Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 64
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
Again, for those of you joining us on television, another welcome, and for any of you that may be catching us for the first time, we’re just an informal Bible study. We are not associated with any one group. We just try to teach it more or less like a Sunday School class. I’ve often wondered if we shouldn’t have called it a Sunday School of some sort. I don’t claim to be a theologian or anything like that, but we do like to open the Scriptures and help people to understand what it really says.
All right, now we’re on the Covenants, and we finished in our last program the New Covenant. It will become a reality after this Age of Grace has come to an end, and Christ has returned and set up His Kingdom. Then Israel will come under the promises of the New Covenant when all of the things of God will be written on their hearts. They won’t have to work at it. They won’t have to memorize and so forth, but it will be an automatic result of the covenant promises.
All right, like we said at the very beginning, we’re going to come back now for the next couple of programs and go into more detail with the most important of all the Covenants, which is the Abrahamic. For that we’ve got to go back to Genesis chapter 12, in fact we might even start in the last couple of verses in chapter 11. Now remember that this is, time-wise, about halfway between Adam and Christ’s first advent, about 2000 BC. Now I say about because I’m not going to get nitpicky on a few years one way or the other. But at about 2000 BC, God has been dealing with the whole human race as one race of people. There has been no division in how one group would approach God compared to the other. Everybody, whoever they were, whatever their lot in life, had to approach God on the same basis, and that was to recognize a need and to bring an animal sacrifice by faith, and God would accept them.
But, of course, that became as rare as a hound’s tooth, because the human race just simply walked underfoot everything concerning God. That precipitated, first, the flood. A couple of hundred years after the flood, they’d already gone so far down again that they met at the Tower of Babel under Nimrod and instituted all the false religions that have plagued the human race ever since.
So, 200 years after Babel – now again – I always have to stop and qualify. In the scope of 6000 years, I think we are all prone, I know I am, to think that 200 years was just such a little tidbit of time. Nothing could happen in 200 years. Like from the Tower of Babel to the call of Abraham. Listen, 200 years back then is just as long as 200 years has been since 1800 and look what has happened to the world since 1800! So, when I say there was only 200 years between the Tower of Babel and Abraham, don’t think that that was just a snap of the finger, so how could anything happen? That was a long time.
In that 200 years period of time, the whole human race now had succumbed. Of course, they’re all living in a relatively small area of the planet. We don’t take that away. But nevertheless, that was a long time. As the human race expanded, they were all under pagan worship and the mythological gods and goddesses, as well as paganism or nothing. Whatever you want to be. Out of that population of abject idolatry, God puts the finger on one man. Just one out of however many millions may now have come about.
All right, this is down in Ur of the Chaldees, which is at the lower end of the Euphrates River, the same Iraq that’s in the news everyday. And a few miles south of present day Baghdad was the ancient city of Babylon. It’s going to be interesting to see, because you know, I’ll have to admit, sometimes I have to change my thinking. I’ve always been of the mindset that ancient Babylon would never be rebuilt, but I’m beginning to restudy that, and I’m now kind of on the fence and maybe it will be. Maybe that’s why our President was so determined to go into Iraq, because it had to be stabilized. It had to be brought about that if indeed ancient Babylon is going to be the capital of the anti-Christ for the Tribulation, then the stage has to be set for the city to be totally rebuilt.
Now, I was reading an interesting book the other night. There’s been a new city built on the deserts out in the Arab emirates – a whole new modern city, with all of the infrastructure and everything, the hotels and you name it. They built it in less than two years time. So, this writer was making the same claim that when we talk about rebuilding Babylon that doesn’t mean that the Tribulation is 30-40 years into the future. They can build a new city today in less than probably a year. But whatever. That’s all going to take place in where we are presently involved – Iraq and ancient Babylon. Right down there on the Euphrates River.
All right, it’s from that same area then that everything began so far as the Nation of Israel is concerned – the call of Abram. All right, we pick it up in chapter 11 verse 31.
“And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife;…” Now, there’s the family, old Terah, the patriarch, and then his sons, including Abram and his wife, Sarai, who was a half-sister.
“…and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, (Now, Chaldea, of course, was ancient Babylon.) to go into the land of Canaan; (Which is up there on the shores of the Mediterranean.) and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.” Which was up at the upper reaches of the Euphrates River. Now, you’ve seen enough of Iraq lately, you know that the Euphrates River comes out of Eastern Turkey and makes a big swoop all the way down to the Persian Gulf. Just short of the Persian Gulf was the ancient city of Babel, or Babylon. All right, so they came all the way up the Euphrates Valley, up to about a little ways east of the Turkish border, and that’s where they stopped. That’s Haran, in Biblical history. On the Euphrates River straight north of Jerusalem but yet up in present day Syria.
“And the days of Terah (the father of Abram) were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.” In other words, old Terah did not accompany Abram and his family down into Canaan. I’ve always taught it this way. Terah was an idolater. God could not deal, even with Abram, until he was totally bereft of that idolatrous influencing father. So, God waits until Terah dies, and then He moves them down into the Promised Land.
All right, now we pick up the Covenant in Genesis chapter 12. Again, I guess I should go to the board and remind all of you that after the Edenic Covenant came to an end with the Garden of Eden, and all of its innocence and beauty had gone, all of these covenants now, then, functioned right up until the demise of Israel, after they crucified the Christ. We are now in this age that has left Israel dispersed and so forth, and waiting for the stage to be set for the coming of the New Covenant. So, all of these covenants after this one with Abraham were between God and Israel, up until God put the finger on the Apostle Paul to go to the Gentile world.
Now, I know a lot of people can’t comprehend that, but from Abraham until Paul, God only dealt, with some exceptions, with the Nation of Israel. Never were the Jews told to go out and evangelize the Gentile. It was God dealing with His covenant people and no one else, with some exceptions. God is Sovereign. He can make exceptions. Rahab – on the walls of Jericho – she was a pagan Gentile, but she came in by faith to the promises of Israel. She ended up in the genealogy of Christ. Ruth, the Moabitess, was a Gentile. She was not of the stock of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But she too, by faith, came with her mother-in-law Naomi and became a citizen of Israel.
So, you have these exceptions. But other than that, God only dealt with his covenant people Israel. Now, I always have to use a verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Come back with me, keep your hand in Genesis, we’ll be right back, but I always have to qualify my statements with Scripture that God did not deal with the Gentile world, so far as salvation is concerned. Oh, He dealt with them in His wrath. They came under His discipline. If a nation stabbed Israel in the back, it wasn’t too long until God sent them into the dustbin of history. But, so far as offering salvation to a Gentile, no way, it was only to His covenant people Israel. Here are some verses that we use periodically to prove my point.
“Wherefore (Paul writes) remember, (bring it to mind) that ye (Now, Ephesians were Gentiles. They were living there on the western end of Turkey in the city of Ephesus.) being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (That is Israel.) 12. That at that time…” Well, now I have to always stop and ask –during what time? While God is dealing with the Covenant promises and Israel. All during the time from Abraham until we get to the Apostle Paul, God is only dealing with His Covenant people. And here it is.
“…that at that time ye (Gentiles) were without Christ, being aliens (Now, watch the language. Aliens – non-citizens) from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise,…” Now, aren’t you glad you know what the covenants are? Gentiles had no part in the Abrahamic. They had no part in the Mosaic or the Palestinian or the Davidic, nor will they necessarily in the New. This is all God dealing with Israel.
“…Ye were strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and (That left them where?) without God in the world.” The Gentile had no hope of salvation. I always point that out. Don’t blame God. They had 2000 years at the beginning, and they walked it all underfoot. What was to make them any different having that chance during Christ’s earthly ministry? They would have walked it underfoot also. So, God wasn’t being unfair, but He’s going to set the stage for when He can send salvation to the Gentiles. That’s going to have to be through the Nation of Israel, through the call of Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant, and the Apostle Paul.
All right, come back now to Genesis 12, and we’re going to take our time on this Abrahamic Covenant. I just decided in the last thirty-seconds that if I don’t finish it in these two programs, we’ll just put it into the next two. We’re going to exhaust this Abrahamic Covenant. Ray Brewer, that should be making you feel good, shouldn’t it? Ray’s been waiting for this for two or three years. Every once in a while he’ll come out and say, “When are you going to give us something on that Abrahamic Covenant? Nobody knows anything about it.” Well, I’ll agree, but here it is now. We’re going to take our time.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, (from your family) and from thy father’s house, (Terah, get out from under Terah’s idolatrous influence.) unto a land that I will shew thee.” Now, He doesn’t tell him what it is, but He just says He’ll get him there one way or another. Now, here come the covenant promises, seven of them. Count them if you want.
“And I will make of thee a great nation, (That’s number 1) and I will bless thee, (That’s number 2) and make thy name great;…” That’s 3, and that carries all the way up to our present time. I’ve even got a grandson that they called Abraham. You know a lot of people throughout your friendships who are called Abraham. It’s still a popular name.
“…and thou shalt be a blessing:” (Number 4) 3. And I will bless them that bless thee, (This is number 5, and God has never backed off of that one. You bless the Jew and God will bless you. It’s a promise. This has never been rescinded. Then verse 3, reading on, on the other hand.) and curse (or I’ll bring bad things to those who bring bad things to the Jew) him that curseth thee: (This is number 6. God says He will bring it about to those who are against the Jew or the Nation of Israel. Then here’s the seventh one. The all encompassing promise made to Abraham. This carries all the way up through you and I) and in thee (in Abram) shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”
Now He’s going beyond the borders and the genealogy of Israel. It’s going to carry to the whole human race. Now, that’s the crowning part of the Abrahamic Covenant, and it’s that part of the covenant that brings us into the picture. That through this man Abraham will come the Nation that God will pull apart from all the rest of humanity. He’s going to deal with them on a Covenant basis, like we’ve been seeing now for the last several programs, with the idea that He’s going to prepare the Nation for the coming of a Redeemer and a Savior of all mankind. He’s going to have to come through the Nation of Israel. It could be no other way.
All right, now in order for Christ to come in His first advent, a lot of things had to happen. You had to have the Nation of Israel in the area of Jerusalem where He’s going to be crucified. That’s all in God’s blueprint. So, in order to have Israel in the area of Jerusalem, He has to bring them into a homeland that will include Jerusalem. He’s going to have to establish the Nation under some sort of a government that will hold them together until all this is fulfilled. That is all in His Divine purposes as Paul puts it.
All right, so now, that’s the Abrahamic Covenant, those seven statements. Whenever you refer to the Covenant, this is what you have to look at, and whenever we refer to Christ having come through the Nation of Israel, it began right back here in this Covenant promise.
All right, now to bring it further and further along, let’s just chase it down through the Old Testament. Turn over to chapter 13, starting at verse 14. Now, He has Abram down in the land of Canaan. The Canaanites are still occupying the land. Remember that Israel is marked with mountains. Those of you that were with us a few weeks ago, I think you were probably surprised how mountainous the country is. The city of Jerusalem is just simply built on the mountains. You go north from Jerusalem and it’s mountainous. We call them the mountains of Israel. All right, now I think in one of those high points on one of those mountains of Israel, verse 14 occurred.
“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, (up toward Lebanon) andsouthward, (down toward the Red Sea) and eastward, (out over the Jordan Valley and out into what is present day Jordan) and westward:” Which, of course, would end at the Mediterranean Sea. Look all four directions.
“For all the land which thou seest,…” Hey listen, the Middle East is still relatively compact. You can easily look from a high point in Israel clear across half of Jordan. And you can look half-way down to the Red Sea. You can look clear up past Mount Hermon. So, Abraham took in a lot of square miles in just one view. Now look what it says:
“For all the land which thee seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.” Of course, remember, when it says forever, it’s going to take you right on into the new heavens and the new earth of eternity.
“And I will make thy seed (or your offspring, the generations to come) as the dust of the earth:…” Now, I don’t think it’s so much numbering the grains of dust as it is the symbolic picture that Abraham is going to be associated with an earthly people. Now, you remember that as long as I’ve been teaching this on television, I’m always designating Israel as God’s earthly people. All of their promises were earthly. Never did God make spiritual, heavenly promises to Israel. It’s all earthly. That’s why, even in their Old Testament economy, if they were obedient, hey, they got wealthy. They were blessed. If they were disobedient, they may lose it.
Now see, we don’t have promises like that today. God doesn’t tell you that if you’re an obedient Christian He will bless you with wealth. That does not happen. I don’t care what anybody says. If you’re wealthy today, it’s by His grace, not by promise. So, when we get into Paul’s epistles, now it’s not the earthly people we’re associated with but what? The heavenly. All our promises, as a believer today, are heavenly. We’re just strangers here on this planet. We’re citizens of heaven because we have heavenly connected promises. Israel’s are earthly.
All right, now then, let’s skip over to chapter 15, I think I want to go, and now we’ve got another direction that Abraham is looking. God is still dealing with him on those mountains of Israel.
“And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and (count or) tell (Not the dust of the earth, but what?) the stars,…” Now, are you seeing the picture? He looked at the dust, that’s earthly. But he looked at the stars, and that’s what? Heavenly! So, Abraham has a connection not only to the earthly people of Israel, but also to you and I of the Church Age. And that’s where some people have totally twisted the concept into telling you that when you become a believer you become a Jew. No! That’s not what the Scripture teaches. The Scripture merely teaches that we have become recipients of this glorious Gospel of salvation because of the Covenant God made with Abraham.
Now, here’s the main point. When God made that Covenant with Abraham, was it after circumcision, or before? Well, before. Was it after the Law, or before? Before! So, what did Abraham have going for him other than to just simply believe what God said? Nothing. So, now what can we put on that? How was Abraham saved? Faith plus nothing!
Now, that should ring a bell! That’s where we are! With the exception of the thief on the cross, and that’s all that was, an exception, I know of no other individual from Abraham until we get to the Apostle Paul where anyone was saved by faith plus nothing. So, when I use the board, I don’t want to take off what’s up there, otherwise I would; you can just simply make your own diagram. Here’s the cross in the center of my time line and back here 2000 years is Abraham. Over here where we are today, 2000 years on this side of the cross, we are still connected with Abraham with an overview, that’s how I usually draw it on the board. Not that we become Jews. Not that we become recipients of any of the covenant promises, but we step into a relationship with the God of Abraham, how? By faith plus nothing!
Oh, not in what he told Abraham – get out and go to Canaan. But now our faith is in the finished work of the cross and His glorious resurrection. I can’t emphasize it enough. I just told a lady yesterday, “Look, God told the human race, through the Apostle Paul, that when He died the death of the cross, when His blood was shed according to the Old Testament prophecies, when He was buried three days and three nights and arose in power over sin and death and all His enemies, it’s done. He proclaimed that everything that needs to be done for man’s salvation is done. He said believe it, and I’ll give you eternal life.”
Now then, I use this illustration. How would you feel if all of a sudden you just had an impulse of love for your son or daughter, who is now old enough to drive, and out of the blue you say, “You know, Son, I love you so much that tomorrow we’re going to go down and I’m going to buy you a brand new car.” And the son says, “Dad, I don’t believe it.” How would you feel? You mean my own son doesn’t believe that I will do what I say I’m going to do? You’d be real put out, wouldn’t you? Now, that’s just a simple illustration. God has said, “I’m going to give you eternal life if you’ll just believe that what I’ve done is all you need.” But what does everybody do?
Well yeah, I believe that Christ died. I hear it all the time. I believe that Christ died. I believe that He rose from the dead, but I’ve got to ‘do’ this and I’ve got to ‘do’ that. But God says you don’t have to. Then what are you making God? You’re making Him a liar. My, how mankind has fowled up that glorious Gospel of salvation by adding everything to it that you can imagine, and it’s getting worse everyday, but always remember God will have no part of it!!
But all right, now back to….only got 45 seconds left! All right, so now just a recap. Abraham has been promised to be the progenitor of the dust of the earth, the earthly promises given to Israel. Now, he’s taken out and he’s shown the stars. He’s also going to be involved in God pulling out a people for His name, who are heavenly-connected. But it’s all based on this covenant promise that He made with this man Abraham 2000 years before Christ, “that in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”