The Abrahamic Covenant
Part 8

Tying up some Loose Ends

John Plunkett
May 25, 2016

Before we move on in this series, I felt that we need to tie up some of the loose ends of this very important subject on the Abrahamic Covenant.  In order to do so, in the sermon today, I need to touch on some scriptures and concepts that we have already been through. 

So let’s go back to Romans 11, which we went through in some detail last time, and let’s re-read verses 18 to 22, where the apostle Paul is writing to the physical gentile church members:

Romans 11:
18:  Do not boast against the
{physical Israelite} branches.  But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root {Jesus Christ – who humanly was a physical Israelite} supports you.
19:  You will say then, “
{Physical Israelite} Branches were broken off that I {and other gentile branches/brethren} might be grafted in.”
20:  Well said.  Because of unbelief they were
{temporarily} broken off, and you stand by faith.  Do not be haughty, but fear.
21:  For if God did not spare the natural
{physical Israelite} branches, He may not spare you either.
22:  Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those
{physical Israelites} who {partially and temporarily} fell, severity; but toward you {physical gentile brethren}, goodness, if you continue in His goodness.  Otherwise you also will be cut off.

How does this relate to today’s converted church members?

Some of us are physical Israelites.  Some of us are physical gentiles.  Possibly – even probably – many or most of us are a Heinz 57 mixture of both. 

But it really doesn’t matter.  Because, physically, God is no respecter of persons.  And by the way, there are many scriptures which reveal that neither should we be!

God is giving a stern warning here.  Yes, specifically to the physical gentile converts.  But let us apply His warning to ourselves too, many of us who might turn out to have a variety of nationalities flowing in our blood.  Once again, through the apostle Paul, God is warning – not only the first century gentile brethren – but us too (indirectly) – whether we are Israelite, gentile or whatever. 

In the same way as God was warning these gentile brethren not to be “haughty” – perhaps because so many of them at that time were being called into God’s Church, and not many Israelites were – let us not boast or be haughty, thinking that we are somehow inherently superior to our unconverted friends and neighbours in “the world” (i.e. spiritual gentiles) just because we have been blessed to have been called now. 

Yes, we have been called now!  To have been called now is to have been blessed to become part of God’s firstfruits.  We are “subsequent firstfruits” after Jesus who is the First of the firstfruits (I Corinthians 15:20-23) and this certainly is a very great honour and blessing which has been given to us; but not because we are the physical children of Abraham.  As we have just seen, many true Christians may not be physical children of Abraham.  (We have lots of friends and brethren in Zambia who are definitely physical gentiles; but who are, just as definitely, God’s people).  Nor have we been so blessed because of any inherent human righteousness either.  God tells us through Isaiah that our human righteousness is nothing better than filthy rags.  Rather, He has called us, individually, into His church now through His goodness, through His mercy, and through His grace.  

Yes, the grace of God, which is Part Two of the Abrahamic Covenant promises and the totality of the New Covenant promises.  I keep coming back to this fact because we need to get it solidly into our minds whenever we read the "covenant" scriptures in the New Testament.

Again, Jesus Christ was and is the First of the firstfruits, and we are the subsequent firstfruits.  Many – if not most – of our non-church friends, neighbours – and enemies too! – will one day become what we might refer to as “second-fruits.”  Their time to be called, chosen, and converted is coming.  We usually think about this on the Last Great Day.  They are our future spiritual brothers and sisters.  As such, let us treat them with proper love and respect. 

I want to go back now to the Race Part of the Abrahamic Covenant and ask the question: Are the Race blessings waning?   And if so, what is our attitude to that waning?  As we continue in this sermon series on the Abrahamic Covenant, let us realize how it applies to us – to God’s end-time peoples.

If we take an honest look at the world around us, there seems to be many indications that many of the wonderful blessings that God has poured out so richly on physical Israel are winding down.  Maybe they have been winding down for some time.
Perhaps, if our Israelitish peoples were more in line with the One who so obviously poured out these physical blessings on us, and if they were to recognize where they came from, maybe He would continue pouring out those blessings.

But what do we see when we watch the TV news every evening?  Or what do we read when we pick up a newspaper?  Are things getting better?  Or are things getting worse?  And from a Christian’s point-of-view, are our Israelitish peoples coming closer to God the Father and Jesus Christ?  Or, are they moving further away from them? 

In addition to His scriptural warnings, our merciful God has given our nations some “real-time” warnings.  Some of them, such as the 9/11 attacks, have been quite severe.  But did our Israelitish peoples heed those warnings?  Did they begin en-masse to recognize the One who has been blessing our Abrahamite nations for all these years and to worship Him?  Did they change their ways? 

If you read the history of what happened after the 9/11 attacks, we saw the usual temporary, insincere increase in lip-service recognition of God.  But in real terms, over the long-time, what have we seen in the fourteen years that have gone by since 9/11.  What we have seen is:

·        An increase in gross immorality as well as an increasing acceptance of it, both by our governments and our peoples. 

·        The selfish sacrifice of our children (in various ways that I don’t want to get into the detail of today, with young ears present; but you know what I am talking about). 

And what do we continue to see? 

·        An increase of wars and rumours of wars. If we look at the Middle East and Africa, there have always been problems; but it has blown up so terribly in recent years. 

·        The worsening drought conditions in the bread-basket of America – the worst, some experts say, since the dust-bowl days of the 1930s. 

·        An increase in disease along with a decrease in the ability of our medicines and medical experts to cure them. 

·        The wholesale selling-out of our modern Israelite nations – and jobs – to gentile countries – to historical enemies – all sacrificed on the altar of greed. 

·        Our nations’ increasingly amazing technological weaponry; but the evident lack of will to use them for the good of the weak. 

If this last point is not the breaking of the pride of our nations’ power (Leviticus 26:19), I don’t know what is! 

Oh yes, we’ll go into Iraq with guns blazing if we fear the loss of the oil that we need to bolster our hedonistic lifestyles; but to go into a place like Zimbabwe to rescue their poor people from that madman, Robert Mugabe, or to go into Nigeria and rescue those poor kidnapped girls from those Boca Haram crazies, our leaders parrot statements like: “Oh no, we can’t get involved in a problem in another sovereign state. Those kinds of things must be resolved by their own forces.”  This is nothing better than hypocrisy – one of the sins that our Lord Jesus hates the most.

Although we try not to concentrate on these things in our services or our messages, and although we choose not to go into their fine, sickening detail, the question is still valid: Has all of this brought us closer to the end of this age?

Of course, we are closer than we were in the church’s former decades and centuries; but for those of us who are familiar with God’s Word, why should we be surprised? A lot of water has gone under the bridge since we first heard these end-time prophecies; so, of course, we are closer to the end-times and to the return of Jesus Christ.

He and His Father are in charge of the timing, of course.  We all know that.  But again, what have we seen?  What do we continue to see? 

As all of these things come to pass, we must look at them in the greater context of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.  Look what was prophesied:

Leviticus 26:
14:  But if you will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15:  And if you shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that you will not do all my commandments, but that you break my Covenant:
16:  I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17:  And I will set my face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and you shall flee when none pursues you.
18:  And if you will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
19:  And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:

There are more warnings from God in both the Old and New Testaments.  All this being the case, what should we be doing about it – we, as the New Testament Israel of God – the present-day recipients of the Grace part of His Covenant promises to our forefather Abraham?

Let us read once again the peoples’ words on that first New Testament day of Pentecost:

Acts 2:37:
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”…

There’s that question again – What shall we do?  Peter had given them a warning; and they were open to correction. 

What about us?  Are we cut to the heart when we watch the news every night and when we see how the pride of Israel’s power is being broken and when we witness the continued rebellion of our Israelitish peoples? 

Peter’s answer to the peoples’ question here on that Feast of Pentecost is exactly the same one that would bring about real lasting solutions today: 

38: Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” 

Yes, sincere repentance is the answer – hand-in-hand with something else: sincere confession:

I John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is just a little verse, but it contains a big part of the answer.  One day in the future – and God speed that day – this widespread repentance and confession will take place:

Romans 14:11:
For it is written, “As I live, says the LORD, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”

But we must not just think that these warnings only apply to the unconverted.  We in God’s church must beware of harbouring an “I’m okay; you’re okay” attitude; slapping each other on the back and congratulating one another for “having had the common sense” to adopt God’s way of life. 

No!  We didn’t do it!  We can’t take any of the credit.  God did it!  He did the calling!  We didn’t elect Him.  In His infinite mercy, it was He who elected us.  It was He who drew us, called us, chose us, converted us, and set us apart.  He did it!

We who have been so richly blessed to have been called into God’s church already – we who have received so much of the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant blessings – we must apply these warnings to ourselves.  If some of those “caps” of sin fit us, then we must wear them; but we must not leave them on our heads; we must act to remove them.

True confession and repentance is not just a one-time event that comes with our initial calling and are over-and-done-with once we’re baptized.  Can we forget “all this repentance and confession stuff” once we are baptized?  No! Our confession and repentance must be ongoing!  We must continue to be in repentant attitudes.  Neither should our self-examination, and self-correction, merely begin and end with the Passover season each year. These things constitute a major part of the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

In the next section, as we continue our study of these Abrahamic Covenant scriptures, it is necessary for us to repeat the reading of some of the scriptures and concepts that we’ve already touched on before, specifically regarding the fact that the Abrahamic Covenant is superior to the Sinai Covenant.  So with that in mind, here’s another question for us to consider:

Is one covenant with God necessarily inferior to another merely because it is older?  We might think this to be the case when we read parts of the 8th and 9th chapters of the book of Hebrews.  Let’s do that right now, as this is a concept that we need hammer home and to solidify in our minds exactly what the various covenants are:

Hebrews 8:
6:  But now has He
{Jesus – our High Priest and Chief Minister} obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7: For if that first covenant
{the Sinai Covenant} had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second {the New Covenant}.
8a: For finding fault with them…

Finding fault with what?  The Sinai Covenant and its associated promises – both which were initiated by our perfect God?  No!  He doesn’t make anything faulty. No.  The fault lay squarely on the shoulders of the imperfect human parties to the Sinai Covenant – the Israelites – who agreed to abide by the terms of that covenant; but did not abide by them.

8b: … He says {quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34}, “Behold, the days come,” says the LORD, “when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
9: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,” says the LORD…

The Exodus from Egypt time-stamp proves that this is obviously referring to the Sinai Covenant – not the Abrahamic one.

10:  “For this is the {New} Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the LORD; “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
11:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD’: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.
12:  For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
13:  In that He says, “a New Covenant,” He has made the first old.  Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away. 

Was this “Old Covenant” inferior to the new one, then?  Yes, it was.  The Hebrews author implies just such an inferiority right here.  Also, back in verse 6, he plainly states that the New Covenant is a “better Covenant” and that it is “established upon better promises.”

But we have to be careful about this! I watched a program on the television last night which tried to make out that the apostle Paul took all the laws of the Old Testament and threw them out. Although a full discussion of this would take at least one other sermon, I believe we all know that that is not true.
The Greek word in verse 6 for “established” is “nomotheteo” (Strong’s 3549) and refers to the receiving or enacting of laws!  Please don’t let anyone convince you that the New Covenant does away with all of God’s laws, or that there are no laws for us to obey under the New Covenant!  The New Covenant is based on the law of God!

Again in verse 6, the Greek word for “promises” is “epanggelia” (Strong’s 1860), which can refer to messages or announcements – especially regarding promises and promised blessings – those of the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Just to drive home the fact that the New Covenant was being favourably compared here with the Sinai Covenant and not the Abrahamic Covenant, let’s re-read the first two verses of chapter 9:

Hebrews 9:
1:  Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
2:  For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.

All of these things were parts of the Sinai Covenant with its Tabernacle and Temple; not part of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

So once again, it is obvious that both Jeremiah and the author of the book of Hebrews were favourably comparing the New Covenant with the Sinai Covenant and that that “old” (Sinai) Covenant was rated as inferior to the New Covenant. 

But why?  Why was the Sinai Covenant inferior?  Just because it is older?  No!  Rather, as we read earlier in chapter 8, because of the faults of its imperfect, human signatories.  Faults which the terms of the Sinai Covenant were unable to rectify.  And God never meant the terms of the Sinai Covenant to rectify those faults.

But the terms of the New Covenant can rectify those human faults and the results of those human faults.  And the terms of the New Covenant do rectify those human faults.

So then, is the Abrahamic Covenant inferior to the Sinai Covenant because it is older still?  The Abrahamic Covenant is hundreds of years older than the Sinai
Covenant.  So, is it inferior?

No!  Why not?  Because, whereas God has allowed the Sinai Covenant to decay to wax old and to vanish away (Hebrews 8:13), the Abrahamic Covenant, even though it is older, is still in force and in effect today.  It has not been terminated because it has not yet been totally fully fulfilled. 

All that has really happened with the Abrahamic Covenant is that God has taken the Grace part of it and renamed it as “the New Covenant.”  They are exactly the same thing.

Let me just back up here and give you a summary of the three covenants.  We know that there are other covenants; but let’s call these three that we are discussing in this series: 1, 2 and 3:

1.     The Abrahamic Covenant has two parts: the Race Part and the Grace Part.  The Race Part promised fabulous physical blessings to Abraham and his descendants.  Abraham has not even seen them yet; but he will get to see them in the resurrection.  The Grace Part is one and the same as the New Covenant and it promised Jesus Christ, forgiveness of sin through His death, and salvation through His life.

2.     The Sinai Covenant was temporary and ran from its inception on Mount Sinai until the death of Jesus in 30 or 31AD; and perhaps was extended until the destruction of the temple in 70AD.

3.     The New Covenant is the same as the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Now let us get into the relationship between the three covenants.  We need to hammer home the relationship between the three covenants and what the priority is.

The Sinai Covenant is inferior to the Abrahamic Covenant, even though both of them were instituted by the same perfect God.

Is the Sinai Covenant really important to us today?  Although it is good to know all about it and its symbolism, it is virtually finished.

Let us go to the first chapter of Luke’s gospel account, where we read some of the words of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist:

Luke 1:
67:  And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,

Please remember that John the Baptist’s father was an Aaronic priest.  This is what he said:

68:  “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel; for He has visited and redeemed His people,
69:  And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David;
70:  As He spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
71:  That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
72:  To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant

Which covenant was this Aaronic priest talking about?  We might, by the fact that he was an Aaronic priest, be led to believe or expect it to have been the Sinai Covenant, along with all of its priestly instructions.

But look at all of Zacharias’ mentions of the Grace promises in these verses.  He talks about the redemption of God’s people; he talks about salvation and being saved; and he talks about one of the promises.  And look how he continues:

73:  The oath which he swore to our father Abraham {now we know which covenant it is!},
74:  That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear,
75:  In holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.

Yes.  This is the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant!

For our next New Testament “covenant” scriptures, we return again to Peter’s Pentecost oration.  Please remember that his audience here was a predominantly Israelite one:

Acts 3:
25a:  You are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers

Again, which “fathers” and which “covenant” is he talking about? 

25b:  saying unto Abraham, “and in your seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
26:  Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

There we see, once again, the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  Yes, it was first offered to the Israelites.  But we know that God, for His own purposes and for their ultimate benefit, dumbed them down and blinded them from grasping it.  But still, it had to be offered to them first.

We find our next New Testament “covenant” scripture in Stephen’s address to those who, just minutes later, would become his murderers:

Acts 7:
2:  And he said, “Men, brethren and fathers, hearken; the God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran.
3:  And said unto him, ‘Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and come into the land which I shall show you.’
4:  Then came he out of the land of the Chaldaeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein you now dwell.
5:  And He gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child…
7: ‘And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge,’ said God: ‘And after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place.’
8:  And He gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs.”

Once again, this was undoubtedly referring to the Abrahamic Covenant!

The next “covenant” scripture is an interesting one in the ninth chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans as he leads up to his chapter 11 discourse on the grafting of the Gentiles into the New Testament Israel of God and into the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It is markedly interesting because he mentions multiple covenants – including the Sinai one and the Abrahamic one:

Romans 9:
3:  For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh…

Wow! Paul loved his Israelite brothers and sisters so much that he would have been willing to give up his own salvation if it would have meant that they could have salvation!   We can be sure that he meant what he wrote here. 

4:  Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption {the sonship under God the Father}, the glory, the covenants {N.B. plural}, the giving of the law, the service of God {both of these from the Sinai Covenant} and the promises…

Yes, these promises were somewhat from the Sinai Covenant; but more so from the Abrahamic Covenant.  Now, let’s look at how Paul puts the main accent on the Abrahamic Covenant:

5:  Of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God {i.e. the “singular Seed” of the Abrahamic Covenant}.  Amen.
6:  But it is not that the Word of God has taken no effect.  For they are not all Israel who are of Israel…

What an amazing statement!  And one that can only be understood after a study of the “grafting” scriptures in Romans 11 that we went through last time.

7:  Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."
8:  That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.
9:  For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.”

Again, the main accent is on the Abrahamic Covenant – and especially on its Grace Part, which, more and more, appears to be the priority.

The next “covenant” mention is in Romans 11, which we went into in a lot of fine detail last time; so we don’t need to go through the whole chapter again; but let’s just touch on it briefly:

Romans 11: 
26:  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, “There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
27:  For this is my covenant unto them
{all Israel – including the physical gentile brethren}, when I shall take away their sins. 

This, of course, is a section of the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant.  When Paul writes, “as it is written” here, the first part of his quote comes from: 

Isaiah 59:20:
“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob,” says the LORD…

Here we see another mention of the confession and repentance that are associated with and inseparable from the covenant!   Still in Isaiah 59:

21a: “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD…

Which covenant is Isaiah talking about here?  Here’s a clue:

21b: …“My Spirit that is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed,” says the LORD, “from henceforth and forever.”

Now, when we see mention of the “seed” and the “seed’s seed,” we start thinking of the firstfruits and the First of the firstfruits. 

Doesn’t this read somewhat similar to Jeremiah’s New Covenant prophecies?

Looking back at Romans 11:27, what about Paul’s quotation where he wrote, “When I shall take away their sins”?  Where did that come from?  It’s not in Isaiah 59 as is the first part of his quote.  Some scholars opine that it might have been quoted from Isaiah 27:9.  A section of Isaiah 27, just like Romans 11, compares Israel with a fruit-bearing vine or tree with some of its branches broken off:

Isaiah 27:
2:  In that day sing you unto her, “A vineyard of red wine.”
3:  I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.
4:  Fury is not in me: who would set the briers and thorns against me in battle?  I would go through them, I would burn them together”…
6:  He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit…
8:  In measure, when it shoots forth, you will debate with it.  He stays His rough wind in the day of the east wind.
9:  By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged; and this is all the fruit to take away his sin; when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are beaten in sunder, the groves and images shall not stand up.
10:  Yet the defenced city shall be desolate, and the habitation forsaken, and left like a wilderness: there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof.
11:  When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore He that made them will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show them no favour.

This all looks to the future, when the iniquity of Jacob will be purged and its sin will be taken away.  That is all part of the Grace Part of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.

Some other scholars think that Paul’s reference to the taking away of Israel’s sins might have been loosely quoted from Jeremiah’s New Covenant scriptures:

Jeremiah 31:34:
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD’: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,” says the LORD: “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Yes.  This is solidly part of the New Covenant.  Let’s go briefly back to Romans 11: 

Romans 11:
28:  As concerning the gospel, they
{physical Israel} are enemies for your {physical gentile Christians’} sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
29:  For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance…

We must be careful with this last statement.  It does not mean that we don’t need to repent once we are under the terms of the New Covenant.  We certainly do!  What it does mean is that God will not repent, or change His mind, about giving His gifts and callings.  He has firmly promised those things; and He will not renege on those promises.

30: For as you {gentile Christians} in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their {the physical Israelites’} unbelief:
31: Even so have these
{the physical Israelites} also now not believed, that through your {gentile Christians’} mercy they {the physical Israelites} also may obtain mercy.
32: For God has concluded them all
{all the physical Israelites} in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all.

That is the incredible truth that we were getting into last time – that when God (through Paul) says “Mercy upon all, He means exactly what He says. He is talking about all of the physical Israelites and all of the physical gentiles. 

Through God’s mercy, He promises to give everyone the same opportunity for repentance, for forgiveness, for calling and for salvation.  Everybody will have their chance.

This promise of forgiveness of sin and mercy for all through Jesus’ sacrifice and grace was first given by the LORD to Abraham.  He gave it to him in a very short, undetailed form in the grace part of the Abrahamic Covenant:

Genesis 22:18: 
In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice."

We are so familiar with some of these scriptures that we sometimes read right over them.

All of that blessing upon all the nations of the earth was not previously possible.  It certainly didn’t happen in what we call “the Old Testament times.”  But because of Abraham’s belief and obedience, God offers His Grace promises to everyone – including the non-Abrahamites!

This, of course, ties right into the New Covenant prophecies in the book of Jeremiah, which the apostle Paul goes into it in more detail in Galatians 3. 

We’ll come back and pick up the story there next time.