The Abrahamic Covenant: Part 2

 John Plunkett

August 16, 2014

Today we are going to cover the following sub-topics:

1. A correction/clarification from Part 1,
2. What is a "covenant"?  This time in the Hebrew and Greek,
3. The very important part that Sarah had in the Abrahamic Covenant promises,
4. How those covenant promises began to unfold,
5. How those covenant promises were repeated and magnified by God over and over again,
6. Some New Testament era clarification from the apostle Paul.

First of all I would like to make a minor correction of a statement that I made last time in Part 1.  Actually, it is more of a clarification than an error-correction.  As soon as I had given the sermon, I started thinking about this. The statement in question is when I said that the very first mention of the Abrahamic Covenant in the Bible is to be found in Genesis 15. 

Technically, this is true.  The first mention of the word "covenant" and the Hebrew word "beriyth" referring to the one between God and Abram is to be found in Genesis 15:18.

However, the first appearance of the actual concept, plus the basic promises of the Abrahamic Covenant were initially given to Abram back in Genesis 12:

Genesis 12:
1a: Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house…

Abram’s father was Terah, who had died shortly before the time of this verse. 

1b: … unto a land that I will shew thee:
2: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

So that is the basic concept of the covenant which God gave at that time.

We will probably come back to that section later; but I wanted to just slot in a brief mention of it right there just to clarify what I said last time about Genesis 15 being the first mention of the Abrahamic Covenant.

What is a Covenant - Hebrew?

Now let’s repeat one of the questions we asked in Part 1: “What is a covenant?” 

Last time we looked at the word “covenant” in the English language; today I think that it might be beneficial to take a quick look at it in the Hebrew and the Greek.

There is only one Hebrew word that is translated into the English word “covenant” in the King James Version, and that is ‘beriyth’ (Strong’s 1285) which is also occasionally translated into the English words league, confederacy, and confederate.  There are three extended meanings in the Hebrew: 

1. Between ordinary human beings.  When I say "ordinary," I mean non-royalty. In this regard, it means a treaty, an agreement, a pledge, or a league.  It can also refer to an alliance of friendship or an alliance in marriage.

2. Between a monarch – a king or queen – and his/her subjects.  It can be a royal constitution or ordinance.

3.  Between God and men.  This, of course, is the one that we are going to be dealing with more and more in this sermon series.  It can mean an alliance of friendship, an agreement by divine ordinance (that is a very important aspect).  These might often be accompanied by signs or pledges.

What is a Covenant - Greek?

Just as with the Hebrew, there is only one Greek word that is translated into the English word “covenant” and it is ‘diatheke’ (Strong’s 1242) which, in the King James Version, is also frequently translated into the English word "testament."

Similar as in the Hebrew, the extended Greek meanings can include: agreement, compact, a disposition or arrangement of any sort which a person wishes to be valid – an arrangement that, in our day and age, might most wisely be arranged through a lawyer.  

Most specifically, it can mean the last disposition a person makes of his earthly possessions and how they are to be distributed after his death.  In other words a person’s last will and testament. That is a very valid translation, especially as we see it referred to and discussed in this way in the book of Hebrews. 

I have heard some brethren insisting that, whenever we find an appearance of the word “testament” in the scriptures, it must be re-worded as “covenant.”  I disagree.  "Testament" is a valid rendering of the Greek word "diatheke."

Now that we have been through the English, Hebrew and Greek, we should now have a good idea of what a covenant is.

Sarah's Important Part

We will now continue in Genesis 17 – the chapter where we left off last time.

We talked a lot last time about Abram.  Today, let’s talk a little about his beautiful wife, Sarah.

We’ve read about Abraham’s name-change from Abram.  Now, let’s read a little about Sarai’s name-change and God’s specific promises to her. 

Throughout this series, whenever I mention the name "God," I will read the Hebrew names from the Hebrew or Greek scriptures, because they become very  significant as we go through this study.

Genesis 17:
15: Then God
{Elohim} said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai {Princess}, but Sarah {Noblewoman} shall be her name.

We in Canada live in a somewhat English-oriented society; so in my mind, when I first looked at this, I thought that, from my knowledge of English royalty, a princess has to be a higher rank than a noblewoman.  But God says otherwise here and, of course, His perfect opinion trumps my imperfect one.  Continuing:

16: “And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her {that reads to me like a double blessing}, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

I am not even sure that Sarah was present when God was talking to Abraham at this time.  The context indicates that God told this to Abraham alone.

So Sarai became Sarah; and the meaning of a noblewoman here is not just something like some lesser British Duchess or Baroness.  This lady – Sarah – was a very high ranking Queen Mother.  She was the mother of all of the Israelite kings and queens.

17: Then Abraham fell on his face and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old?  And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

We often think of Sarah as being the one who laughed.  But Abraham laughed too!  And he laughed first!

They both laughed at the physical, human impossibility of this amazing promise from God.

18: And Abraham said to God {Elohim} , "Oh, that Ishmael might live before you!”…

Here we see Abraham doing something like we often do today – trying to arrange his own physical, human solution and apply it to something that God promised will come about miraculously.  Not that we would have done any better than Abraham; but I can imagine God getting a little upset with him at this point.

19: Then God {Elohim} said: “No!  Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac {Hebrew Yitschaq which means "he laughs"}; I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.

It is obvious that, although Abraham certainly did have a strong faith, at this time his faith was still limited.  We might often think that Abraham’s faith was super-strong right from the beginning; but as we go through his history, we see that that is not necessarily true.  He developed; he grew in grace and knowledge; and he grew in faith.  At this time, though, his faith was still quite limited.  It only went so far; but it did not go to the point of believing that a hundred-year-old man and a ninety-year-old woman could parent a baby.  

Humanly this is impossible; but the will and the power of the very great Creator trumps physical impossibilities.  As Jesus and His servants – both human and angelic – repeatedly said on a number of occasions: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  If it is God’s will, then it is going to happen, even if it is physically impossible.

Still, to give Abraham the benefit of the doubt here, he was concerned for Ishmael’s future.  But God had not forgotten Ishmael nor, as we find out later, his mother, Hagar:

20: “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you.  Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly.  He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation… 

Please notice how definite God’s promises to Ishmael were. We tend to think little of and about Ishmael.  We tend to shove him off into a corner once he is gone from the narrative and we don’t hear too much about him anymore.  But God had big plans for him too.  Notice how definite God’s promises were: “I will,” “He shall” and even “I have blessed him” – which might indicate that He had already set the fulfillment of those promises in motion.  There is a possibility, as well, that the way this reads, perhaps Ishmael would begin to receive his blessings even before Isaac began to receive his, even though God decreed that Isaac would be the most favoured! 

Let’s not forget that these are – and were – great promises and blessings for Ishmael: the multiplication of offspring leading to nationhood and family royalty… but... no covenant with God!  Not for Ishmael.  That was to be given only to Abraham and Abraham’s progeny, through Sarah’s son, Isaac, as He repeats right here:

21:  “But my covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year."
22:  Then He finished talking with him, and God
{Elohim} went up from Abraham.

Again I det the impression that Elohim wasn't too pleased with Abraham at that time.

Now! – another chapter, and yet another repetition of God’s covenant promises to Abraham and Sarah:

Genesis 18:
1: And the LORD
{YHVH} appeared unto him {Abraham} in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2a: And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men…

Were they men?  No.  They were actually three powerful spirit-beings in human form.  One of them was the LORD – the Eternal!  And Abraham instantly recognized their importance:

2b: ... lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them…

Please remember that Abraham was ninety-nine years old at this time and yet he ran to meet them!

2c: ... he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
3:  And said, “My Lord
{Adonai}, if now I have found favour in your sight, pass not away, I pray you, from your servant:”

After Abraham and Sarah had treated them to a substantial dinner, the three “men” got down to their important business with Abraham:

9:  And they {plural} said unto him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Behold, in the tent.”

I am sure that, in reality, they knew where she was; and that she was probably listening as well! 

10:  And He {singular: the Leader of the three YHVH is implied} said, “I will certainly return unto you according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind Him.
11:  Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12:  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”

From the wording there, she probably didn’t laugh or say the words out loud, audibly.  But the LORD God can read the thoughts – and even the attitudes – of human beings.  That day, He read that laugh and He read those words.

13:  And the LORD said unto Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?’
14:  Is anything too hard for the LORD?  At the time appointed I will return unto you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son
{a repetition from verse 10).
15:  Then Sarah denied, saying, “I laughed not;” for she was afraid.  And He said, “Nay; but you did laugh.”

There is lots of talk here about laughter; but this laughter indicates again the somewhat imperfect level of the faith and belief of Abraham and Sarah in God’s promises.  It also indicates an attitude of “Yes, these promises are fantastic; but really!  Considering our time of life, isn’t this too good to be true?”

The Hebrew verb for "laugh" or "laughter" is "tsachaq," and from this verb, by God’s command, the promised son of Abraham and Sarah received his name.  The actually name was "Yitschaq"; but we have anglicized it to "Isaac."  The name brings to mind famous men such as Yitzhak Rabin who was one of modern Israel's prime ministers and Itzhak Perlman who is a well-known Israeli-American classical violinist and conductor. 

The way these verses read, I wonder if this was the first time Sarah had actually heard this promise of a son.  I wonder if, possibly, Abraham had not mentioned it to her the first time God mentioned it to him when he laughed at the idea (Genesis 17:17).  

Whatever the case, yet again, the LORD then repeated some of His covenant promises to Abraham.  Over and over again, He kept telling him that all this really was going to happen:

16: And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17: And the LORD
{YHVH} said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do {i.e. regarding the coming fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, knowing that Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family were dwelling there};
18:  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

So here is a repetition of those covenant promises again.  Now please look at this next verse.  This is fantastic!  We have already seen that God can read minds, and that He knew what Sarah was thinking.  Now look what He says:

19:  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD {YHVH} may bring upon Abraham that which he has spoken of him.”

Again, the LORD can read our hearts; but He can even read our hearts in the future!  He knew what Abraham was going to do.  He knew that he was going to bring up his children in a proper way.  What a commendation for Abraham.  Yes; but also, what an example for us! 

Can the LORD say this of us today?  Can He say this of our parents in His church today?  That’s something worth thinking about!  I look around and I see great parents with great children, evidently following the fine parental example of our human father, Abraham.

The next section that I would like to go through is to show you that, right from the beginning, even though a lot of God's covenant promises were for the far future, some of them did begin to unfold in Abraham's lifetime – even if only partially.

In order to stay with our topic we will skip over the accounts of Sodom and Gomorrah and King Abimelech of Gerar, and we will move on to the account of the birth of Isaac:

Genesis 21:
1: And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken.

We have read lots of repetitions of the LORD’s promises to Abraham; but now with the conception of Isaac, things were really starting to move, and the LORD was starting to make possible the impossible.

Without going into all of the Hebrew definitions, the two verbs in this verse are very interesting.  God “visited” Sarah.  The Hebrew word is ‘paquad.’  It also says that He “did unto” Sarah.  The Hebrew word is ‘asah.’ 

I don’t want this to sound blasphemous, crass or disrespectful; but this begs the question: To what extent was Sarah impregnated by Abraham himself?  And to what extent was she miraculously impregnated by the LORD through His Holy Spirit?

I ask this because Isaac was a symbolic forerunner of the human Jesus Christ and Abraham was symbolic of God the Father.  It is likely, then, that Sarah would be a symbolic forerunner of Jesus’ human mother, Mary.  And this verse reminds me very much of Luke’s account of the archangel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary of Jesus’ conception:

Luke 1:
34:  Then said Mary unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”

We all know what the English word “know” means in this regard.  The Greek word is ‘ginosko.’

35:  And the angel answered and said unto her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon {Greek: "eperchomai-epi"} you, and the power of the Highest {Greek: "Hupsistos" or "Most High" which is equivalent to the Hebrew "Elyown"} shall overshadow you: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of you shall be called ‘the Son of God’…

Again, I don’t want this to sound blasphemous, crass, or disrespectful; but the Holy Spirit coming upon Mary and the power of the most High overshadowing her were the equivalents of the LORD visiting Sarah and doing to her as He had spoken and promised. 

Just a footnote to this point, still in Luke 1:

36:  And, behold, your cousin Elisabeth, she has also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37:  For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Although in Sarah’s case, we know that Abraham was the father of Isaac; still, just as much as in Mary’s and Elisabeth’s cases, it was God who made the impossible possible!

Back to Genesis 21:

2:  For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God {Elohim} had spoken to him.
3:  And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.
4:  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5:  And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
6:  And Sarah said, “God has made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.”

Just a year earlier, both Sarah and Abraham were laughing in disbelief at the very idea that they would be able to parent a baby; but now they were laughing in sheer joy at what had happened and were encouraging anyone who heard about this miracle to join their laughter and joy. 

7: And she said, “Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck?  For I have born him a son in his old age.”

So now, with the miraculous conception and the birth of Isaac (a type of those of Jesus, of course), we see the impossible becoming possible – the very first of God’s promises beginning to unfold. 

Allow me to repeat that, at first, both Abraham and Sarah laughed in disbelief when God told them that they would bear a son.  Now Sarah laughed with unrestrained joy.  This is another lesson for us.   If and when we hear of God performing wonderful miracles, we must take care not to laugh or ridicule such events as impossible.  Rather, we need to be overjoyed and praising God when we hear of those things.  For just one recent example – actually two, a couple of months ago, a young girl in the US state of Mississippi was healed of a tumour and her mother was healed of a severe, chronic case of migraine.  Both were healed after they requested anointing in obedience to God's command in James 5:14-15.  Again, when we hear about those things we need to be overjoyed.

Now let us move on into Genesis 22; but in order to stay on topic, we will skip over the accounts of the departure of Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham’s covenant with King Abimelech of Gerar and, at least for the most part, the LORD’s test of Abraham by the sacrifice of Isaac.

We all know that account of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son; but just one quick mention of that event:

Abraham knew that God had repeatedly and clearly guaranteed that all of those covenant blessings He had promised to Abraham’s progeny would come about through the descendants of the son of Sarah and himself and not through those of Ishmael or any of Abraham’s subsequent children that he would later sire through his second wife Keturah.  Abraham knew what God had promised, he knew that, if God did allow him to kill Isaac as a sacrifice and if God did not resurrect him, he must have logically thought, "How can God fulfill all of those promises that He has repeatedly made to me?"  Abraham knew all of this and, even though his faith was still imperfect (because he was still human!), his faith was improving and increasing by leaps and bounds.  He believed God so much with regards to these covenant promises that his example made a huge impact to the point where the apostle Paul quoted it twice in his epistles, and James quoted it once.  (Please compare Genesis 15 with Romans 4:1-16, Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23).  So Abraham grew to be famous because of his belief. 

We will skip over the rest of the detail of that episode because it is not really relevant to today’s study.  We will concentrate on the LORD repeating His covenant promises yet again.  By this time, their fulfillment had begun; they were already in process; but He kept on repeating them.  Not just repeating them; but magnifying them:

Genesis 22:
15: Then the Angel
{Hebrew: Malak} of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven,

Was this just an angel – a representative, messenger or ambassador, speaking on the LORD’s behalf?  Or was it the LORD Himself?  The rest of the narrative definitely reads like it was, in fact, a special angel; but this was a very special angel who was carrying a message to Abraham with the full authority of the LORD.

It is interesting, though, that throughout all of these accounts, right from the beginning where we started this series, that God communicates with Abraham in different ways and in different forms. 

In this case, He appears to have spoken to Abraham through an angel from heaven – not face-to-face and in-person, as He had at other times.  Throughout all of the accounts that we have looked at already, He even used different names for Himself: YHVH, Elohim, YHVH-Elohim, El, Adonai, El-Adonai, Adonai-El, Adonai-Yehovee and Abiyr.  I found it interesting to see all of these different names used – evidently for the same One who was talking to Abraham n each occasion.

But what was the message that the LORD sent to Abraham through this special angel? 

16:  and said: "By Myself I have sworn," says the LORD, "because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son ––
17a: blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply…

This is one of those Hebrew repetitions that appears to be very meaningful.  Similar to His earlier blessing upon Sarah, this too reads like a double-blessing and a double-multiplying.  I think of it as even more than that!  To me it reads like "blessing-squared" and "multiplying squared"!  If we multiply a number by itself, that number is said to be squared!  If you have 12 and 12 and you add them together, you get only 24; but if you multiply 12 times 12, you get 144!  When we look at how God blessed Abraham’s progeny and how they multiplied to the numbers of the stars of heaven and of the sand of the seashore, we can see that a lot of multiplying has been going on there!

17b: … I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies…

The sub-topic of the Israelites possessing the gates of their enemies is a study all of its own.  It partially came to pass in Bible times; but in a much more major way, it came to pass when the Abrahamic – and more specifically, the Israelitish nations – gained control of the world’s main strategic sea gates, from the 18th century or even earlier.  A lot of them have been taken away now; but they included Gibraltar, Malta, the Suez Canal, Hong Kong, the Panama Canal, Cape Town plus many more – all in the hands of Israelitish people.  One by one, due to the sins of modern Israel, they are all going back to Gentile nations, eventually to the point that we won’t have the control over any of them anymore.

All of what we have just read, is just one part of what Mr. Armstrong used to term “the Race Part” of the Abrahamic Covenant – the promises of vast physical blessings.  But next comes what Mr. Armstrong used to call “the Grace Part” – the promises of the spiritual blessings – blessings which are even more vast 

18:  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

Virtually all the nations of the earth – both Israelite and Gentile peoples – certainly have been physically blessed over the years – yes, including many of the non-Abrahamic nations who were blessed indirectly through their association with the descendants of Abraham and God’s blessings upon them.  It is a kind of "rub- off" effect – some of the blessings from the Abrahamic peoples having "rubbed off" on the non-Abrahamic peoples.

But there is more.  Much more!  There is much more than the physical riches! God promised far greater and more beneficial blessings than the physical riches – wonderful though they were.  Let us read that last verse in Genesis 22 again: 

18:  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.

We need some clarification on the Genesis mentions of "the Grace Part" of the covenant.  God gives that clarification to us through the apostle Paul who explains this when he writes about Abraham's seed here in his letter to the Galatians:

Galatians 3:
13:  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law
{i.e. the Sinai covenant law}, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),

The apostle Paul is not saying here that God’s laws in His Sinai covenant were a curse.  In fact elsewhere (Romans 7:12) he wrote that "the law is holy, just and good."  Those laws were not a curse of themselves.  God initiated all of those laws for very good reasons.  If many of those laws were still in force and obeyed today, the world would be a far better place.  No.  Rather, Paul was quoting a passage in Deuteronomy that states that a person who earned himself the death penalty for a serious crime was accursed of God.  It would be irrelevant for me to go into the details of either the crimes or the penalties here; but if you want to read them for yourself, you will find them in Deuteronomy 21:22-23. 

We all know that Jesus was hanged on a tree and that, by allowing Himself to endure that awful means of execution, He thereby became a curse for us in our stead.  Why did He do it?  What was the reason?

14a:  that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles…

If you think about it, most of the Galatian congregation would likely have been Gentiles at that time.

14b: ... in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

These spiritual blessings are the primary promises of the primary blessings on the Gentiles from God, via Abraham.  Yes, the spiritual blessings are the primary ones –  the promises of the Holy Spirit and the results and the benefits of receiving God's Holy Spirit which come through faith.  Yes, faith, of which Abraham was such a fine example.

15:  Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it.

What?  A man's covenant?  What is Paul saying here?  Please don’t get confused by the old King James English.  Paul is not saying that either of these covenants, neither the Abrahamic Covenant nor the Sinai Covenant, were of men.

I'm sure that we have already gone into enough detail that you wouldn’t be thinking this.  I am sure that you understand perfectly well that both of these covenants were instituted by God, and not by men.  

Rather, what Paul is saying here is that, even in a man-to-man covenant, yes, in any human covenant, once the agreement is made and confirmed, no one is allowed to add to or take away from its contents.  Paul is also saying that God’s covenants with men are instituted by Him and unless He chooses to annul them, or unless He chooses to make changes to them, they are even more binding and unchangeable than man-to-man ones.

Now here comes more clarification from Paul on "the Grace Part" of the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis, where the LORD frequently mentions Abraham’s "seed":

16:  Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.

I don’t claim to be an expert on Bible-era Hebrew or Greek; but from the way this verse reads, the apostle Paul was an expert on both.  Of course, he was a Pharisee as well being a Roman citizen and, from what we understand, he certainly was very up on those languages.  We can be sure that he was able to differentiate between the singular and the plural forms of the Hebrew ‘zara’ seed and the Greek ‘sperma’ seed.

The bottom line is this:  From what Paul wrote here, all the parts of the Abrahamic Covenant promises were instituted by YHVH – the "I AM"; also that the "Race Part" of the Abrahamic Covenant – the physical promises – were given to and through Abraham’s seeds – plural! – to his multiple descendants; actually his multiple millions of descendants!

But the "Grace Part" of the Abrahamic Covenant – i.e. God' calling, God's offer of the Holy Spirit and God's offer of the opportunity for salvation – all these were given through Abraham's seed – singular!  This was given through the line of Abraham's great-grandson, Judah, and through Abraham's singular seed, Jesus Christ, the "I AM." 

As YHVH, the "I AM" was at the beginning of it all; and as Jesus Christ, the "I AM" is at the end – the fulfillment of it all.  Still in Galatians 3:

17:  And this I say, that the law {that of the Sinai covenant}, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ {the Abrahamic covenant}, that it should make the promise of no effect.

The promise mentioned here is the one (or rather the ones) given by YHVH through His covenant with Abraham and, more specifically in these verses, the spiritual promises – the "Grace Part" of the Abrahamic covenant.

18:  For if the inheritance is of the law {Sinai covenant}, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

Here we see a number of amazing things:

The Race blessings were also extended to any Gentiles who became subject to Abraham's progeny and who were friendly towards them. As the years went along, the colonial powers of the modern Israelitish nations took over many formerly Gentile areas of Africa, India and many others all around the world.  I am certainly not saying that the colonial powers did things perfectly right.  I know that they didn’t.  Still, if their Gentile subjects accepted their subjection and/or were friendly towards the Israelitish colonists, those countries were blessed for doing so.  

Somebody told me recently that the country of Zambia is the only nation in Africa that still publicly claims to be a "Christian" nation.  Perhaps for that reason, its peoples appear to be more blessed than most of that continent.

Next time in Part Three of this series, we will get into the “grafting scriptures” in Romans 11.  I'm sure you are familiar with the grafting of the two olive trees in that chapter which shows us that the "Grace Part" of the Abrahamic Covenant was – and is – offered to the physical Abrahamites and to non-Abrahamites.… equally!  Yes, equally!  With the same conditions for both!  In other words, the physical Abrahamites do not receive the benefits of the Grace Part of the covenant just because they are physical Abrahamites.  We will see this more and more next time as we continue.

We have covered a lot of information today, so I will give you a summary:

Next time we will get into more detail on the dual promises of Race and Grace, plus some more detail of the prophecies given through Jacob, Joseph, Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh, plus some really fine detail on the spiritual promises.

Again, that is a lot of information; but I believe that it is so important – not just in a historical sense; but also as we apply it in the spiritual sense to God’s people today.