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The Old Covenant Was Not Abraham’s Covenant

Many Christians believe that God still owes the land of Canaan or modern Israel to the Israelis. Most cite Abraham’s Covenant with God as proof that the Modern Israelis are entitled to own the land today.

Abraham’s Covenant:

The three promises God made to Abraham included eternal habitation of the promised Land and is found in Genesis:

Genesis 17:4-8: 4 And I, behold! my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of a multitude of nations. 5 And thy name shall no more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraam, for I have made thee a father of many nations. 6 And I will increase thee very exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between thee and thy seed after thee, to their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be thy God, and [the God] of thy seed after thee. 8 And I will give to thee and to thy seed after thee the land wherein thou sojournest, even all the land of Chanaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them a God.

Here we see that God made these three promises to Abraham:

1. The  Promise of the Land

2. The Promise of a Great Nation (It should be noted here that the word for “gentiles” and “nation” in the Old and New Testament is ἔθνος (ethnos) which typically means a group of people with similar ethnicity or culture, rather than race.)

3. The Promise that through Abraham (sometimes called the seed promise) all of the ethnos of the Earth will be blessed.

Zionist Christians believe that the promise of land remains to be fulfilled by incorrectly combining the Old Covenant that God made with the Israelites with Abraham’s Covenant. However, the New Testament tells us that the Old Covenant worked in shadows and types that pointed to Christ:

The Holy Spirit signifying this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet revealed while the first tabernacle was still standing, which [was] symbolic for the present time, according to which both gifts and sacrifices are being offered, which are not able, in respect to conscience, to make perfect the [one] performing the service (Hebrews 9:8-9)

Therefore, let no one judge you in matters of eating or drinking, or regarding a feast day, a new moon, or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of things to come, but the body belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)

The Tabernacle, the Sabbath, and the Land of Canaan were all types of Heaven. According to the New Testament the types and shadows ended in Christ who is the fullness of what they pointed to. Furthermore, the Old Covenant was not Abraham’s Covenant, but a carnal Covenant that God offered the Israelites when He brought them out of Egypt. However, God knew that the Israelites would later break this Covenant:

Deuteronomy 31: 16 And the Lord said to Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, and this people will arise and go a whoring after the strange gods of the land, into which they are entering: and they will forsake me, and break my covenant, which I made with them. 17 And I will be very angry with them in that day, and I will leave them and turn my face away from them, and they shall be devoured; and many evils and afflictions shall come upon them; and they shall say in that day, Because the Lord my God is not with me, these evils have come upon me. 18 And I will surely turn away my face from them in that day, because of all their evil doings which they have done, because they turned aside after strange gods. and a song to testify against the people 19 And now write the words of this song, and teach it to the children of Israel, and ye shall put it into their mouth, that this song may witness for me among the children of Israel to their face. 20 For I will bring them into the good land, which I sware to their fathers, to give to them a land flowing with milk and honey: and they shall eat and be filled and satisfy [themselves]; then will they turn aside after other gods, and serve them, and they will provoke me, and break my covenant.

Even so, the Israelites received the type (the Land of Canaan) long ago as God had promised:

Joshua 14: 1 And these [are] they of the children of Israel that received their inheritance in the land of Chanaan, to whom Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the [son]of Naue, and the heads of the families of the tribes of the children of Israel, gave inheritance. 2 They inherited according to their lots, as the Lord commanded by the hand of Joshua to the nine tribes and the half tribe, on the other side of Jordan. 3 But to the Levites he gave no inheritance among them. 4 For the sons of Joseph were two tribes, Manasse and Ephraim; and there was none inheritance in the land given to the Levites, only cities to dwell in, and their suburbs separated for the cattle, and their cattle. 5 As the Lord commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel; and they divided the land.

Joshua 21: 43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land which he sware to give to their fathers: and they inherited it,and dwelt in it. 44 And the Lord gave them rest round about, as he sware to their fathers: not one of all their enemies maintained his ground against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands. 45 There failed not one of the good things which the Lord spoke to the children of Israel; all came to pass.

Notice that they received their inheritance. The Israelites later breaking the Covenant that God had made with them (see Leviticus 26: 14-34, Judges 8:33, Isaiah 50:1, Jeremiah 3:8),  lost the Land God had given them forever.  In Jeremiah, as the Israelites were going into exile, we see God speak of the New Covenant. This Covenant was not going to be like the Old:

Jeremiah 31:31-34: 31 Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. 32 Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they abode not in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. 33 For this is My covenant which I will make with the house of Israel: after those days, says the Lord, I will surely put My laws into their mind, and write them on their hearts. And I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people. 34 And no more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord. For all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more.

The word new literally means fresh or regenerate meaning this “New Covenant” did not have to be brand new specifically, but a fresh version or regenerate of another Covenant (see Strong’s G2537 καινός kainos and G3501 νέος neos).  This is why some Scholars, such as N.T. Wright, call the New Covenant a Renewed Covenant. This New Covenant definitely was not the Old as verse 32 makes it clear that this Covenant was “not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day when I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.”

Instead this is the Covenant made to Abraham that would be made fresh in the Church, the true Israel, through Christ. Those who believed, both Jews and Greeks, became part of Israel. It was not a renewal of the Old as taught in some circles of dispensational theology. This would be the fulfillment and fullness of God’s plan for the salvation of man-kind based on His promises to Abraham. Instead of carnal like the Old, working in shadows and types, this one would be the final and real thing.

The Old Covenant was different and distinct from Abraham’s because it contained the Sinaitic codicil which was never meant to be eternal and did not involve the eternal inheritance promised to Abraham:

16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises spoken. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, does not annul the covenant previously confirmed to Christ by God, so that it make the promise of no effect. 18 For if the inheritance [comes] by the law, it is no longer of promise; but God has given it to Abraham by promise. 19 Why then the law? It was added on account of transgressions, until the Seed should come to whom it had been promised; and it was commanded through angels by the hand of a mediator. 20 Now the mediator is not for one person, but God is one. 21 Therefore, [is] the law against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given which was able to give life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. 22 But the Scripture has confined all under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, having been hemmed in for the faith which was to be revealed. 24 Therefore the law has become our custodian, [leading us] to Christ, so that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:16-26)

Additionally the Old could not give life, but instead brought about death:

Who also has made us efficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of [the] letter but of [the] Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit makes alive. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Therefore the Israelites were given a shadow of the true Land of Canaan, not to fool them but to lead them and all men to Christ, the true heir of the Original Covenant God gave to Abraham. The Old Covenant only showed man their sins and withheld man-kind for salvation through Christ. And this had been God’s plan since the fall of Adam.

The Sole Heir was Always Christ Alone

Abraham’s Covenant, was solely for one heir or seed, not seeds:

Then the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, I will give this land to your seed. And Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. (Genesis 12:7)

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises spoken. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)

Through this sole heir all three Covenant promises to Abraham were fulfilled. The promise of a seed, the promise of a Great Nation and the promise of an Eternal Land.  The original Covenant with Abraham remained to be fulfilled as promised and was through Christ. Even when the Israelites occupied the physical Land of Canaan, the Covenant with Abraham was awaiting fulfillment. In the New Covenant Paul makes it clear that God does not see racial divisions in the people of Christ today:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28)

Titus states that we should not worry with genealogies that are foolish and only cause fighting and divisions, such as the current chaos in Israel:

But avoid foolish disputes and genealogies, and strifes and legal fights; for they are unprofitable and futile. (Titus 3:9)

The Bible shows us that God does not owe anyone land anywhere on Earth. As Christians our minds are to be set on true Israel, the true Land of Canaan, as we make every effort to enter the rest of Heaven someday. The Covenant of Abraham never belonged to the Israelites but to Christ alone. This Covenant was eternal and for the benefit of all of man-kind. The bottom line is, God is not racist. He did away with the divisions and made one race for Christ. Any divisions caused today by wars and doctrinal dispute are created by man and those who can not hear God’s word for what it really says and can not see the accomplishment of the great work of God through Christ for the salvation of man-kind.

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