THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT:  The Covenant of Promise (Part 1)

B. Childress
Apr 4 2008 08:00A.M.

As seen in connection with the previous covenants, each covenant begins a probation cycle.  

1.  Man's
probation in relation to the terms of the covenant given.

2.  Man's
failure to keep the terms.

3.  God's
judgment on sin.

4.  God's
redemptive covenant given.

With the establishment of the Noahic Covenant and the new beginning on a cleansed earth came a further period of
probation.  There were further terms added to those of the previous covenants, as God continued to unfold His ways to

Soon after the giving of the Noahic Covenant, the failure of man began to evidence itself.  Noah's drunkenness and
nakedness and Ham's disrespect to his father were failures in relation to God's reproductive purposes for man as stated
in the Noahic Covenant (Genesis 9:1).  Their conduct was not consistent with the high and holy purpose God intended
for the powers of reproduction.  This failure in the family of Noah led to the failure of the entire race at the Tower of
Babel.  Nimrod, of the line of Ham, led a rebellion against God's command to replenish the earth by drawing the people
together at Babel.  This rebellion was epitomized in the building of the Tower of Babel to reach unto heaven to the glory
of man and the defiance of God (Genesis 10:6-10; 11:1-4).  They took the delegated authority of human government
given in the Noahic Covenant and turned it against God and His government.  Thus, human government was usurping
the place of Divine government.

God foresaw the man's unified rebellion would soon deserve universal judgment.  Thus, in judgment with a view to
mercy, God stepped into the scene at Babel and brought man's evil unity into confusion.  By confusing their languages,
scattering them across the earth and dividing them into nations, God was setting the stage for the unfolding of His
redemptive purpose among the nations (Genesis 10:25,31,32; 11:5-9; Acts 17:26,27; Deuteronomy 32:8).

While the families were developing into nations in their respective places God chose the next covenant man from the line
of Shem.  It would be through Abram that God would bless all the nations of the earth (Genesis 11:10-32; 12:1-3).

I.  The WORDS of the Covenant

A.  The Promises of the Covenant

    The promises of the Abrahamic Covenant comprehend the promises of the previous and also subsequent
    covenants.  The Abrahamic Covenant enlarges upon the Edenic, Adamic and Noahic Covenants.  It also includes
    in itself the covenants relative to the chosen nation of Israel, which are the Mosaic, Palestinian, Davidic and New
    Covenants (Romans 9:4,5).

    This covenant was not only made with Abraham, but its oath was given to Isaac and it was confirmed to Jacob and
    then Israel after him (I Chronicles 16:15-17).  These three fathers were together partakers of one covenant; even
    as the three persons in the eternal Godhead are partakers of one covenant (Exodus 2:24; 3:6,15).

    The covenant as given to the three fathers and to Israel is stated in the following major passages:

    *     To Abraham

    Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18; 15:1-21; 17:1-27; 18:17-19; 21:12; 22:1-18.

    *     To Isaac

    Genesis 24:60; 26:1-5, 24.

    *     To Jacob

    Genesis 27:28,29; 28:1-4, 13-22; 32:12,28; 35:10-12; 48:3,4.

    *     To Israel

    Deuteronomy 7:6-16; I Chronicles 16:15-22; Psalm 105:8-15; Micah 7:20; Exodus 3:15; 32:13; Hebrews 6:

1.  Promises of Blessing

    a.  Personal Blessing (Genesis 12:2)

    God said to Abraham, "I will bless thee" indicating God's desire to bestow His favour upon Abraham himself.  
    This promise was confirmed to Isaac (Genesis 26:3), Jacob (Genesis 28:3) and to Israel (Deuteronomy 28:1-

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  The blessing of Melchisedek in the bread and the wine given to him (Genesis 14:19-20).

    *  The blessing of Material prosperity (Genesis 13:2, 24:1,35).

    *  The blessing of Physical well-being (Romans 4:17-21).

    This blessing was also fulfilled in the lives of Isaac (Genesis 26:12-14), Jacob (Genesis 30), and in Israel
    (Deuteronomy 8:18).

    b.  Blessing Others (Genesis 12:2)

    God also said to Abraham, "Thou shalt be a blessing."  God made it clear to Abraham that the purpose of
    being blessed was that he might be a blessing to others.  This promise was confirmed to Isaac, Jacob, and
    to Israel.  This was fulfilled in:

    *  The blessing of Abraham's own household (Genesis 14:14; 18:19; 24:35).

    *  The blessing of Abraham's benevolence to Lot in allowing his choice of the land and also in his rescue
    from Sodom's destruction (Genesis 13:5-9; 14:1-16; 18:16-33).

    *  The blessing of healing of the Gentile Abimelech's household (Genesis 20:17).

    *  The blessing of covenantal relationship with a Gentile, King Abimelech of the Philistines (Genesis 21:22-

    We find the same promises of blessing fulfilled in the lives of Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 30:37) as well as
    the nation of Israel (Deuteronmy 28:1-14).

    c.  Blessed by Others (Genesis 12:3)

    God also said to Abraham, "I will bless them that bless thee."  As a confirmation of His blessing, God
    promised to bless those who show favor to Abraham.  This promise was confirmed also to Isaac (Genesis
    26:12-33), Jacob (Genesis 30:25-43) and the nation of Israel (Numbers 24:9).

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  The blessing of Rebekah's family for responding to the request of Abraham for a bride for his son, Isaac
    (Genesis 24:51-53),

    *  This was also fulfilled in Isaac (Genesis 26), Jacob (Genesis 29,30, 31) and the nation of Israel
    (Deuteronomy 27-28).

    d.  Messianic Blessing (Genesis 12:3; 22:17-18)

    God also promised Abraham "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."  This was the greatest
    promise of blessing, that through Abraham God would bestow His favor upon all the peoples of the earth.  
    This promise involved the birth of the Seed Messiah, Jesus Christ, and was fulfilled in the New Covenant.

    It was confirmed to Isaac (Genesis 26:4), to Jacob (Genesis 28:14), to Judah (Genesis 49:8-12), to Israel
    (Numbers 24:17), and finally to David (II Samuel 7; Psalms 89,132).

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  The blessing of the Gospel of Christ, who is the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as of Judah
    through David (Galatians 3:8, 16,29; Matthew 1:1; Romans 1:3; 16:20; Genesis 3:15).

    e.  Blessing of a Great Name (Genesis 12:2)

    God further promised "Abraham that He would "make thy name great."make thy name great."  Abraham was
    to be given an honorable and well-known name.

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  The blessing of the new name of Abraham given at the time of circumcision (Genesis 17:5; acts 7:8).

    *  The blessing of a good reputation (Genesis 24:35).

    *  The blessing of association with God:  "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob"
    (Genesis 24:12; 26:24; 28:13; Exodus 3:15; Mark 12:26,27).

    *  The blessing of many nations who would revere his name (John 8).  There are three major religious
    groupings that honor the name of Abraham; Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

    *  The blessing of a name of faith as "the father of all who believe"  (Romans 4:11-16).

    f.  Blessing of Multiplicity of Seed

    The blessing of multiplicity of seed was through the years given progressively to Abraham, Sarah, Isaac,
    Rebekah, Jacob, and to Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.

    1)  To Abraham

    (a)  A great nation (Genesis 12:2).

    (b)  Seed to be as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:16).

    (c)  Seed as the stars of heaven (Genesis 15:5).

    (d)  To be a father of many nations (Genesis 17:4-8).

    (e)  Seed to be as innumerable as the stars and the sand (Genesis 22:17-18).

    2)  To Sarah

    To be a mother of nations (Genesis 17:16).

    3)  To Rebekah

    To be the mother of thousands of millions (Genesis 24:60).

    4)  To Isaac

    Seed to be as the stars of heaven (Genesis 26:4).

    5)  To Jacob

    (a)  Seed to be as the dust of the earth (Genesis 28:14).

    (b)  Seed to be as innumerable as the sand of the sea (Genesis 32:12).

    (c)  A nation and company of nations to come of him (Genesis 35:11).

    6)  To Joseph

    Fruitfulness and a multitude of people (Genesis 48:4).

    7)  To Ephraim and Manasseh

    (a)  Ephraim and Manesseh would grow together as a multitude in the earth (Genesis 48:16).

    (b)  Ephraim would become a multitude of nations (Genesis 48:19).

    Together Ephraim and Manasseh would become a nation and a company of nations.

    8)  To Israel

    (a)  Israel was to be a holy nation (Exodus 19:6).

    (b)  Israel was to be multiplied because of God's covenant (Levitcus 26:9).

    (c)  Israel was to multiply and be blessed above all people in relation to the fruit of the womb
    (Deuteronomy 7:12-14).

    (d)  Israel was to be a numberless as the sands of the seashore (Hosea 2:10).

    All these promises of multiplicity of seed, a nation, nations and a multitude of nations find fulfillment in the

    *  The nations which come from Abraham through Hagar and Ishmael; that is predominantly the Arab
    nations (Genesis 21:13,18; 25:12-18).

    *  The nations which come from Abraham through Sarah and Isaac; that is in Bible times and history the
    united kingdom and nation of Israel, and then after the division of the nation the two nations of the House of
    Israel and the House of Judah (Ezekiel 37:15-28).

    *  The nations which come from Abraham's sons though Keturah and his concubines after Sarah's death;
    that is other nations including some Arab nations which trace themselves back to Abraham (Genesis 25:1-

    *  The holy nation, the Church, made up of believers out of every kindred, tongue, tribe, and nation (I Peter
    2:5-10; Revelation 5:9-10; Ephesians 2:12-21).

    *  The Church is the true and spiritual Israel of God (Galatians 6:15-16; Romans 9:6-8).  The believing
    Gentiles and believing Israelites are grafted into the olive tree and all together become one in "the
    commonwealth of Israel" (Romans 11; Ephesians 2:12).  In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile but all
    believers are now the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29).  Together they constitute the one new man
    and the body of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-9).

    g.  Blessing of Land

    God promised Abraham that his seed would also have a land to dwell in.  For Abraham to be the father of
    many nations there would have to be lands for that seed to dwell in.  God set the bounds of the other
    nations according to the number of the children of Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8,9; Acts 17:26).  

    (1)  To Abraham

    (a)  God promised to how him a land (Genesis 12:1).

    (b)  God would give him and his seed the land forever (Genesis 13:14-18).

    (c)  The land would extend from the Euphrates river to Egypt (Genesis 15:7-21).

    (d)  All the land of Canaan would be an everlasting possession (Genesis 17:7,8).

    (2)  To Isaac

    God promised that He would give "all these countries" to his seed  (Genesis 26:2-4).

    (3)  To Jacob

    (a)  His seed would spread abroad to the North, south, east and west (Genesis  28:13-15).

    (b)  Land was promised for the nation and company of nations (Genesis 36:11,12).

    (c)  Canaan land was given to his seed for an everlasting possession (Genesis 48:3,4).

    These land promises find their fulfillment in Israel conquering Canaan (Joshua through to David: Joshua 1-
    24; I Kings 4:20-25; II Chronicles 9:26), in other lands for the seed of Abraham (Genesis 36:8,9,43; II
    Samuel 7:10-16), and also in Abraham being "heir of the world" (Romans 4:13).  The ultimate fulfillment is in
    the heavenly country of which Canaan was an earthly shadow (Hebrews 11:8-16).  As with all the promises
    of the Abrahamic Covenant there is both natural and spiritual fulfillment of the land promises.


    The Palestinian Covenant was placed alongside of the Abrahamic Covenant adding conditions for maintaining
    possession of the land.

    h.  Blessing of Victory over Enemies

    God promised Abraham that he would "possess the gate of his enemies" (Genesis 22:17).  This promise of
    conquest of enemies was confirmed to Rebekah (Genesis 24:60) and to Judah (Genesis 49:8-12).

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  Joshua's conquest of Canaan's 33 kings (Joshua 11,12).

    *  Judah's leadership in further victory in the land (Judges 1).

    *  David's victories over all his enemies (II Samuel 8; I Chronicles 22:8).

    *  The spiritual fulfillment in the Church's victory over the gates of hell (Matthew 16:18).

    i.  Blessing of Kings

    God promised that Abraham would have descendants that would reign as kings (Genesis 17:6).  It was
    confirmed to Sarah (Genesis 17:16), to Jacob (Genesis 35:11), to Judah (Genesis 49:8-12), to Israel
    (Deuteronomy 17:14-20; Numbers 23:21), and finally to David (II Samuel 7).

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  The natural seed of Abraham (i.e., the Kings of Esau/Edom.  Genesis 36).

    *  The chosen natural seed of Abraham (i.e., The kings of Judah and Israel.  II Chronicles 12:18,19; 14:15-

    *  Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

    *  The spiritual seed of Abraham, the Church (Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10).


    The Davidic covenant was given later to confirm and fulfill this Abrahamic Covenant Promise.

    j.  Blessing of Divine Relationship

    God promised Abraham that He would be a God unto him and to his seed after him (Genesis 17:7,8).  This
    was confirmed to Moses (Exodus 6:1-8) and the Prophets (Jeremiah 24:7; 30:22; 31:31-34; 32:38-40;
    Ezekiel 11:19,20; 36:25-28).

    This was fulfilled in:

    *  Old Testament saints who knew God (i.e., Joseph, Joshua, Samuel, David, etc.).

    *  New Testament saints who know God through Christ (Hebrews 8:6-13; Revelation 21:3).


    Though this relationship was broken under the, Mosaic Covenant, it is restored through Christ under the New
    Covenant (Hosea 1:6-11 with 1 Peter 2:9-10; Romans 9:25-29).

2.  Promises of Cursing

    In that the Abrahamic Covenant is distinctly a covenant of blessing, the only curse attached to this covenant is
    actually a blessing for Abraham and his seed.  God said to Abraham:  "I will curse him that curseth thee"  (Genesis
    12:3).  It was also confirmed to Isaac (Genesis 27:26-29).  Even Balaam recognized that he could not curse the
    people God had blessed (Numbers 22:6; 23:8; 24:9).

    B.  The terms of the Covenant

    1.  Faith

    Both Old and New Testaments clearly show that Abraham's response to the promises of the covenant was
    one of faith.  For this reason he has been called "the father of all who believe."  Romans 4:3 states that
    "Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness"  (Genesis 15:6; Psalms 106:31;
    Galatians 3:6; Hebrews 11:8-19).  His faith was tested and perfected as he progressed from "faith to faith"
    (Romans 1:17).

    2.  Obedience

    Abraham's faith was proven by his unquestioning obedience and his obedience was sustained by his
    attitude of faith (Genesis 22:18; 26:5; Hebrews 11:8; James 2:20-24).

    C.  The Oath of the Covenant

    The Abrahamic Covenant was one of the few covenants having an oath attached to it to make its promises
    irrevocable.  The first statement of oath is given in connection with the typical death and resurrection of Isaac, the
    only begotten son of the Old Testament (Genesis 22:16-18; Hebrews 11:17-19).  It was confirmed to Isaac
    (Genesis 26:2-5), and in subsequent Scriptures to Jacob and Israel (I Chronicles 16:16; Psalms 105:8-10;
    Deuteronomy 7:8; 29:9-13; Jeremiah 11:5; Micah 7:20; Acts 7:17; Luke 1:72,73).  Hebrews 6:13-18 explains that
    when God made promise to Abraham He confirmed it by an oath that by two immutable things (His promise and His
    oath), He bound Himself irrevocably to its fulfillment.  The promises of the Abrahamic Covenant can never be
    annulled (Galatians 3:15-17).

    D.  The Book of the Covenant

    Though there is no specific mention of the writing of a book in connection with this covenant, in due time, God
    inspired Moses to give the account of it when he wrote the first five books of the Bible, particularly Genesis and

II.  The BLOOD of the Covenant

    A.  The Sacrifice of the Covenant

The sacrificial elements of the Abrahamic Covenant were progressively unfolded during Abraham's life-time.

The Bread and Wine (Genesis 14:18)

    When Melchisedek appeared to Abraham at the time of the covenant he blessed him and ministered to him
    the "communion" of bread and wine, which New Testament Scripture shows to be symbolic of the body and
    blood of Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:26-28).

The Animal Sacrifices (Genesis 15:7-17)

    When God was giving the covenant promises to Abraham, He commanded him to sacrifice five specific
    offerings.  These were an heifer,  a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.  He was to divide
    the animals in half and lay the pieces, with the birds, in two rows.  God Himself, as a burning lamp and
    smoking furnace, passed between the pieces of the sacrificial body and blood and thus ratified the
    promises of the covenant (Jeremiah 34:18,19).  The particular instructions God gave concerning the
    covenant sacrifices were later confirmed and expanded in the five offerings of the Mosaic Covenant
    (Leviticus 1-7).  All of these sacrifices were fulfilled and abolished in the perfect sacrifice of Christ on
    Calvary (Hebrews 10:1-10).

The Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22)

    God also asked Abraham to offer a "human" sacrifice.  He was told to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering
    after three days journey to Mount Moriah.  The supreme test of faith and obedience was passed by
    Abraham in this act and God opened his eyes to offer a ram as a substitute for his only son.  Thus God the
    Father led father Abraham to do typically with his only begotten son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah, what He Himself
    as the Father would do actually with His only begotten Son, Jesus, on Mount Calvary (Hebrews 11:17-19;
    James 2:20-23).

B.  The Mediator of the Covenant

1.  The Priesthood of Melchisedek

    When Abraham was returning from the slaughter of the kings he was met by Melchisedek who was "priest of
    the most high God" (Genesis 14).  Melchisedek was not only a priest but was also a king, "King of
    Righteousness and King of Peace."  He blessed Abraham, ministered to him the bread and wine and
    received tithes from him.  Subsequent Scripture shows that Christ's king-priesthood is after the order of
    Melchisedek (Psalms 110; Hebrews 7).

The Priesthood of Abraham

    The patriarchal priesthood that began with Adam, Noah, and Job continued through the fathers, Abraham,
    Isaac, and Jacob unto the Levitical priesthood.  The fact that Abraham built an altar and offered sacrifices in
    obedience to God shows that he was priest of his household (Genesis 15).  He also exercised his priestly
    ministry in his intercession for Lot (Genesis 18-19).

C.  The Sanctuary of the Covenant

    In that the altar was the place where the priest offered his sacrifice, it constituted the sanctuary of the patriarchs.  
    This altar became God's meeting place with the fathers where He appeared to them and blessed them in
    connection with the sacrifice (Exodus 20:24-26).

    Thus we have the following:

    *  Abraham's altar where he called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 12:7,8; 13:1-4,18; 22:9).

    *  Isaac's altar, where he called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 26:25).

    *  Jacob's altar, where the Lord appeared unto him (Genesis 33:20; 35:1-15).

    The altar was later on incorporated into the Mosaic Covenant economy in the Tabernacle of Moses (Exodus 27:1-

III.  The SEAL of the Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant was called the "covenant of circumcision" because its seal was the rite of circumcision (Acts 7:

It was referred to as:

*  A Token (Genesis 17:11)

*  A Seal (Romans 4:11).

*  A Sign (Romans 4:11).

A.  The Administration of the Rite

In administering the rite of circumcision, three things were involved:

1.  The cutting off of the flesh, involving shedding of blood (Genesis 17:9-11).

2.  The invocation of the name of the child (Genesis 21:4; Luke 1:59; 2:21).

3.  The eighth day (Genesis 17:12; Luke 1:59; 2:21).

B.  The Significance of the Rite

    Only by obedience to the Commandment of circumcision could any of Abraham's seed be in covenantal
    relationship with God and entitled to the promises, the privileges and the blessings of the covenant.  To reject or
    neglect this rite would be to break the covenant and to cut himself off from its benefits (Genesis 17:14).  
    Circumcision was the outward evidence of their inward commitment to the terms of the covenant.

C.  The Importance of the Rite

    So important was the rite of circumcision that God sought to kill Moses for failing to bring his own family into
    covenantal relationship with God by circumcision.  Moses could not deliver God's people Israel on the basis of the
    Abrahamic Covenant when his own family did not have the seal of that covenant (Exodus 2:23-25; 3:1-6; 4:24-26).

    So important was this rite that no Israelite or stranger could partake of the Passover Feast unless they had the
    seal of circumcision (Exodus 12:43-51).

D.  The Fulfillment of the Rite

    Though the Abrahamic Covenant focused on the external aspect of circumcision, The New Covenant focuses on
    its internal application.  Even the Old Testament prophets reflected the New Testament reality (Deuteronomy 10:
    16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4; 6:10; Ezekiel 44:7).

1.  Fulfillment in Christ

a.  In His Experience as an Infant (Luke 2:21)

(1)  The rite of circumcision.

(2)  The eight day.

(3)  The naming of the child, Jesus.

 In His Baptism at Jordan (Luke 3:21-23)

(1)  Into the water - pointing to His death.

(2)  Out of the water - pointing to His resurrection

(3)  Receiving the name Christ - pointing to His exaltation.

In His Experience at Calvary (Acts 2:22-36)

(1)  His crucifixion - cutting off; His broken body and shed blood.

(2)  His resurrection - the eighth day.

(3)  His exaltation - the exalted name, LORD, received.

2.  Fulfillment in Christians

a. In Water Baptism (Matthew 28:19,20; Acts 2:36-41; Colossians 2:11-13).

(1)  Into the water - identification with His death.

(2)  Out of the water - identification with His resurrection.

(3)  In the name - invocation of the Godhead name.

In Circumcision of the Heart (Colossians 2:11-13; Romans 6:14).

(1)  Cutting off of the fleshly life.

(2)  Experiencing the newness of life.

(3)  Walking in the nature of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The seal of circumcision of the Abrahamic Covenant is fulfilled in the New Covenant circumcision of the heart.  New
Covenant circumcision is not of the flesh, but of the heart; not of the letter but of the Spirit; not made by hands externally
but made by the Spirit inwardly, whose praise is not of men but whose praise is of God (Romans 2:24-29).

Abraham believed God both when he was uncircumcised and circumcised.  Thus he is the father of all who believe,
whether the Circumcision or the Uncircumcision. This confirms the truth of the matter that God's desire is for the new
creature that is circumcised in heart (Romans 4:8-12; Ephesians 2:11-13; Galatians 6:15,16).

The general promise of the Adamic Covenant concerning the Messianic seed of the woman which was narrowed down to
the race of Shem under the Noahic Covenant was narrowed further to Abraham, who would become the father of the
chosen nation, Israel, through whom the Messiah would come.  As the most comprehensive covenant of Old Testament
times the Abrahamic Covenant, either explicitly or implicitly includes in itself all previous and subsequent covenants.  Its
ultimate fulfillment is in the New Covenant through Christ and His Church (Galatians 3).


The Covenants, by Keith J. Conner and Ken Malmin, Copyright 1983, Bible Temple Publishing.