Friday, April 07, 2006

A Land Forever in the Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic covenant is one of the most amazing passages of scripture. God making a covenant to bless the nations of the earth through one man by whom and entire nation, a kingly line, and the promised seed will come. The fact that this is an unconditional covenant is seen in the fact that it is only God who passes through the divided animals. This signifies that this covenant will be fulfilled by God with no conditions upon Abraham. Any conditions that lie on Abraham or His descendants, deal with their enjoyment of the promises but not the fulfillment of them. The fulfillment of them rests entirely upon God.

As stated in other posts one of the main promises in this covenant was for a land.

Gen 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Dealing with the dispensational and Covenantal theologies, the question arises as to whether or not the true fulfillment of this promise is to be spiritual or physical. The physical fulfillment of these promises is expected during the millennial kingdom according the dispensationalists. I believe those who hold this view do so based on some pretty good reasons. There is however one phrase in verse 15 that causes me to think. It is the fact that God had promised the land to Abraham’s seed “for ever.”

Yesterday, I was speaking with a well educated theologian friend of mine on this topic, and he asked me, “if this promise has to be fulfilled physically on this earth, then why is the millennium only a 1000 years and not forever? Obviously he is a covenantal theologian as you probably guessed, but he raised an interesting point. The only land that the people of God will inherit eternally is heaven.

This spurred me on to check a couple sources on this passage and here are three views I found regarding this passage.

Here is what Matthew Henry has to say about it…

“The granting of it to him and his seed for ever intimates that it was typical of the heavenly Canaan, which is given to the spiritual seed of Abram for ever, (Heb_11:14).”

Matthew Henry sees the physical land as typical of the true land we all will inherit.

Here is what Matthew Poole had to say…

“Question. How was this “for ever,” when after some hundreds of years they were turned out of it? Answer, The word olam, rendered forever, doth not always signify eternity, but a long continuance, as is evident from Gen. 17:13; 48:4; Ex. 21,6, and many other places in scripture; and in particular, when it is applied to the Jewish rites and privileges, it commonly signifies no more than during the standing of the commonwealth, or until the coming of the Messiah; and so it may here be understood.

John Gill says…

and to thy seed for ever; the meaning is, that he gave it to his posterity to be enjoyed by them until the Messiah came, when a new world would begin; and which Abram in person shall enjoy, with all his spiritual seed, after the resurrection, when that part of the earth will be renewed, as the rest; and where particularly Christ will make his personal appearance and residence, the principal seed of Abram, and will reign a thousand years; see Gill on Mat_22:32; besides, this may be typical of the heavenly Canaan given to Abram, and all his spiritual seed, and which shall be enjoyed by them for evermore.

It seems the three writers view the physical aspect as fulfilled from the promise to the coming of the messiah, then after that it becomes spiritual. I didn’t have any really good dispensational commentaries on this so if any of you have one I would love to hear their thoughts.

I know the answer is probably found in understanding some New Testament texts and I’m eventually going to have to exegete Romans 9-11, but I don’t see that as the easiest task to fulfill. But we will get there eventually. I’m still trying to go through the historical covenants at this point.



At Friday, April 07, 2006 6:31:00 PM, Blogger edwardseanist said...

Nice Doug. Listen to your Covenant friend =). I think it is one of those things like the doctrines of Grace. Once you see it, understand it, and embrace it you see it throughout all Scripture. At least, in my opinion.


At Sunday, April 09, 2006 7:34:00 PM, Blogger bluecollar said...

Doug, Check out New Covenent theology also. They see very little distinction in the New Test. between Israel and the church; but they hold that Romans 11 most certainly points to a massive revival in national Israel.


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