The Abrahamic Covenant – (Part 4 of 4) – by Dr. Renald Showers –
In our previous article we noted six significant things that indicate that the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional by nature (not dependent upon Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their physical descendants, the people of Israel, meeting conditions for the fulfillment of its promises). This present article will consider additional significant things concerning the covenant’s unconditional nature.
Additional Significant Things To Be Noted
Seventh, even after Israel had compiled its sordid record of sin throughout all its centuries of Old Testament history, the Holy Spirit indicated that the Abrahamic Covenant was still in effect with that nation and that that covenant had something to do with Israel’s deliverance from its enemies (Luke 1:67-75). Shortly before Jesus’ birth the Holy Spirit prophesied through the Jewish priest, Zechariah, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant, David; as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life."
Eighth, even though Israel committed the ultimate sin of rejecting the Son of God, Jesus, as its Messiah, the Apostle Peter still regarded the Jews (even the very Jews who had rejected Christ) as children of the Abrahamic Covenant. Peter said to a crowd in Jerusalem, "Ye men of Israel,… the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son, Jesus, whom ye delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses" (Acts 3:12-15).
Having thereby identified his audience, Peter said to them, "Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son, Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:25-26).
Peter’s use of the present tense of the verb "are" in the expression "are the sons" indicates his conviction that these Jews were still sons of the covenant and that the covenant was still in effect with them. The only way the Abrahamic Covenant could still be in effect with the nation of Israel after its rejection of Christ was if the covenant were unconditional in nature. If that covenant had been dependent upon the obedience of Israel for the fulfillment of its promises, certainly it would have been nullified by Israel’s worst sin.
Ninth, the Epistle to the Hebrews indicates that God doubly emphasized the fact that the Abrahamic covenant was His unchangeable purpose and that, therefore, that covenant was still to be a source of encouragement to Jews who were living when the epistle was written. Hebrews 6:13-18 states, "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself, saying, Surely, blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee…. For men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us."
Two things should be noted concerning this statement. First, God wanted to impress Abraham and his descendants with the fact that He is absolutely determined to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant and that fulfillment of the covenant is dependent totally upon God’s faithfulness to His Word. Second, the Abrahamic Covenant was still to be a source of encouragement to Jews who were living when Hebrews was written (during the 60s A.D.), in spite of the fact that Israel had rejected Christ several decades earlier.
Tenth, the Abrahamic Covenant included a universal promise of blessing to all families of the earth through Abraham’s seed (his physical descendants, Isaac, Jacob, and the people of Israel). The fulfillment of this promise involved the coming of the Redeemer and the provision of salvation for all peoples of the world. If the Abrahamic Covenant were conditional, then the coming of the Redeemer and the provision of salvation were dependent upon the obedience of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the people of Israel. Such an arrangement would have jeopardized the coming of Christ and the whole program of redemption. It also would have undermined the certainty of fulfillment of many Old Testament messianic prophecies. It is a fact, however, that the Redeemer did come and salvation was provided in spite of many centuries of disobedience by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the people of Israel. That fact practically demands that the Abrahamic Covenant be unconditional in nature. And if it is unconditional in nature, then the fulfillment of all its promises (including the national promises to the literal nation of Israel) is dependent totally upon the faithfulness of God to His Word.