The Abrahamic Covenant: Part 5

John Plunkett
January 31, 2015

Last time, in Part 4, we shone the spotlight on four of Jacob’s twelve sons and their descendants. 

First of all, we found some prophetic information in God’s Word, on the "Grace" tribe of Judah.  We read a couple of words on the tribe of Simeon and their descendants. We looked at how the tribe of Levi was separated from their Israelite brethren for very special duties.  And finally, we looked at how the main birthright blessings came through the "Race" tribes of Joseph

What I would like to cover today is how the Abrahamic Covenant blessings began to be poured out upon God’s people.  Also, how God fulfils His part in that Covenant because, as we know, a covenant is a two-sided agreement.  Then finally, I would like to ask a couple of big questions:  Are we, as God’s New Testament people, doing our part?... both in the physical "Race" part of the Abrahamic Covenant, and also on the spiritual "Grace" part?

Last time, we spent a lot of time examining God’s Genesis 49 prophecies that were given through Jacob when he was dying.  Those prophecies were given about all of his sons; but we homed in on the most prophetically significant ones with regards to the Abrahamic Covenant. 

If we look back though Israel’s earliest history, we will see that God began to pour out His Covenant blessings on Jacob’s progeny quite quickly – actually almost immediately after transforming the Israelites from a family into a full-sized nation and also, after God freed them from their slavery in Egypt.  Of course, God’s miraculous liberation of the Israelites from Egypt was a huge set of blessings in itself.  We commemorate that time and its spiritual anti-type each spring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

After they came out of Egypt, they kept murmuring, complaining and sinning in various other ways; so, after a period of punishment through their wilderness wanderings, we see another example of the Covenant blessings starting to come about.  First of all, we see the miraculous, relatively simple defeat of most of the Canaanite peoples and the settling of the Israelites in their own new land. 

Another Old Testament example was the period that I personally think of as “the golden years” of the united kingdom of Israel under the rule of David and Solomon.

But still, there were many tests and trials along the way.  Even though God had His set timing for the pouring out of His major promised blessings, there were various deferrals, setbacks, and even curses that God imposed as a result of Israel’s chronic backsliding, sins and failures to pass those corrective tests and trials that were meant for their benefit.  

I believe that the One who declares the end from the beginning, the One who is the beginning and the end, and the One who is able to see into the future – He knew all of these things in advance and He factored them into His set timing.  He rules over time; not the other way around.

But the time eventually did come, according to His perfect will and His perfect timing when He deemed it right to begin richly pouring out His promised physical "Race" blessings on the descendants of the children of Israel. 

And didn't He ever pour them out!?   When that time came, He poured them out more lavishly on His people than He had ever done on any nation before in all of man's history.

Herbert Armstrong felt that the main pouring out of those Race blessings began at the beginning of the nineteenth century – beginning around 1801.  I do not like disagreeing with him unnecessarily; but personally, I believe that history proves that those blessings started to be poured out many years before that – perhaps even hundreds of years before.

Last weekend I was looking through the liner notes to an old vinyl LP copy of Handel’s "Messiah."  I found the opening lines of those notes to be really interesting in this regard.  Here's what it says:

The eighteenth century (1701-1800) in England was an age of change.  Even as early as 1710, the first stirrings of modern England were making themselves felt.  It was a land of growing population (that 's one of God’s promised covenant blessings right there) and growing prosperity.  The two don’t often go hand in hand.

This is so true.  We see growing populations in India and China; but until recent years they didn’t have anything like growing prosperity. Continuing the quote:

But these were days before the revolution of industry drove people in hordes to the new, fast-expanding towns of the north of England.  In 1710, the population was spread over the rich agricultural land of England and Ireland, where revolutionary methods of farming reaped fine financial harvests.

So we see that those blessings started pouring out on the modern Israelitish nations even by the beginning of the eighteenth century.  But still, no matter when the actual starting date was – and this now is my main point in today’s sermon – that even in the receiving of those wonderful covenant blessings, it was still necessary for the Israelites, both ancient and modern, to do their part.

Of course, just as with the rest of the Abrahamic Covenant, it was God who did the main part.  It was He who gave the Israelites victories in their battles.  In some cases He fought virtually the whole battle for them and they hardly had to do anything.  It was God who provided all of the material riches for them; and it was He who put the Israelites exactly where they needed to be in order to gain access to those riches. 

Have you ever wondered how God miraculously “filtered” the various Israelite tribes throughout the centuries, and how He set them exactly where He wanted them to be – exactly where they needed to be – in order to receive His blessings?

For example, have you ever wondered how He miraculously “filtered” the Manassites out from the Ephraimites in Britain and from the Zebulunites in the Netherlands, and from various other tribes as well, in order to populate and to set up the United States of America, in fulfillment of His promises regarding Manasseh?”

Also, haven't you ever wondered how He instilled the talent in the brains of the Israelites in order to develop superior mathematical, scientific, and engineering knowledge in order:

• To travel to the countries that possessed the riches which constituted part of the blessings,

• To set up the necessary infrastructure in those countries,

• To rule the people in those countries and to put them to work, 

• To extract the God-given riches from the earth and the seas,

• To effectively process, use and market those riches.

Even though it is certainly true that they did not do a perfect job in some of these areas, these things were not coincidences.  God set these things up miraculously.

But again, allow me to repeat that this was a two-way covenant.  God did His part, of course.  He did the main part.  But it was also necessary for the Israelites and their modern descendants to do their part.  God expected them to do their part – to think, to plan, to design and to toil.  Although their human part was relatively minor compared to God’s part, they still had to do their part.  So they did have a part in fulfilling the human side of the physical "Race" part of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

It is interesting to note that these abilities were given to them by God and not necessarily inherent within the people of physical Israel.  In fact, the scriptures and the facts of history show us that they sometimes could be pretty thick!  And still can! 

I believe that much of their superior ability was poured out upon them by God, perhaps in a similar way as He empowered Bezaleel, Aholiab and their work-crews to do such a humanly-perfect job in the building of His tent-tabernacle:

Exodus 31:
1:  And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
2:  "See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah:
3:  And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship,
4:  To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass,
5:  And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.
6:  And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded you."

God did this!  He has the power to be able to do this.  This miraculous imbuing of Bezaleel and Aholiab and their work-crews with extra-special talent is repeated in quite a number of other scriptures, too; but we don’t have time to turn to them all today.  Still, because it is repeated so often, it is reasonable to believe that it contains an important lesson for us too.

To some extent, the physical Israelites enjoyed the covenant blessings just by being Israelites – just by being God’s chosen, beloved people.  

Even the people of the Gentile nations who were subject to and/or friendly with the Israelites and who traded fairly with them – those people were very much blessed for being and doing so.  Even today, if we look at the example of Zambia (the former British colony of Northern Rhodesia) in comparison with other African nations who now openly despise their former Israelitish colonizing powers, we can see this principle in action.  Because the Zambians maintain a friendly relationship with the British Commonwealth countries, the United States and other western, Israelitish nations, it appears that God is very much blessing them for doing so.  They are still relatively prosperous in comparison with the rest of African nations who all seem to be going to Hades in a hand-basket!

But I am digressing.  Let me go back a step and repeat… that to some extent, the physical Israelites enjoyed the Abrahamic Covenant blessings just by being Israelites.  But if they really wanted to reap God’s blessings, they rolled up their sleeves, got themselves involved, and shared in the effort.  Please keep that point in mind. We’ll come back to it.

Now I would like to move on from the "Race" blessings, and talk about the "Grace" blessings – the spiritual promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.  I believe that the requirement for our active involvement is exactly the same with the spiritual covenant blessings as with the physical.  

Just as with the physical aspect, God the Father and Jesus Christ do the major part.  In fact, they have fulfilled the major part – past tense:

Matthew 25:34:
Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Is that past tense?  Yes, of course!

Ephesians 1:4:
According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love:

So, God the Father and Jesus Christ, had all of this planned before the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 4:3:
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, "As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest": although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

later in the sermon we will come back to this verse and we'll go into the words "were finished from the foundation of the world" in a little more detail.  But for now, here is one more "foundation of the world" verse:

Revelation 17:
8 The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

This is talking about people whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.  We want do do all we can to make sure that our names have been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world.  That, of course, was a long, long time ago; but the main thing that I am trying to get across here is that God the Father and Jesus Christ set the whole plan in motion prior to the foundation of the world.

Now let’s come forward a couple of years from the time. A little more recently than the foundation of the world was the human lifetime of Jesus Christ!

Although Jesus and His Father remained in communication during most of Jesus' human lifetime (yes, there were a few hours where they were not in communication at the end of His lifetime), God the Father was willing to give up His most beloved, right-hand Companion, with whom He had spent eternity for thirty-three years.  Of course, it is true that thirty-three years is a relatively a short time.  Also, even though God the Father and Jesus are God Beings to whom a thousand years is as a mere day (II Peter 3:8), still, to both of them, those thirty-three years must have seemed like an eternity. 

We think of Jesus – the Logos, the Word – voluntarily divesting Himself of His God-ship and coming to earth as a lowly human being. 

We normally think about these things at Passover time; but please think for a moment today about the vast difference between how He formerly was – a glorious, ultra-powerful, Spirit-composed Member of the God Family and the inferior, weak, sweaty, smelly human being He agreed to become for thirty-three years.  Please think about what they both agreed to do – what they both voluntarily agreed to give up in love for us, so that we could receive the gifts and the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.

In Jesus voluntarily downgrading Himself from His former life as an all-powerful God-Being to that of a weak human being, it would be something comparable to a human being agreeing to become a worm for the thirty-three prime years of his young life and agreeing to die.  No, not just to die; but to allow himself to be brutally murdered! – to let somebody stomp on him! – so that his fellow-worms could have eternal life! 

Job 25:
4:  How then can man be justified with God?  Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?
5:  Behold even to the moon, and it shines not; yes, the stars are not pure in His sight.
6:  How much less man, that is a worm?  And the son of man, which is a worm?

Jesus came far down in status from being God to being a human, born of a woman.  The vast extent of Jesus’ voluntary downgrading is brought out even more forcefully by David, in this prophetic psalm:

Psalm 22:
1:  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?  Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
2:  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you hear not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
3:  But you are holy, O you that inhabits the praises of Israel...

6:  But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
7:  All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8:  "He trusted on the LORD that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him."

What I am trying to get across here is the difference between who and what Jesus was compared with who and what He became for His thirty-three years as a human.

It is important for us to remember that all that is now in the past. We go to the Passover service every year in a spirit of reverence for all that Jesus and His Father did for us; but the positive thing about it is that it is now in the past. 

Jesus and His Father to a great extent, have pretty-well completed their part in the Grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Yes, there are some items that they still need to complete and there are things that they are doing on an ongoing basis; but the big things – perhaps the relatively more difficult things to them – have already been done.

What about our side of the bargain?  What about our human side of the Grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant agreement?  Did Abraham fulfill it all for us?  Can we just depend on what he did on the human side of the Covenant?  Or, as many professing Christians teach, did Jesus do it all for us?  Can we just depend on what Jesus and His Father did for us on their God-side of the covenant?  Did Abraham, Jesus Christ, and the Father, do it all for us so that we can just sit back and do nothing?

Put another way, will we receive the spiritual covenant promises and blessings merely by being Abraham's descendants?  Merely by being nominal members of spiritual Israel?  By simply warming seats at Sabbath services each week? 

The answer, of course, is No! Absolutely not!  Why?  Because God wants us to do much more than this.  He wants us to be doers of His law, and doers of His Word, and not just hearers only:

Romans 2:13:
For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

James 1:22:
But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Thinking back to the final part of our recent “Sabbath Food” Bible study series, in which we discussed the concept of rest in the eleventh chapter of Matthew and the third and fourth chapters of Hebrews, we saw there that we are to labour now if we desire to enter into God’s ultimate future rest in the World Tomorrow!  In that study we concentrated more on the rest aspect of those chapters.  Today I would like to briefly review those scriptures; but concentrate on the labour now aspect of them.

I am not preaching a doctrine of "saved by works" here, as I am sure that you understand:

Matthew 11:28:
Come unto me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest...

Some might read this verse and think, "That’s good!  We go to Jesus Christ and we don’t have to work anymore.  He will do it all for us."

Will that labour and heavy lading Jesus mentions here totally cease now in this life?  Will that rest which he mentions come now in this life?  Did Jesus tell us that we could just kick back and take it easy once we have accepted His Father’s call, because He, the Father, and Abraham have done it all for us?  

No!  absolutely not!

29:  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest unto your souls.
30:  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

We all know what a yoke is.  It is a piece of equipment that harnesses oxen, donkeys or horses together in order to share the pulling of a load.

We are commanded to take on Jesus' yoke and burden.  Even though His yoke and burden are shared with Him and are relatively light and easy compared with those of Satan and the world, the implication to His brothers and sisters is to keep on working.

As we read through our next scriptures in the book of Hebrews, I want you to notice how the author is putting a partial accent on the importance of the past, present and future tenses of work and rest:

Hebrews 4:
1:  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us
{present} of entering into his rest {future}, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2:  For unto us was the gospel preached
{past}, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it {past}...

When he mentions "them" here, he is talking about the Israelites when they had just come through the Exodus from Egypt. 

Is God, through the author of the book of Hebrews, telling us that faith and the preached gospel, and the preached word, are all that is required?  Let’s continue and see:

3: For we which have believed {past} do enter into rest {present}, as he said, "As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest {future}": although the works were finished from the foundation of the world {past}.
4:  For he spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, "And God did rest
{past} the seventh day from all His works."
5:  And in this place again, "If they shall
{future} enter into my rest."
6:  Seeing therefore it remains
{present} that some must enter therein {future}, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief {past}:
7: Again, he limits a certain day, saying in David, "Today
{present}, after so long a time {past}; as it is said, 'Today {present} if you will hear his voice (i.e. the preached Word and Gospel), harden not your hearts.'"
8:  For if Jesus had given them rest
{past}, then would he not afterward have spoken {past} of another day {future}.
9:  There remains therefore a rest
{Sabbatismos – a future fulfillment of the Sabbath rest} to the people of God.
10:  For he that is entered into his rest
{past/present}, he also has ceased {past} from his own works, as God did from His {past} .

There are a couple of ways that we can look at verse 10 physically.  The person who has already ceased from his own works, could refer to a working person whose week's work is over and is taking physical rest on the Sabbath Day. 

It could also refer to someone whose working life is over – somebody who has retired from his day job and is enjoying the relative rest in the autumn of his physical life.  

Finally, it could refer to someone whose physical life is totally over and is unconsciously resting from the labours of this life in the "sleep" of death (Matthew 9:24; Mark 5:39; Luke 8:52; John 11:11-13). 

Whichever one of these was intended in verse 10, we repeatedly see that there are past, present and future conditions being compared.  Now, in the very next verse, we see a present and ongoing requirement for us and also, a future state of being as a result of what we do now:

11:  Let us labour therefore {the present ongoing requirement} to enter into that rest {the future state of being}, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

It is hugely important that we have true belief.  But that's not all!  There's more!  He is saying here that we have to labour now in order to be able to enter that rest later on! 

Again, am I preaching salvation by works?  No!  

Are we being told here that we are justified or saved by this labour, by these works, and not by grace through faith, as we know is true (Ephesians 2:8)?  No!  He is not saying that.  

Are we being told here that God does require works, that He does require labour of us – in the present – now – in order to be considered worthy to enter his future rest?  Yes!  Definitely!  We must labour now, in order to be able to rest then!

Back in that Sabbath Food sermon, we saw that our lifetime now in God’s Church – we can call it "our lifetime church work period" – can be pictured by the Day of Preparation which God gives us prior to every Sabbath Day. 

We must work now during what we can think of as the anti-type of the sixth day of the week – the Day of Preparation – so that we won’t have to work then on the anti-type of the seventh day.

I am not saying, of course, that we are going to be lazy in the World Tomorrow.  On the contrary, we are going to be very busy.  But we will be super-powerful spirit beings then and all of that busy-ness will not be like work to us.

Big question:  If we have to work and labour now, what should we do?  What else does God expect us to do?  What work does God command us to do?

There is lots for us all to do!  Your work might be different than my work.  We are all individual Christians and our work items and functions may be very different.  I'm sure that you are all familiar with the different "body part" scriptures.  I haven’t got time to go through them again today, nor to give a 100% complete list of the various things God wants us all to do; but let us look at a couple of different aspects.

In various scriptures, we read of people at different times asking Jesus, His prophets and His apostles, “What shall we do?” 

It would take at least a full sermon to go through all of their answers in detail.  But for now, let’s just go through a few of God’s major requirements and look at the very basics of what we need to be doing:

Luke 3:10: 
And the people asked him
{John the Baptist}, saying, "What shall we do then?"...

There it is: “What shall we do?”

11: He answered and said unto them, "He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise."
12:  Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, "Master, what shall we do?"
13:  And he said unto them, "Exact no more than that which is appointed you."
14:  And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?"  And he said unto them, "Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."

So these were some of the very basics.  In a nutshell, here in verse 11, John was telling his listeners generally to obey Jesus’ second greatest commandment:

Matthew 22:
35:  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting Him, and saying,
36:  "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"
37:  Jesus said unto him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.
38:  This is the first and great commandment.
39:  And the second is like unto it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself."

Part of loving our neighbour as ourselves includes the helping of the poor.  If we have more clothing or food than we need – as many of us do in today’s western world – we should give the excess to the needy.  Do we really need our closets to be bursting with clothes that we hardly ever wear?  I admit to having been been guilty of that.

To the publicans, in a nutshell, John was basically saying to them, “Thou shalt not steal.”  The publicans were self-employed tax collection agents.  They worked for the Roman government; and I believe that they also worked for the Herodian government.  Jesus' words imply that there was a fee scale that the Romans approved; but some of these publicans were guilty of adding their own fees or surcharges at whatever rate they felt like charging.  If they thought they could get away with it with some families (perhaps those who would not "blow the whistle on them" to the authorities), they would do that.

John was not trying to tell the governments how much tax to levy, of course; but he was rather warning their agents, the publicans – obviously the ones who happened to be God-fearing (the others would ignore him) not to add on these rapacious, excessive fees.  If we apply this to a modern day Christian business owner, he would be saying, "Be fair with your fee scale."

In a nutshell, to the soldiers – and there is an implication here that John wasn’t just talking to soldiers, but also to judges, lawyers and the "policemen" of that time – once again, right from the Ten Commandments, he was telling them Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet and also, as we see throughout the Old and New Testaments, not to be respecters of persons. 

I get a smile out of what John the Baptist said to the soldiers here.  Fancy asking a soldier not to do any violence!  A soldier's very job is violence!

But overall, in answer to the people’s common question “What shall we do?” John the Baptist told them that the basic requirements are to simply keep God’s Commandments.  

Where did John get these basic requirements that he gave to these people?  He got them from the Word of God.  He got them from Jesus.

Now the human Jesus came along a little while later and built on those basic requirements that He had given to John to pass on:

John 6:28a:  Then said they unto Him, "What shall we do?...

There is that question again: “What shall we do?”  

Who were "they"?  These were some of the people who had been present at the feeding of the five thousand earlier in this same chapter.

28b:  ... that we might work the works of God?

There is that "works" word again.  

29:  Jesus answered and said unto them, "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.

Remember what we read earlier in Hebrews 4?  That the main problem the ancient Israelites had was because they didn’t believe?  Proper belief is one of the very basics of the required works – that we all believe in and on Jesus, the One who was sent to earth by God the Father.  Again, that belief was lacking in the Israelites; and we must learn by their mistakes.

We all know, of course, that that belief carries with it a built-in requirement for many other things that God the Father and Jesus Christ want us to do.  We can’t just say that we believe in them; but do nothing.  No.  They want more of us than that.

The apostles were inspired to teach more basic requirements:

Acts 2:
37a:  Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren..."

These "men and brethren" were physical Israelites and proselytes.  There is a possibility that they were all from the tribe of Judah; but not necessarily.  They had all just witnessed an astonishing miracle – the speaking in tongues miracle – from the apostles.  They had just listened intently to Peter’s inspired explanation of what happened there.  Some of them initially thought that the apostles were drunk; but once Peter had explained it all to them, it appears that God the Father went into action (John 6:44) and caused three thousand of them to be cut to the heart, convicted and convinced.  Then came their life changing question:

37b:  ... What shall we do?

Peter's inspired answer comes in verse 38:

38a:  Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins... "

More basic conditions, and more things to do.  Then God the Father and Jesus Christ promise to respond with this:

38b: ... And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Haven’t most of us come to this same crossroads in our lives – some of us many years ago now?  Haven’t we asked this very same question, "What must we do?"  And once it was explained to us and once we were "drawn" by God the Father, didn't we come to this same level of conviction?  Haven’t we striven to obey these basic commands?  Haven’t we complied to the best of our ability, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, with these initial conditions – that same belief in Jesus Christ, that same initial repentance, that same obedience to all of God’s Commandments, that same water baptism? 

But (you might be asking), What on earth has all of this got to do with the Abrahamic Covenant?  Does it have anything to do with the Abrahamic Covenant, or has Plunkett strayed off his topic today? 

No!  Please bear with me because this initial pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit, plus Peter’s inspired response to the Jews' question "What shall we do?" has everything to do with the Abrahamic Covenant.  In the next verse, we see how Peter continues his address by referencing the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant:

39a:  For the promise is unto you, and to your children...

What promise was he talking about?  When Peter first mentioned "the promise" here, it very likely that his Israelite listeners would naturally and logically think that he was referring only to the physical promises of the "Race" part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  When they heard the words "unto you, and to your children," they would likely have mentally applied his words exclusively to themselves and to their fellow Israelite brothers and sisters, both near and far away. 

But in his very next words, Peter, under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, said something which, to all of those Israelites present, must have sounded totally revolutionary:

39b: ... and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Those were history-making words.  To any Israelite who heard them, they were astounding words that came out of Peter’s mouth.  Later events indicate that there is even a possibility that Peter himself may not have been able to totally understand these words that God was inspiring him to say.  But with those words, God caused Peter to do two very important and hugely significant things:

First of all, He expanded His Abrahamic Covenant promises for the brand-new benefit of "all that are afar off."  This includes the billions of people who are not Jews, billions of people who are not Israelites, billions of people who are not even of Abraham’s lineage. 

Secondly, with the words, "even as many as the Lord our God shall call," God (through Peter) introduced to these Jews and Israelites the spiritual "Grace" part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  For many of them it would have been for the very first time in their understanding, although it certainly was not a brand new concept, as we have seen in previous parts of this study.

The "Grace" part of the Abrahamic Covenant that was now opened up to them was not at all dependent on race.  It was not at all dependent on its recipients being physical descendants of Abraham.   It was and is totally dependent on grace; totally dependent on a person being called and chosen by God the Father.

Peter then continues by following up on these initial basic instructions: repent and be baptized – the very basics at the beginning of one's calling – with some additional requirements:

40:  And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, "Save yourselves from this untoward generation."

He said "many other words."  This was only a six-word summary of all he he said.

The bottom line is this:  No matter whether or not we are physical descendants of Abraham, although God’s calling and choosing are hugely important parts of His side of the Abrahamic Covenant equation, our initial belief in Jesus, our initial repentance and baptism which are parts of our side of the Abrahamic Covenant equation are among the very basic requirements for us in order for us to be included as recipients and beneficiaries of the spiritual "Grace" part of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

But important though they are, they are still only the basics.  We must go on from them, building on their initial foundation:

Hebrews 6:1:  Therefore leaving the {NKJV: elementary} principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection {NKJV: spiritual maturity}; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

As weak human beings, all of us frequently slip, fall and we sin; and we know that those sins are covered by Jesus’ blood sacrifice.  But that covering is part of God’s side of the Abrahamic Covenant equation – God’s part of the "Grace" part of the Abrahamic Covenant equation. 

On our human side of the equation, our first initial repentance (way back 40 or more years ago for some of us here today) is insufficient!  It's not enough!  We must have regular confession of our sins – to God, of course; not to a priest – and ongoing repentance on a daily basis.  These are absolute musts for all of us.

What else?  We have been through the basics. What else must we be doing?  Again, is it acceptable for us to merely warm seats at Sabbath services each week?  Or is there more for us to do in order to fulfill our human responsibilities on our side of the Abrahamic Covenant?  What does God say?  

That is where we'll pick it up next time, in Part 6.