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 it was illustrated through the life of Abraham. The divine plan was to undo the effects of the garden, events surrounding the flood of Noah and the tower of Babel. In other words, we have separated the Bible in a way which is most likely foreign to the reader. We have divided it in 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. Those 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 redemptions’ story culminating with the Lord’s identification with Adam’s helpless race. But it was not just his identification with us but his glorious work of deliverance which will be marveled at through the ages.
As we draw to a conclusion, have you ever wondered why the genealogies in Mathew and Luke are different? Mathew begins with Abraham and traces Jesus’s lineage as a descendant of both Abraham and David. Why does Mathew begin with Abraham and not Adam? And why does he specifically highlight both Abraham and David? 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 begins the redemptive plan of God for the human race. It begins with Abram living in a land of idolatry and the events of his life are 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 introduces his son as a descendant of David and Abraham. He is highlighting his two roles (priest and king). What had been prophesied, typed and shadowed (through Melchizedek and others) has now finally arrived.
Who was Abraham?
As we come full circle let us revisit a very basic question. Who was Abraham really? Was he a Jew, a Hebrew or a Gentile? He was raised in 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? Take Yahweh out of the picture and Abram was no different than anyone else of that era. What made him unique – I can only come up with one answer to that question. He perfectly represents all of us and it was only the experience he had with Yahweh – “The Lord, Most High and 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 used the term covenant to group three separate encounters in God’s dealings with Abraham:
- 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 a deeper understanding of the ways of God there is great value in understanding these events individually. You may wish to study these events separately in the passages above.
To summarize, the blessing was God’s way of initially getting Abram’s attention, meeting his needs and letting him know that Yahweh 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. In addition, Abrams’ belief in the promise yielded a declaration of righteousness from Yahweh himself.
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 of 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 separate and unified. 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 12:1–7 is that 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 his end goal when the blessing, promise, and covenant are one and indistinguishable from each other. At this time we will also 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 these out 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) 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:
As you read Paul’s letters, when he discusses Abraham or Israel try to determine – is he referring to the promise, the covenant or both? Understanding this point will aid your understanding. 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 people) cut and horribly abuse 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 or 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 cutting of the covenant at Calvary is the gateway opening the door to Melchizedek’s blessing!
If you have tracked with me through the previous chapters you will not be surprised at my next statement. When did the New Covenant actually begin? The covenant of grace was God’s intention all along and began with Abraham. What Jesus did and what Jeremiah prophesied was a renewal or a reestablishment of the Abrahamic covenant. What happened at Calvary did not establish the covenant, rather it was the price to be paid for a broken covenant which had been duly established by father and son in Genesis 15. In the gospels, Christ as Holy God, fully identified with the human race so that he could satisfy the debt of a broken covenant and pave the way for our right standing with the father.
Thank you so much for making this journey with me. It is my hope and prayer that is has been as meaningful for you as it was 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 undoing the effects of Eden, the flood, and the tower
- Understanding the roots of the New Covenant.
- Messiahs roles as both priest and king
- Progressive revelation of God to reclaim his identity
- Body of Christ being both Jew and Gentile – one new man in Christ
- How to think about the law and the Mosaic system
- My response to the world system is to be impacted by my understanding of who God is to me
- The eternal land of Canaan as the promised land
- God’s purpose for Jerusalem
- How to understand faith – not what I do but what I believe. My behavior flows out of my beliefs
- Overall, 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.
May his richest blessings rest upon you as the words of this study find fertile soil in your hearts.
Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.