Hebrew Roots/The Law and the Covenants/Covenants:The Abrahamic Covenant-1
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANTS No1.
As Noach was called to be the new head of the Adamic race after the changed earth conditions, so Abram was called to be the spiritual head and father of those of a new order of spiritual man in the earth.
Because Abram was to birth this new order, he himself had to come to a place of complete death to his natural life and become holy unto Yahweh. That required a spiritual growth from many trials and testings before he attained the faith and holiness required to be the progenitor of the promised Seed, which in the natural was his son Isaac, the forerunner and type of Messiah which was to come through his lineage.
THE CALL OF ABRAM
The first mention we have of Abram being called of God is in Genesis 12 where Yahweh says, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curses you; And in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (12:1-3)
This is a call on his life, given in the form of a promise of Yahweh's purposes, based on conditions necessary for him to receive the promise. The instructions given to him as a pre-requisite for the promises are,
- 1. Get out of your country
- 2. From your family
- 3. And from your father house
- 4. To a land I will show you
This is a separation from everything in his life, apart from his wife, Sarai. 1. Leaving his country, his house and other possessions, means of livelihood, friends -- all that was comfortable and familiar and which gave his life security and meaning. 2. Leaving his immediate family and the support network which was vital in those days. This meant being alone in a foreign place with no assurance of anyone to call upon in time of need. 3. Leaving his "father's house", meant leaving behind his heritage, his upbringing, culture and his identity. 4. And going into the unknown where he would have no natural inheritance, no prospects, no future.
This really was a complete surrender of all of his own interests in this world and the laying down of his life which he was called to make, but it was initiated in stages, as Abram grew in faith and spiritual maturity.
Jewish records tell us that Abram's life begins in Ur of the Chaldees where he spent many years in Noah and Shem's house, who were contemporary with him, studying and learning the ways of God. After returning home he challenged the idolatry of his father's house and came into conflict with Nimrod over the worship of false gods. Abram and Nahor his brother, had married Sarai and Milcah, the two daughters of their older half brother Haran, who died in the land of Ur. Because of the threat to their lives, Abram persuaded his father and family to leave Ur and they went to the place they called Haran. It seems that he was about sixty years old when he left Ur. Genesis 11:27-30; Book of Jasher Chs.9-12; Book of Judith 5: 6-8
So the call came to Abram when he was already an established believer in the one true God at sixty years of age, while in Ur. And he took all his possessions, the people he had gathered to him in the faith and Lot, Sarai's brother (whom he had adopted), and they set off to the land of promise. Genesis 12: 4-5; Acts 7: 2
Yahweh repeated the promise He had given him before, after he came to the area near Shechem, as an acknowledgment of his obedience (Genesis 12: 7), and again after the division from Lot which made the separation from his family complete, He again confirmed His promise of the land to him (Genesis 13:14-18). But it is not until after Abram gains the victory over the oppressive powers ruling the land in rescuing his nephew Lot, that Yahweh enters into a covenant with him based on the promises He had given him.
In this battle Abram entered into a new realm of authority. This is acknowledged by Melchizedek, the functioning priest of the Most High God, who invokes a blessing upon him. Genesis 14: 1-17, 18-20
THE COVENANT OF FAITH
Abram had proven God mightily in this battle where, greatly outnumbered, he had placed his faith in Yahweh and had come out victorious. He had vowed not to take any material reward for himself out of it, but acknowledged Yahweh God as the One who had given him the victory and that his gain was in the reward of a spiritual inheritance, having become a "possessor of heaven and earth" in the Most High God.
As a result of passing this test, the Word of Yahweh came to him, saying, "I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward" (Genesis 15: 1), or as the Aramaic renders it, "My Word (Memra) shall be your strength, and your exceeding great reward" :(Targum Onkelos) Abram had risen to a place of spiritual strength and maturity where he could embrace the concept that his life and his hope was solely in his relationship with Yahweh God. He, in Himself, was Abram's reward.
Y'shua said that Abram rejoiced to "see His day" (John 8:56). Abram was given here a revelation of the Messiah as his "reward", his spiritual inheritance, and he rose up in faith and embraced it.
He had walked with Yahweh God for many years and he had been on this spiritual journey for twenty-five years now since leaving Ur of the Chaldees. He is eighty-five years old here, when he comes to a place of living faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah and is spiritually regenerated (He looked forward in time to His future advent, we look back). He came to a level of faith that transcended the natural and connected him into the spiritual realm where he saw, by revelation, the advent of Messiah and believed in Him.
"And he believed in Yahweh and He accounted it to him for righteousness". :Genesis 15: 6
As seen by his next question, Abram understood this revelation in the context of an heir that would fulfill the promise of the Redeemer through his heritage. In understanding this new extension of the promise to him, he raised the question as to how it would come to pass seeing that Sarai was barren and he was childless.
To become a great nation and to inherit the land (the promises already given), required an heir for their fulfillment. Under the Hammurabi law of his era, his servant Eliezar would be the heir, but Yahweh now promises him that one from his own body would become the heir.
That day, Yahweh entered into a covenant with him, on the basis of his faith in the promise. Genesis 15:18 He believed in his heart unto righteousness. Abram already had the testimony that he obeyed God and kept the mandate that was given to him, together with all His commandments, statutes and laws.
Although Abram's faithfulness was the basis of the call, in that Yahweh could trust him to fulfill the calling He had placed upon his life, it was not the basis of the covenant. The covenant was made with him when he came to faith in the atoning sacrifice of Messiah - i.e. when he believed unto eternal life! Through this, he became the spiritual father of all those who afterward would believe in Him. Romans 4:13 It was based upon God's grace, by faith, and not upon the good works in his life. Romans 4: 1-8
This is the covenant upon which Paul based his teaching that faith alone was what was required to enter into righteous standing with Yahweh God, when arguing against Jewish protocol in circumcision (Romans 4: 3), he quoted the scripture here in Genesis 15: 6
Yahweh actually established two covenants with Abram (called Abraham after he entered into the second covenant with God - Genesis 17), to firstly make provision for all who would come to faith in the nations and the second for the priesthood nation of Israel which would rule and reign with Him in the kingdom era.
These two covenants were relevant to Abram's spiritual progress. When the first covenant was made here, he had attained to righteous standing with God by faith, but there was still a great deal of flesh in his life as seen in he and Sarai's attempt to initiate things by their own efforts. The greater level of consecration and dedication was required before the birthing of the promised Seed in Isaac, from which the nation of Israel whose calling was to complete holiness would be birthed, and that took another fifteen years to attain.
Many would come to eternal life in the nations through the provision of this covenant, by faith (Gal. 3: 8).
THE PROMISE OF THE COVENANT
There had been several promises which had been already given to Abram and which had been developed over the period of Abram's call, they were,
IN HARAN 1. I will make you a great nation 2. I will bless you 3. I will make your name great 4. And you shall be a blessing 5. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you 6. In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed [Gen.12: 2]
IN SHECHEM 1. To your descendants I will give this land [Genesis 12: 7]
IN CANAAN AFTER SEPARATION FROM LOT
- 1. The land as far as the eye could see, north, south, east and west - I give to your descendants forever
- 2. I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth [Genesis 13:14-18]
And now, the promise of this covenant -- "I am Yahweh, who brought you out of the land of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it "Look now toward heaven and count the stars - so shall your descendants be" :Genesis 15: 7, 5
"To your descendants have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates" Genesis 15:18
The promise of the land is repeated and extended from as far as his eye could see previously, to the boundaries of the two great rivers. His descendants are now elevated from the likeness of dust to that of the stars, from natural to spiritual, just as he has been elevated from a natural to a spiritual man.
THE SACRIFICE OF THE COVENANT
The sacrifices which Yahweh required of Abram for this covenant were,
- 1. a three year old heifer
- 2. a three year old goat
- 3. a three year old ram
- 4. a turtledove
- 5. a young pigeon
With these he did the traditional laying out of the pieces opposite each other so as to be able to walk between the pieces. Genesis 15: 9-10 These were burnt offerings and sin offerings to cover the promises for the nation to come from his loins, to sanctify and consecrate it unto the divine purpose. [Lev.Ch.1; Nu.15:27-29; 19: 2; Ex.29:15-18]
And Yahweh God walked between the pieces as a "smoking oven and a burning torch" Genesis 15:17
A "deep sleep fell upon Abram", similar to that of Adam in bringing forth Chavah, as he was impregnated with the spiritual conception of the holy nation which would be born out of his loins. The gestation period would be the time of their labour in Egypt and their birth as a nation was in the Exodus.
- Genesis 15:12-16
THE SEAL OF THE COVENANT
The seal of this covenant was the manifestation of the divine Presence in the midst of the sacrifice, the holy fire ("burning torch") moving through the covenant symbols. It was the sign given that the covenant was ratified by Yahweh God Himself and that His holy Presence would be in the midst of those who entered into this covenant. This form of manifestation in fire is continued in the future developments of the covenants with Abram's descendants.
He calls Moses through the burning bush, He appears as fire on top of Mount Sinai; then as a Pillar of fire throughout Israel's journey to the promised land and as tongues of fire over the disciples in the Messianic covenant. He is the glory in the midst of His people.
- Ex.3: 2; 19:18; 13:21-22; Ps.80: 1; Acts 2: 3; Zech.2: 5