God’s Everlasting Covenant

KEY VERSE: “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” —Genesis 17:7


THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER Ishmael was born, God spoke to Abraham again. At that time, God gave Abraham some further, and more detailed, information about his covenant. First of all, he changed Abram’s name to Abraham. Abram means ‘high father’, and Abraham means ‘father of a multitude’. Abraham was to become the father of many nations, and kings would come from his line. God also said that the whole land of Canaan would be given to Abraham and his descendants, and that Jehovah would be their God.—Gen. 17:5,7,8; Gen. 16:10

As an outward indication of accepting this covenant, God asked Abraham to undergo circumcision, and to have all the males of his house circumcised. He said, “It shall be the sign of the covenant between me and you.” (Gen. 17:11, New International Version) This ceremony of circumcision was to have another important symbolic meaning. The significance would be that the spiritual seed, which was later to be developed, would be cut off or separated from the flesh—its aims and desires.

The most important information God conveyed, however, was that he would bless Sarah and make it possible for Abraham to have a son by her. She would become the mother of nations and also of kings! To Abraham, this seemed hard to believe. He said to himself, “Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” (Gen. 17:15-18, NIV) But God reiterated plainly, “Your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”—vs. 19, NIV

The Apostle Paul used Abraham and his wives as an allegory to explain the various covenants of God. In that picture, Abraham represented the Lord; Hagar signified the Law Covenant; and Sarah represented the Everlasting Covenant of promise.

Ishmael pictured natural Israel, brought forth through the Law Covenant. The development of the nation of Israel bore remarkable similarities to his offspring. Twelve princes were born to Ishmael. So also Israel was composed of twelve tribes. Circumcision distinguished Israel from other nations as being under the Law Covenant; Ishmael was also circumcised.

Natural Israel missed the opportunity to receive the principal blessing under the Abrahamic promise. Likewise Ishmael did not inherit Abraham’s estate, because “Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.” (Gen. 25:5) This was confirmed by the Apostle Paul: “Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it.”—Rom. 11:7

Isaac beautifully depicted the promised seed, to be bought forth through the Everlasting Covenant—the Abrahamic, or. Sarah, Covenant. Since Hagar was a bondservant, she illustrated a covenant which could only bring forth children to be slaves; they were in bondage to Israel’s Law which could not bring them life. Sarah, being a free woman, could bring forth children who would be free. Those born of the Everlasting Covenant are made free from the bondage of sin and death that now enslaves mankind, and are called to have everlasting life.—Gal. 4:22-27; John 6:58

We can see that what God had in mind to picture by having a son born through Sarah, was a spiritual seed having its fulfillment in Christ and his footstep followers. See Galatians 4:28,29. Paul emphasizes our relationship to Christ in Galatians 3:29 where he says: “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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