There was nothing in the life of Abraham which set him apart. The meaning of his life begins and ends with Yahweh
In this study we have been looking into the eternal plan of God as illustrated through the life of Abraham. The divine plan was to undo the effects of the garden, the events surrounding the flood of Noah and the tower of Babel. In other words, we have approached the Bible in a way which is most likely foreign to the reader. We have divided it into two sections:
- Part 1 is detailed in Genesis 1-11 and provides the backstory for evil and suffering in the world.
- Part 2 begins in Genesis 12 with the call of Abraham and details God’s magnificent plan of redemption and reconciliation of the created order.
We have seen how this plan begins with the call of Abram and finds fulfillment in God’s Messiah, our Savior. The three events prior to Abraham were bleak times in human history and left us in spiritual darkness and helplessness. It was out of this period that God began his story of redemption ultimately leading to the Lord’s identification with Adam’s helpless race.
As we draw to a conclusion, have you ever considered the opening verse in the New Testament? Why does it call out Jesus as a descendant of Abraham and David as if to say this is of primary importance? You already know the answer to this question.
This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:
Abraham was the father of Isaac.
Isaac was the father of Jacob.
Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.
Abraham’s story began the redemptive plan of God for the human race. It began with Abram living in a land of idolatry and the events of his life were forward looking, hopeful and filled with optimism culminating in the coming of Jesus Christ. This is the way of Abraham and God’s pathway of restoration. God introduced his son as a descendant of David and Abraham. He highlighted his two roles (priest and king). What had been prophesied, typed and shadowed (through Melchizedek and others) has now finally arrived.
Who was Abraham?
Having looked at Abraham’s life, we now come full circle to a very basic question. Who was Abraham, really? Was he a Jew or a Gentile? He was raised in Mesopotamia, a land of idolatry, and came from a pagan family. So why do the Jewish people look to him as their natural patriarch. What made Abram a Hebrew? What made him unique? Take Yahweh out of the picture and Abram was no different than anyone else of that era. I can only come up with one answer to the question. He perfectly represented all of us and it was only the experience he had with Yahweh – “The Lord, Most High, Creator of Heaven and Earth” which gave significance to his life. There was nothing else in the life of Abraham which set him apart. The meaning of his life begins and ends with Yahweh.
As Gentiles, we are like Abram living in Ur of the Chaldees (with the idolatrous people of Mesopotamia), but God grafts us in to the root of his special tree. Consider again the passage from Romans.
And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.
At the beginning of our journey, I focused on the blessing and promises we have received from the root of Abraham. Now I ask you to consider how does this understanding nourish and enrich your walk with Christ? Do you see yourself as “grafted into God’s special olive tree?” How can an ancient nomad, called out of a land of idolatry to believe a promise, so profoundly affect my understanding of God? Does this seem paradoxical, that something this ancient can be new and relevant even today? This has been our goal – rediscovering the Abrahamic covenant and how Christ our high priest makes it châdâsh (fresh, repaired and renewed) for his people today.
“Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”
Since we began this study, we have grouped the blessing, promise and covenant under the title of “Abrahamic Covenant” to describe three separate encounters Abraham had with God.
- The blessing given by Melchizedek: Genesis 14:17–24
- The promise given by God: Genesis 15:1-6
- The actual covenant which God cut: Genesis 15:7-21
Grouping them together has been effective in communicating the overall message of this book, but for an even richer understanding of God’s ways, there is value in understanding these events individually. You may wish to study these at some point.
To summarize, the blessing was God’s way of initially getting Abram’s attention, meeting his needs and letting him know that God would be with him. With the promise, God spoke to Abram about his reward, promised to protect him and spoke to him about his legacy. And because of Abram’s belief in the promise, God declared him to be righteous.
As mentioned before, we can think of the covenant being comprised of “promise, blessing and covenant” or refer to all three simply as “the covenant”, which is how God speaks of them in Genesis 17. It may seem perplexing to consider the blessing, promise, and covenant as separate events in earlier chapters and then have them combined in chapter 17 as the Abrahamic covenant. Which is it, separate events or a complete whole? Well, I believe the answer to both questions is yes; they are both distinct and a complete whole. How can this be? This is another of those theological paradoxes where both aspects are true.
Covenant or Dispensation — Yes!
What seems to be occurring is that in Genesis 12 we have a glimpse of God’s ultimate intention. However, his method of fulfilling it is in stages: blessing, promise, and covenant. He then brings all three together in chapter 17. This is a picture of what will occur at the end of this age when the blessing, the promise, and the covenant are one and indistinguishable from each other. In that coming day, we will be one new man, Jew and Gentile, together as the family of God. But since we are not yet at the end, God is working this plan in dispensations of time (or stages) and relating differently to Jews and Gentiles even as Paul states in Romans 11.
God’s purpose is for all things to come together in Christ Jesus (God’s Messiah). For this to occur there will be an awakening of the nation of Israel to faith in her Messiah. There will also be an awakening and outpouring of power on the Gentile church to come into our full calling and embrace our Jewish brethren. This will culminate in one new man as Ephesians states. Jew and Gentile will come together as the bride of Christ, awaiting his glorious return. In Romans 11, Paul calls this life from the dead. As you have time, review the following scriptures to see this one new man:
Consider that the promise of God and his covenant is the entry point into God’s redemption story. Spoken another way, the work of Christ on the cross is the connecting point between the promise and the covenant. Recall that Abram believed the promise which made him righteous, and it was the cutting of the animal halves which God passed through that established the covenant.
In like manner, as Abram (representing the human race) cut in half and divided the animal portions so did the Roman soldiers (complicit with the Jewish leaders) cut and horribly abused the body of Messiah. His innocent and holy body was put to death in our place by both Jew and Gentile (Acts 2:23), thus satisfying the debt we owed. This is the covenant of Abram which God fulfilled at the cross. But it is not effective nor valid for us until the promise is received and believed. We know that Christ died for all but the promise must be heard and received before the covenant is established for each individual. In other words, our belief in the promised Messiah and the cost paid at Calvary is the gateway, opening the door to the Abrahamic covenant and the blessing of Melchizedek!
If you have tracked with me through the previous chapters, you will not be surprised at my next statement. The covenant of grace was God’s intention all along and began with Abraham. What Jesus did and what Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others had prophesied was a fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. The word used by Jeremiah for “new covenant” in Jeremiah 31:31 is the Hebrew word châdâsh which means fresh or new thing. But this word is derived from châdash which means to rebuild, renew or repair. In other words the new covenant is new, but its origins are from ancient days, and the foundations of the new covenant are found in Abraham – the father of our faith.
To make this truth a bit clearer, consider an old building which has been completely remodeled – it may have the same foundation, support beams and some of the same historical decor, but it is also brand new. So is the building old or new? The answer to both questions is yes. And so it is with the new covenant. Is it old or new? By this point I hope you would agree that it is both!
Thank you so much for taking this journey with me. It is my hope and prayer that is has been as meaningful for you as it has been for me. By now you have probably come to realize that you have a profoundly new perspective through which you can study Gods’ precious word. This was his gift to me and it has been my pleasure to share it with you. As you move forward in your spiritual journey, I hope you have new insight when thinking on the following topics:
- Yahweh’s grand plan is to undo the effects of Eden, the flood, and the Tower of Babel.
- Israel was God’s chosen instrument to reach the nations.
- Jerusalem is his eternal capital city and the focal point of the coming kingdom.
- Understanding the Abrahamic Covenant as the foundation for the Gospel of Christ.
- The Messiah’s roles as both priest and king.
- The progressive revelation of God to reclaim his identity.
- The body of Christ consists of both Jew and Gentile – one new man in Christ.
- What is the relationship between the Mosaic system and the Abrahamic Covenant of grace?
- My response to the world system is to be impacted by my understanding of who God is to me.
- How to understand faith – not what I do, but what I believe. My behavior flows out of my beliefs.
- We should understand that the natural and spiritual world are intertwined and there is constant tension and friction between the forces for good and those for evil.
Above everything else, I hope you can more clearly see that God’s magnificent plan is one consistent story from beginning to end – fitting together into one glorious tapestry. The deeper you are willing to dive into the scriptures, the more amazed and awestruck you will be!
May his richest blessings rest upon you as the words of this study find fertile soil in your hearts.