Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.(Romans 9:4-5)
One of the things which is unique about Israel is that the nation has been given specific covenants, (legal agreements) between God and Israel, most of which are unconditional and one of which is conditional. These covenants are given to Israel, because of God’s purpose to use the chosen people, to bless the whole world.
The first of these agreements is called the Abrahamic covenant, revealed to him when God first confronted Abraham, in Genesis 12:1-3, and expanded on in Genesis 13 after Lot set out on his own, taking the choicest grazing land and leaving Abraham’s flocks to graze in an arid desert.
The account of how the covenant was cut is given in Genesis 15, at a time when Abram began to doubt the promise of a miracle child who would be heir of the whole world.
After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?(Genesis 15:1-2)
A covenant is a blood agreement between two parties.A typical covenant involved cutting animals in half, and having the two covenant parties walk between the half carcasses together, as if to solemnly vow to the other, that may the fate if that animal be my fate if I break the terms of this covenant.
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.(Genesis 15:3-5)
God re-iterated the original promise He had made to the doubting Abraham, that He and Sarah would indeed have a miracle child and that through him they would have millions of descendants.
And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.(Genesis 15:6)
This verse is the foundation for the doctrine of imputed Righteousness, which Paul expanded on in the book of Romans. Abraham believed God, and was thus counted as completely Righteous. As a covenant partner with God, he was called,”The friend of God”.
And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?(Genesis 15:7-8)
God’s covenant with Abraham involved Seed, and specific land.The very conflict in the Middle East today, over the borders of Israel, is a Holy controversy, based upon an unconditional promise God made to Abraham, that the Land between the River in Egypt and the Euphrates belongs to God and has been given to the seed of Abraham.
Nothing can alter this, not the U.N. , the Kings of the earth, the Muslim hordes, nor even Israel’s sin. The promise involved a specific land, a lot of descendants, and a Blessing to come upon the whole world through the seed of Abraham.
And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 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. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.(Genesis 13:14-17)
Next Abraham executed the actual cutting of the Covenant, laying out the meat in two sides, establishing a path between the pieces, and maintaining the sacrifices, keeping the birds of Carrion off of the pieces, as He waited for God to execute the covenant.
This pretty much describes the long, sacrificial future of Israel, a nation in a sea of paganism, maintaining through temple, priest and Torah, the true worship, the knowledge of the need for sacrifice, mediation, and propitiation, and warding off the countless pagan attempts to obliterate these truths, unit the time came for God to fulfill all things.
And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.(Genesis 15:9-11)
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.(Genesis 15:12-16)
As the sun went down, Abraham was put into a deep sleep, and had something like a trance experience, in which God showed him the immediate future of his people,the seed of Abraham would be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years, they would be enslaved, but redeemed and repaid, then they would be brought back into the promised Land, to possess it.
The reason for the four hundred year delay in the possession of the land, was that the current civilization,the Amorites, were sinful and iniquitous, but still hadn’t fully accepted with abandon their perversity. This is the culture that gave us Sodom and Gommorah, remember, but they still had an inkling of conscience, therefore in the mercy of God, judgment was delayed.
By the time four hundred years had expired, the Canaanite/Amorite civilization was so degraded, they actually enshrined various sexual perversions into their laws and statutes, as Leviticus 18 tells us,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.(Leviticus 18:2-3)
What then follows in Leviticus, the ‘ordinances’ of the Amorites, is a sordid listing of every kind of sexual perversion from incest to bestiality.When perversion is enshrined in law, Judgment is not far off.
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.(Genesis 15:7)
Here is the actual covenant ceremony, only notice, that it is not God and Abraham who walk through the pieces, but God and himself, in the form of a torch and a smoking furnace.
The Covenant God gave to Abraham and his seed was inaugurated and upheld by God alone, therefore it cannot ever be broken, because it is not based on the faithfulness of Abraham, but of God.There has to be a promised land forever for the chosen people, there has to be millions of offspring for Abraham, and one of His seed must bless the entire world.
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites. (Genesis 15:18-21)