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Covenant Reconfirmed

Covenant Reconfirmed

“Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Gen. 22:15-18).

Many scholars believe that the above spokesman is the preincarnate Christ, the Son of God.  The “Angel of the Lord” always speaks with great authority, and often clearly speaks in first person tense when He reveals the position that God is taking.  In this case, the Angel made it clear that God recognizes Isaac as the only son of Abraham.  Only through Isaac would the promised blessings come; the lineage of the promised “Seed of Woman” who, would be the Son of God in human form, can be traced through Isaac. Only through the shed blood of this Son of God could the promised blessings be secure. These blessings are a gift of God purchased by the blood of Christ.  How appropriate for the Son, Himself, to directly reconfirm God’s covenant with Abraham.

The covenant of promise, which was purchased by the blood of Jesus on the cross of Calvary, was presented to Abraham – a gift wrapped in three packages.  The first package contained personal blessings, which are to be bestowed upon Abraham.  A second package contained blessings related to the chosen Nation of Israel.  Within the third package, God provided individual salvation for all people – Jews and Gentiles alike.  Because of the certainty of the payment, many of the blessings were bestowed years in advance

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in the third chapter of Galatians that salvation was included in the covenant.  “Just as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed’. So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham”   “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:6-9, 28).

In Second Corinthians, chapter five we read: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21).

The blood of Jesus was shed for the sins of all – past, present and future; however, some have refused the gift.  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12).  The salvation, of both Jews and Gentiles, is included in this package of promise.  Individual Jews are never promised salvation because of their national heritage – Jesus makes this point very clear when He condemned the Pharisees for their unbelief (John 8:31-44) .

Promises made concerning the chosen nation were made at the national level.  Details are missing in the promise, as God revealed to Abraham only that He would make of him a great nation.  This nation would be a channel of blessings, and would inherit the land as an everlasting possession.

Physical and spiritual blessings are included in the promises – some are conditional and some are unconditional.  The promise was that Gentiles would, at a later time, share in some of the spiritual blessings.  However, God reserved certain physical possessions and blessings, as an exclusive and eternal inheritance, for his chosen nation.  Individuals who share in this national inheritance must be both physical and spiritual children of Abraham.

On a personal level, God blessed Abraham with additional sons that were born through a second wife, and possibly through other concubines who Abraham took after Sarah died.  But God considered neither these children nor Ishmael as physical children of the promised covenant. “And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east” (Gen. 25:5-6).

As part of Abraham’s personal blessings, these sons became fathers of several Gentile nations.  These Gentile children, as individuals, could share in the spiritual blessings of Abraham only if they became spiritual children of Abraham through faith.  Some have chosen to do so.  Many more have rejected the blessing.

Descendants of Promise

God made it clear that physical children of the promise would be of the seed of Isaac.  Many years after the sacrifice, God reconfirmed the covenant with Isaac as recorded in the twenty-sixth chapter of Genesis.  “Then the Lord appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.  Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.  And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;  because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws’“ (Gen. 26:2-5).

Isaac married a grandniece of Abraham who was reared in the vicinity of Haran.  The union of Isaac and Rebekah resulted in the birth of paternal twins – Esau, the firstborn and Jacob, the younger.  While the boys were still in the womb, the Lord told Rebekah that she had two nations in her, and that the older boy would serve the younger.
Although Esau was the firstborn and Isaac’s favorite son, Jacob managed to acquire both the birthright and the primary blessing of his father.  Esau was vindictive over the lost blessing against both Jacob and his parents.  His utter disrespect for his family was exemplified by marrying local Canaanite women and ultimately, he fathered the Gentile nation known as the Edomites.

To escape his brother’s wrath for usurping the blessing, Jacob was sent to Haran with instructions to find a wife among his kinfolk there.  Camping for the night near Salem, Jacob received a dream from God, which confirmed that he was heir to the spiritual and physical blessings promised to Abraham.  God told Jacob “… I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you” (Gen. 28:13b-15).  When Jacob awoke he called the place Bethel, which means house of God, for it was there that he met the God of his fathers.

Jacob’s trip to the area of present day Syria was very rewarding.  He married two of his first cousins, and had eleven sons and one daughter by them and their handmaids.  After twenty years of working for his father-in-law, Jacob gathered his family and possessions and started back to the land of Canaan.

On the way, angels of God met Jacob.  We do not know what transpired at this meeting, but afterward he began to make preparations for meeting his estranged brother, Esau.  On the final night before facing his brother, Jacob separated himself from his family and possessions and came face to face with God.  He wrestled until sunrise with a man who some scholars recognize as the “Angel of the Lord”.  Before the struggle ended, Jacob was a changed man.  The physical manifestation of the encounter was a limp from a wounded hip where the man touched him.  But more importantly, Jacob had a new name – Israel because he had struggled with God and with men and had prevailed over his own nature.

Israel met his brother Esau the next day and cordial relations were successfully established.  Israel dwelt in the land of Canaan in accordance with God’s wishes, and soon a twelfth and final son was born to him.  These boys, the children of Israel, are recognized as the fathers of the tribes of the nation that bears his name.

The change from a family of twelve sons to a people populating a nation occurred over a period of about 400 years.  Oddly enough, this change occurred in a land outside of Canaan, and began under the protection of a foreign ruler.

This concludes our study of “Abraham, Issac and Jacob”. Return to the history section to continue your studies.

All quoted scripture is of the New Kings James version unless noted.