OF BIBLE COVENANTS
GOD'S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
This is another covenant of
redemption. At this point God began to restrict the covenant people to the descendants
of Abraham, (Gen 17), and began to replace the covenant with Adam which lasted another
four to five hundred years till the time of Balaam. With the next covenant, the Law
Covenant, the restricting or limiting of the covenant to the seed of Abraham was
completed, and the covenant with Adam was completely replaced. We must understand, of
course, that much of the covenant with Adam, the promises and their requirements, for
instance, were incorporated into each covenant that followed. The content and purpose
of the covenants were, thereby, kept perfectly in line with the first covenant between
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit according to the original plan of that
all-inclusive covenant which records the counsel and purpose of God for the ages.
In this manner the long range
inheritance promises are all based on the never changing requirement of faithfulness
(by grace through faith perseverance), regardless of the specific covenant environment,
such as animal sacrifices, circumcision, ceremonial cleansing, and many other
ordinances as found under the Law Covenant. Most of the ordinances under the Law
Covenant were types and figures with spiritual meanings, such as a dead body
represented the sinful nature of our flesh bodies which are spiritually dead in sins;
hence, dead to God -- although the bodies of the New Covenant people are reckoned
(counted, credited) to be dead to the Law of sin and death and alive to God. "Dead
to the Law of sin and death" means God counts our bodies to be crucified, dead,
and buried together with (or in) the body of Christ. "Alive to God" means God
counts us to be raised and glorified together in (as members of) the body of Christ,
Rom 6:2-13; 7:4-6; Col 2:11-17,19-21; 3:1-11.
Baptism (a New Covenant ordinance)
represents the sinful nature being removed and the body being made alive to God, which
is only a "reckoning" now (Rom 4:17) but will become a reality in the
resurrection for those who strive faithfully and daily to "put off"
the old man and "put on" the new man. Another way to "put off
the old man" and "put on the new man" is to live a holy or
sanctified life. -- separated from the world and dedicated to God.
The long range inheritance promises,
though not all given in writing in the earlier covenants, are nevertheless all inherent
in ALL the covenants of redemption, and are explicit in the New Covenant to those who
will pay the price of study and holy living to get them.
I. COVENANT OFFER TO ABRAHAM AND HIS
The covenant offer was tendered to
Abraham by a reasonable amount of instructions and the command to obey, Heb 11:8; Gen
12:1-3; Act 7:1-3. To obey was to accept the covenant offer. Not to obey was to reject
the covenant offer. Of course, not to obey and thereby reject the covenant offer would
be to reject all covenant benefits and promises.
Abraham was already a saved man and a
man of faith. God first gave Abraham the covenant offer when Abraham was 70 years old
or younger. Abraham lived in the land of the Chaldeans near the mouth of the Euphrates
River when God made the first recorded covenant "offer," Act 7:1-4. Abraham
obeyed by faith (Heb 11:8) and moved northwest to Haran where he "dwelt"
until his father died, Acts 7:1-4.
Abraham continued to live in Haran
until God made the same covenant offer the second time, Gen 12:1-3. The expressions,
"In you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," and
"In your seed shall all the families (nations) be blessed," are
covenant terms (covenant language), Act 3:25; Gal 3:8 (6-19-29). Abraham's
faith-obedience was his acceptance of God's covenant "offer."
A. Covenant Work Description.
The work statement as such is not
found in any of the covenants, but is gleaned primarilly from the Law Covenant and New
Covenant writings. See also the "Covenant Work Description" comments in the
revised covenant with Adam.
- God's Part of the Work Performance.
- God will serve as God and Judge of all covenant work performance. Nothing can be
done by Satan and his angels without God's permission, Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6.
- Hear and give permission or reject Satan's requests to tempt the covenant
people and all other such matters with regard to the nations, 1Ch 21:1; Job 1:6; 2:1;
Luk 22:31-32; Rev 12:10; Dan 10:12-21.
- Hear Satan's accusations against the covenant people, Rev 12:10.
- Hear the intercessions of the covenant priests and the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26-27,34;
Heb 7:25) make decisions, command actions to be taken, and require the court of heaven
to record all actions according to covenant stipulations, Psa 56:8; 139:16; Ecc
12:13-14; Dan 7:9-10; Mal 3:16; II Cor 5:10; Eph 1:4,11; Rev 11:18; 13:8;
- Reveal the excellences of His Person:
- Through His Son, Joh 14:6-11: Col 2:9; Heb 1:3-12.
- Through angels, Gen 3:24; Dan 7:9-10; Eze 1; 2Th 1:7-9.
- Through men, Heb 11; 1Co 15:1-2,44-45; Jud 14-15.
- Through nature, Gen 3:17-19; 6:17; 19; Exo 5-10.
- Reveal exceeding sinfulness of sin, Rom 1:21-32; 7:8-25.
- Reveal covenant information and knowledge, Phi 2:11; Luk 2:40,46-49; 4:22; Joh
- Insure that all covenant stipulations are precisely fulfilled. This means that
God's counsel, purpose, and pleasure are infinitely fulfilled, all of which are
included in the everlasting covenant before creation, Isa 46:9-11.
- Visit, fellowship, and teach Adam and his descendants what they need to know, Gen
3:8-24; 4:1-16; 5:22; 6:9; Heb 11.
- Protect them, accept their worship, bless them greatly as they kept the covenant
and obeyed Him, but punish them severely according to their sins, Gen 4:1-7; 6.
- Appoint family priests together with firstborn and birthright laws to govern
governmental and societal interrelations, Gen 4:1-7; 25:5-6; 27:27-37. For family
priests see Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Melchizedek, Job, his four friends,
Jethro, and Balaam.
- Instruct Abraham to instruct his faith descendants that they are a chosen race,
appointed (elected, destined) to be prophets, priests, and kings, and a holy people
above all the nations of the earth. Observe how this theme is enlarged throughout the
Scriptures. A fact of major importance to be discerned and remembered is that Genesis
is a "book of beginnings." Emphasis must be placed on the fact that much more
is included in the early covenants than is written in the Scriptures, yet what is
written is of major prophetic and symbolic significance: in Genesis the beginnings of
major (cardinal) doctrines are rooted yet concealed from the eyes of careless souls --
the covenants, for instance, are so explicit, yet they have little significance as a
cardinal throughout-the-Bible doctrine in contemporary theology.
- For the covenant promises and other details, see the New Covenant at the end of
- Abraham's and His Descendant's Part of the Covenant Work Performance.
- Love and worship God by seeking to know everything possible about Him and His
covenants, Psa 119; 2Pe 1:1-11; Phi 3:7-11; Isa 1:1-6; Hos 4:6; Luk 19:41-44; Rev
- Love and worship God with animal sacrifices to portray the future death of Christ
for covenant redemption, Gen 3:21; 4:1-7; Heb 11:4; Joh 1:29; 1Pe 1:18-20.
- Love and worship God by faithfully performing all the covenant requirements, Gen
4:1-7; Jos 1:5-9.
- Love and worship God by faithfully teaching and training the children in such a way
as to maintain a clear knowledge and practice of covenant requirements, Gen 4:1-7; Deu
- Love and worship God by living a clean, separated, holy life.
- Love and worship God by serving God with great diligence.
- Love and worship God by meticulously doing God's work God's way.
- Love and worship God with humility, kindness, and mercy toward everyone.
B. God's Command to Believe and Obey According to Covenant
Requirements. By faith Abraham believed and obeyed God explicitly.
II. COVENANT ACCEPTANCE BY ABRAHAM
AND HIS DESCENDANTS
Abraham accepted God's covenant
offer by faith-obedience, and this was all done "by grace through
faith," Heb 11:8. Abraham's initial faith was exemplary but there was a
small problem: he took too many of his kinsmen with him and appeared to linger in Haran
-- he was still not in the land to which God was leading him. So God gave him a second
call or covenant offer which he accepted and obeyed again "by grace through
faith," Gen 12.
III. COVENANT LEGALITY
God is perfect in righteousness, Mat
5:48. All His ways, His works, and indeed His Word (in Its entirety) express His
covenants and are all righteous and perfect altogether. "...God is light and in
Him is no darkness at all," 1Jo 1:5; Psa 18:30,32; 19:7.
IV. COVENANT CAPACITY
Abraham and his faith seed were able
by grace through faith to perform the covenant work requirements. "By grace
through faith" means the Holy Spirit will work through the covenant people as
long as they are willing. The "to will" and the "to do" were also a
working of the Holy Spirit, so long as the covenant people did not refuse the working
of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit worked in the minds of
the common covenant people in the Old Testament to serve God in the same way He works
on (or in) the minds of lost people to bring them to initial salvation.
V. COVENANT CONSIDERATION
Covenant consideration to Abraham
and his seedwas expressed in the form of covenant PROMISES. See New Covenant at the end
of this booklet.
VI. COVENANT RATIFICATION
Ratification of the covenant first
performed by Abraham and his seed was by faith-obedience -- "BY FAITH Abraham
obeyed," Heb 11:8. To emphasize the "death" factor both by Christ
and the covenant people (Christ had to die and covenant people must die together with
Him), the covenant was later ratified by a ceremony where animals were killed and their
bodies divided in half, etc., Gen 15:7-21. The covenant with Abraham, the Law Covenant,
and the New Covenant, especially, were given over a period of time and were overlapping
-- the latter covenant beginning before the former covenant ended, and the former
covenant ending before the latter covenant was fully given.