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GOD'S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM


In this "Introduction", we will look at what the scriptures have to say about God’s covenant with Abraham and how God is keeping His promise to him and to his descendants.  I will also include some things about Abraham’s test and how it foretells Jesus and the cross but it will be covered in more detail in the book.  

If you read the book and the scriptural evidence referenced there, you will see more of how Abraham and Isaac were actually telling of the cross to come and you will see how God is keeping His covenant promises to Abraham and to his descendants. 

In addition to what is being presented in this introduction, I have put together several short papers on God's covenant with Abraham so that the message can be more easily understood.  Much of what is presented here is included in those new papers but some new information has been added.  

Those papers have been placed on my new web site, "godscovenantwithabraham.com".  On the left-hand side of this page is a link to that site.  You may wish to visit that site after reading what is being presented here.     

Do you want confirmation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that He died on a cross to redeem man?  You can see it in the story of Abraham and the covenant that God made with him (Genesis, chapter 17) if you listen to Christ tell that story.  

We have all heard or read that story before but we were reading, or listening to others read what Moses wrote in the book of Genesis.  This time, let's listen to Christ tell the story.  

What's that!  You don't remember Christ telling the story of Abraham in the gospel accounts?  He did not tell the story of Abraham in a direct way. He told it in another way.

He told it as the word of God speaking through Moses:

John 1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. - - -

3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. - - - -

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us - - - -

John tells us that Christ was the Word of God made flesh and that He existed with God and was God from the beginning.  It all came into being through Him.  He, the Word, is the creator ("By the word of the LORD the heavens were made", Psalms, chapter 33).  The Father spoke everything into existence through Christ.  

He is the Word of all scripture, including the Old Testament and when we read what Moses wrote, Christ is the one telling us the story of Abraham.  Peter tells us how Christ spoke through the prophets.  Peter spoke of our salvation and said that when the prophets prophesied of the grace that was to come to us, they made searches and were, "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Peter 1:11).  

The Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophets when they spoke of the cross and the glories that were to come.  He spoke through Moses and told the story of Abraham and the everlasting covenant that God made with him.  As we read those scriptures, if we understand that we are hearing Christ tell us the story of Abraham (through Moses), then we can know that, "JESUS CHRIST IS LORD".

When Paul spoke of Christ being the creator, he said that He was the image of God and the firstborn of all creation and he says, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16). 

If Christ created all things, then nothing that has been created is excluded.  If Christ’s creation works include placing rulers and thrones and authorities into their positions, then His creation work is still under way and it includes who is being placed into power and over what.  It includes every ruler and king in every land and it included the Pharaoh that led his army into the sea in pursuit of God’s people.  

If we are not happy with those who have been placed into positions of power in our land we should speak to the one who placed them there, rather than to complain about it to others. 

Remember what Jesus told the Jews about Abraham, in John, chapter 8?  He said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (verse 56).  When they questioned that statement, Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am" (verse 58).  

When Abraham was born, Christ was already there.  After God began speaking to Abraham, he began to hear and see Christ.  When we read what Moses wrote about Abraham, Christ is the one telling the story through Moses.  Abraham was also a prophet and when Moses recorded what he spoke, the Spirit of Christ was speaking through both Moses and Abraham.

You remember how God appeared to Abraham and commanded him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering.  The story is found in Genesis, chapter 22.  The story has not changed but if we remember that Christ is really telling the story, not Moses, we may see more in that story.  

When God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering Abraham obeyed God and went because he knew that something like the cross was coming.  He may not have seen it clearly but he saw it. When he saw Christ, Abraham saw the cross.  

Listen to the story and see what Christ is saying about that.  Scripture says that God told Abraham to "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you." (Genesis 22:2)

Think about the fact that Abraham has already been declared righteous because of his faith and God has promised that through his seed, all families of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3 and 15:6).  

God made His everlasting covenant with him ten or fifteen years before the test (Genesis, chapter 17) and in that covenant He promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  During the same visit God told him that Isaac would be born through Sarah and that Isaac was the one through whom God would establish His covenant.

At the time of the test, Abraham has met all of God's requirements and Isaac was born as promised.  Isaac had been circumcised as required by the covenant but God is asking Abraham to kill that son of promise.  Isaac was the one through whom the covenant was to be fulfilled.  

Was God changing His mind and deciding not to keep His promise?  No, God keeps promises and Abraham knew that.  Abraham was a believer in God and His promises and that is why God had given him credit for righteousness many years before the test.

Let us now look at the test of Abraham.  I will not copy all of the verses of scripture that tell us this story but you may wish to open your Bible and read along (I will be using the NASB translation) as we read and discuss it here.  It will be expanded in more detail with more scripture in the book.

After God commanded the sacrifice of Isaac, Abraham does not hesitate.  The scripture says that Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey.  He split the wood that he would need and took his son and two young men and began his journey to the place selected by God for the sacrifice of Isaac.  They traveled for two full days and into the third day when Abraham looked up and saw that place in the distance.

He said to the young men traveling with them, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you" (verse 5).  He said "we will return", not "I will return". Abraham knew that God was asking for Isaac's life but he also knew that God would somehow keep His promise through Isaac.

As Abraham was traveling toward that mountain, he was considering some things.  What he was thinking about can be seen in what the scriptures have to say in the New Testament book of Hebrews.  These verses are looking back at Abraham's test two thousand years before.

The Hebrew writer referred to God's test of Abraham: 

Hebrews 11

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son;   
18 it was he to whom it was said, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED." 19 He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

Abraham was considering God's commandment that he offer his beloved son Isaac as a burnt offering.  Isaac was the one through whom the covenant promises were to come.  Abraham had received the promises from God and God promised that they would come through Isaac.  How could God keep His promises to Abraham if Isaac was to die? 

Abraham must have asked himself that very question.  The Hebrew writer is telling us what Abraham had concluded in his own mind.  He considered that God is awesome and he feared that God but he also believed in Him.  He believed that God would keep His promises. He was considering that God is able to raise the dead, if necessary, to keep His promise.  

If he thought about the possibility that God had changed His mind and was backing out of His covenant promise, he quickly rejected that possibility.  Abraham believed that Isaac would die but God would resurrect him from the dead.  How is that for an example of faith?

The Hebrew writer tells us that Abraham considered that God had the power to raise the dead from which he received Isaac back as a, "type".  The original Greek word used for the word, "type", in the above scripture is, "parabole".  

In every instance when that Greek word was used in the gospels, it was translated as "parable".  Why did our modern translators not translate it that way in this verse (Not in any of the modern translations)? 

The likely reason is because our definition of a parable usually includes the statement that the created earthly story is fiction.  A parable is a created earthy story that parallels and teaches spiritual truths.  

Man's definition says that the story is fiction.  We get the same general definition whether it is from a Bible dictionary or from Webster's dictionary.  The story of Abraham is not fiction; it really happened.  How could it be translated as, "parable"?

Should God be limited by man's definitions?  The scriptures never tell us what God's definition of a parable is.  Or do they??

 Is God giving us His definition of a parable in the story of Abraham and his test and the covenant that He made with him?  Did He cause that earthly true story to come about as a copy of what is spiritual for us? 

Remember, when Jesus was on earth preaching the Gospel message of the kingdom of God, He spoke to the crowds in parables.  He made up earthly stories to parallel something that is spiritual for us.  

Matthew recorded some of His parables and he says that All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.” – Matthew 13:34.  He only spoke to the crowds in parables but He explained the meaning of those parables to His disciples (privately). 

If Christ is the Word of the Old Testament scriptures, does He also speak in parables through those scriptures?  Did He cause some of those true stories to come about as a parallel of what is spiritual for our instruction? 

We heard Peter tell us how the Spirit of Christ was speaking through the prophets when they spoke ahead of the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  Did Christ make the story of Abraham’s test to happen for our spiritual instruction?  Was He speaking ahead to His sacrifice when He commanded Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering?  

The scriptures tell us how God does cause some true-life stories to happen as they do.  We heard Paul tell us how Christ is the creator and how His creation work includes selecting all rulers and authorities that are placed into their positions.  We can also read how He caused some of those rulers to act in ways to cause things to happen. 

Remember, when God sent Moses into Egypt to bring His people out of slavery He told Moses beforehand that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let them go until His signs had been displayed in the land of Egypt.  Christ was causing it to happen.  He selected Pharaoh for his position of power and He hardened his heart to bring about that story.  

We must believe that God is involved in the creation of our life story because we pray daily for God to make something happen for us or for others near to us.  We pray for success in things.  We pray for healing.  We pray for about everything and, when we pray and God answers our prayers, we are involved in the creation of our life story.  The biggest input that we have into our life story, however, is when we make the choice to love God.

Paul tells us how our love for God determines the outcome of our life story in Romans, chapter 8.  After telling us that the Spirit intercedes for us in our prayers he tells us that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”   (Romans 8:28-30)

When Paul said that God causes all things to work together for good in the lives of those who love Him, he is saying that God is creating a good life story for them.  God is involved in every aspect of our lives and He makes everything in our life work together for our good if we love Him. 

If we choose to love Him, He will have mercy on us and He will cause everything in our lives to work together for our good so that His promises to us will be fulfilled. 

Paul also says that God foreknew and predestined those who would love Him to be conformed to the image of Christ.  That means He foresaw everyone who would choose to love Him and they are being created in the image of God by being created in the image of Christ in His new creation. 

God’s promise of good things to come is not promised to those who refuse to love Him.  God will not make us love Him.  He wants us to make the choice to love Him and to believe in Him.  That can be seen when we hear Peter tell us of God's patience and how He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) 

If the scriptures say that God does not wish for any to perish but that all should come to repentance then we have a right to make that choice for ourselves.  If God was making the choice for us and His wish is that all would come to repentance, then He would cause everyone to repent so that they would not perish.  God has allowed us to make the choice and His wish for us is that we would make the right choice.  

Back to what Paul said about God having foreknown and predestined the ones that are to be justified and glorified by having been created in the image of Christ.  Remember, God is not limited in time.  He is in all time now and He was in all time at the beginning of time.  The Psalmist (David) said, "Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all" (Psalms, chapter 139).  

God hears us speak the day before we spoke and He heard us speak six thousand years before that.  Did God hear and answer our prayers before we could talk? Did God see our faith and love before the foundation of the world?

God knows our heart and He knew our hearts before we were born.  Is that why David will then speak of his days having been ordained before he was born just a few verses later in chapter 139?  He says, "Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them".   

Every day of his life had been determined and recorded in God’s book before he was born.  Just as God foresaw every day of David's life before he was born, He also foresaw every day of our life in the beginning and based on what He foreknew about us, He predestined our future.  

Remember, Paul said that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him and that He foreknew and predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son.  If He foreknew me, then He knew beforehand if I would choose to have faith in Him and if I would love Him.

It sounds like God’s freedom in time allowed Him to foresee us make our life choices and for those that He foresaw choosing to love Him, He has predestined them to become sons of God in the image of Christ.  We must make that choice if we want God to create a good spiritual story for us.  Whatever choice we make, God will have foreseen us make it and He will have planned our life around what He foresaw in us.  

Is that why Paul spoke of how God chose us and
predestined us before the foundation of the world in
Ephesians 1:4-5, (“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will”)?

God's freedom in time helps us to understand how He knew that hundreds of prophecies would be fulfilled in Jesus.  Those things all happened in time when time began.  He saw all of His creation work when He began that work.  His creation work includes His new creation work that directs our life story so that we can be created in the true image of God in that new creation.  It included His creation work being foretold in the life of Abraham.  

When Paul said that God causes all things to work out for our good if we love Him, Christ is making it happen. He is doing that as a part of God’s new creation work that creates us in His image.

If we choose to love God He will cause everything in our life to work together so as to cause our life story to be a good one.  Having a good life story does not assure good earthly things, it assures good spiritual things.  

Paul is the one who recorded this scripture and he did not receive great earthly things.  From an earthly prospective Paul lived a life of suffering and poverty but he tells us that, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).

Just as God causes good things to come to those who love Him, the reverse can be true for those who refuse to love Him.  He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good and the rain to come to both the good and the bad (Matthew 5:45) but from the prospective of the new creation, He sometimes causes bad things to come to those who choose not to love and honor Him.  

The scriptures are full of statements about God causing bad things to happen in people's lives that have chosen not to love Him.  We saw how God hardened Pharaoh's heart to cause the old salvation story to happen like it did.  His story was not good for Pharaoh because he did not love God.  

God used Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, to punish His unfaithful people.  God scattered His old covenant people among the nations because they did not love Him.

Just a few verses after Paul speaks of how God makes all things work together for our good if we love Him (Romans 8:28), he tells us how God made things happen in a way that was not good for Pharaoh, someone who did not love Him.  

Paul spoke of Pharaoh and said, “the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH” (Romans 9:17). 

Regarding the Pharaoh that refused to let God’s people of the old covenant go, God sent Moses to that Pharaoh with His command to Egypt “let My people go”.  God had forewarned Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let them go when He sent him back into Egypt to bring His people out of slavery.  

God had foreseen the evil that would come to be in Pharaoh’s heart and because of what He had foreseen in him, He pre-selected him for destruction.  His part of that old salvation story turned out bad for him and his people.

After Paul spoke of how God had selected Pharaoh for His purposes, he then tells us how God does His work of creating true life stories.  He speaks of how God is the potter and we are the clay.  Paul says, “So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires”. 

He is telling us that he hardens the hearts of some (Like Pharaoh) to cause them to rebel but He has mercy on others.  Remember, it is those who choose to love God that have been promised good things.  The good result is receiving the covenant promise of that everlasting heavenly land.

After telling us how God hardens some and He has mercy on others, Paul continues his discussion of how God is working in people’s lives by telling us that God is the potter and the potter works with the clay and makes some vessels for honorable use and others for common use.  

In verse 21, he wrote, “Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” 

He tells us how God patiently endures vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Like Pharaoh) so that His wrath and power can be made known.  As He told Pharaoh, He raised him up to demonstrate His power and to make His name known throughout the earth. 

Paul tells us that the scripture spoke to Pharaoh to tell him that God raised him up for the purpose of demonstrating His power and that His name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.  When Paul said that the scripture spoke to Pharaoh, it was Christ speaking to Pharaoh because He was the Word.  

He is the Word and the creator, so, He is the potter and we are the clay.  As He does His creation work, He has mercy on some and He hardens others, as He desires.  His desire is for good things to come to those who choose to love Him.  

When Paul spoke of how the potter works with the clay to make vessels of His choosing, he asked how we can resist God’s will and why does God still find fault with us?  He asks who are we to answer back to God when the potter is the one who does the choosing.  

Paul is asking a good question.  In his wording in Romans, chapter 9, Paul makes it sound as if we have no choice in what we will become but when we look back to what he wrote in chapter 8, we can clearly see where we do have a choice. 

He had already given us the answer to the question he asked in chapter 8.  We heard the answer when we heard Paul tell us how God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.  Remember, Paul said that He foreknew the ones who would choose to love Him.  

If He foresaw us making the choice to love Him, He will create us as vessels meant for glory.  We may not be able to choose the exact vessel that we will become but we have a choice in whether or not we will become destined for glory or for wrath.  Those who make the choice to love God will be created in the image of His Son and will be destined to receive His glory.  

The good promises are to be fulfilled for those who love God.  Love for God, however, must be shown by our actions.  Jesus tells us how we show our love for Him in John 14:15 where He tells us that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.  

He makes sure we get the message when says it two more times in that chapter.  He tells us, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him”.  

The Father will love those who choose to love His Son with obedience and the Son will love those whom the Father loves. 

Two verses later He tells us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me” (Verses 23-24).  

God’s promises are to those who choose to love God’s Son with obedience to His word.  His word is the word that He received from the Father.  We must love and obey the Father’s Word in order to receive His covenant promises.  

Having a home (An abode) with God is the promise.  That promise is only made to those who love Him.  Only those who love Him with obedience to His word will receive the promise.

Remember, the Psalmist said that every day of his life was recorded in God’s book before he was born.  Did not God also foresee Abraham choose to live a life of faith and love for Him and then cause his story to happen as it did?  Did He cause Abraham's story to come about as it did for our instruction?  

Paul spoke of how Abraham was justified by his faith and said that with respect to the promise of God he did not waver in unbelief but he grew strong in faith,
"Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead" (Romans 4:22-24).

When Christ spoke through Moses and had him record the story of how Abraham was made righteous by faith, He did it for us as well as for Abraham.  He is telling us about the kind of faith that we need to bring us credit for righteousness.  

Abraham was given credit for righteousness because of his faith in God and faith in His word.  Abraham knew that God would keep His promise.  He knew that God would not lie about His promises and he knew that God was able to do whatever was necessary to keep His word.  

Remember what the Hebrew writer said. Speaking of Abraham's faith, he said that he considered that God could raise Isaac from the dead.  Remember, also, it was done as a "type", or Parable.  

The statement about Abraham having been given credit for righteousness because of his faith was first recorded by Moses in Genesis 15:6.  God promised that he would have descendants like the stars in the heavens.  He was an old man, but he knew that God could make it happen.  

Paul said it was written for our sake.  It was written to show us how we can receive credit for righteousness by belief in God.  Abraham had full assurance in God's word.  Christ was the Word that Abraham believed and he was, therefore, justified by faith in Christ.  It all happened for our instruction.

Abraham believed God’s promises and that included His covenant promise to give the land of Canaan to him and to his descendants as an everlasting possession.  God made His covenant with him in Genesis, chapter 17.  God told Abraham that it was an everlasting covenant and He said, “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God”. 

Much of the Christian world has misunderstood what God was saying in His covenant promise to Abraham.  They keep asking the question, “When is God going to fulfill His promise to Abraham and give back to the Jews all of their land of Canaan”? 

They are not hearing what God was telling Abraham.  God told Abraham that His covenant was an everlasting covenant between Him and Abraham and his descendants after him and it included giving them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  That promise of an everlasting possession meant a heavenly land and Abraham knew that.

When the Hebrew writer spoke of the faith of Abraham he said that, when he was called, he "obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going" (Hebrews 11:8).  

The writer tells us that he lived in that land as an alien, living in tents with Isaac (His son), and Jacob (His grandson), "fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God"  (Hebrews 11:9-10).  

If the scriptures say that Abraham was looking for a city built by God, he was.  He knew that God’s everlasting covenant promise was not of this earth because this earth is not everlasting.

Abraham heard God say that the covenant was an everlasting covenant and it included possessing the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  He knew what that meant.

God's covenant with Abraham really included both the old and new covenant promises.  The old covenant promise was for Abraham's earthly descendants to receive an earthly Canaan.  

The Hebrew writer tells us that covenant was a faulty covenant when he wrote that if the first covenant had been faultless there would have been no need for a second covenant (Hebrews 8:7). 

If that first covenant was faulty in the first century when the Hebrew writer wrote those words, it was faulty when it was given to Abraham.  It was faulty because it was of this earth.  God knew it was faulty when He gave it.  God gave it as an earthly copy of the true covenant.

The new covenant promise is the true promise.  It is the promise of an everlasting Canaan to Abraham and all of his descendants by faith.  We know that the true promise was the heavenly promise because the promise was made to Abraham and to his descendants and Abraham never received that earthly land.  

None of those fathers (Abraham, Isaac or Jacob), ever received that earthly land because it was never the real promise.  

We heard the Hebrew writer tell us how he lived in that earthly land but he lived there as an alien living in  temporary dwellings (Tents).  The only ground that Abraham ever owned there was the small plot of ground that he purchased as a burial place for his wife, Sarah.  He did not inherit it; he had to purchase it. 

Abraham never received that earthly land and neither will his descendants after him receive it as the true covenant promise.  It will be some six hundred years before Abraham’s descendants will enter that land to take possession of it but they will never keep it as an everlasting possession. 

As Stephen said, when he spoke of Abraham and that promise (He was defending himself before the Jews), "But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM" (Acts 7:5).  

Those Jews were concerned about their covenant promise of that earthly land.  Stephen was preaching the true covenant promise of the heavenly land.  He was trying to tell them that Abraham never received that earthly land and neither would they have it as the true promise.

Why would God allow that old covenant for an earthly land to come about and cause that old Hebrew story to happen as it did if it was never the true covenant?

God caused that old earthly story of Abraham’s earthly descendants being given their earthly land to come about as an earthly copy of our new covenant story just as He caused Abraham’s life story to come about as it did.  He made it happen for our instruction.  God was showing us an earthly copy of what He requires of us in order for us to receive the covenant promises.

The true covenant promise was an everlasting one and receiving that promise demands that man comply with God’s covenant conditions.  Meeting God’s conditions for the covenant is a part of what the scriptures are showing in God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son.  

God told Abraham that His covenant requirement was circumcision of the flesh (Genesis, chapter 17) but it would be made clearer in Abraham's test.  We will take a closer look at God's requirement for circumcision later on.  

The commandment for Abraham to sacrifice his son of promise after all of those years of waiting, seems to be the most outlandish thing that God ever required of anyone, with one exception.  That would be the outlandish requirement that God made of Himself to sacrifice His Son so that He could keep His covenant promise to Abraham.  

God's covenant promise was a heavenly Canaan.  It is only available to those who are made perfect.   Abraham could only have that land if God offered His Son as the perfect sacrifice.  Fulfillment of that everlasting promise to Abraham and his descendants would require that God make the perfect sacrifice in order to make them perfect.  

Because of God's sacrifice, Abraham and all of his descendants by faith could have their everlasting heavenly land.  God was asking Abraham to be willing to do the earthly copy.  

Just as the heavenly Father would offer His Son, Jesus, father Abraham was being asked to offer his son, Isaac.  Did the sacrifice of Isaac have earthly components that foretold the cross?  Remember, it was done as a "type".  

Just as God knew that His Son would live even if He had to die on the altar of the cross, Abraham knew (By faith) that his son would also live even though his body was (He thought) to be consumed in the fires of that altar.  God did not require that Abraham complete his sacrifice, only that he be willing to do so.  

God could foresee Himself having to complete His sacrifice and He only required Abraham to show the earthly copy.  

God made Abraham suffer through the test to show true covenant belief and obedience and to let us see, in Abraham, a copy of the pain that God would experience when He perfected the everlasting covenant by making His sacrifice.  It shows us an earthly copy of God's sacrifice.  

When we read those Old Testament stories, Christ is speaking to us.  Is He speaking in parables as He tells those stories?  Did Christ cause the Old Testament story of Abraham and his test to come about as a true story parable?

If Christ really did make that story come about as a true story parable, the earthly story components will parallel the spiritual. Let's see how it parallels the story of the cross. The story said that, as Abraham and Isaac went to the place of sacrifice, "Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son"   (Genesis 22:6).  

When Isaac carried his altar wood, did it copy what Jesus would do?  Did not God lay the wood for His burnt offering on His Son when Jesus "went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha"  (John 19:17)?  

Jesus carried His altar wood just as Isaac had done two thousand years before.  The load that Jesus carried was heavy enough to cause Him to stumble.  The amount of wood needed for a burnt offering as large as Isaac would have been very heavy.  I wonder if Isaac stumbled under that heavy load?

As Abraham and Isaac were walking together toward the place of sacrifice, Isaac asked his father, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the  burnt offering"? 

Abraham responded, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son" (Verse 8).  After the angel stopped Abraham, he saw the ram caught in a thicket and he offered the ram as a sacrifice in the place of his son, Isaac.

Abraham's prophesy statement said that God would provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering.  After the sacrifice was stopped, a ram was provided by God.  The ram provided that day was not the Lamb of prophecy.  

A ram is not a lamb.  Was the ram only a temporary sacrifice, substituted for Isaac?  Did that ram foretell the everlasting substitute sacrifice of the perfect Lamb of God and did not God, Him-Self provide that sacrifice?

The scripture says that Abraham "bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood".  Did it copy what God would do when He bound His Son and laid Him on top of the wood?  

Was the cross laid flat for Jesus to be bound before it was lifted up?  Did they use ropes in addition to the nails?  History may be telling us that ropes were sometimes used.  The use of ropes would help prevent the body of one being crucified from pulling loose from the nails.

When Isaac carried his wood to the place of sacrifice, did he go to the same place where Jesus would take the wood for His sacrifice?  We don't know exactly where Golgotha was located (Some people think they know based on physical appearances) but can the sacrifice of Isaac help tell us?  

Notice the place where he was to make the sacrifice.  Abraham was told to go to the land of Moriah, to a mountain there to make his sacrifice.  The only other place in scripture where that name is mentioned is found in 2 Chronicles 3:1, where it says that Solomon began to build the temple on Mount Moriah.

Did God send Abraham on that long journey to tell where his future covenant sacrifices would be made? Did Isaac's altar foretell the place where burnt offerings would be required of man under the old covenant?  Was Isaac placed on an altar that was before the future temple location just as the altar of burnt offering stood there?  

Did the sacrifice of Isaac also foretell where a sacrifice would be offered under the everlasting covenant?  Was it where a burnt offering would be required of God and where He would raise up His true temple, the house where He would place His name forever?  Did the copies burn on a part of the mountain where the true sacrifice would burn?

Did the cross stand before the temple and outside the east gate?  Is that why the Hebrew writer referred to the old sin offering (where blood was brought into the holy place) being burned outside the camp, saying, "Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (Hebrews 13:12).  

The Hebrew writer did not say which gate.  Did God specify the gate when He gave the Law of Moses? When the Law specified where the sacrifices were to be offered, God knew exactly where He would place His temple.  He also knew that the altar of burnt offering would be before the doorway of that house.  

As those old covenant priests went about their worship they were serving a copy and shadow of heavenly things (Hebrews 8:1-5).  As they were burning that sin offering body on the ash heap (The Law required them to burn the body outside the camp where the altar ashes were poured out), it was just a copy and shadow of what was to come.  

The true sin offering of all time was the body of Jesus.  Did God cause those priests to take the bodies that were only copies of the true sin offering and burn them where the true offering would burn?  Is that why scripture says that Jesus, "Therefore", suffered outside the gate?  Did God send Abraham to the same place?

Outside that gate one could look out over the Kidron valley, a valley of graveyards.  Was that ash heap located near the altar and just outside the east gate at the drop-off into the Kidron valley?  

If you read  my introduction for the book, "DRAWING NEAR THROUGH THE VEIL", you heard Jeremiah say of that valley, "the whole valley of the dead bodies and of the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be holy to the LORD"  (Jeremiah 31:40).  

The dead bodies were those in that valley graveyard. Were there tombs near the top, outside the east gate?  The west side of that valley was holy to the LORD.  Did ashes from the clean place for ashes wash down among the graves?  

Did the true sin sacrifice of all time burn on the ash heap and was it located outside the east gate?  Did His blood make that valley holy?  Is there anything that could be more holy than His blood?

God chose that place for Abraham to show his willingness to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Did God choose that location for Abraham’s sacrifice because that is where God would make His sacrifice? Is that why Abraham named that place what he did?  

After Abraham was restrained by the angel from killing his son, he "called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide".  Scripture continued by saying, "as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided" (Genesis 22:14).  

Remember, only a little while before that, Abraham told Isaac that God will provide for Himself the Lamb for the burnt offering.  When Abraham named the place where he offered Isaac, "The LORD Will Provide", was he telling us that it was the place where God would provide the Lamb for the burnt offering?  When he said that it would be provided “In the mount of the LORD”, was God not telling us it was the mount of the LORD? 

Moses wrote this book, including the account of Abraham naming that place.  The Spirit of Christ was guiding him as he wrote.  When the Spirit guided Moses to add that it would be provided in the mount of the LORD, was God not telling us where the cross would stand and the place where He would provide for Himself the Lamb?

Solomon was required to erect an earthly temple on that mountain.  God’s temple was built on the "Mount of the LORD".  It was the house where God would place His name.  After it was constructed, it would be the only place on earth for sacrifices to be made under that old covenant.  The Hebrew altar of burnt offering would stand before the earthly temple on that mountain.  

No other place was acceptable for their sacrifices but before that temple doorway.  Was Isaac offered at the same place?  Did it happen because the Heavenly Father would offer His Son there?

Jesus was the only righteous one who met the conditions of being a perfect sacrifice.  That required Him to live a perfect life.  He lived while the old Law was still in effect.  Did He comply perfectly with the Law and, "therefore", burn outside the camp at the clean place for ashes?  

Did He remain perfect under that Law to the very end and burn at that ash heap?  Did He offer His sacrifice at the doorway of the tent of meeting (East of the temple) as the Law required (Leviticus 1:3)?

The cross is the most important event of all time.  Did the most important event of all time take place at the most holy place on earth, the mountain where the temple stood?  Could any one thing be more important for considering that mountaintop for His earthly dwelling place than because He had chosen that place for His sacrifice to be made and the new house of God to be raised up?  

Did the cross stand outside the east gate overlooking the Kidron valley, a place of ancient graveyards?  Was there a garden at that clean place for ashes and a new tomb nearby?  Remember, the Law had only a shadow of the good things to come (Hebrews 10:1). 

When God gave Abraham credit for righteousness, He could see ahead in time to Abraham as he was placing Isaac on that altar.  That is exactly what James said. Remember what James said about Abraham's faith and works and how God saw Abraham offer Isaac on the altar before it happened?  

James referred to Abraham offering up Isaac on the altar, saying, "and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God" (James 2:23).

James is telling us how Abraham fulfilled Scripture when he obeyed God and offered Isaac on the altar.  He fulfilled Scripture that tells how he was made righteous by faith when he showed his faith by his obedience.  The Scripture is the Word and Christ is the Word.  

James is telling us that Christ foresaw Abraham's obedience.  It sounds like Christ gave Abraham credit for righteousness when He foresaw Abraham obeying God's commandment and proving his faith at the test.

Look at what happened after the test in Genesis, chapter 22.  When we listen to Christ as He speaks through Moses and tells about Abraham's test, He says the same thing that James said.  After the test and the angel had stopped Abraham, Moses records what God said to Abraham (through the angel).  

The angel told Abraham, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore".

He would be blessed with descendants like the stars of the heavens and as the sand on the seashore because he did that thing as God had commanded.

That is the same promise that Abraham had believed decades before he offered Isaac on that altar (having seed like the stars of the heavens).  He was given that promise when he was declared righteous by his faith because he believe that promise.  That promise was later expanded to say that, "IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED".  

Abraham believed that promise when it was first made and he still believed it when he offered Isaac.  It can be seen as Abraham offered Isaac on that altar.  He was declared righteous when he first believed it but the angel said that God would keep His promise because Abraham had done this thing and offered Isaac.  As James said, the scripture was fulfilled when it happened.  

God had foreseen it happen when He first gave Abraham credit for righteousness.  Abraham showed his faith with his works and because of his works, his faith was perfected.  

After telling him he would be blessed because he had done that thing, the angel said, "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (verses 16-18).  

That promise was first made to Abraham when God called him and told him to leave his father's house and go to the land that God would show him.  God promised him that "in you all the families of the earth will be blessed"  (Genesis 12:3).  

God would keep His promise because Abraham obeyed with his actions.  Again, the scripture was fulfilled when Abraham obeyed God's voice.

Paul said that promise was the gospel being preached to Abraham (Galatians 3:8).  It was the gospel promise of salvation to all nations.  God promised to bless all nations through him because he believed God and obeyed His voice.  That happened some twenty years after God had made the same promise to him because he had believed God.  God had foreseen Abraham’s faith being perfected by his future obedience.

When Abraham obeyed God and offered Isaac as a burnt offering, he was completing his faith requirements with his actions.  James tells us "that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected".  When it happened, the Scripture was fulfilled.  That is what Paul was telling us in Romans.  We read some of those verses previously. 

When Paul spoke of how Abraham's faith had given him credit for righteousness and it was written for our sake, it was after Paul said something about how Abraham was not justified by works but by belief in God.  

He said, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS" and it was credited to him "Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them" (Romans 4:9-11).

Abraham was made righteous by his faith before he was given his covenant requirement of circumcision.  His faith caused him to believe what God would say years later when He was given the covenant requirement of circumcision.  It was to be a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham.  

God told him that circumcision was an everlasting covenant requirement and that any male who was not circumcised would be cut off from his people (Genesis, chapter 17).  Abraham's faith knew that God meant what He said and he and all males in his household were circumcised that day.  

If we have Abraham's faith, we will obey God and meet our covenant requirement.  When God made His covenant with Abraham, He told him that his everlasting covenant requirement was circumcision.   If the covenant requirement of circumcision was to be an everlasting requirement, it also applies to the everlasting new covenant.  

How can it apply to us?  Christians are not required to be circumcised, or are they?

The old covenant requirement for that earthly land was physical circumcision.  Was God telling Abraham that his covenant requirement for the heavenly land was spiritual circumcision?  Are the scriptures telling us that our everlasting covenant requirement is to have a circumcised heart?  Paul tells us that circumcision is not one that is outward in the flesh, but "circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter" (Romans 2:29).

That old circumcision was only the earthly copy.  True circumcision is circumcision of the heart.  It causes us to believe God's word that commands us to remove our body of sin.  

Our everlasting covenant requirement is spiritual circumcision by the "removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him though faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:11).  

That covenant requirement is for all of God's sons, both male and female ("For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." - Galatians 3:26-29).  

In the above scripture the Greek wording does not say, "children of God".  It says "sons of God".  Whether male or female, if we are "in Christ Jesus", we are "all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" when we believe Him and obey His covenant requirement for circumcision of the flesh.  

When we repent, we make the decision to turn from a life of living for self and live for Jesus.  Those who make the choice to follow Him will truly live but they must "no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (2 Corinthians 5:15).  We must love God enough to carry a cross.  Unless we take up our cross and follow Jesus, we are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38).  

The circumcision of Christ requires the removal of our old body of flesh and burying it in baptism so that we can be raised up as a new person with Jesus.  If we follow Him in the likeness of His death, we will be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:1-6).  

If we have not been crucified in the likeness of His death, we will not be raised up in the likeness of His resurrection and we will not have met God's covenant requirement of spiritual circumcision of our body of flesh.  God told Abraham that "an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant" (Genesis 17:14). 

Just as God saw Abraham offer Isaac before it happened, God saw Abraham meeting his covenant requirement of circumcision before it happened.  Do you suppose that God would have declared him righteous if he had refused to comply with the covenant requirement of circumcision?  Would He declare us righteous if He foresaw us refusing to comply with our requirement of circumcision?

God had said that any uncircumcised male would be cut off.  Abraham knew that God would keep His word that any uncircumcised male would be cut off from his people and he obeyed.  God keeps His promises and Abraham knew that he had to obey.  When God gave him credit for righteousness because of his faith, God had already foreseen him believing God's word and meeting his covenant requirements with his works of obedience.

God did not cause Abraham to believe in Him but He foresaw Abraham show his faith by his works.  When Christ foresaw it, He gave Abraham credit for righteousness before he did anything.  

Abraham was given credit for righteousness apart from works but, because of his works, his faith was perfected.  He would receive the covenant promises because he obeyed God’s voice.  

That is the same message that we got when we heard Paul speak of how God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him.  Remember, only those who obey the commandments of Jesus really love Him.  Just as true love obeys God's word, true faith obeys God's word.  God's covenant promises are to those who love God and show their faith with obedience.  

The Jews were trying to be justified by works of the Law.  They only had a partial belief in God.  They did not believe in God's word of grace.  Jesus is the Word and they did not believe in Him.  They were doing works of the Law outside of faith in Jesus.  They failed because all of us are sinners and have come short of the glory of God.  

Abraham did his works because of his faith in God's word.  He obeyed God's word with his works because He believed in God's Word (He believed Christ) and he showed his belief by his works.  

Righteousness will be credited to us by faith in Christ if we believe like Abraham believed.  It must be a faith that will believe in and keep God's Word.  We must keep His word because Jesus tells us "if anyone keeps My word he will never see death"  (John 8:51).

God sees our obedience before it happens.  That is how we are predestined.  If He foresees us having a life of obedient faith, we will be predestined for eternal life.  It is not because God chose to make us believe and obey.  He sees us make the choice and He sees it long before it happens.  

It can be seen in the life of Abraham.  He was given credit for righteousness before his faith became obedient.  The scripture was fulfilled when it happened.  We must be like Abraham and obey God when He speaks.

Abraham knew that God would keep His word regarding his son, Isaac, and that is faith that justifies.  It appears that it will justify us before we do anything if Jesus foresees us keeping His word before He speaks to us (Before we see it in scripture).  

We must believe in Jesus.  We must be like Abraham and believe Him and obey Him each time we hear Him speak.  We must keep following Him.  

If we hear Him speak and refuse to obey, Jesus will have foreseen it and He will not have given us credit for righteousness when we first believed.  We will only have been made righteous by faith if Jesus foresees our future obedience.

If we are of the faith of Abraham we will be like Abraham and when Christ calls us, we will obey Him and do what He commands us to do.  Each time Abraham heard Christ speak he believed Him and obeyed His voice.  Remember, Jesus once said that, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27).  

For Abraham, following Christ required him to do that work of splitting the altar wood for the sacrifice of his son and taking it to the place of sacrifice.  It caused him to make that offering.  We must be like Abraham and take up our cross and follow Jesus.

If we are of the called, we will keep listening to His word (We will keep studying it) and we will meet our covenant requirements.  When we hear Him commanding us to follow Him to where we have never been before, we will be like Abraham and go there.  If we hear Him speak and refuse to act on His word, then we do not have the faith of Abraham.  

Jesus knows before we are born whether or not we will have the faith of Abraham.  If He sees us having Abraham's faith and He sees us being obedient, then He will give us credit for righteousness when He first calls us.  The Potter will have foreseen what the clay's faith and love will be and we will have been predestined for eternal life.  

Having a home (an abode) with God is the promise. That promise is only made to those who love Him.  Only those who love Him with obedience will receive the promise.

James included Abraham's example when he spoke of faith and works and said, "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself" (James 2:17).   Abraham had a living faith that believed with obedience and, as the angel said, "because you have done this thing", he would be blessed and his seed would be multiplied.  

As James said, the Scripture was fulfilled.  Christ is speaking to us through James just as He speaks through Abraham.  Jesus said that the promise is to those who obey His voice.  We must show our love for Him by obeying His voice.

Paul said that we are saved by grace, through faith, but he also said that we have been created in Christ for good works that He has prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).  

Works can't save us.  We are justified by faith but it must be a faith that believes like Abraham believed.  It must be a faith that believes and obeys God's word.  

We are saved through a living faith.  If our faith does not believe and obey God's word with action then our faith is dead.  We can't be justified by a dead faith. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow Him, He expects us to do that work.  

Abraham met the requirement of having a circumcised heart when he offered his best to God.  God is telling us the same thing.  He is telling us that we must carry our cross and place ourselves on the altar as our spiritual sacrifice to God.

I am not a theologian, just a Christian trying to hear Jesus as He speaks of His cross.  As a retired engineer with over a half-century of Bible study, some of it is just beginning to sink in.  Those Old Testament stories really were written for our instruction (Romans 15:4).  

Within the last ten years or so, I have come to realize how God caused some Old Testament true stories to happen to show us copies of our spiritual story.  He caused them to come about and to be written in the Old Testament scriptures to give us the same lessons that He would state plainly in the New Testament scriptures.

The old stories teach nothing new being required for salvation that we can't read in the New Testament.  They give us the same requirements in earthly story form that the New Testament scriptures are telling us about spiritually.  

If we are confused with the spiritual statements of the New Testament, we need to study the old earthly stories.  We need to study them anyway, so that we can know that, "JESUS IS LORD".  

Remember, Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables but He explains everything privately (To those who will bother to read it with open hearts) to His disciples (Matthew, chapter 13).  We need to be sure to come near and listen to Jesus as He explains the meaning of His parables to His disciples.  If we only hear Him speaking in parables, we will never understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.   

You will notice that I have used the New American Standard translation for the copied scriptures in this book.  You may wish to also read the same scriptures from the translation that you normally use.

 

Johnny Rogers 8/26/02

Revised 5/30/11

 

Image of the cross is from FreeFoto.com

Link For cross - http://www.freefoto.com/preview/05-08-10?ffid=
05-08-10&k=Cross+at+Sunset

 

"Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org )