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GOD'S EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM - IV


This is the forth in a series of lessons on God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis, chapter 17).  In our previous lessons we have seen where God’s covenant was an everlasting covenant with Abraham and with his descendants.  God promised to give to Abraham and to his descendants the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  

The true promise was for an everlasting heavenly land, not an earthly land.  God’s promise has always been for an everlasting heavenly home with Him.  It has been promised to Abraham and his descendants by faith.  

What we saw previously was that God was giving Abraham both the old covenant and the new covenant promises at the same time.  The new covenant promise was the true promise.  The first (old) covenant promise was being given to his earthly descendants as the earthly copy.   

It appears that God may have been telling Abraham what His covenant requirement was just before He gave Abraham the covenant promises (In Genesis, chapter 17).  In the first verse of that chapter, God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless”.  

Based on the Hebrew wording God is commanding Abraham to walk before Him and be “perfect”.  After telling Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect, God gave Abraham the covenant with its everlasting promise for an everlasting Canaan as a possession. 

Abraham was commanded to walk before the LORD.  Some of the ancient faithful who lived before Abraham were described as having walked “with God”.  We can see that in the lives of Enoch and Noah.  The scriptures say that those two men walked "with God" (Genesis, chapters 5 and 6).  Scripture says that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”.  Scripture says of Noah, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God”.  

Those two men walked with God before God gave His everlasting covenant to Abraham.  They walked with God but the Scripture says that Abraham was commanded to walk before God and be perfect.  Did it have to do with the covenant that Abraham was receiving? 

Remember, Christ was God’s Word from the beginning and He is God’s creator (John, chapter 1).  When God appeared to Abraham and made His covenant with him, it was Christ who was speaking to him.  Christ was making the covenant promises of God to Abraham.  Was He telling Abraham that his covenant requirement was that he be perfect?   

Christ would not come in the flesh for another two thousand years.  Abraham’s life journey was to be made before Christ would make His life journey.  Was He telling Abraham that his walk through life had to be perfect or was He saying that if he walked by faith that Christ would make him perfect? 

Was that also the covenant requirement for Abraham’s descendants?  Remember, Abraham was given credit for righteousness because of his faith and it happened before God made His covenant promises to him in Genesis, chapter 17. 

Regarding the descendants of Abraham and how they were to walk, there is another scripture that speaks of a man of faith (A descendant of Abraham) walking “before” the LORD.  It appears to be showing us how walking before the LORD means walking before Him in obedience to God’s word.  After Solomon completed his work of building the temple, God appeared to him and made some promises to him.  

God spoke of David and told Solomon, “As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David” (2 Chronicles 7:17-18).  

The covenant that God made with David was a part of the same covenant that He made with Abraham.  The true covenant promise is the promise of everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven.  When God promised David that one of his descendants would rule forever, He was speaking of Christ, a descendant of David’s, being ruler over God’s spiritual Israel in the kingdom of heaven.  Solomon was also being given that promise but, as he walked before Christ he would not hold as faithful to God as his father David had.  

Walking as David had walked did not mean being perfect as he walked because David was not perfect.  The requirement was to walk in faith as David had walked and do what God had commanded.  David was not perfect in his walk but when he slipped, he always repented and returned to his walk of faith.  As the scripture says, “I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART” (Acts 13:22). 

Abraham’s descendants who lived before Christ were to walk before Him and be perfect.  It appears that God was promising to make them perfect if they did the best they could to walk their walk of faith.  Was God not speaking of the blood of Christ making them perfect? 

We, who are walking our walk after Christ offered His sacrifice, have been told to follow Him, not walk before Him.  Remember, we are required to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.  

Those old covenant descendants could not follow Jesus because He had not come to lead the way.  They needed to walk their walk of faith before He walked but they had to follow the path of faith and obedience to God’s word.  They had to hear and obey Christ as He spoke directly through angels or through Moses.   

Our everlasting covenant requirement is to walk as David had walked but we are to follow Jesus.  We will make mistakes just as David made mistakes but we must live a life that keeps turning back to God when we mess up.  We must walk after the heart of God.  We must do our best to walk in obedient faith.  If we live a repentant life and love God with all of our heart, we will be made perfect to receive the covenant promises. 

Regarding those faithful ones who lived under the old covenant, they were living under the Law of Moses and they were required to meet its conditions if they were to be cleansed of their sins and made perfect.  They could never be made perfect unless they met the Law’s conditions.  That, however, was not possible.  Not one of those who lived under that old covenant Law could ever meet its conditions. 

Paul spoke of the old Law’s requirement for perfection in his letter to the Galatians.  He was addressing his comments to those Christians who believed that they had to keep the old covenant Law and especially the Law’s requirement for circumcision.  

Paul tells them it is those who are of faith that will be blessed with Abraham, not those of the Law.  He said, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM” (Galatians 3:10).   

Moses had written, “Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deuteronomy 27:26).  Moses also said, “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).  

The Law demanded perfect obedience of everything in that Law in order for them to be made righteous.  Those who were under the Law could only obtain their own righteousness if they were perfect under the Law but they were not perfect.

They were under a curse because they could not comply with the Law.  Moses said it and Paul said it.  James also wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). 

The old Law was written so as to provide atonement for man's sin with their sacrificial offerings but they could never meet the conditions.  The Law demanded blood from perfect sacrifices ("Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer" - Leviticus 22:20) but they had none.  They may have selected the best that they had for sacrifices but they had nothing perfect to offer.  

In addition to perfect sacrifices, only perfect priests were to offer those sacrifices (And serve in the outer room of God’s house).  The Law said of a priest with a defect, “he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries” (Leviticus 21:23).  

The Jews only rejected priests with obvious defects but the Law said “a defect”.  God’s sanctuary was continually being profaned by those imperfect priests and their imperfect sacrifices. 

That is the reason why the Hebrew writer spoke of that old covenant and said that it was a faulty covenant.  He said that if the first covenant had been faultless there would have been no need for a second covenant (Hebrews 8:7).  

He then tells us why it was a faulty covenant when he spoke of the people of the covenant and said He found fault with them.  It was a faulty covenant because the people were faulty.  God is a perfect God and He demands perfection.  Man cannot receive the covenant promise of a home with God unless he obtains perfection.   

He also spoke of that old Law and said that it was weak and useless.  He wrote, “For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19)  

Drawing near to God in His heavenly home is the covenant promise.  It is the promise of having that heavenly Canaan as an everlasting possession.   No one can draw near to Him who has not been made perfect.  That old Law had no means to do that because man could not comply.  Except, however, for one man.  Jesus was the only one who ever lived under that Law who achieved its requirement of perfection.  

It was a weak and useless Law from a faulty covenant because man was not perfect and the Law could not make man perfect.  They could never comply with the requirements of the Law because, “the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near” (Hebrews 10:1).  

The old covenant Law only had the shadow; it did not have the reality.  Under the shadow, when an imperfect priest drew near, he was profaning God's sanctuary and he was not welcome in God's presence. 

Having the perfection necessary to draw near to our perfect God would require a better way.  God provided a way for us to draw near through Christ.  We can draw near to God through Christ because the Hebrew writer says that by His one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).  

Perfection was always God’s covenant requirement.  God gave man the old covenant and its Law that demanded perfection but man could never comply.  God knew before He gave that covenant that man could never meet His conditions but He gave us that opportunity.  Man spent some fourteen centuries trying but he could not comply.  

God was telling us about His perfection requirements in the covenant promises that He made to Abraham.  Paul speaks of the promises to Abraham and says, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ” (Galatians 3:16).  

When we read from the NASB translation (The same is true of most modern translations) where God told Abraham, “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” (Genesis, chapter 17), the original Hebrew word for, “descendants” was, “zera”, meaning, “Seed”. 

God meant “Seed”, singular, meaning Jesus, only.  When God told Abraham that He would give that land to him and to his Seed, He only meant Jesus, not all of Abraham’s earthly descendants because God foresaw none of Abraham’s other descendants being able to meet the covenant conditions. The promise was only made to the one descendant who would meet the covenant conditions of perfection. 

Jesus was perfect in His obedience to the Father’s commandments and that included obedience to the Law of Moses because that was God’s Law to His people when Christ was on earth.  He spoke of the Law and said that not a letter or stroke of it would pass from it until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).  

He accomplished it all when He died on the cross.  That was when He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30).  He then bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.  

Until that day came, He lived perfectly under God’s Law.  As He once told the disciples, “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” (John 14:31)  

So, if that old covenant was faulty and its Law was weak and useless for meeting God’s covenant conditions, why was it ever brought into being?  God would have foreseen its shortcomings when He made His covenant promises to Abraham four thousand years ago.  If it was weak and useless in the first century, it was weak and useless when it was first brought into being.  Why not skip the old and just bring in the new? 

Paul asked that same question after he spoke of how the promise was made to Abraham and to his Seed, which was Christ (Galatians, chapter 3).  He was speaking of the covenant promise to Abraham and to Christ.  He said that the Law came over four hundred years after God had made His promise to Abraham and to his Seed and that Law does not invalidate a covenant that had previously been ratified by God so as to nullify the promise. 

He continues by showing how that promised inheritance was given to Abraham by means of God’s promise and it was not based on law.  In other words, the true promise was to Christ, so we can only receive that promise through Christ.  The true promise was never the old covenant promise with its useless Law; it was the new covenant promise of God that comes through Christ Jesus. 

In verse 19, he asked the question, “Why the Law then?”  He then tells us that “It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.” 

He asked if the Law was contrary to the promises of God.  He answers by saying, “May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law.  But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” 

The covenant promise is to Christ and to all who will believe in Him.  Before He came, God's people were in bondage under a Law they could never satisfy.  That is why they were shut up under sin.  Only Christ could come and set them free.  We have now been set free by faith in Christ.  

He then tells us that before faith came, “we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.  Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.  But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  

The promise is for a home with God.  Only His sons are heirs in God's house.  Christ met God's conditions for perfection and became the Firstborn Son.  All who are of faith in Him will become born again sons of God with Him and heirs in the Father's house.  

He tells us more about how we become sons of God and heirs with Christ in the verses that followed.  In verse 29, he tells us that we are Abraham’s descendants and heirs according to the promise, “if you belong to Christ”.  

In verse 28, he tells us that applied to those who are all one in Christ Jesus.  He says that includes everyone, whether Jew or Greek (Gentile), slave or free, male or female.  Whether male or female, all who are in Christ are sons of God and heirs to the promises. 

Paul tells us how we become one in Christ Jesus in verses 26 and 27 when he says that, “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”.  

We must be in Christ to belong to Him and become sons of God and heirs with Him.  We become one in Christ when we have become clothed with Him in baptism.  Everyone who has become one with the only perfect heir is an heir with him and is a son of God. Only sons of God are heirs to the promises.  

Remember, He was the only one who ever earned righteousness by being perfect under that old Law.  He was perfect in everything.  He was righteous before He came to earth but He came so that He could earn righteousness for us.  God's grace is now being shown in His gift of Christ's righteousness to the faithful spiritual descendants of Abraham.  God has allowed all of His sons to become perfect by having been clothed in the righteous Firstborn Son of God.  

God will be fulfilling another promise that God made to Abraham and Paul refers to in that same chapter.  Paul tells us that the Scripture foresaw how God would justify the Gentiles by faith when it preached the gospel to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” (Verse 8) 

That promise was not really another promise; it was the same promise.  That promise was the gospel message and the message is how God will fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham and to his descendants for an everlasting land.  

All nations will be blessed in Abraham when those who are of faith will have believed and obeyed the message and have been baptized into Christ (Have become clothed with Him), the only perfect Seed of promise.  We must be wearing His robe of righteousness if we are to enter into God's heavenly home.

Remember, we read, that old Law was only a shadow of the new.  If God brought it into being to show the shadow of what would be the reality, then it was brought into being for our instruction.  Just as Christ taught His spiritual message with earthly parables, He is doing the same thing with the old Law shadow.  As we just read, the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.

We can only become heirs with Christ if we are “In Christ”.  We must become one with Him.  As Jesus said in His great prayer (John, chapter 17), “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Verses 20-21).  

He spoke of those that have obtained perfection by their unity with the Father and Son.  We must become one with Christ to be made perfect with Him. Only those faithful ones who will have believed and obeyed the Great Commission command will become clothed with the perfection and righteousness of God.  

His offering makes us perfect because He was a perfect priest offering a perfect sacrifice.  He lived a perfect life under the Law and He remained perfect including His obedience at the cross.  Paul spoke of that obedience saying that He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).  

The Hebrew writer said that, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9).  He was made perfect by His obedience and, if we obey Him, we will also be made perfect. 

His perfect sacrifice reaches back to cover the faithful of all time.  We can see that in what the Hebrew writer said of those ancient faithful in Hebrews, chapter 11.  He listed those who lived their lives of faith before Christ, including some of Abraham’s descendants who had been given the covenant promises. 

That writer spoke of the ancient faithful and said how they were seeking a country of their own.  They were seeking a country but it was not an earthly land.  He writes, “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16).  

Remember, Abraham lived in that land of promise as an alien in a foreign land but he was looking for that city built by God (Hebrews 11:9-10)

The writer ended chapter 11 speaking of those who had gained approval by their faith but they never received the promises.  He says they had not received what had been promised, “because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect”.   

Those ancient ones who lived before Christ came and offered His perfect sacrifice had no perfect sacrifices to offer.  Our High Priest has offered our perfect sacrifice and it covers those ancient ones who walked in obedient faith.  

The Hebrew writer says that by His one offering He perfected for all time those who are sanctified.  It was for "all time".  If we also walk in obedient faith His sacrifice will cover us and we will be made perfect by the blood of Christ. 

A few of those old covenant ones were faithful and they believed God’s promises.  They lived under a Law that could not make them perfect to receive the promises but, because they believed and obeyed God’s word, God will give them what had been promised.  They have been made perfect with us by the blood of Christ. 

The prophets spoke of how they would receive the covenant promise and see God’s face.  David was telling us about that when he wrote, “One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.” (Psalms 27:4) 

Under that old covenant, no one could dwell in the LORD’S house.  David was speaking ahead to the new covenant house of the LORD.  It is the covenant promise of a home with God. 

Those who live by faith will receive that promise because they will seek God’s face.  As David said a little later, When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." 

Sinful man cannot dwell with God and he cannot see God’s face.  Only God’s perfect children will be allowed to dwell with Him and see His face.  As the LORD told Moses, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!" (Exodus 33:20)  

He was speaking sinful man and their imperfect mortal bodies.  For those who will have become perfect in Christ, they will have received immortal bodies when Christ comes (1 Corinthians 15:53) and they will be allowed to see God and dwell with Him. 

Our goal must be to obtain His perfection so that we can dwell with God and see His face.  We must Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) 

We can only be sanctified by His blood.  Only by the perfect blood of Christ in the new covenant can we be sanctified and made perfect

We must hear, believe and obey the gospel message from Christ when He command His disciples to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).  

We need to believe and obey Jesus when He speaks and gives us His promises and His covenant requirements.  What had been promised was an everlasting Canaan.  That land is only promised to those made perfect through faith in Christ Jesus.  

We can only have His perfection when we believe His word with obedience.  We must believe He will give us the covenant promises if we meet the covenant conditions.  

We must be made perfect and that can only happen for those who have been clothed in Christ Jesus.  He is the only perfect one and the only heir so we must be “In Him” and be made one with Him if we are to receive the covenant promises.  

We must hear John tell us, “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5-6). 

If we say that we are “In Him”, we ought to walk as He walked.  Jesus walked in a way that denied self to live for others.  He walked about doing good works for others and He died doing good works for others when He died for me. 

In His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapter 5), Jesus tells us what God requires.  He mentioned a number of things that were different from what they had been taught but at the end of that chapter He said something that stands out.  

He told them to love their enemies and pray for those who persecuted them “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”.  

Only sons of God are heirs.  We must be a son of God to be an heir in His house.  If we are to become sons of God, we must love all people, even our enemies.  He tells us that anyone can love those who love them but we are to be different.  He tells us, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.  

Those Jews likely did not believe that He meant exactly what He said about being perfect.  He did.  He will make us perfect if we follow Jesus and walk in love just as He walked in love.        

Remember, God is love (1 John 4:8) and if we are His children we must walk in love.  That means doing works of love for others.  

That is why we were created.  We were created in Christ Jesus for good works.  We must hear Paul say that we are, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). 

Paul had just written to say how we are saved by grace, through faith and not by our works, but true love does works of love.  We were created to do good works of love for others.  We must follow Christ and love others in deed and in truth.  

I must take up my cross and follow Him.  I must walk as He walked and “walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).  We must follow Him and walk in love.  

We must be led by the Spirit as we walk because Paul says that all who are being led by the Spirit are sons of God (Romans 8:14).  Only those who are being led by the Spirit are sons because they have His Spirit within them.  

Paul speaks of that when he tells us how Christ became a curse for us, “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith”(Galatians 3:14).  

It is the promise of the Spirit that allows us to become His son and have that home with God.  Those who have the Spirit of God are sons of God and heirs with Christ.  The Spirit of God dwells in His sons and His Spirit is leading them.      

Our righteousness no longer depends on our perfection under the Law, it depends on our faith in the one who has met the conditions of the Law for us and then offered Himself so that we can obtain His perfection. 

Jesus lived a perfect life under that Law and He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  By His perfection He earned righteousness for us.  We can only obtain His perfection and His righteousness by faith in Him.  We must believe His word.  

We must believe His promises like Abraham believed His promises.  If we believe His promises and obey His word, He will make us one with Him (We will become clothed with Him) and He will give us His perfection and His righteousness.  Remember, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. 

All of the faithful of both covenants and from the time before the covenants have been made perfect by the blood of Christ.  They have all become one together “in Christ” with us and they will receive that city to come.

Johnny Rogers 5-7-08

Revised 5-4-11

 

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