wide apart that will repeat themselves in the future history of the world, and thus clothe divine thoughts in few words It would be difficult for any one to divide the promises made to Abraham, and say on the one hand, This applies to the possession of the land under the Mosaic law, and on the other hand, This applies to the everlasting inheritance under Christ. But if it be kept in mind that the Mosaic possession, the lesser, is involved in the promise of the everlasting inheritance through Christ, the greater, the difficulty will be removed, and then we can apply the words of Nehemiah to the lesser, in which he only says that the land was given "to his seed." It yet remains for the absolute fulfillment required by the promise which declares, "To thee will I give it and to thy seed for an everlasting inheritance;' and when this is fulfilled, "all families of the earth shall be blessed," a thing that has found no fulfillment as yet in the history of the world.
HOW TO AVOID A CONTRADICTION
the covenants of promise are really the gospel and since salvation is to be
realized by all the saved of Adam's race at the same time, it is evident that
the actual inheritance could not be realized until all the redeemed should
enter upon it together, and this is exactly what this same apostle declares:
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not
the promise; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us
should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11: 39, 40). Should you still be in
doubt, dear reader, on this, let me invite your attention to what is recorded
in Acts 7: 2 "And he said, 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 Here we
have a portion of the Scriptures made much of by infidelity. The infidel asks
the popular theorist some very awkward questions here, as follows: Did God
promise to give Abraham the
these truths are presented to the advocates of popular religious theories they
readily see that they undermine the whole superstructure upon which the creeds
are built. They endeavor to escape the force of these testimonies by the
process of spiritualizing
While the promise describes a certain land to Abraham, the bounds of which are given as "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates," which it would seem applies in a special sense, that is to say, this particular land is to be allotted for a particular purpose, a center, as it were around which the future workings of God, in blessing all nations of the earth, wilh revolve. yet the Apostle Paul seems to widen out the Abrahamic promises into a "world." He says, "For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith" (Rom. ). As all nations of the earth are to be blessed, it follows, as a matter of course, that the promise included within its scope the entire earth, a grand truth more clearly revealed as we come further down in the course of revelation. In the second Psalm the promise to Christ is, "I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession (Psa. 2: 8). The "world" of which Abraham was made heir by the promise will be as wide as the "uttermost parts of the earth" promised to Christ, for otherwise the cure of the Adamic curse would not be as wide as the disease. The world's redemption is therefore fully comprehended in the Abrahamic covenant.
will possibly ask, How about the children of Abraham going into the promised land under Joshua? Was not that a fulfillment of
the Abrahamic promise? This, indeed, is the position
generally taken by those who have subverted the covenant and substituted in its
place the theory of heaven-going. But this question is settled as clearly as it
is possible for any question to be settled if we take the word of God as our
authority, and what else can we take? There is no other authority worth
considering. Take all the help you please from frail, mortal fallible man, the
court of final appeal in all these cases must be the unerring word of the
living and true God. The Apostle Paul seems to anticipate the very theories of
our time and head them off, as it were, by argument and facts irresistible. He
says, "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" (Gal. 3: 17).
The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ is undoubtedly the Abrahamic covenant, which was made four hundred and thirty
If in making the covenant with Abraham the gospel of salvation was made known to him, or in other words, if the Abrahainic covenant and the gospel are synonymous, then, since the gospel wherever it is found and by whatever name we give it, must have Christ in it, we ought to find Christ clearly and distinctly revealed in the Abrahamic covenant. Some may object to what we have set forth in relation to Christ being typified by the offerings Abraham made, although we can scarcely imagine how the truth thus shadowed forth could be evaded, but even allowing such objection, there is unmistakable and indisputable evidence that Christ is in the Abrahamic promises. For instance, we read, "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” (Gen. 22: 17). Here, no doubt, we have first a promise of the great nation which should come forth from Abraham according to the flesh, but from other testimonies we may be safe in concluding that there is a higher meaning still, and that the promises involved a multitude of Abraham's seed according to the spirit, as we shall presently see from other testimonies. Then it is added, "Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. Here we have an individual seed. It is not, Thy seed shall possess the gate of their enemies, but thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, “and in thy seed,” this particular individual seed, in or through him “all nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Who is this? If it is Christ, then we have here the second Adam that is to undo the evil of the first Adam. If it is Christ, then we have here the one that shall "possess the gate of his enemies;" have power over all enemies; rule as king of all the earth; the one to whom it is said, "Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen (nations) for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psa. 2: 8). If it is not Christ who is it? Who can it be? Can the question be settled beyond the shadow of a doubt? We have frequently called this promise the gospel. Should our right to do so be questioned, we would refer to the Apostle Paul for our authority. He says, "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before (before visiting the Gentiles) the gospel unto Abraham, saying, “In thee shall all nations be blessed" (Gal. 3: 8). The gospel then promises a blessing for all nations of the earth. This gospel was preached to Abraham. There is no other gospel vevhich will save. In this very same letter to the Galatians he says, "Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel 'unto you than that which we have preached unto you let him be accursed" (chap. 1: 8). There being but one gospel and that gospel having been preached to Abraham, we are safe in saying that in the Abrahamic covenant we have the gospel of our salvation In this gospel we are to find Christ. Have we found Him? Again the words ring with the force of truth, “Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.” We claim these words can apply to no one except Christ. Are we right? Let us be sure. Let us be safe. The subject is important. It has many enemies. Popular sentiment m the world is against it. Nothing will settle this but Inspiration. Again we ask, Is this seed, this individual seed, Christ? The Apostle Paul has declared the oneness of the gospel, and then directing us back to the book of Genesis, where we should have an account of that one gospel preached to Abraham, by which all the nations of the earth are to be blessed, he removes all possibility of doubt and shows us that Christ is the very heart of the gospel. "To Abraham and to his seed" he says, "were the promises made." Yes, Paul, we have seen that, for we have read in the book of Genesis that God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting inheritance; but there is much dispute in the modern religious world about this question, and popular theology says that the "seed" there is simply the Jews, who dwelt in the land for a time and on account of their wickedness have been scattered and destroyed as a nation and that is the end of the matter. We would like therefore to know who this seed is. He answers, "He saith not and to seeds as to many; but as OF ONE, And to thy seed WHICH IS CHRIST" (Gal. ).
HOW GENTILES MAY BECOME HEIRS
The question is safely settled, and we go back to Genesis and read the
promises again, with the assurance that they are made to Abraham and to Christ.
The chief, the head, the Alpha and the Omega is Christ, and yet the seed
through him is to be multitudinous. The promise to him is that he, Christ,
shall have the land. the world, the "uttermost
parts of the earth for his possession
That He is to bless all nations of the earth. There is no promise to any
one not of the seed of Abraham. Therefore the apostle says, "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith"-the Abrahamic faith, of course, the same faith that was
accounted to him for righteousness-"know ye therefore that they which are
of faith, the same are the children of Abraham" (Gal. 3: 5-7). How may we
become the children of Abraham? Hear what the apostle says in writing to the
Ephesians, '"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you
Gentiles if ye have heard of the
dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward:
how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery as I wrote afore in
few words Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery
of Christ, which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it
is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Eph.
3: 1-5). What is this that is revealed to Paul that concerns the Gentiles, that
which we may safely presume will concern the greater part of Our
readers? Unless we become the seed of Abraham we cannot hope to share in the
promises made to Abraham and his seed. As Gentiles we are not the seed of
Abraham; therefore have no right to the promise. But the apostle has already
told us, that ""they which are of the faith * * * are the children of
Abraham." And now he is going to tell us clearly what had been revealed to
him specially in behalf of the Gentiles, and it is
this: "That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs,
and of the same body and partakers of
his promise, in Christ by the gospel"
(Eph. 3: 6). While we are Gentiles, and in no sense the seed of Abraham we are,
he says, “by nature the children of wrath" (Eph. 2: 3): and he tells us to
“remember that when we were Gentiles in the flesh we were without Christ, being aliens from the comonwealth
of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and
without God in the world (Eph. 2: 12). If the Gentiles are to be made
fellow-heirs and of the same body, and partakers of the same promise in Christ
by the gospel, and if before this takes place they are aliens, strangers,
having no hope and without God in the world, is it not, dear reader, a vital
question, the most important question to us, how may we change our relationship
so as to become the seed of Abraham, and not to be aliens and strangers,
hopeless and helpless, but come into such a relationship that we shall have a
hope, the hope of the gospel, that our God may be the God of Abraham, of Isaac
and of Jacob, that we may be heirs of the commonwealth of Israel? The apostle's
answer is, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were afar off are
made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who
hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between
us" (Eph. , 14). “Now therefore ye are no
more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints,
and of the household of God" (verse 19). Still the question remains, How is the change brought about? And in answer to this, we
have the words of the same apostle, '"For we are all the children of God
by faith in Christ Jesus." That is to say, they had all been made the
children of God by the one faith which centers in Christ, in whom they were now
by the one faith. How shall we pass or come into Christ? By what means does the
one faith put us in Christ and constitute us the children of God? His answer
is, ""For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put
on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither bond nor free, there
is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Now what
follows? Mark the words,
“And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise." Heirs of what? Heirs
of heaven? Heirs of the skies? Heirs of a spiritual
Now it is quite clear that the covenants of promise so far as we have gone, were made for the purpose of effecting human redemption through Christ: that Christ is the very essence of the promises made to Adam, to Noah and to Abraham Isaac and to Jacob From experience and observation we have learned that in dealing with these grand truths it is quite difficult to keep the religious people of the world from soaring into the heavens and imagining that the Bible has more to do with other worlds than with ours. There is a reason for this. The oracles of God were committed to the Jews, not to the nations who were in a state of idolatry throughout "times of ignorance" as the Apostle Paul terms them. The human family had apostatized almost completely from God in the days of Abraham and in him there is a beginning of taking out from among them a people for Yahweh’s name Abraham becomes the nucleus of this people, we might say both according to the flesh and according to the spirit, for the Jews, according to the flesh, are the children of Abraham by nature; while the "holy nation;” as Peter calls it, consists of the children of Abraham or Israel according to the spirit, made so by the one faith.
When the time came that
rapid strides which Christianity made in the first century of the Christian era
caused it to become popular to a large extent. Pagan worshippers saw that it
was destined to sweep everything before it, and unless some compromises were
made Paganism would utterly cease and go into ruin before the powerful advent
of Christianity. The headers, therefore, hastened to make a compromise
Christianity so called, but corrupted and perverted, was soon constituted the
religion of the state, exalted to the throne of the civilized world which was
named Christendom. This was the establishment of the spurious kingdom of
antichrist. This system of antichrist sought to forestall the true kingdom of
Christ and of Christ Himself, by becoming enthroned. The
truth in its simplicity and in its work of "taking out of the Gentiles a
people for His name”, was not intended to be enthroned or in any sense
incorporated with the powers of the state. Its followers while they were
to be in the world were not to be of the world.
They were to come out from the world and be separated from it in all its ways, a "peculiar
people," regarded by popular sentiment as the off-scouring of all things, as their Master had been before them. But the enthronement of the truth, genuine
Christianity, was not to be until the return of Christ who appeared the first
time as a "Lamb to be led to the slaughter”, but who will appear the second time as
the Lion of tribe of
must, therefore eradicate from our minds the superstitious spiritualism of
Paganism and come to realize that the Bible is a book that deals with things
here on earth, here now and hereafter, but here all the time. Herein is the
difference between truth and error. Bible truth teaches a hereafter.
Antichristian systems teach a thereafter as the Pagans did of old. Let us not
then imagine the covenants of promise to be an astronomical matter, but a
geographical, for there is a geography to the
question. Abraham is not told to hook into the heavens, let me remind you
again, dear reader but to the four quarters of the earth, and his promise is of
the hand which he saw and which he walked through, in the length of it and in
the breadth of it. This land was described as from the
The difference of latitude and longitude in the land actually occupied by Israel and that which was promised in the everlasting covenant, and still remains to be fulfilled, is as follows: - See I. Kings 4: 25, “Judah and Israel dwelt safely from Dan even to Beersheha, all the days of Solomon." (But Solomon like his father David, exercised a nominal or real sovereignty over all the regions which the Lord had given to the seed of Jacob - See I. Kings 4: 21).
latitude of Beersheba is 31 deg. 15 min.;
of Dan 33 deg. 15 min.; the south point of the Dead sea, the ancient
border of Israel, is 31 deg. 7 min. in the same longitude with Dan, the
intervening distance, in a line from north to south, being 128 geographical, or
about 150 English miles. The latitude of the north point of the Elanitic gulf or the
The breadth of Immanuel's land, instead of
its anciently contracted span, from the
northern extremity of the land the range of Amanus mountains from the river
Separated as Israel is from other lands, such are its borders, that it has unequaled freedom of access to all * * * and is well-fitted for becoming "the glory of all lands," the heritage of a people blessed of the LORD.-See Keith's "Land of Israel."
THE LAND OF PROMISE was so called from God's
having given it by promise to the seed of Abraham, - Gen. 12: 7; see also Gen.
13: 14-17, "And the Lord said unto Abraham, 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 forever. 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 hand, in the length of it, and the breadth of
it: for I will give it unto thee (17: 8). And I will give unto thee, and to thy
seed after thee, the hand wherein thou art a stranger, all the
We do not read in so
many words that the Abrahamic promises contain the
establishment of a kingdom, but there is enough to show that what in subsequent
times is revealed as the
The Spirit speaking through the prophet Malachi declares, "Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me" (Mal. 3: 1). This found partial fulfillment in the work of John the Baptist, preparatory to Christ who, he said, should "'be mightier than he, the latchet of whose shoes he was not worthy to unloose." His father, Zaacharias, saw in John the forerunner of the promised Son of Abraham and, filled with the Holy Spirit. bore testimony to the truth contained in the covenants of promise, saying,
the Lord God of
Here again it will be observed that all this is to ""perform the mercy promised to the fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he sware to our father Abraham."
would seem that while God was making these promises, he was also exemplifying
them by causing Abraham and his descendants to pass through an experience, the
history of which would be prophecy, the past foretelling the future-type
pointing to antitype. In the literal immigration of Abraham out of his own
native country and his separation from his idolatrous relatives, we have a
representation of the Abrahamic faith taking out from
among the Gentiles a people for Yahweh's name. His literal going into that
land, a type of our coming out, as it were of darkness to the light of the
truth, and in mind going into that land by faith: and ultimately of Abraham's
descendants, according to the flesh, and his children by faith taking full
possession of the land, when the former would constitute the subjects and the
latter the rulers of the greatest kingdom that has ever adorned the earth. Coming
further down we have what the Apostle Paul says ""had happened for
types" in the history of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, their wanderings
in the wilderness and their final entrance into the land of promise under
Joshua's remarkable leadership, that is at once history and prophecy; for out
of the wilderness of sin and desolation, as it were, Abraham's seed by faith
are called. They pass through the waters of baptism, as