The Place of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Salvation of Mankind


Chapter 2 - COVENANTS AND WILLS (TESTAMENTS)

There would be no point in God creating Mankind without a purpose. And there would be no point in God having a purpose with the Creation if such a purpose was not communicated and revealed to such creation.

Although the purpose of God was revealed to the immediate descendants of Adam, all except a very small minority corrupted his way and "every imagination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually." After the universal Flood, a new beginning began with one righteous man, Noah, plus his immediate family of seven others. It was not long however, before God's purpose was again confronted by the sin of man, resulting in the confusion of tongues at the tower of Babel.

Finally another righteous man appeared among the peoples of the earth. His name was Abraham. It is recorded of him: "Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes and my laws." (Gen. 26:5). This five-point analysis is no mean, trivial or ordinary recommendation!

Because of the righteousness of this man, Abraham, the Almighty decided to work out the salvation of mankind in and through Abraham and his seed or descendants which, in effect, was through the nation of Israel, the Jews. It must be recognized that Jews were called, and not Gentiles; a covenant was made with Jews, and not with Gentiles; The promises were given to Jews and not to Gentiles; that salvation is of the Jews, and not of the Gentiles; that this salvation is to be openly manifested through the Jews, and not through the Gentiles; and that the Gentiles receive and inherit the covenanted blessings with the true seed of Abraham only as they are grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel.

The covenant of God with Abraham is the foundation of the entire revelation of Salvation. It has a fundamental and living connection with the Salvation of mankind. We read in Romans 1:16 that "The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation..." We read in Galatians 3:3 that "The Gospel was preached before unto Abraham..." We read in Mark 1:14 that "Jesus came into Galilee preaching The Gospel of the Kingdom of God." Here is a Scriptural interlocking of The Gospel of salvation with the Abrahamic Covenant and the Kingdom of God.

The choice of God to work out the salvation of man through Abraham and his descendants, the Jews, is decisively proven by such Scriptures as Dent 7:6; Deut. l4:2; Rom. 11:28; Rom 9:11 etc. This selection is not to be regarded as an act of favouritism, but as founded on divine wisdom which adopted it as the best means, under the circumstances in which fallen humanity was placed, to reach, consistently with moral freedom, the largest portion of mankind, having in view the ultimate establishment and triumph of the Kingdom of God on earth.

The preaching of The Gospel of salvation to Abraham was formalized by God by means of entering into a covenant between himself and Abraham. It is the objective of the balance of this publication to explain the terms and ramifications of this "Abrahamic Covenant ". It is a sad fact that more ignorance and misunderstanding exists in relation to the covenants than perhaps any other portion of the Bible.

Definition of covenant

A covenant is a legal agreement, promise or contract (either written or verbal) between two or more parties to do or not to do a certain act or work which is specified in the terms of the agreement.

Whenever two parties conclude an agreement in a formal manner, it is done by means of a legal covenant which is binding upon the parties involved. In the case of a covenant between God and Man, because God cannot default, it is also called a promise and for this reason, the Abrahamic Covenant is called by both terms and can properly be called, "A Divine Legal Instrument".

Definition of a will or testament

Unlike a covenant, a will or testament, is an instrument involving only one party. A will (testament) is a legal instrument disposing of one's personal property after death.

Unfortunately, the Greek word diatheke is used in Greek for both a covenant and a will. When Jerome translated the New Testament into Latin, he translated the Greek word diatheke by the Latin word testamentum and this was carried over by the KJV translators as the English word, testament.

A will or testament can be ratified by only one party. No one else is involved and the document is signed by the testator - that is, the person making the will. The will or testament does not become operative or enforceable until the testator dies. Once the testator dies, the terms of the will cannot be altered and the administrators and executors of the estate must strictly adhere to the terms of the will. A divine covenant is a proper legal entity but a divine testament is an absurdity because if God is the testator, he cannot die and therefore, the testament would never become operative. It is for this reason that most translations of the Bible (other than the Authorized KJV version) translate the NT usage of diatheke by the word covenant or agreement rather than by the word testament.[1]

Glossary

It is necessary for an understanding of the Abrahamic Covenant to set down a "Glossary of Constituents" of a covenant. We have already defined what a "covenant" is, now we set forth the constituent parts of a covenant.

PARTIES: Those involved in making the agreement or contract.

RECITALS: While not legally part of the covenant, it is customary to "recite" statements of fact or circumstances related to the formation of the agreement and explaining the reasons for it.

CONSIDERATION: Something given or promised by one party in exchange for something to be promised, given or performed by another party. In modern business contracts, in order to make the instrument legally binding, a "consideration" must be given as a token of "good faith".

TERMS: Provisions stating the nature, scope and undertakings of the covenant. OATH An appeal to a deity in witness to the inviolability of a promise or truth of a statement. A covenant given under oath, reinforces the intent of the parties. HEIRS An heir of a covenant is one who inherits a benefit which is nominated in the terms of the covenant.

SEAL An impression, device, sign or attestation that an agreement was entered into after careful thought and deliberation and not under trivial circumstances.

CONFIRMATION: In order to finalize a covenant, an act of confirmation must be performed by the parties to guarantee the performance of the terms thereof.

RATIFICATION: The covenant is not legally operative until it is ratified. In the case of a business contract, this would mean the signatures, duly witnessed, of the parties thereto. Immediately upon the fixing of the signatures, the covenant is now binding upon the parties.



[1] For instance, the KJV in Matt. 26:28 reads, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Virtually, all other translations read, "For this is my blood of the new covenant ...". So also, other passages in the NT. The Abrahamic instrument was a two-party covenant not a one-party testament.