The Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants
The history of Israel started when God called one man, Abram (Abraham), out of his native land of Haran to go to the land of Canaan. This is estimated to have been in the year 1921 BC.
Now the LORD had said to Abram (Abraham): ‘Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you’.
Israelites are the direct physical descendants of Abraham through the line of Isaac and Jacob. God chose Israel to be a special people unto Himself, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). The Bible uses the word Israel to mean both the nation and the land. Scripture says again and again, hundreds of times, that God is the God of Israel, and the Holy One of Israel. In fact, the word Israel is mentioned over 2500 times in the Bible.
We all need to grasp the tremendous importance of Israel, of why and how God is using Israel to demonstrate His love, His justice and His Plan of Salvation, not only for all Israelites but also for all Gentiles.
God made a covenant promise with Abraham, known as the Abrahamic Covenant. This is a covenant of faith by which God is unconditionally bound to make Abraham and his descendants, the Israelites, a great and blessed nation, and also to bless (to save) all the families (all nations) of the earth through the Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ Himself.
God also made a covenant with Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai, 430 years after the Abrahamic Covenant. This is known as the Mosaic Covenant, which is a conditional covenant, promising blessings for obedience to God’s laws, but incurring curses and judgements for disobedience.
It is very important to understand both of these covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant, because they are at the heart of God’s Plan to judge and then reconcile all Israel and all nations of the earth to God through the finished work of His only begotten Son on the cross.
The Abrahamic Covenant
2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
These verses state the Abrahamic Covenant. God has put a tremendous importance on this covenant. He affirmed and re-affirmed it to Abraham, and then repeated this covenant to Abraham’s descendants Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 13:14-17, 15:1-21, 17:1-11, 22:15-19, 26:2-5, 28:13-17).
The Abrahamic Covenant contains three important parts:
The First Part, ‘I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing’
The Second Part, ‘I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you’
The Third Part, ‘And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’.
When God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation, Abraham was seventy-five years old and childless. For Abraham to become a great nation, he would have to have multitudes of descendants and land. God promised him both of these.
Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them”. And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be”.
On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates”.
As the Abrahamic Covenant was made circa 1921 BC, this means that almost 4000 years have passed since God promised Abraham that his descendants would be numerous and uncountable like the stars, and they will be a great and blessed nation living in the land with boundaries from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates. The important question facing us is, ‘Has God fulfilled His promise to Abraham yet?’ The answer is an absolute ‘no’. God has not yet fulfilled this promise.
To date, Israel has never been a great and blessed nation in numbers like the ‘stars of heaven’ occupying the full extent of the land promised to Abraham. Also, all the families of the earth have not yet been blessed, meaning saved. However, we can be sure that the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled by the Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ Himself.
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.
It is important to understand that the Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant of faith, which is in fact the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself.
6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
Please note that God preached the Gospel to Abraham. How? By saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” Of course, this is the covenant promise. The Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant of faith, whereby God has unconditionally bound Himself to fulfil every aspect of the Covenant through the Seed of Abraham, who is Jesus Christ. Also, please note this scripture says that those who have the faith to believe in the Abrahamic Covenant are blessed along with believing Abraham, and they are called sons of Abraham.
Only true believers, God’s Elect, like Abraham have the faith to fully believe in all parts of the Abrahamic Covenant. Their faith is accounted to them for righteousness, which is the righteousness of Christ. God has predestined from the foundation of the world, through the gift of God-given faith, that there will be only 144,000 Firstfruits who will believe in all aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant, before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. These 144,000 Firstfruits are both from the nation of Israel and the Gentile nations, and they are referred to in the Bible as the Spiritual Israel of God. Chapter 9, ‘The Truth of God´s Elect, the 144,000 Firstfruits’ gives full details of this profound but very important truth of the Bible.
Only true believers, the 144,000 Firstfruits, will rise in the First Resurrection in their saved, immortal and glorified bodies to join the returning Jesus Christ as His Bride. They will rule and reign with Him for a thousand years during Christ’s Millennial Kingdom and beyond.
Let us now consider how and when God will fulfil all parts of the Abrahamic Covenant.
The First Part of the Abrahamic covenant, ‘I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing’, will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ when He returns at His Second Coming to establish His Millennial Kingdom on this earth. During Christ’s Millennial Kingdom, Israel will be a great nation of blessing occupying the full extent of the Promised Land ‘from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates’.
We will now comment on the third part of the Abrahamic Covenant, before commenting on the second part.
The Third Part of the Abrahamic Covenant, ‘And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ is universal in scope and refers to both phases of the Kingdom of God, the Millennial Kingdom and the Eternal Kingdom of God of the New Heaven and the New Earth. Ultimately, Adam and Eve and all of their descendants, without a single exception, will be blessed (saved) and reconciled to God through the Seed of Abraham who is Jesus Christ.
Yes indeed, ´For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order´(1 Corinthians 15:22-23a). It is God’s determined purpose that ultimately, in God’s time and order which extends beyond this age, all of the humanity, past, present and future, whose numbers will be like the stars of heaven, will become the Spiritual Israel of God, and they all will be saved through the gift of God-given faith in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Second Part of the Abrahamic Covenant says, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you’. God blesses those who bless Abraham and He curses those who curse Abraham.
This second part of the Abrahamic Covenant is greatly misunderstood by most ´Christians´. Many Christian Zionists misapply this part of the Abrahamic Covenant and unwisely get involved in supporting the State of Israel against the Palestinians and others. They believe that they will receive the Abrahamic blessing if they get involved in supporting the State of Israel and Jews, politically and financially. Also, they believe that those who are against the State of Israel and Jews come under God’s curse. These ´Christian Zionists´ fail to understand that the Abrahamic blessings and curses have nothing whatsoever to do with whether one supports the State of Israel and Jews or not. Let us now fully understand what the Bible actually means when it says, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you’.
All people who die as unbelievers, past, present and future, from both the nation of Israel and the Gentile nations, remain under the Abrahamic Curse of unbelief. This is because, during their earthly life, they were not granted the gift of God-given faith to believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The whole world of so-called ‘Christianity’ has been deceived into believing in a false gospel, and therefore, it also remains under the Abrahamic Curse of unbelief. Also, being cursed means that all people who die as unbelievers will have to face God’s refining and corrective judgement in the Lake of Fire, when they rise in the Second Resurrection during the Great White Throne Judgement Age. However, being cursed does not mean being lost forever because God is the Saviour of all men and, ultimately, He will save all without a single exception. Apostle Paul understood the true meaning of the Abrahamic blessings and curses, which we fully explain in the next chapter, Chapter 7.
The Mosaic Covenant – The Covenant of the Law
The Mosaic Covenant is a covenant based on man keeping God’s laws, unlike the Abrahamic Covenant, which is a covenant based on God-given faith. The Mosaic Covenant was made following the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, around 1491 BC. This was 430 years after God made the Abrahamic Covenant. The most important commandments in the Mosaic Covenant are the Ten Commandments, given to Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai. However, there are hundreds of additional laws, rules and commandments in the Mosaic Covenant.
So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do”.
The children of Israel agreed to keep all of God’s commandments. However, they did not understand, or realise that it was impossible for them to keep the Law of God perfectly, and be righteous before God through the righteousness of the law, which is in fact self-righteousness. True sinless righteousness comes through faith in Christ. It is the righteousness which is given from God through His gift of faith (Philippians 3:9). It was not within God’s Plan at that time to grant Israelites the gift of faith to believe in God´s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as God did to His few Elect people like Abraham, Sarah, Moses and King David.
God pronounced both blessings and curses: blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience of the Mosaic Law.
3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, 4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit’…and so on.
14 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, 15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, 16 I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it’…and so on.
The list of curses given in this scripture continues with frightening details in Deuteronomy 28. The story of Israel from the Exodus to the present day is a story of Israel’s failure to keep the Mosaic Covenant, thereby incurring God’s judgement, wrath and punishment. God understood right from the start that the children of Israel would not and could not keep the Mosaic Covenant perfectly, as required by Him, because God had not given them a heart of faith to believe the Gospel, as He had given Abraham who was one of God’s Elect.
Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.
It is within God’s plan and purpose to punish His chosen people for their sins and rebellion, but never to reject them totally. He continues to work with them. The time will come in the future when God will save all Israel by giving them new hearts to believe the Gospel under the New Covenant, which is the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant through the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.
God’s Judgements on Israel for Disobedience
Let us now go on to see how God has been working with His chosen people Israel since the Exodus to this present day, and understand God’s plan for them.
After the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt around 1491 BC, and following forty years of wandering in the wilderness, only those who were under the age of twenty, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, were permitted to enter the Promised Land. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he had lost his temper and struck the rock. The rest of the Israelites could not enter the Promised Land because of rebellion and unbelief, and they all died in the wilderness.
God’s plan for his chosen people, since their entry into the Promised Land to this present day and beyond, is powerfully and wonderfully described and summarised in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 36, which we are now going to look at starting from verse 16.
16 Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own ways and deeds; to Me their way was like the uncleanness of a woman in her customary impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My fury on them for the blood they had shed on the land, and for their idols with which they had defiled it”.
After entering the Promised Land, the children of Israel continued to fail to keep the Mosaic Covenant, so God was angry with them and judged them severely. He allowed foreign armies to invade their land and remove most of the Israelites, and God scattered them among the Gentile nations.
So I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed throughout the countries; I judged them according to their ways and their deeds.
God says that He scattered the Israelites from their own land. The Greek word diaspora means ‘a scattering of seeds’ and this word is used to describe the scattering of the Israelites to other countries. Let us see the relevant dates of when this scattering historically took place.
Israel was divided into two kingdoms, a Northern Kingdom and a Southern Kingdom. In 721 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom, which was comprised of the ten tribes of Israel, and took them captive. All of the Israelites who were taken captive never returned to the land of Israel. However, a remnant of the ten tribes managed to escape captivity and joined the Southern Kingdom, which was comprised of two tribes of Israel, Judah and Benjamin, known as the Jews (2 Chronicles 30:6-11).
In 586 BC, 135 years after the fall of the Northern Kingdom to the Assyrians, the Babylonians conquered the Southern Kingdom comprised of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, plus the remnant of the other ten tribes of Israel who had escaped captivity by the Assyrians. The Babylonians, under King Nebuchadnezzar II, destroyed the first temple. The Babylonians took the Jews captive and removed them to Babylon. However, once again a remnant escaped and remained in the Southern Kingdom (Nehemiah 1:2).
In 538 BC, Babylon fell to Persia. By this time the Jews had been 48 years in captivity in Babylon. Cyrus, king of Persia, freed these Jews and gave them permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, many Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple, which was completed in 516 BC.
In 301 BC, the Greek general Ptolemy, who succeeded Alexander the Great, took Jerusalem from the Persians and ruled over Judea. Under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BC), the second Temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by raiding the temple and sacrificing swine on the altar.
In 63 BC, the Roman commander Pompey took Jerusalem from the Greeks and then Judea became a Roman protectorate.
The period circa 4 BC-27 AD saw the birth, the crucifixion and the resurrection of the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ. This is the most important and central event in God’s plan for the Israelites and for all nations, which will lead to the fulfilment of all parts of the Abrahamic Covenant.
In 66-70 AD, the Jews revolted against the Roman Empire which was under the Emperor Titus. This revolt was crushed in 70 AD when up to one million Jews died and the Romans destroyed the second temple in Jerusalem.
In 132-134 AD, the Jews revolted against the Roman Empire again, but this time it was under the Emperor Hadrian. The Romans also crushed this revolt, and approximately 580,000 Jews were killed. This revolt is known as Bar-Kokhba’s revolt after the name of the Jew who led it.
Most of the Jewish population who survived these two revolts were either sold into slavery or exiled to other countries.
20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name – when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord, and yet they have gone out of His land.’ 21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
It is amazing what God is saying in these verses. God is saying that the land of Israel is His land, and that any Israelite living outside of His land is profaning His holy name.
22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. 23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord,” says the Lord God, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.”
We know that God gave the land of Israel, through the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant of faith, to Abraham and his descendants through the line of Isaac and Jacob. As long as Jews live outside the Promised Land of this Covenant, from the river of Egypt to the River Euphrates, the name of the God of Israel is being profaned in the eyes of the nations. God says that He will sanctify and hallow His great name by making sure that the Jews, spread throughout the world, will return to their own Promised Land.
For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land.
Jews have endured much persecution for centuries whilst living in other countries, but they have always remained a separate and distinct people who could not be assimilated into other nations because of their traditions under the Mosaic Covenant. This is how God intended it to be.
Traditional Christianity, both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, has misunderstood Scripture when it believed for centuries that God had rejected His people Israel. It believed that the Church, comprised mainly of Gentile Christians, is the New Israel of God and that it has replaced the Jews. This belief is known as ‘Replacement Theology’ and it is still prevalent today.
It is this unbiblical belief, which fuelled anti-Semitism in Europe for centuries. Jews suffered much persecution during the Crusades (1099-1244) and the Inquisitions, including the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834). They suffered expulsion from many countries including England, France, Spain, Lithuania, Portugal and Germany. Jews were blamed for the Black Death plague (1347-1351), which decimated the population of Europe. They were charged with having provoked the plague through their unbelief in Christianity. The persecution of Jews during the Black Death resulted in an eastward migration of many Jews to Poland and Russia, where they remained until the twentieth century.
Anti-Semitism climaxed in the Holocaust of Hitler’s torture chambers, where more than six million Jews died during 1940-1945. The Holocaust led to the return of many Jews to Israel, and the country of Israel was re-established in 1948. The re-establishment of Israel has ‘woken-up’ many Christians to acknowledge the fact that God has not totally rejected the Jews, as believed by traditional Christianity for centuries. Some Christians have now become very strong Zionists, supporters of Israel.
In 1600, it was estimated that only 1% of Jews lived in the land of Israel, whilst the remaining 99% lived in other countries throughout the world. However, by 1991, the ‘Historical Atlas of the Jewish People’ estimated that 32% of Jews had returned to Israel. This still left 68% of them living outside Israel. The current estimate is that 50% of Jews now live in Israel, which means that God’s work of gathering Jews out of all countries back to Israel is not yet complete, and it will only be completed when their Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns.
Israel is now once again a nation in its own land. It is a tiny nation with only a few million people, yet it is the most powerful nation, militarily, in the Middle East. Israel is leading the world in many technological developments, such as in biotechnology and the internet. It is also a world leader in environmental research. Over a hundred Israeli companies are listed on NASDAQ. Israel’s importance and contribution to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance and medicine is greatly out of proportion to its small size and numbers. However, God’s plan to make Israel a great nation of blessing, to itself and to all the nations of the earth, as promised in the Abrahamic Covenant, has not even begun yet. It can only begin when their Messiah, Jesus Christ, returns to this earth as the King of the Jews to establish the Millennial Kingdom of God.
The fulfilment of the promised blessing to Israel
Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, will return to earth immediately after the battle of Armageddon, and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). This marks the beginning of the really Good News. Jesus Christ will return to bring complete fulfilment of the Abrahamic Covenant in all of its parts.
The first part of the Abrahamic Covenant, which is to bless the nation of Israel and make it a great nation, will be fulfilled during the wonderful prophesied Millennial Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
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.
How beautiful and how wonderful God’s reassuring words to Israel are. God’s promise of the New Covenant should bring tremendous rejoicing in the heart of every Jew. The New Covenant is the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant of faith. God will give a new heart and a new spirit to His people to believe in the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ.
Ezekiel 36:28-30, 35
28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations.
35 So they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden…
During the Millennial Kingdom, all of the Jews who survive the coming Great Tribulation and their descendants will live in the full extent of the land of Israel, as promised to Abraham. Israel will be blessed both spiritually and physically, and Israel will in turn bless all the nations of the earth. Chapter 11, The Millennial Age of the Kingdom of God gives details about this glorious age.