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May 20, 2017

THE TWO COVENANTS

by Leslie John
Leslie M. John
“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it” (Genesis 15:7)
 Beliefs and passions run very high and deep in the land of Israel because it is the land of three great faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The history of Israel is so complicated and contentious and, therefore, as Christians, it is apt that we depend on what is recorded in the Bible rather than any history book.

 The whole of land of Israel is said to be not greater than New Jersey or even half of Georgia State where I live, yet the land of Israel is known to have suffered with wars and disputes. The disputes can be traced back even unto the days of Abraham, who was also known as ‘father Abraham’ by all the three faiths. Abraham’s name was “Abram” before he was renamed by God as “Abraham”.

A covenant is a mutual agreement between two parties and it is deemed to have agreed upon when both the parties pass between the divided pieces of an animal that are laid against each other indicating that if any one of the party breaks the covenant his body would suffer the same death as the animal suffered. There are two types of covenants recorded in the Bible and they are:

1. Conditional and
2. Unconditional

The covenant that God made with Abraham was Unconditional. The LORD said to Abram to take an heifer of three years old, a she goat of three years old, a ram of three years old, turtle dove and a young pigeon and divide them in the midst and lay each piece one against another. Abram did as the LORD commanded him. He did not divide birds and when the fowls came down on the carcasses, he drove them away (Ref. Genesis 15:7-11)
 As the dusk started growing a deep sleep fell upon Abram and lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. The LORD spoke to Abram in his sleep and said to be sure that His seed shall be stranger in the land that is not theirs and shall serve the nation which will afflict them for four hundred years and that the LORD will judge that nation.
As a seal affixed to the covenant by the LORD the burning lamp of the LORD passed between those pieces. It may be noted here that Abram did not pass between the divided pieces which clearly indicates that it was one sided agreement. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram that He gave the land to him from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates; this land is commonly called as the “fertile crescent”.

Obviously, as seen in the Scriptures the word of the LORD with regard to their bondage of slavery was fulfilled when the children of Israel served Pharaoh of Egypt for four hundred years and, thereafter, God judged Pharaoh and Egypt.

The covenant that was made between God and Moses was conditional, that is to say, if they did what the LORD said to them, then God would do what He promised to them. However, the covenant that the LORD made with Abram was one sided, that is, the LORD made the covenant with Abram and He will fulfill His covenant no matter what the seed of Abram would do. God’s promise will never fail and He will not go back on anyone of His promises. The LORD’s covenant with Abram was from the LORD and He did not put a condition to fulfill His promise. (Ref. Genesis Chapter 15)

 The LORD said to Abram as we read in Genesis Chapter 17 that he shall circumcise the flesh of his foreskin and it shall be a token of the covenant. He also said that every male of eight days old shall be circumcised among his people. Whoever did not obey this command of the LORD was cut off from the lineage of Abram but still the covenant the LORD made with Abram was not treated as abrogated.
The LORD’s Promise still stands to be fulfilled in the lives of the descendants of Abraham. The LORD gave privilege to those who are bought with money by Abram and his descendants to reap the blessings of Abram when they are circumcised and otherwise they do not. (Ref. Genesis 17:11-14)
 New Testament believer can be sure that it is not by keeping the Law of Moses that the promises are inherited but by the promise that the LORD made to Abraham (Cf. Galatians 4:7, Romans 8:17, Romans 10:17, Ephesians 2:8)
 “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise” (Galatians 3:18)
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10)
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