The Initial Covenantal Promises
As we consider together in this article the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, our minds immediately drift back to the days of the ancient past. We traverse history’s pathway back thousands of years to the land of Haran where a certain man receives a call from God. The call is to go out from his father’s house, his country, and to follow God to a specific land trusting in His promises (Genesis 12:1). However, there is a distinct promise and blessing given to this man, Abram:
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” -Genesis 12:2-3
This blessing poured out upon Abram by God is tremendous to say the very least! Literally, the text says, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abram was promised the land for his offspring and built an altar to worship God (Genesis 12:7). Coming forward into Genesis 15, Abram has another encounter with God. We read:
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.’ And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.’ And he brought him outside and said, ‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” -Genesis 15:1-7
After Abram had rescued Lot and received a blessing from Melchizedek, the narrative turns to the consideration of future offspring by the great patriarch. He has continued without a child and thus was wondering if his male servant should be his heir. God promises him a son, He promises him more than just a son, God’s promise extends to the reality that the offspring of Abram would be innumerable. To this outpouring of blessing, Abram responded with belief being counted to him as righteousness. God then covenants with Abram as this chapter continues (Genesis 15:18). Then, as the narrative proceeds, Abram follows the advice of Sarai taking things into his own hands. He conceives his son Ishmael through Hagar in Genesis 16. However, as we come to chapter 17, we see Abram having yet another encounter with the living God. It is not Ishmael who shall be the son of promise, but Sarah shall have a son and his name shall be Isaac through whom the covenant would be established (Genesis 17:18-19). Yet, it is not till chapter 17 that God institutes the commandment of circumcision. We see early in this chapter again the scope of the covenantal blessing:
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” -Genesis 17:4-8
Again, we see talk of the nations being blessed through Abraham’s offspring. Certainly, there was an immediate nature in which these blessings were brought forth through Isaac who was the son of promise. Yet, in the end, they pointed to the greater Son of Abraham who would come and bring blessing to the nations through His Work. They have their ultimate fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ
The Offspring of Abraham in The New Covenant Scriptures
Now, as we come into the New Covenant, we see the Apostle Paul discussing the Abrahamic Covenant in Galatians 3:
“Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”
Clearly, Christ is the promised offspring of Abraham who came and brought blessing to the nations. He is saving people by the power of His Gospel from every portion of the earth building up His eternal kingdom. The blessings of the covenant to Abraham comes through the finished work of Christ. Now, the question becomes, how do we partake of these blessings? Paul says:
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
It is not on the basis of being born a Jew, or even being born into a believing household that one is counted as an offspring of Abraham. Rather, one must be united to the Lord Jesus Christ. How are we united to Christ? Again, we go back to Galatians 3:
But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. -Galatians 3:22
Through faith in the Lord, we are united to Him and brought into the blessings of the promises made to Abraham. Indeed, the promises come to fruition to Christ and His offspring, and His offspring are those united to Him spiritually through saving faith. We are engrafted in by the power of His grace for His glory!
Applications of The Abrahamic Covenant
Rightly understanding the Abrahamic Covenant, we see a theme of continuity throughout Scripture. In other words, the blessings of the Covenant weave throughout both the Old and New Testament Scriptures coming to the ultimate fulfillment in Christ. It is a consistent theme that we must see. Christ as the promised offspring comes and unites to the Father through faith. The nations are blessed through the work of the Lord as His Gospel goes forth saving souls. It is also important to note that it is only through faith in Christ, exclusively, that one is made a part of Abraham’s offspring.
Ultimately then, we see the rich blessings given to us in Christ and we should be prompted to praise and worship. Our hearts must overflow with abounding gratitude for the Lord’s work. He has taken us as lowly sinners and made us a part of His family. We are heirs to the eternal kingdom as Christians because He has brought us near to the throne of grace. Yet, this blessing is for the nations, so may we go out proclaiming Christ’s Gospel that sinners might be saved and inherit the blessing of the promise in Christ Jesus!