Israel's Unconditional Covenants Part 1

by Joseph H Hunting

The Abrahaminc Covenant

" I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great: and you shall be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:2-3)

I once asked an Israeli friend if there was any significant difference in what was taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the religious Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. Reducing his answer to a basic mathematical formula he replied that at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem they teach that 2 + 2 = 4, but at the Bar Ilan University they say "2 + 2 = 4, thank God!"

My friend's reply supplies the answer to the role the nation of Israel has amongst all the other nations of the world. Many have asked the question, "What makes Israel unique amongst all the other peoples on this planet?" Despite several attempts at genocide they have survived. Twice they have been uprooted and dispersed from their homeland. They have been persecuted and hounded from one country after another. Religious bigotry, torture and violent death at the hands of so-called Christians singled out the Jewish people during the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and the pogroms in Czarist Russia.

When we add the unspeakable onslaught upon Israel perpetrated by the Nazis culminating in the Holocaust, plus the forty-two year war the Arabs have waged against the state of Israel intent on exterminating any trace of a Jewish state in the Middle East, it is not hard to understand that Israel IS different from any other nation on earth and the survival of the Jewish people is supernatural.

Abram Divinely Chosen

The answer to this phenomenon is found in an event that happened four thousand years ago. At the time it would not have seemed that anything significant was happening. A man by the name of Abram living in the city of Ur in Chaldea migrated with his family westward to Haran where his father died. Then, with his nephew Lot, he journeyed south to the land of Canaan.

His contemporaries would have thought nothing of this migration. People were doing this kind of thing then as they have been doing to the present time, the difference being the spiritual content as against the purely natural as noted re the two universities. There was a Divine element involved, for "the Lord had said unto Abram, Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, unto a land that I will show you" (Genesis 12:1).

Why God singled out Abram we are not told, but his obedience to God's command marked the turning point in mankind's history. Indeed, the whole story of God's dealings with mankind hinges on the singularly fascinating account of His personal dealings with Abram and his descendants.

The Covenant with Abram

Before Abram departed from Haran God made an unconditional covenant with him. There are no "ifs" or conditions upon Abram's participation with God in the covenant. It is based upon God's "I will" repeated three times.

"I will make of you a great nation,

and I will bless you,

and make your name great;

and you shall be a blessing:

and I will bless them that bless you,

and curse him that curses you:

and in you shall all the families of the earth

be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3).

It is this covenant that singles out the nation of Israel to be unique. Nowhere in the annals of mankind has God spoken thus of another nation. So that we may fully appreciate the uniqueness of Israel's position we shall examine each of the seven parts to the covenant.

Firstly, there have been great and mighty nations and empires far more powerful than Israel has ever been. Some of them have had their day and ceased to be. Others have declined and barely rate a mention in today's news bulletins. By contrast Israel's contribution to mankind for good is immeasurable. Has God made them a great nation? Listen to Moses' appraisal of Israel's greatness: "What nation is there so great, who has God so near unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgements so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deuteronomy 4:7-8).

Surely Israel's greatness is bound up in having entrusted to them the written Word of God. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians: "What advantage then has the Jew?" He answers, "Much in every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). In the secular world Israel's contribution through art, literature, science, medicine and music are but a few of the benefits Israel has contributed to mankind.

But their claim to greatness is best measured by the gift to this world of the Messiah-Redeemer and the immeasurable blessing and peace He has brought to untold millions who have come to shelter under the wings of the God of Israel by means of His atoning sacrifice.

The second and third clauses in the covenant blend together. God's blessing upon Abraham is very evident when we read the account of his life. One night God took him outside his tent in the Negev desert to look at the stars. I once gazed at the brilliance of the starry sky on a moonless night in the Negev. Never before or since have I seen the stars shine with such brilliance. And God said to Abraham, "If you be able to number them, so shall your seed be" (15:5). Also, Abraham was called "the friend of God" . Only David shared such intimacy with God when he was called "a man after God's own heart" .

God then promised Abraham that he would be a blessing. Not only is he venerated by both Jewish and Christian faiths, but his name is held in esteem by the followers of Mohammed. On a personal level Abraham blazed the trail of believing God with naked faith, and God accounted that act to him as righteousness. Again, countless millions have followed that trail blazed by Abraham, repeated by Habakkuk who reminded his hearers that "the just shall live by his faith" .

God's promise to Abraham that He would bless them that bless him and curse him that curses him has not only been fulfilled in Abraham's own lifetime, but has applied to his descendants through Isaac and Jacob.

Wherever we trace the long history of the Jewish people we can identify nations and individuals that have cursed Israel. Pharaoh and his army perished in the Red Sea. The Philistines and Edomites no longer exist. Babylon, Assyria, Rome and Nazi Germany paid dearly for their folly; so did Haman and Hitler. Alas, one cannot point to many who have blessed Israel. One example is Britain during the nineteenth century. Whilst other countries were discriminating against Jews, notably in Russia, France and the Ottoman Empire, Britain gave sanctuary to victims of oppression, and a Jew, Disraeli, was a Prime Minister. Britain's favourable attitude to Israel was reflected in the Balfour Declaration which, in 1917, viewed with favour the establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine. During that period the British Empire was the greatest empire in mankind's history. Its dominions encircled the world on both northern and southern hemispheres. It truly was an empire upon which the sun never set.

The final clause in this great covenant is so great and truly breathtaking that one has to turn to another Biblical promise to grasp the scope of "all the families of the earth" being blessed. Of that time Isaiah prophesied: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). We cannot fully comprehend such conditions on this drug-ridden sin-sick polluted old planet.

Yet in spite of conditions so contrary to "the earth being full of the glory of the Lord" to saturation point, God has promised that it will be through Abraham's descendants in the form of Israel's prophets speak of such a time under the reign of Israel's King-Messiah. May that day soon come!

Territorial Tenure

In addition to the seven-fold promises we have just considered, "the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, AND TO YOUR SEED FOREVER" (13:14-15). Following this promise, "the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt (the Wade el Arish) unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (15:18).

The great Abrahamic covenant not only assures that Abraham's descendants, later known as Israel, would become a great nation, but they also have a Divinely ordained destiny, and they are to possess all the land which God promised to them through Abraham. That land includes the so-called West Bank. Let those who think otherwise beware. The promise "I will curse him that curses you" is as effective today as it was on the day God first uttered it.