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God's Covenant of Salvation with Israel

By Donald P. Moss

This quick study is a sub-topic support for the foreshadows in Volume 5 - THE BOOK OF REVELATION - God's Agenda for the End Time.

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In ancient times, covenants were life commitments between two or more parties. Covenant participants would rather die than break a covenant. When God made the covenant with Abraham it was a life commitment for Abraham and his descendents. Abraham understood what it meant for God to make a covenant with him. Abraham understood that God could not break His covenant with him and his faith soared. Abraham understood that he also had a part in the covenant. His part was to trust God and be faithful to the covenant. Therefore, Abraham gave his life to God because it was God's covenant of life for him and his descendents.

Sacrifice of IsaacJesus on CrossThe heart of God's covenant agenda for Israel (Abraham's descendents) is her acceptance of  Messiah, God's Sacrificial Lamb for the remission of Israel's sins. When God's Lamb (Jesus) was sacrificed His covenant with Israel was completed. Blood covenants are sealed when blood sacrifices are made. The covenant for Israel was initiated with Abraham and covenant animal sacrifices were called for by God in Genesis chapter 15. Then Abraham became the covenant partner with God. Later, God called his covenant partner to sacrifice his only son Isaac to test his faith. Although Isaac was a gift from God and Abraham's greatest possession, Abraham willingly gave Isaac back to God. One might say, Isaac was Abraham's offering to God through his obedience to God's command.

Even as Abraham offered his only son Isaac through faith, God will offer His only begotten Son, Jesus as the covenant blood sacrifice. Only through the blood of God's Sacrificial Lamb could the Abrahamic Covenant made complete for the atonement of the Jew's sins. Had Abraham actually killed Isaac, Isaac's blood offering would have no greater meaning than the blood of the ram (caught in a thicket) which was offered in place of Isaac. So, God stopped Abraham from killing Isaac. Blood for the covenant had to come from God's Son. Because Abraham did not withhold Isaac from God, Abraham became a friend of God. Abraham would not withhold anything from God.

Note: Both Abraham and God gave their only sons. Abraham gave Isaac to God and God gave Jesus (so to speak) to Abraham's descendents. Although the Bible does not state Isaac was a covenant sacrifice, I believe God saw Isaac lying on the altar as a blood offering from Abraham. Rather than Abraham sacrificing Isaac, God provide a sacrificial ram to take his place. Until the time that God offers His Son, Jesus, substitute rams will die in the place of Abraham's descendants for sins committed against God. Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac affirmed Abraham as a covenant partner of God. The covenant was one of reconciling Abraham and his descendants to God and would be fulfilled when Jesus died for for the remission of sin. The sin issue of fallen man had to be dealt with in the covenant because the "wages of sin is death"- Roman's 6:23 and Hebrews 9:22 - "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" for sin. Every person receiving forgiveness for their sins is due to a covenant provision of blood from God.

When Abraham offered Isaac as a blood offering, God looked to the future when His only begotten Son would become the blood offering for the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation of man to Himself. Both Isaac and Jesus were offered as a result of the covenant God made with Abraham. When Abraham offered up Isaac, he literally gave himself to God and through Isaac gave all his descendants to God. Abraham did not withhold anything from the covenant relationship. Likewise, God did not withhold anything from the covenant relationship. God gave Himself totally to Abraham and through Jesus gave Himself totally to all of Abraham's descendants. What else could Abraham and God have put into the covenant that was more precious to them than their only sons? Therefore, they gave their all.

Colossians 2:9-10(NIV) -  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (10) and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Hebrews 11:17 (NIV) - By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son....

Genesis 22:15-18 (NIV) - The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time (16) and said, "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, (17) I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, (18) and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

Verse 16 (Con't) - "Not withheld your son, your only son"; "All nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." - Abraham's faith and obedience to God's command to offer his only son confirmed Abraham;s acceptance of God's covenant. It is therefore permissible to see Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac as a type of covenant sacrifice.

How do we know this to be a true perception of Isaac as a covenant offering from Abraham?

When Abraham offered Isaac, I am persuaded God reflected on the day that He would offer Jesus. Because of Abraham's willingness to submit everything to God and trust God for his life and future, God referred to Abraham as His friend. God was a friend to Abraham and Abraham was a friend to God.

The relationship between God and Abraham is a relational model that all who enter into the covenant must desire and seek to follow through faith and obedience. Jesus stated in John 15:14-15 (NIV) - You are my friends if you do what I command. (15) I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. Jesus called His obedient followers friends. Friends are a notch above servants. What God established with Abraham is also established with Christians.

Another validation of Isaac as a foreshadow of Jesus - Remember that Isaac lay upon the altar willingly without speaking a word - Genesis 22:9, even as Jesus did not open His mouth - Isaiah 53:7. Isaac trusted in Abraham, even as Abraham trusted in God, and even as Jesus trusted in God, the Father. Also, Isaac carried the wood up the mountain that was to be used for the sacrifice - Genesis 22:6, even as Jesus carried the wood up Mount Golgotha and was used for the sacrifice. It is prudent to see Isaac as an integral part of the covenant God made with mankind through Abraham. Isaac was the first descendant of Abraham through which the covenant was initiated. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God through which the covenant was finished. Jesus spoke the words, "It is finished" at the moment of His death on the cross, denoting the completion of the covenant.

A note on Ishmael and his descendants - Although Ishmael was Abraham's firstborn, He is not a part of the covenant of redemption and reconciliation. Abraham was distressed that Ishmael might not receive the blessings of God in Genesis 21:11-13(NIV) - The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. (12) But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. (13) I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is your offspring." God blessed Ishmael as a nation, but it was through Isaac that the covenant of reconciliation would continue forth.

Although Isaac did not die, figuratively Isaac's life and blood was given to God because Abraham counted Isaac as dead. Therefore, it was not necessary for Isaac to die because God's Son would die in his place at a later time.

Hebrews 11:19 (NIV) - Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

Jesus' TombActs 4:9-12 (NIV) - Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. (11) He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' (12) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Even as Isaac was figuratively raised from the dead, God's Son was literally raised from the dead. The covenant of God is a covenant of resurrection unto eternal life and reconciliation as an adopted son of God. It is a blood covenant for the forgiveness of sin.

Even as Abraham gave his only son, God gave His only Son - John 3:16 (KJV) - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. A man who enters into the covenant relationship with God covered by the blood of Jesus will not have to die for his sin.

God's covenant provides everything man needs to become an adopted son of God through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, including the fullness of God.

The structure of the covenant calls for each man to be the same type covenant partner as was Abraham. God puts all of Himself into the covenant and man puts all of himself into the covenant. Neither, God nor man withholds anything from the covenant. A covenant relationship does not provide for a partial commitment from either covenant participant. Personally speaking, the only deal God made with me was "all of me for all of Him".

The New Blood Covenant is no less the same, as revealed in the following scriptures -

Matthew 16:24 (KJV) - Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV) - For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, (10) and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Man must deny himself in all ways and follow Christ. As man denies himself (dies to the old nature), he takes on the likeness of God in Christ until he attains to the fulness of God. God does not make partial arrangements with Christians.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV) - It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, (12) to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

God is faithful to complete this work of fulness which began the minute the Christian accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Completion of His work to each Christian will manifest God's complete fulness.

Philippians 1:6 (KJV) - Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Currently, God is performing His covenant work with the Gentiles and the nation of Israel. The end time tribulation period is centered on God's finishing His covenant work for this age of ministering the gospel to the lost.

It was not possible for Israel's sins to be remitted by the blood sacrifice of animals, as provided for in the Law of God, because the covenant was not complete until Jesus died on the cross. The blood of the covenant for the forgiveness of sins had to be God's blood. Only then could the covenant be complete and promised salvation of Israel be made available to those who believe, even as Abraham believed. The completion of the covenant is seen in Matthew 27:50-53 (KJV) - Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. (51) And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (52) And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, (53) And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. The tombs of the Old Testament saints were opened at the moment of Jesus' death. The three days later after His resurrection they came out of their graves. Jesus' blood shed for the remission of their sins opened their graves. Jesus' resurrection gave them new life and they followed Jesus into heaven as an offering to God - Ephesians 4:8 (KJV) - Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

From the time of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac until the time of the sacrifice of God's Son, two thousand years passed. At the cross, the covenant was finished because God had given His blood to pay the sin debt for all of mankind so all nations could be blessed, reconciled to God under the covering of the covenant. When Israel accepts the Messiah through the preaching of the gospel, God's agenda for the salvation of Israel will be complete, as revealed in the book of Revelation. By faith Jews, like all Christians, must accept Jesus as Messiah and God's permanent covenant blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. Salvation must take place prior to Jesus' return to the earth because salvation must be by faith in what cannot be seen. Only then will God close out the era of the gospel prior to His return.