If you could take your Bibles and open them to the book of Genesis, chapter 15, and just sort of a reminder of what we’re doing, we’re doing a study on the Kingdom and the first part of the study is what does the Bible say about the Kingdom. So I’m trying to start in early Genesis and hit the high points of the Old Testament so that we all walk away with a proper definition of what the Kingdom actually is. And then once we finish with that, down the road, we’ll ask some of those other questions I have there. [What does the Bible Say About the Kingdom? The Main Problem with Kingdom Now NT interpretations. Why do some believe that we are in the Kingdom now? Why does it matter?]
The first part of the study is what does the Scripture say about the Kingdom, and we started with Eden. Basically when God set things up He decided to reign through a man and a woman, Adam and Eve. And they were going to govern creation for God. So that’s the beginning of what’s called God’s Kingdom program. And Satan, who’s very sneaky, came into Eden as a talking snake and he got Adam and Eve to listen to creation, not to rule it but to listen to it and in the process rebel against God. So the moment that happened God’s Kingdom program left planet earth. So the goal of history, the goal of the Bible really, is to see that that structure (that was lost in Eden) gets reasserted over planet earth.
So one of these days God the Father is going to govern the last Adam. Who’s the last Adam? Jesus, and He’ll govern this world for God for a thousand years. So God cannot allow this earth to go out of existence until that is reasserted. So your whole Kingdom program really begins as early as Genesis chapter 1. And then Genesis 3, as you know, you have the fall of man and immediately after man fell God begins to declare His program through which the Kingdom is ultimately going to come to the earth. So what you start seeing are promises of God gradually detailed, gradually laid out and He is explaining in very graphic terms through these various promises exactly how He’s going to restore the Kingdom program.
So Genesis 3:15 is really your first hint of a coming Messiah and then God calls a man out of the Ur of the Chaldeans, Mesopotamia, a man named Abram, and it’s through Abram He’s going to start this special nation, ultimately it’s going to be called the nation of Israel, the Hebrew nation, and it’s through that nation that the Kingdom, which was lost in Eden, is going to be reestablished to the earth.
So God begins to sort of unfold these promises to Abraham in what’s called the Abrahamic Covenant, and we covered a lot of that last time. First of all, why did God choose to form a new nation? Because every other nation had been corrupted by the Mother/Child cult that we talked about that started at the tower of Babel and spread into every culture.
So when God is getting ready to bring forth His Messiah, which we know is coming, Genesis 3:15 tells us that, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” And that promise is carefully traced from Adam all the way to Abraham. Before we even get to Abraham the promise is traced through Seth, then Noah, and then Shem, and by the time we get to Genesis 12 we start to understand that it’s going to be Abram, he’s going to be the tool that God is going to use to be the progenitor of this nation through which this long line of promises is going to be channeled through. So God purposed to bless Abram and his descendants and through that lineage the world will be blessed.
So then the big question becomes why didn’t He use the Egyptians, why didn’t He use the Assyrians, why didn’t He use the Phoenicians, and that has to do with the fact that at Babel, the sin that took place there was exported into every culture because at that time there was only one language and consequently the sin that was taking place at the tower of Babel went into every single. Remember we talked about that. So the Mother/Child cult, the worship of the mother and the child, can be found in every civilization. And I was just using that to explain why God is not going to be using Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia, Assyria, Rome, Asia, because all of these cultures have been corrupted by idolatry. So God has to literally start brand new; He’s got to create a nation subsequent to or independent of the universal effects of the tower of Babel. So that’s why Genesis 11, the tower of Babel story, comes before Genesis 12 which is the calling of Abraham. Do you see the chronology here?
So what God does is He begins to call this man, Abram, He tells him to walk by faith, his story starts to unfold in Genesis 12. He was an idolater, Abram was affected by the same idolatry the whole world was affected by and we found a reference to that last week in Joshua 24:2-3 which is the historical sermon looking backward. [Joshua 24:2-3, “Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.  Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”]
So God has to take this man Abram and literally separate him from his culture, his heritage, and his former life so that’s why He takes him out of Ur of the Chaldeans. And along the journey God starts to unfold to Abram certain blessings or promises and I think last time we said there were nine promises God gave to Abram. These promises are meant to be understood literally, in other words land means land, descendants means descendants. It’s got the land that God promised to Abraham has the same geographical markers that you would find in normal geography, a tract of real estate in the promised land from Egypt to the Euphrates. The Canaanites were in the land and ultimately under Joshua they are going to be expelled from the land because of their wickedness. God is going to bring Abraham, Abraham will be dead by then but his descendants, into the land and through this whole process He’s going to start this nation called the nation of Israel. And through the nation of Israel God’s intent is to bless the world.
So we talked a lot about that and we saw that these promises are not just given generically to the human race. They’re specifically given to Abram’s physical lineage because God is very clear that from your own body these innumerable descendants will come. Now Abraham and Sarah had to wait a while to get Isaac, his son, and through Isaac would come Jacob and through Jacob would come Jacob’s dozen, who are the twelve tribes of Israel. And what God is doing is He’s starting a nation through which He’s going to channel His blessings and ultimately the coming Kingdom.
So the Bible is very clear that it’s to your “descendants” I have given these promises. Now when God blessed the nation of Israel He didn’t just have the nation of Israel in mind. He had the whole human race in mind but His purpose is to use Israel, the only nation in the history of the world that was started independently of the Mother/Child cult system, His purpose is to use Israel as His special vehicle through which He will channel His blessings to all of the earth.
So all of this starts getting detailed for us in early Genesis as we move through that book. And then finally you get to Genesis 15:18 and it says, “On that day the LORD made a” what? “covenant with Abram….” So now the promises that he has been given are ratified in what’s called an official covenant. The best way I can describe a covenant is a legal contract, kind of like the kind we have today. The word covenant is very significant. So God contractually binds Himself to Abram, to His descendants and to these promises He’s given this special race.
And you can take those nine promises that God promised to Abram and you can categorize them into three categories. Number 1, land, number 2, seed, and number 3, blessing. So in the Abrahamic Covenant these promises that have now taken on covenantal form, God promises to Abram a tract of real estate, (that’s that lighter area there) going from literally modern day Egypt to modern day Iraq. It’s a tract of real estate that the nation of Israel has never fully occupied. He also promises him “seed” or descendants as innumerable as the stars, coming from his own body.
And then He promises him some personal blessings; He says things like “I will make your name great.” He says things like, in Genesis 15:1, I’ll be a shield to you, I’ll be a reward to you.
[Genesis 12:2, “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing.” Genesis 15:1, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.’”] So you can take these nine promises and you can basically categorize them into three categories: land, seed and blessing.
And can God lie? No He can’t. I have several Scriptures up there which indicate God can’t lie. In other words, these promises are ironclad reliable. See, Abram, he didn’t just have promises from a reliable God, he actually had those promises ratified into an official covenant form. So he had both, he had promises and a covenant from a God who cannot lie. Wouldn’t you say that’s a pretty secure arrangement that he had there?
Now those promises, and I think this is basically where we left off last time, land, seed and blessing, form the basis of what are called the sub covenants. Land, seed, blessing, Genesis 15, and what God does is He comes along later on in biblical history and He builds on each of those promises. He never changes them, He never alters them. But what He does is He adds more detail; He adds more information. So the land part of the Abrahamic Covenant is amplified in what’s called the land covenant and that’s in Deuteronomy 29 and 30. The seed part of the Abrahamic Covenant is amplified in what’s called the Davidic Covenant, during the time of David, that’s in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. And then the blessings part of it is amplified in what’s called the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31:31-34.
But what I want you to see is how all of these covenants are flowing out of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is the most important covenant because it’s foundational; the rest of these promises are just amplifying, giving further description of things that God already said all the way back to the time of Abraham. I wish we just had one Scripture to anchor ourselves in but we’ve got lots. You might want to travel over to Deuteronomy 29:1, and this is where God starts to amplify the land and He says, through Moses in the book of Deuteronomy, all the way back during the time of Moses, “These are the words of the” what? “covenant” (there’s that word again) the Hebrew word what? berith. Your pronunciation might be a little better than mine. How do you pronounce it? Okay, bear-eet, bear-eeth, it depends on which syllable gets the emphasis, as I like to say. That is a huge word because it has the effect of a contract; God is binding Himself.
So “These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab,” so this covenant was given, called the land covenant, just prior to the nations entrance into the land of Israel under Joshua. And it’s called the book of Deuteronomy because Deuteronomy means second law, so it’s taking information in the book of Exodus and sort of repeating it for the benefit of the second generation, because what happened to the first generation? They didn’t enter, remember Kadesh-Barnea? They didn’t enter and so that whole generation was cut off (except for Joshua and Caleb) because of disobedience and so God starts working with the second generation. So He takes information from the book of Exodus and restates it for the benefit of the second generation.
That’s why this literally means second law, a repetition of Exodus for the new generation. And it’s in that repetition that he lays out what starts to be called the land covenant. A lot of people call this the Palestinian Covenant, I personally don’t like the word Palestine for the simple reason that you don’t find the word “Palestine” in the Bible. And when you study the word Palestine what you’ll discover, it was a term invented by Emperor Hadrian around the second century, a Roman emperor and this was after the Romans had evicted the Jews from that land. And he wanted to pretend… it’s sort of like the Muslims do today, he sort of wanted to pretend as if the Jews had never been in that land so he called it by the name Palestine, which comes from the name Philistine. The Philistines were an enemy of the Jewish people, so he intentionally adopted that name to mock the Jewish people and to pretend like there never were Jews in that land at all.
So when we use the word Palestine, a lot of times we use that word not knowing what it means but we’re really using an anti-Semitic slur without even realizing it. The word Palestine is not in the Bible. Jesus, in Matthew 2 called that land the land of Israel. The Old Testament calls it the Promised Land, sometimes it calls it Canaan, or the land flowing with milk and honey. So I prefer the expression land covenant rather than Palestinian Covenant, even though in some older study Bible, like for example I read out of the Ryrie Study Bible, he calls it the Palestinian Covenant but he’s just using it as a common term, but I kind of did research into this and I know what that term means and so I don’t like to use it.
But “These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab,” which was just east of the Jordan River prior to their entrance under Joshua; and then is specifically says “besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai. So that’s a reference to the Mosaic Covenant, don’t worry about the Mosaic Covenant quite yet, we’ve got a whole chapter coming up; I think chapter 4 in the book deals with the Mosaic Covenant. But notice that this is an independent covenant of the Mosaic Covenant. And you can read all about it on your own, if you just read Deuteronomy 29 and 30 you’d understand the provisions of the land covenant. It’s a prophecy really that the nation is going to be evicted from their land, they’re going to be pushed into world-wide dispersion, and lo and behold in the last days what is the Lord going to do? He’s going to bring the Jews back into that land and He’s not just going to restore them politically to the land, He’s going to restore them spiritually.
Now people say well, is that literal, I mean, do you really believe God is going to bring Jews back from all over the world, back into the land of Israel? And I think that would have been a valid question a hundred years ago, but today isn’t it kind of obvious that that’s what He’s doing? You see Jews from all over the world, beginning in 1948, going back into the land of Israel just like God said.
So it says here in Deuteronomy 30:3, and if you want to you can keep tracking with me flipping pages in your Bible or you can just read what I have here on the screen, it says: “Then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you.” And people look at that and they say well, is the gathering a literal gathering into the land of Israel by the Hebrews under God’s hand? Is the restoring literal? Well, let me ask you a question: was the scattering literal? See, everyone understands the scattering happened because that’s historical; that happened under the Romans in A.D. 70.
So if we can all accept the fact that the scattering happened you can’t have it both ways, you can’t switch your horses in mid-stream and then interpret the restoration and the regathering as something non literal. But there are many theologians that will tell you that “restore” and “gather” is not literal but they’ll tell you the “scattering” is literal. So that’s what you would call an inconsistent method of interpretation. The approach that I try to follow in developing my theology is I don’t just take the Bible literally, I try to take it consistently literally whenever possible. So that’s what you call the land covenant. So the land covenant is just amplifying, giving further detail, further information about prophecies that God gave with the land provision in the Abrahamic Covenant.
Now take a look at 2 Samuel 7, we are now going forward about 400 years, to the time of David. And now as the chart indicates we’re going to start seeing development of the seed promises. Remember through Abraham’s body is going to come a race of people that will be as innumerable as the stars. And so now in what’s called the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7:12-16, you start to see an amplification of the seed promises. And this took place during a time period where David, the second king of the United Kingdom, actually wanted to build God a temple and God said you’re not going to build Me a temple because you’re a man of war; that privilege of building Me a temple is going to go to your Son, Solomon. By the way, the word “Solomon” is derived from the Hebrew word shalom, which means peace, so Solomon wouldn’t be a man of war, so he would build the temple.
But in the process God says to David, you’re not going to build Me a temple, I’m going to build you a temple. And in the process He gives to David a Covenant and this is what He says in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. 2 Samuel 7:12-16, “When your days are complete” God is speaking, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his Kingdom.  He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his Kingdom forever.  I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,  but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  Your house” here’s the key expression to David, God is speaking to David, “Your house and your Kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”  In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan” that would be the prophet that God is using to speak to David at this point, “spoke to David.”
So look at what God promised David. There’s coming a “descendant” and through that descendant is coming a forever eternal Kingdom. In other words, David, from your descendants is coming a forever throne and he reiterates, verse 16, “Your house and your Kingdom shall endure before Me” for how long? “forever; your throne shall be established forever.” And at the very end it’s very clear that He’s speaking these words to David.
So this is what you call the Davidic Covenant which is an amplification of the seed promises found in the Abrahamic Covenant. Now we know that this descendant is coming, don’t we? We know that as early as Genesis 3:15, where God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” And notice that there’s coming someone from “her seed,” “her” is Eve, and there’s coming someone called “he,” that’s a male, and the devil is going to be able to bruise him and inflict a little damage along the way, but this coming one is going to take Satan’s head and do what with it? Crush it. So notice the “him,” the “he” that’s coming from “her.”
So we already know as early as Genesis 3:15 that this Messiah is on the way. And this is why Satan is working in history to prevent His birth, primarily in the Old Testament by blotting out the line or the lineage leading to Christ.
Over in Galatians 3:16 Paul makes a very interesting statement, he says, “Now the promises” now these are the seed promises given to Abraham, of innumerable descendants. “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed.” Notice what Paul says, “He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” Notice what Paul says; he emphasizes seed, not seeds, seed, and he emphasizes one seed in particular, and Paul says this one seed in particular is the man, Christ Jesus. So what Paul is doing here in Galatians 3:16 is he’s doing a wordplay on the word “seed.” Seed, the word “seed” is what you call a collective singular which simply means it can be used in the plural and that same word can be used in the singular.
It’s like the word “hair,” I can be speaking of one little strand of hair or I can be speaking of a full head of hair. So if someone says did you get your hair cut we don’t usually say well which hair are you talking about, we’re talking about the whole head of hair. It’s like the word “sheep” I can be referring to one little cute fuzzy creature over here or I could be referring to a flock.
So Paul makes this point that when God promised Abraham “seed” it’s true that He promised him an innumerable multitude coming from his own body, but he also said one of those in that giant group is going to be very special and I want you to keep your eye on Him, referring to Jesus Christ. So when the time of David comes around and God enters this covenant with David we start to learn that this one individual seed that’s coming, that we already know is coming, is going to come through the lineage of who? David, and through David’s lineage is going to come a dynasty that will last forever. So it’s really a Messianic prophecy about the coming Messiah who’s going to usher in a Kingdom that will last forever.
So what God has done here is He’s amplified the seed promises and given us more information on it. So the Davidic Covenant becomes a big deal and that’s why when you go to early Matthew, you know, you’re on your one year Bible reading program and you come to that genealogy in Matthew 1 and you say what in the world is this doing here, where it’s carefully tracing the lineage of Jesus back to David and then it traces it from David back to Abraham. And that’s Matthew’s way of saying Jesus is the guy that we’ve all been waiting for. He’s the Messiah.
John Walvoord, a great prophecy scholar who’s written some excellent books on prophecy and the coming Kingdom, I have them all referenced in my book, I quote him quite a bit, he writes this concerning the Davidic Covenant: “The covenant with David is not only given twice in its major content— namely, II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 17.” Now when you’re reading Chronicles you’ll say I already read all this in 1 and 2 Samuel, why is it all being repeated? It’s being repeated because it’s for the benefit of the generation that came back into the land after the captivity to encourage them. So it’s rehearsing details from their history that were optimistic. It leaves out all the negative stuff, so David’s sin with Bathsheba is given in the Samuel books but it’s not given in Chronicles. So Chronicles is the heavily redacted edited history; it’s history with a purpose, it’s not rehearsing all the negatives because it’s more an encouragement to the returnees to go back into the land and rebuild the temple. Chronicles is written much later than the Samuel books.
But nevertheless, the Davidic Covenant which is mentioned in 2 Samuel 7 is restated in 1 Chronicles 17. It’s also confirmed in Psalm 89. So when you read Psalm 89:3-4 you’re going to see the word “covenant” again. It’s true that we don’t have the actual Hebrew word “covenant” in 2 Samuel but you do have it in Psalm 89:3-4. So the Davidic Covenant is just as much a covenant as is the Land Covenant that we’ve already studied and the Abrahamic Covenant. The covenant with David is not only given twice in its major content, namely 2 Samuel 7 and 1 Chronicles 17, but it’s also confirmed in Psalm 89. In this and other Old Testament references there is no allusion anywhere to the idea that these promises are to be understood in a spiritualized sense as referring to the church or to a reign of God in heaven. Rather, it is linked to the earth and to the seed of Israel and to the land. There is no indication that the Kingdom extended to a spiritual entity such as the church, nor that the throne in view is the throne of God in heaven rather than the throne of David on earth…. Such a situation does not prevail in this present age and is not related here or elsewhere to the reign of Christ from the throne of His Father in heaven.”
I can’t emphasize those words strongly enough. All of these passages that we’ve looked at, particularly 2 Samuel 7, it deals with the earth, it deals with the city of Jerusalem, it deals with the land of Israel, it’s got nothing to do with heaven. The other theological camp basically is trying to convince people that we’re in the millennial Kingdom now. Well, where is Jesus? They’re saying He’s reigning from David’s throne in heaven. Well, wait a minute, I thought 2 Samuel 7 located the throne of David where? On the earth! So you have to literally rewrite all of these promises to make it sound like we’re in the Kingdom now. We are awaiting this Kingdom to come, we’re not in the Kingdom now unless you just want to rewrite the language of the text. See that? And we’ll have a lot more to say about the throne of David as we progress in the study. But the only thing I want you to see right now is land, amplified land covenant; seed, amplified Davidic Covenant.
Now what about the New Covenant. Take a look at Jeremiah 31:31-34, and this takes us all the way to about the sixth century just prior to the deportation. We’re studying Daniel on Sunday morning, this was written or given just prior to the events of Daniel unfolding and this is what’s called the New Covenant, which is an amplification of what? The blessings that God promised to Abraham.
Notice Jeremiah 31:31-34, “Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with” Sugar Land Bible Church, oh, it doesn’t say that, does it. “Behold, days are coming declares the Lord when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah,  not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord.” So this is going to be a different covenant than the Mosaic Covenant which I don’t want you to think about too much because I’ll be bringing that up next week.  “‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares ‘the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’  They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”’
Notice that this covenant, going back to the time of Jeremiah, is made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, and it’s going to be different than the Mosaic Covenant which the nation of Israel broke. Remember the golden calf incident and other things they did throughout the Old Testament where they broke God’s law? Well this time around they’re not going to be breaking God’s law because they’re not going to be looking at tablets of stone on the outside of themselves to obey God. Rather, where is God going to put His Law? Inside of them, so this is a prophecy about the spiritual regeneration of the nation of Israel. The day is coming when the nation of Israel will be just as spiritually born as we are in the church age.
“My covenant which they broke,” he says, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; … they will all know Me,” and part of that provision is He “will forgive their iniquity,” so this is more than land, it’s more than seed, it’s spiritual life, it’s the spiritual birth. And this is why Jesus says to Nicodemus unless the man is born again he cannot see nor enter the Kingdom of God. Remember what Nicodemus said in John 3, how can a man reenter his mother’s womb when he is old. And Jesus says are you the teacher of Israel and you don’t understand the new birth? [John 3:4, “‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time to be born?’”] Nicodemus, a master of the Old Testament, should have remembered Jeremiah 31.
So what you see as the prophets develop them is they predict all of these different prophecies coming together in tandem. For example, Ezekiel 36 talks about the Jews being regathered from the nations into their own land, so that would be the land covenant being fulfilled. And then it also talks about how the Spirit of God comes into them and gives them life; that’s the New Covenant being fulfilled. And in Ezekiel 37 Ezekiel sees all these bones all over the valley in this vision, and he sees the bones coming together and they are reassembled and they form a human skeleton and muscles and joints start to form over the body and then Ezekiel keeps looking and what does he see? He sees breath come into the body.
And I was listening to a preacher one time and he was preaching through this and he said this is the church on the day of Pentecost. And I said to myself I wish he would read verse 11, because he stopped reading and didn’t get to verse 11. Do you want to know what Ezekiel 37:11 says, it’s crystal clear; Ezekiel 37:11 says, “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel;’” literal interpretation, it’s very clear. So the bones coming together is the land covenant, maybe you could throw in seed a little bit and then the breath coming into the skeleton is the New Testament. So what’s happening in the rest of the Bible is God, through various predictions, is just building on these covenants. You see this all over the prophets.
So my point is these sub covenants further explain provisions found in the Abrahamic Covenant. And all of these covenants work together. So another thing to understand is the Abrahamic Covenant and therefore the sub covenants (since they are an extension of the Abrahamic Covenant) are unconditional. Do you know the difference between a conditional promise and an unconditional promise? A conditional promise is God will act if we do something first. An unconditional promise means God is going to act regardless of what the other party does. God’s going to act what we call unilaterally, not bilaterally.
So a conditional promise is sort of like what you have on your refrigerator at home. Do you guys have this in your house, a plaque, Proverbs 3:5-6, we love this verse, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Well, is God going to make my paths straight? It depends on me, I’ve got to do the first three things, right. If God’s not making my paths straight… well, are you trusting Him all your heart, are you leaning not on your own understanding, are you acknowledging Him in all your ways. Well, no. Well then don’t expect Him to do His part if you’re not going to do your part. So that’s a conditional promise, it’s what’s called bilateral.
The Abrahamic Covenant and the sub covenants that extend from it are not conditional, they are unconditional, meaning God is promising that He’s going to do these things regardless, regardless of what Israel does. Now why would I say that? I don’t know if we have time to read the whole chapter but if you were to go home tonight and you were to ready Genesis 15, the Abrahamic Covenant, what you would discover is God took Abraham, whose name was still Abram at this point, and He said I want you to kill a bunch of animals and I want you to divide the severed animal pieces into halves, and I want you to arrange these severed animal pieces into two parallel rows. And what I want you to do is I want you to pass through the animal pieces. Now hold that thought just for a second.
What is happening here is what you call an Ancient Near East covenant ratification ceremony. This is how covenants were entered into the Ancient Near East. That’s what ANE stands for up there, Ancient Near East. And what happened is when you entered into a covenant with somebody both parties passed through the severed animal pieces and that signified something very solemn; it basically signified that if I don’t do what I’m supposed to do under this covenant then let me what? Cut in half too, just like all these animals have been cut in half.
So there is Abraham, arranging these animals in parallel rows. Now you can find references to this form of a covenant in the book of Jeremiah; in Jeremiah 34:8-10 it mentions a covenant. [Jeremiah 34:8-10, “The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people who were in Jerusalem to proclaim release to them:  that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage.  And all the officials and all the people obeyed who had entered into the covenant that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, so that no one should keep them any longer in bondage; they obeyed, and set them free.”]
Now this would be just a normal agreement between people, and in Jeremiah 34:18-19 it says, “I will give the men who have transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed between its parts—”
see that, this is how you entered into a deal with somebody. So once you passed through the animal pieces it was a big deal because you were basically living now to fulfill your obligations under the covenant or else you were to be cut in half as well. [19, “the officials of Judah and the officials of Jerusalem, the court officers and the priests and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf—”]
What’s very interesting about Genesis 15 is once the animal pieces are arranged in two parallel rows what does God do with Abraham? He puts him to sleep. You’ll find that in Genesis 15:12, it says, “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram;” the Hebrew word for “sleep,” I quote Arnold Fruchtenbaum to this effect in the book but it’s the same word used to describe what God did with Adam, when the first marriage was organized by God He put Adam to sleep and He brought forth the woman from his side you remember.
So this is the same Hebrew word, God puts Abram to sleep and when you go to Genesis 15:17 it says, “Now when it came about when the sun had set that it was very dark and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch,” the oven and the torch matches very nicely with Exodus 13:21, it doesn’t say exactly oven and torch but that’s the reference to the presence of God that led the nation of Israel as they were coming out of Egypt during the wilderness wanderings. [Exodus 13:21, “The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”]
So God alone, as represented by the oven and the torch, pass through the animal pieces. Abram never passed through the animal pieces because he was asleep. So therefore who does this covenant rest on? It can’t rest on Abram because he never passed through the animal pieces. It rests totally on God’s shoulders. Now some people say well, doesn’t the oven represent God and the torch represent man? Well, that doesn’t work because how can you have two similar entities, oven and torch, representing two different things as diverse as man and God? Both the oven and the torch represent God. God, by Himself, passed through these animal pieces. And if you want to understand what God is doing here He’s saying if I don’t do exactly what I’ve covenanted to do, land, seed and blessing, then let me be destroyed, is what God is saying, if you can destroy God. Let me be torn in half, God says, just like these animals have been torn in half. And this is why you cannot get rid of Israel out of the equation. You can never develop a theology that moves Israel because of this solemn oath that God has made.
Beyond that we know this is unconditional because where in Genesis 15 are the conditions that Abraham is supposed to fulfill, if this is conditional? The answer is crickets, silence, there are no conditions for Abraham. If this were a conditional covenant God would say to Abraham you’ve got to do the X, Y and Z, which He never does. Three times in Genesis 17 God calls this covenant eternal, the Hebrew word there is olam, and that’s often used to describe God Himself. And by the way, it’s also called immutable, Hebrews 6; immutable means what? Unchangeable. [Hebrews 6:18, “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:” KJV]
Who’s the only entity that you know of that NEVER changes? God. Malachi 3:6 says, I never change; I change not. [Malachi 3:6, “For I, the LORD, do not change;….”
So my point is for this covenant to be called eternal and immutable it can’t rest on Abram and his performance. It has to rest completely on God because he’s the only eternal immutable being. And have you noticed that as you go through the Old Testament, what does God keep doing with the covenant? He keeps reaffirming it; first He reaffirms it to Abraham multiple times, then He reaffirms it to Isaac, then He reaffirms it to Jacob, and He keeps reaffirming it despite the fact that the obedience of the nation of Israel is pretty much subpar, wouldn’t you say? Isn’t the nation of Israel always rebelling against God? No matter what character of the Bible you’re studying there’s always some rebellion and in the midst of the rebellion God keeps reaffirming the covenant.
For example, in Genesis 13:14-17 the covenant is reaffirmed to Abraham. [Genesis 13:14-17, “The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward;  for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.  I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.  Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”]
Now what do you think about Abraham’s personal obedience as he was called from Ur of the Chaldeans? Did he obey the Lord perfectly? He obeyed Him sometimes but it was far from perfect. God said separate yourself from your relatives and from your father’s house and go to the land which I will show you. How did Abraham do on that one? Well, he really didn’t separate himself completely from his relatives because who did he bring with him? Lot! And he didn’t really separate himself from his father’s house because who does he bring with him on the voyage? Terah, his dad. I mean, he did start moving but it was partial obedience. Stephen, in Acts 7, brings this up when he is condemning Israel for their unbelief, and this is one of the reasons they killed Stephen. Acts 7:3-4, right at the beginning of Stephen’s speech he rehearses this, where God says “LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’” From there, after his father died, well wait a minute, why did his father die from there when God told him earlier to separate yourself from your relatives. What is Stephen bringing up here? The partial obedience of Abraham.
By the way, didn’t Abraham panic a lot of the time, and say Sarah is my sister? And by the way, God said to Abraham I want you to go to Canaan. Did Abraham go to Canaan… yeah, he did, but then in Genesis 12 there’s a famine and he gets out of Canaan and goes where? Egypt. What’s the point? The obedience of Abraham was very partial, kind of like us when you think about it. And yet what does God keep doing? Reaffirming the covenant, reaffirming the covenant, reaffirming the covenant. If the covenant was based on Abraham’s performance it wouldn’t have dissolved. So it can’t be conditional, it has to be what? Unconditional.
And then you go on through the book of Genesis, Isaac is born and then Jacob, and then God reaffirms the covenant to Jacob right after Jacob cheated his brother out of the birthright. He cheats his brother out of the birthright, Genesis 27, and God reaffirms the covenant, chapter 28. So the covenant can’t be conditional, it’s got to be what? Unconditional. By the way, do you know what Jacob’s name means? Deceiver, a heel catcher but also a deceiver. So if a guy is named Deceiver it doesn’t really give me a lot of optimism about his obedience to God, right?
And you can travel right on through into right before the deportation and you know what the nation of Israel was doing just before the deportation? They were taking their own kids, if you can imagine this, and throwing them into a fire to satisfy a god named Molech. I mean you can’t get much worse than that can you. And what does God say in Jeremiah 31, He reaffirms the covenant just before He’s ready to send them into discipline. In fact, it’s in Jeremiah 31:35-37, right after the giving of the New Covenant that we read these words: “Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name:  If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the LORD,” what fixed order? “sun, moon, and stars,” ‘then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.’  Thus says the LORD, ‘If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the LORD.”
How do you get rid of Israel? You’ve got to get rid of the sun, the moon and the stars. So all of these people that want to fire rockets into the land of Israel, they ought to aim their rockets at the sun, moon and stars because God has said as long as there’s sun, moon and stars Israel will always be a nation before Him. How could He say that as they’re throwing their own children into a fire to satisfy a god named Molech. He said on the basis of the Abrahamic Covenant, which has to be what? conditional or unconditional? It’s got to be unconditional; it has to be unconditional or else you wouldn’t have this perpetual reaffirming of the covenant.
And beyond that the Abrahamic Covenant has never been fulfilled; it’s never been fulfilled! Not only is it unconditional it’s unfulfilled. And people like to sort of play this game that the covenant was fulfilled in the days of Joshua when they got the land, or in the days of Solomon. The problem is you have to start reading the rest of the story. As you study this book of Joshua what you’ll discover in Joshua 13 is it says there was very much of the land left to be conquered. [Joshua 13:1, “Now Joshua was old and advanced in years when the LORD said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and very much of the land remains to be possessed.”]
The Joshua generation was very successful but they never got everything. And which book follows Joshua? Judges, and do you know what it says all the way through Judges 1, (I have all the Scriptures:) they didn’t drive out this group, they didn’t drive out that group, this Canaanite group remains to this day. So don’t let people tell you that the land promises were fulfilled in Joshua’s day. And how about the days of Solomon? The nation of Israel only got a fraction of what was promised.
Do you know what keeps getting repeated over and over again in the Old Testament? 1 Kings 4:25, from Dan to Beersheba. [1 Kings 4:25, “So Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.”] Dan is up north, you see it up north in read, Beersheba is down south. That’s how the land of Israel keeps getting referred to. Is that what God promised Abram? From Dan to Beersheba? No, He promised him from the Euphrates to the river of Egypt. Dan to Beersheba is just a little part of what Abraham and his descendants one day are going to inherit. The Joshua generation didn’t even get its hands on Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Joshua 15:63, remained a Jebusite city and didn’t come into Jewish hands until whose time period? David’s, 400 years later, 2 Samuel 5 . [Joshua 15:63, “Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.”]
And people like to quote 1 Kings 4:21 where Solomon got the land to the border of Egypt. 1 Kings 4:21, “Now Solomon ruled over all the Kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt; they brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.”] The devil is in the details; God never promised Abram land to the border of Egypt, He promised him land to the river of Egypt. Even in the Solomonic dynasty Israel never got everything. And when you read 1 Kings 4:21 what you discover is the Solomonic Empire, which was probably the time period when Israel expanded the most, that’s what you call a tributary arrangement. It says in 1 Kings 4:21 that these nations paid tribute to Solomon. And when Solomon died those arrangements stopped. In other words, these territories that paid tribute never got annexed into the borders of Israel during Solomon’s time period.
And beyond that God said to Israel, you’re going to possess the land for how long? Forever. Did Solomon get the land forever? Did Joshua get the land forever? No, because the nation of Israel was divided between the ten northern tribes and the two southern tribes. The northern tribes take on the name Israel, headquartered in Samaria. The southern tribes, Benjamin and Judah take on the name Judah, headquartered in Jerusalem. What happened to that northern Kingdom? It was dispersed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. What happened to that southern Kingdom? It was taken out of the land by the Babylonians, 589 B.C. Then the nation goes back into the land and who kicked them out again? The Romans, forty years after the time of Christ, A.D. 70. Has Israel possessed the land forever? Obviously not.
And if the land promises were fulfilled already in the days of Joshua and the days of Solomon then why would Amos, AFTER the days of Joshua and Solomon… you know Solomon left the throne around 931 B.C., Amos has some prophecies almost 200 years later, 755 B.C. and Amos comes along and reaffirms the Abrahamic Covenant. Well, if it was already satisfied in the days of Solomon why would Amos reaffirm it almost 200 years later. What’s the point? Oh, and by the way, has the New Covenant ever been satisfied to Israel? Have they been regenerated? Ever? You look over there today, you see them regathered but are they a saved nation? No, it’s a Christ rejecting unsaved nation. So what is the point?
The point is the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional and unfulfilled. If it’s unconditional and unfulfilled, by the way, what did Abraham get out of the deal? He got a little burial plot in Hebron where him and his wife were buried. He never got everything that God promised. So if the covenant is unconditional and unfulfilled what does God have to do if He’s not a liar? He has to move His hand in history, doesn’t He, and make good on what He said. That’s why the Exodus happened. Why did the Exodus happen? Because God felt sorry for Israel? No, He moves His hand in history to fulfill His covenants. Exodus 2:24 said, “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The whole Exodus happened because God remembered the Abrahamic Covenant.
Why, and I’ll close with this, I went a little bit over, I apologize, why is God going to regather the Jews in the last days, into their own land and regenerate them. Why is He going to do it? It’s all related to what He’s already promised in His covenants. Ezekiel 36:22 says, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act,’” do you see that? He’s not doing this for them anymore than He performed the Exodus for them; He’s doing it because He has covenantally obligated Himself. “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel that I am about act, but for My holy name…,” in other words if I don’t what I’ve obligated Myself to do who’s got egg on His face? I do, God says, and that happen because I can’t lie. I’ve made not just promises but a covenant.
And so what I hope you’re seeing is these covenants form the whole expectation of a future earthly Kingdom. We haven’t even gotten to the book of Revelation; most people build their theology from the book of Revelation; I don’t think I’ve even mentioned the book of Revelation tonight, have I? Revelation just tells you it’s a thousand years, it just gives you the time; the whole structure covenantally is already in place, going back to early Genesis. So that’s the significance of the Abrahamic Covenant in a future Kingdom mindset.
So what I’d like you to read next time is chapter 4 because we’re going to be incorporating the Mosaic Covenant which is a little bit tricky, and I’ll show you how that fits in next week. I’ll cease talking at this point and we’ll open it up for Q and A if you have any questions.