BUT THOU, ISRAEL ART MY SERVANT, JACOB WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN, THE SEED OF ABRAHAM MY FRIEND—Isaiah 41:8
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
When Abram was 99 years old, God changed his name to Abraham
Genesis 17 :5
“Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.”
“And Abram was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.”
Abraham is called, in the Bible, “the Friend of God.” II Chronicles 20:7. Isaiah 41:8.
James 2:23. Abraham was one of the truly great men of all times. We quote several Scriptures:
Genesis 12:1 to 5
1 “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.”
Hebrews 11:8 to 12
8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 BY faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country. dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.” Universal idolatry prevailed at the time God called Abram, about 1917 B. C. The condition of the people on earth at the time Abram was called is told in Romans 1:18 to 32.
ROMANS 1:18 to 32
18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21 BECAUSE THAT, WHEN THEY KNEW GOD, THEY GLORIFIED HIM NOT AS GOD, NEITHER WERE THANKFUL; BUT BECAME VAIN IN THEIR IMAGINATIONS, AND THEIR FOOLISH HEART WAS DARKENED.
22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
28 AND EVEN AS THEY DID NOT LIKE TO RETAIN GOD IN THEIR KNOWLEDGE, GOD GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND TO DO THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT CONVENIENT;
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
Note carefully verses 21 and 28.
Men and women rejected God and worshipped animals, fowls and serpents and made images of these creatures. God gave them up.
God had made a new start with Noah and his family, saved in the ark at the time of the flood. Then God made a new start with Abram and Sarai (Abraham and Sarah). Out of the nations there would be an elect nation, God’s Nation. This Nation was Israel. Note what God said about, that great Nation:
“I am the Lord your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.”
“For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.”
Isaiah 41:13 and 14
“For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah 44:6 and 8
“Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts; I am the First and I am the Last; and beside Me there is no God. Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any:”
“Remember these, O Jacob and Israel: for thou art My servant: I have formed thee; thou art My servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me.”
ABRAHAM—THE NATION ISRAEL—JEWS
From Abraham and Sarah came this great Nation of God.
The first time the word “Jew” occurs in the Bible is in Esther 2:5, about 471 B. C., 1450 years after Abraham was called. The word “Jews” occurs first in II Kings 16:6, about 624 B. C. We learn in Genesis 32:28 that Jacob’s name was changed to Israel about 1739 B. C.
“And He said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”
Although the Israelites and Jews came from father Abraham, strictly speaking, Abraham was neither an Israelite nor a Jew. Abraham was not under the law. The law was given 430 years after the call of Abram. Galatians 3:16 to 19. “The law was given by Moses.” John 1:17. When the law was given at Sinai Israel entered into that Covenant which was made “Old” after Christ died on the cross. It is called “the Old Covenant” or “the Old Testament.”
WHEN THE OLD TESTAMENT BEGAN
For many years Christians have been taught that the Bible is divided into two parts, namely, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The common error has been taught that the Old Testament began with the first of Genesis and the New Testament began with the first of Matthew. But note that the Old Testament, or Covenant, is called “the first Covenant.” Hebrews 8:7. In Hebrews 8:9, as well as in Jeremiah 31:32, God tells us that that first Covenant was made when Israel left Egypt. That was about 1495 B. C. That Covenant was not made old until after Christ had died on the cross. Therefore, while God was dealing with Israel under the Sinai Covenant, it was not old.
The Bible Record of Israel being led by God out of Egypt, is not found in the Book of Genesis, but in the Book of Exodus. The Book of Exodus finds Israel in Egypt about 1700 B. C. This was more than 2200 years after Adam left Eden.
The Old Testament did not begin when Adam left Eden, but when Israel left Egypt. In no sense was Adam an Old Testament character. Neither were Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.
Let us see how Genesis ends.
Genesis 50:24 to 26
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”
The beginning of man in Genesis is a man in the image of God in God’s paradise. Genesis closes with a man in a coffin in Egypt. What a difference! What made the difference? Sin. About twenty billion children of Adam have been placed in coffins since Adam sinned.
Now, who was Joseph? Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham. Joseph was the grandson of Isaac. Joseph was the son of Jacob, whose name was changed by God to “Israel.” Joseph had one younger brother, whose name was Benjamin. Joseph had one sister, whose name was Dinah. Genesis. 34:13. Joseph had ten older brothers. The oldest brother was Reuben. Then Simeon, Levi and Judah. The Lord Jesus Christ is called in the Bible “the Lion of the tribe of Juda.” Revelation 5:5.
“For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda: of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.”
The other brothers of Joseph were Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Napthali, Gad and Asher. See I Chronicles 2:1 and 2.
From these twelve sons of Israel (Jacob) came the twelve tribes of Israel. All of these twelve sons had been placed in their coffins for burial before God took Israel by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt. Therefore not one of them was under the Old Covenant. They were not Old Testament characters. Even Moses was 80 years old before he became an Old Testament character.
“Not according to the Covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt: because they continued not in My Covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”
In the Book of Genesis we learn of the Covenant that God made with Noah. We also there learn of God’s promise to Abraham and God’s oath to Abraham.
God’s oath was made when Abraham had placed his only son Isaac on the altar. Genesis 22:15 to 18
“And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.”
It will be helpful to study concerning these two immutable things in Hebrews 6:18; that is, the covenant and the oath.
Galatians 3:16 to 19
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”
Here we are told that the law, or the first covenant, or the Old Testament, could not, and did not, annul the Covenant that God made with Abraham 430 years before the first Covenant was given to Israel when they left Egypt.
God found fault with Israel under the Law Covenant. Hebrews 8:7. But because of God’s Covenant and oath with Abraham, God led Israel into Canaan (Exodus 32:13 and 14). He preserved and protected them and kept alive a remnant until Christ and His Twelve Apostles lived and died. Because of God’s Covenant and Oath He protected and preserved Israel even after the death of Christ until Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, said, “I have finished my course.” (II Timothy 4:7). Then came the fulfillment, in part of Luke 21:24, God’s awful judgment upon Jerusalem and Israel about 70 A. D.
Even now, because of the Covenant and Oath which God made with Abraham, an Israelitish remnant is being preserved. And God will yet do great things for Israel because of His covenant and oath.
ISRAEL’S FUTURE DELIVERANCE
Romans 11:26 to 28
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer. And shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”
Not only did God do wonderful things for Israel (and shall yet do more wonderful things) because of His covenant with Israel, but note that individual Gentiles are blessed with wonderful spiritual blessings because of God’s promise to Abram before he became Abraham.
Galatians 3:6 to 8
“Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.”
“For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”
Romans 4:9 to 11
“Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”
Romans 4:23 to 25
“Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.”
BAD NEWS—GOOD NEWS
“There is none righteous, no, not one.” Romans 3:10. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” I Corinthians 6:9. What a predicament! But here is the way out of this sad predicament. It is God’s way. Those who accept God’s way, and believe and receive, will be blessed with faithful Abram. Abram believed God. God declared Abram righteous. Christ on earth said, “your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad.” John 8:56. Today it is still true, “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”
According to Galatians 3:8, 430 years before God entered into the Old Covenant with Israel and gave Israel the sabbath and nine other commandments, Abram, the uncircumcised Gentile, was declared righteous without the deeds of the law, or without any religious practices, except the offering of the sacrifice which spake of the death of Christ on the cross. More than 40 years after Abram was justified by faith, he was justified by works, when he had offered up Isaac on the altar.
Hebrews 11:17 to 19
“BY FAITH ABRAHAM, WHEN HE WAS TRIED, OFFERED UP ISAAC: AND HE THAT HAD RECEIVED THE PROMISES OFFERED UP HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, OF WHOM IT WAS SAID, THAT IN ISAAC SHALL THY SEED BE CALLED.”
James 2:21 to 23
“WAS NOT ABRAHAM OUR FATHER JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, WHEN HE HAD OFFERED ISAAC HIS SON UPON THE ALTAR? SEEST THOU HOW FAITH WROUGHT WITH HIS WORKS, AND BY WORKS WAS FAITH MADE PERFECT? AND THE SCRIPTURE WAS FULFILLED WHICH SAITH, ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD AND IT WAS IMPUTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: AND HE WAS CALLED THE FRIEND OF GOD.”
So the good news for any kind of a sinner today is:
II Corinthians 5:21
“For He hath made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
Romans 4:4 and 5
“Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him That justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
NO OLD COVENANT IN GENESIS
But now we have learned that although the Book of Genesis covers about 2315 years of the history of man, from Adam in Eden to Joseph in his coffin in Egypt, there is not one line of the first covenant, or Old Testament, in Genesis. So we will not call Genesis, “the Old Testament Scriptures.” In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, God covers 2083 years from the creation of Adam to the call of Abram, at the age of 75.
Beginning with Genesis 12:1 to Malachi 4:6, that is, in 38 of the 39 Books B. C. and in the 39 chapters of the one Book (Genesis), the Scriptures deal with one Nation (Israel) and refer to other men, lands and nations only as they have dealings with Israel. We shall later see that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Hebrews, Revelation, and other Books in the so-called New Testament Scriptures, are very largely Israelitish, some of them, more than 90 per cent.
1. Mention the Bible verses in which Abraham is called “the Friend of God.”
2. At what age was Abram circumcised? How long had he been justified by faith?
3. What happened to Abram when he believed God?
4. What did God promise to do for Abraham and his seed?
5. How were Isaac, Jacob and Joseph related to Abraham?
6. In what spiritual condition were the Gentiles when Abram was called?
7. What great Nation came from Abraham and Sarah?
8. With what nation and when did God make the covenant. which is called the Old Covenant?
9. About what year did the Nation Israel go to Egypt? About what year did God lead them out of Egypt?
10. Were Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Joseph Old Testament characters? Why?
11. From which of Israel’s sons did the Lord Jesus come? By what title, including that name, is he called?
12. According to Exodus 32:13 and 14, why did God preserve Israel and take them to Canaan?
13. How many years between the Abrahamic Covenant and the giving of the law?
14. When did God make an oath to Israel?
15. What is to happen to Israel according to Romans 11:26?
16. According to Romans 4:9 and 10, why was Abraham circumcised? Why was he justified in uncircumcision?
17. When Abram was justified 430 years before the Old Covenant was made, what did the Scriptures foresee?
18. How much of the Book of Genesis and the 38 of the Books of the Old Testament Scripture deal with Israel?
19. Why are believers today made the righteousness of God in Christ?
20. About what year did the Old Testament begin? When was it made old?
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.