I. Video. Revering God: Punishment on the Day of the Lord – Jason DeRouchie (M. Div., Ph. D.)
II. Article References.
Charles C. Ryrie, Th. D., Ph. D., D. Litt. Merrill F. Unger, Th. D., Ph. D. John F. Walvoord, Th. D., D. Litt. Harold W. Hoehner, Th. D., Ph. D. Stanley D. Toussaint, Th. D. Edward E. Hindson Th. D., Ph. D. Robert L. Thomas, Th. D. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Th. D., D. Litt. J. Dwight Pentecost, Th. D. Robert P. Lightner, Th. D.
III. Article Narrative. The Abrahamic Covenant (Part 2).
A. The Abrahamic Covenant’s Character.
1. Since the Abrahamic covenant deals with Israel’s title deed to the land of Israel, her continuation as a nation to possess that land, and her redemption so that she may enjoy the blessings in the land under her King, it is of utmost importance to determine the method of the fulfillment of this covenant. If it is a literal covenant to be fulfilled literally, then Israel must be preserved, converted and restored. If it is an unconditional covenant, these events in Israel’s national life are inevitable. The answer to these questions determines one’s whole eschatological position.
2. The conditional element in the covenant program with Abraham. While
Abraham was living in the home of Terah, an idolator (Josh. 24:2), God spoke to him and commanded him to leave the land of Ur, even though it entailed a journey to a strange land he did not know (Heb. 11:8), and made certain specific promises to him that depended on this act of obedience. Abraham, in partial obedience inasmuch as he did not separate himself from his kindred, journeyed to Haran (Gen. 11:31). He did not realize any of the promises there. It was not until after the death of his father (Gen.11:32) that Abraham begins to realize anything of the promise God had given to him, for only after his father’s death does God take him into the land (Gen. 12:4) and there reaffirm the original promise to him (Gen. 12:7). It is important to observe the relation of
obedience to this covenant program. Whether God would institute a covenant
program with Abraham, or not, depended upon Abraham’s act of obedience in leaving the land. When once this act was accomplished, and Abraham did obey God, God instituted an irrevocable, unconditional program. This obedience, which became the basis of the institution of the program, is referred to in Genesis 22:18, where the offering of Isaac is just one more evidence of Abraham’s attitude toward God, which is clearly stated as follows:
(a) As given in the Scriptures, the Abrahamic Covenant is hinged upon only one
condition. This is given in Genesis 12:1. The original covenant was based upon
Abraham’s obedience in leaving his homeland and going to the land of promise.
(b) No further revelation is given him until he was obedient to this command after the death of his father. Upon entering Canaan, the Lord immediately gave Abraham the promise of ultimate possession of the land (Gen. 12:7), and subsequently enlarged and reiterated the original promises.
(c) The one condition having been met, no further conditions are laid upon
Abraham; the covenant having been solemnly established is now dependent upon divine veracity for its fulfillment.
3. Whether there would be a covenant program with Abraham depended upon Abraham’s act of obedience. When once he obeyed, the covenant that was instituted depended, not upon Abraham’s continued obedience, but upon the promise of the One who instituted it. The fact of the covenant depended upon obedience; the kind of covenant inaugurated was totally unrelated to the continuing obedience of either Abraham or his seed.
4. Arguments to support the unconditional character of the covenant.
a. The question as to whether the Abrahamic covenant is conditional or unconditional is recognized as the crux of the whole discussion of the problem relating to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. Extensive argument has been presented to support the unconditional character of this covenant.
b. The following presents ten reasons for believing that this covenant is unconditional:
(1) All Israel’s covenants are unconditional except the Mosaic. The Abrahamic
Covenant is expressly declared to be eternal, and therefore unconditional in
numerous passages (Gen. 17:7, 13, 19; 1 Chron. 16:17; Ps. 105:10). The Land
Covenant is likewise declared to be everlasting (Ezek. 16:60). The Davidic
Covenant is described in the same terms (2 Sam. 7:13, 16, 19; 1 Chron. 17:12;
22:10; Isa. 55:3; Ezek. 37:25). The New Covenant with Israel is also eternal (Isa. 61:8; Jer. 32:40; 50:5; Heb. 13:20). (2) Except for the original condition of leaving his homeland and going to the promised land, the covenant is made with no conditions, whatsoever. (3) The Abrahamic Covenant is confirmed repeatedly by reiteration and enlargement. In none of these instances are any of the added promises conditioned upon the faithfulness of Abraham’s seed, or of Abraham himself. Nothing is said about it being conditioned upon the future faithfulness of either Abraham or his seed. (4) The Abrahamic Covenant was solemnized by a divinely ordered ritual symbolizing the shedding of blood and passing between the parts of the sacrifice (Gen. 15:7-21; Jer. 34:18). This ceremony was given to Abraham as an assurance that his seed would inherit the land in the exact boundaries given to him in Genesis 15:18-21. No conditions, whatsoever, are attached to this promise in this context. (5) To distinguish those who would inherit the promises as individuals from those who were only physical seed of Abraham, the visible sign of circumcision was given (Gen. 17:9-14). One who was not circumcised was considered outside the promised blessing. The ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and possession of the land by the seed is not hinged, however, upon faithfulness in the matter of
circumcision. In fact, the promises of the land were given before the rite was
introduced. (6) The Abrahamic Covenant was confirmed by the birth of Isaac and Jacob, to both of whom the promises are repeated in their original form (Gen. 17:19; 28:12-13). (7) Notable is the fact that the reiterations of the covenant and the partial early fulfillment of the covenant are in spite of acts of disobedience. It is clear that on several instances Abraham strayed from the will of God. In the very act, the promises are repeated to him. (8) The later confirmations of the covenant are given in the midst of apostasy.
Important is the promise given through Jeremiah that Israel as a nation will
continue forever (Jer. 31:36). (9) The New Testament declares the Abrahamic Covenant immutable (Heb 6:13-18; cf. Gen. 15:8-21). It was not only promised but solemnly confirmed by the oath of God. (10) The entire Scriptural revelation concerning Israel and its future as contained in both the Old and New Testaments, if interpreted literally, confirms and sustains the unconditional character of the promises given to Abraham.
5. A word of explanation is necessary concerning the event recorded in Genesis 15 because of its bearing on the question of the unconditional character of this covenant. In Genesis 14 Abraham, because he was trusting God, refused to take riches from the king of Sodom. Lest a question should arise in Abraham’s mind as to whether he had made a mistake in thus trusting God, Abraham is given an assurance from God that He is Abraham’s protection (shield) and provision (reward) (Gen. 15:1). In response to Abraham’s question about the promised heir, God affirms that he will have a son, and “Abraham believed God” (Gen. 15:6). In response to Abraham’s faith, as substantiating evidence that he has not trusted God in vain, a sign is given to Him that that promise will be fulfilled (Gen. 15:9-17). In order to reaffirm the covenant to Abraham concerning
the seed and the land (Gen. 15:18) Abraham is told by God to prepare animals of
sacrifice that together they might enter into a blood covenant.
a. The proceeding corresponding rather to the custom, prevalent in many ancient nations, of slaughtering animals when concluding a covenant, and after dividing them into pieces, of laying the pieces opposite to one another, that the persons making the covenant might pass between them.
b. Thus, God condescended to follow the custom of the Chaldeans, that He might in the most solemn manner confirm His oath to Abram the Chaldean, it is evident from Jer. xxxiv. 18, that this was still customary among the Israelites of later times.
c. Abraham would be familiar with this manner of entering into a binding agreement. Without doubt the large number of animals prescribed by God would impress Abraham with the importance of that which was being enacted, since one animal would have been sufficient for the enactment of the covenant. When the sacrifice was prepared Abraham must have expected to walk with God through the divided animals, for custom demanded that the two who entered into a blood covenant should walk together between the parts of the sacrifice. He would recognize the solemnity of the occasion, for the ritual meant that the two who were entering into the covenant were bound by blood to fulfill that covenanted, or the one breaking the covenant would be required to pour out his blood in forfeit as the blood of the animals that bound them had been poured out. However, when the covenant was to be entered into, Abraham was put to sleep so that he could not be a participant in the covenant, but could only
be a recipient of a covenant to which he brought nothing in the way of obligations.
1. From the nature of this covenant, it followed, however, that God alone went
through the pieces in a symbolical representation of Himself, and not Abram also. For although a covenant always establishes a reciprocal relation between two individuals, yet in that covenant which God concluded with a man, the man did not stand on an equality with God, but God established the relation of fellowship by His promise and His gracious condescension to the man.
2. God is thus binding Himself by a most solemn blood covenant to fulfill to Abraham, unconditionally, the promises concerning the seed and the land which were given to him. It is scarcely possible for God to make it any clearer that what was promised to Abraham was given to him without any conditions, to be fulfilled by the integrity of God alone.
3. It is important to observe that an unconditional covenant, which renders a
covenanted program certain, may have conditional blessings attached. The program will be carried to fulfillment, but the individual receives the blessings of that program only by conforming to the conditions on which the blessings depend. Such is true with the Abrahamic covenant. And further, it has already been pointed out that whether God instituted a covenant program with Abraham depended on his act of obedience in leaving his home, but when once the covenant was inaugurated it was without any conditions, whatsoever. And finally, the covenant is reaffirmed and enlarged to Abraham after definite acts of disobedience (Gen. 12:10-20, 16:1-16).
a. That obedience was vitally connected with the Abrahamic covenant is shown with especial clearness by the fact that there was connected with it a sign,
the rite of circumcision, to the observance of which the utmost importance was
attached. Cutting off from the covenant people was the penalty for failure to
observe it. The rite was in itself an act of obedience (1 Cor. vii. 19).
b. The partial fulfillment of the covenants supports the premillennial view. Any
examination of the portions of the Abrahamic covenant that have had either a partial or complete fulfillment supports the contention that the covenant was to be interpreted as a literal and unconditional covenant. God’s method in fulfilling parts of the Abrahamic covenant has been literal.
(1) In fulfillment of the personal promises, Abraham was specially blessed of God.
a. Abraham was blessed personally in temporal things: (1) he had land (Gen.
13:14, 15, 17); (2) He had servants (Gen. 15:7, etc.); (3) He had much cattle, silver, and gold (Gen. 13:2, 24:34, 35).
b. Abraham was blessed personally in spiritual matters: (1) He had a happy
life of separation unto God, (Gen. 13:8; 14:22, 23); (2) He enjoyed a precious life of communion with God, (Gen. 13:18); (3) He had a consistent life of prayer, (Gen. 28:23-33); (4) He was sustained of God constantly, (Gen. 21:22); (5) He possessed the peace and confidence that comes from an obedient life, (Gen. 22:5, 8, 10, 12, 16-18).”
(2) He had a great name.
(3) He was a channel of divine blessing to others, for he not only blessed his
household, his posterity, but the world at large through the Bible, the Savior, and the gospel.
(4) History has borne out the fact that nations which have persecuted Israel,
even when that very persecution was in fulfillment of God’s discipline, have been punished for dealing with Abraham’s seed. This has been true in both blessings and cursing in the case of the slaughter of the kings (Gen. 14:12-16); in the case of Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20); in the case of Abimelech (Gen. 20:2-18; 21:22-34); in the case of Heth (Gen. 23:1-20); and in other experiences in Israel’s history (Deut. 30:7; Isa. 14:1-2; Joel 3: 1-8; Matt. 25:40-45).
(5) Abraham did have an heir by Sarah (Gen. 21:2). Denial that these aforementioned promises have been fulfilled is foolish. This point is well illustrated from Psalm 69. All of the predictions concerning the humiliation and affliction of Christ were literally fulfilled. That which follows His death is
seen to be the fulfillment of the covenants, for the Psalmist says:
“For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah, that they may dwell there and have it in possession. The seed also of His servants shall inherit it; and they that love His name shall dwell therein [Ps. 69:35-36].”
B. Conclusion. The Abrahamic Covenant is literal, eternal and unconditional.
1. As the picture of Messiah’s death was literally fulfilled it can only be concluded that that which flows from Messiah’s death in fulfillment of the covenants will be literally fulfilled also. It should be obvious that the method used by God to fulfill prophecies that have been fulfilled historically will be His method in the fulfillment of all prophecies. Inasmuch as all prophecies that have been fulfilled have been fulfilled literally, consistency demands that this method must be adopted for those portions of the prophetic Scriptures that, as yet, may be unfulfilled. Since the portions of the Abrahamic covenant that have been fulfilled were fulfilled literally, it would be concluded that the unfulfilled portions will be fulfilled in like manner.
2. It seems quite evident that the patriarchs themselves understood the covenant to be eternal, unconditional, unequivocable, and therefore certain as to its fulfillment.
3. The statement of Isaac to Jacob when Jacob went away bears this out:
“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 [Gen. 28:3-4.]”
IV. Article Considerations.
A. One of the most difficult and most important factors of writing an article is related to sources of information. A writer must ensure that such sources have a high degree of knowledge on the subjects that are being written, and also must have a high degree of respect from other writers. A second factor that must be considered relates to how to lawfully use material of other writers. In this web site, copyright statutes are not violated. Also, “public domain,” is to be considered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain
B. In this article, I have chosen theologians whom have proven themselves to be highly respected by others in the Biblical doctrine of eschatology (the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times), and other doctrines of scripture. All of the references in this article have a connection with Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS) as graduate or instructor.
C. For education and other supporting data for each source of information in this article, please refer to my Page, “About My References.” The following links show information about Dallas Theological Seminary. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Seminary. It is important to understand that DTS is not a denominational seminary, and is totally independent of such.
D. About Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS).
1. General Info. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Theological_Seminary
2. Doctrinal Statement. https://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinal-statement/