THE GOSPEL COVENANT CONFIRMED TO ABRAHA.M
There were different covenants made with Abraham, and so the apostle speaks of them in the plural number, calling them "the covenants" (Romans 9:4), and "covenants of promise" (Eph. 2:12).
The original promise given to Abram when he was 75 years old is recorded in Gen. 12 :3: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." This first and original promise was later CONFIRMED with an oath (Gen. 22:16-18; compare ·Heb. 6:13-18). The apostle Paul speaks of it as a covenant, that is, a GOSPEL COVENANT given 430 years before the Law. The apostle explains the promise of this covenant -- "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- entirely in a spiritual sense as being the gospel which was preached before to Abram respecting God's purpose to justify the Gentiles through faith. Galatians 3:8: "And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." This gospel promise in covenant of Gen. 12 :3 was given 430 years before the Law. Galatians 3:17: "And this I say, that. the covenant, that was CONFIRMED before of God in Christ, the Law, which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the PROMISE of none effect." This gospel covenant was "CONFIRMED" to Abraham, not "MADE" with him. It was MADE bef'ore. It must have had an existence, or it could. not nave been "CONFI.RMED". The confirmation of anything implies its previous existence.
The following f'acts prove that the covenant referred to in Gal. 3: 17 must be the gospel promise to Abram in Gen. 12:3 when he was 75 years old (Gen. 12:4), and later confirmed with.an oath (Gen. 22:16-18).
From thence to the birth of Isaac, when
he was an hundred, (Gen. 21:5) is ......................... 25
From thence to the birth of Jacob, when
Isaac was threescore (Gen. 25:26) is ...................... 60
From thence to Jacob's going into Egypt,
when he was 130 (gen, 47:9) is............................ 130
From thence to Israel's deliverance out
of Egypt, and the giving of the Law is ................... 215
The whole time of their sojourning in
Egypt AND IN THE LAND OF CANAAN,
according to the Seventy (Exodus 12:40)
makes ......................................................... 430
Adam Clarke gives this interesting note on Exodus 12:40:
"The Samaritan Pentateuch, in all its manuscripts and printed
copies, reads the place thus: 'Now the sojourning of the children
of Israel, AND OF THEIR FATHERS, which they sojourned IN THE
LAND OF CANAAN and in the land of Egypt, was 430 years.' This
same sum is given of St. Paul in Gal. 3: 17, who reckons from the
promise made to Abraham, wherin God commanded him to go to
Canaan, to the giving of the Law, which soon followed the departure
from Egypt; and this chronology of the apostle is concordant with
the Samaritan Pentateuch, which, by preserving the two, 'they and
their fathers' and 'in the land of Canaan' which are lost out of the
present copies of the Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all
obscurity and contradiction. It may be necessary to observe, that the
Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in
the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many learned
men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of Moses.
And the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be allowed
to be one of the most authentic, as well as most ancient, copies of this
version which we possess. As to St. Paul, no man will dispute the
authenticity of his statement; and thus in the mouth of these three
most respectable witnesses, the whole account is undubitably
Moreover the apostle Paul shows in Gal. 3:16 who we are to understand by the phrase "in thee" (Gen. 12:3), that is, "thy seed" (Gen. 22:18), namely, Christ. Galations 3:16 -- "Now to Abraham.and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ." He also reveals that the promised blessing of Gen. 12:3 is justification by f'aith: Galatians 3:8 -- "And the scipture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." The promised blessing of Gen. 12:3 included redemption by blood: Galatians 3: 13 -- "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." It also included the gift of the Holy Spirit: Galatians 3:14 --"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
To this agrees the apostle Peter when he declares in Acts 3:25,26 -- "Ye are the children 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 tuining away every one of you from his iniquities," BLESS, -- how? In a national, political, or geographical sense? No, but rather in a spiritual sense; namely, the forgiveness of sins. Whenever Christ by His Holy Spirit through the apostles in the New Testament refers to the gospel covenant of Gen. 12:3, no mention is made of a regathered Israel, a reinstituted Mosaic economy, a restored middle wall of partition, a rebuilt Temple, a reestablished Aaronical priesthood, and renewed sacrifices, with Jerusalem as a world capital and religious center of the millennial earth AFTER the Second Advent. (John 4:20-24). The emphasis is entirely upon the spiritual. The Jew or Gentile, blessed as the New Testament explains Gen. 12:3 (see'Gal. 3:7,9), will care little or nothing for an EARTHLY country, for he is a STRANGER and a PILGRIM passing through, having here no continuing city but seeks one to come whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 13:13, 14; 11:10). 1 Peter 2:11 -- "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul."
Abraham saw Christ's day and was glad (John 8:56; Heb. 11:17-19). He was grateful for the temporal promise of the land of Canaan to his fleshly seed, but he had his eye on something better, of which Canaan was but the type. Hebrews 11:13-16 -- "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS on the earth. For they that say such things DECLARE PLAINLY that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But NOW they desire a better country, that is, an HEAVENLY" -- not an EAR'IHLY country, but an HEAVENLY one -- "wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." To which testimony must be added that of Moses who declared his inheritance was not.an "earthly" one. Hebrews 11:26 -- "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. But what of David, the man after God's own heart, was his inheritance an "earthly" one? If so, how could he speak of himself as a STRANGER in the earth? Psalm 39:12 -- "Hear my prayer., O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy speach at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a SOJOURNER, as all my fathers were." Or, again in Psalm 119: 19 -- "I am a STRANGER in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me." Furthermore, none of Christ's commissions to his disciples as recorded in the Gospels or the book of Acts give the slightest warrant for preaching a Jewish national supremacy in a world-wide kingdom maintained by force -- the "rod of iron" theory -- in a mixed state of mortals and immortals, the mortals living and dying and begetting their kind AFTER the Second Advent in a thousand years plus of time before the climax of human history. Those who preach it do so without any authority from the commissions of Christ, and are proclaiming.ancient Phariseeism, and not historic, biblical, Christianity.
In summary, the gospel covenant of Gen. 12:3 which was CONFIRMED to Abraham is SPIRITUAL, UNIVERSAL, AND ETERNAL, in keeping with the transcendence of Christianity over Judaism.