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Postmillennialism: The Abrahamic Covenant


The Abrahamic Covenant: Click to enlarge

In the Old Testament, we see God’s universal plan of redemption for all the nations of the earth. Beginning with Abraham, the victorious kingdom of God is foretold although it is not fully revealed and actually applied until Jesus.

“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” (Genesis 12:3).

In the Abrahamic covenant, we first see the global reach of the Gospel of salvation boldly stated at first and then repeated. The Hebrew word used here for the families of the earth, mispacah, is used for a circle of relatives connected by blood, marriage or adoption. However, it can also be used in a broader sense to man a tribe, a people or a nation. Of Israel, God says in Amos 3:2, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”

The covenant promise to Abraham is that through his seed the families of the earth will be blessed. There’s no indication here that God is speaking of blessing some individuals from some families and nations. The Abrahamic covenant is a promise to all nations, families, tribes, and languages. The blessing is for peoples, not just individuals, and it’s for all nations.

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.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham (Galatians 3:8).

A few years later after Abraham and Lot separate, God reaffirms the covenant, this time with an important difference.

“And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered” (Genesis 13:16).

The word used for dust, aphar, is used commonly as a metaphor in the Old Testament to mean a great number. Numbers 23:10 states: “Who can count the dust of Jacob, or number the fourth part of Israel.” The promise to make Abraham’s descendants as the dust of the earth is meant to say that Abraham could expect a family line so large it can not be explained only by natural descendants. The covenant God makes with Abraham is to envelop and bless all the nations of the earth.

Later the same promise is expanded upon, this time the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore is used to demonstrate an expansive vision for all nations – not only to receive a Gospel witness, but to actually become heirs of the promise God made to Abraham, to be blessed by becoming part of the covenant of God.

“By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son – blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:16-18).

And again, God renews this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac:

“Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Genesis 26:3-5).

How is this promise to be carried out? The New Testament makes it clear that through the Church of Jesus Christ we are made full heirs of the promise of Abraham.

Peter preached:

“Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Acts 3:24,25).

And Paul writes:

Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law … that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith…. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:13,14,29).

There is no doubt that the Great Commission is synonymous with the Abrahamic covenant. It is through the church that all the nations of the world will not only hear the Gospel, but will be blessed with both spiritual prosperity reflected in material wealth and peace in the present age far beyond what was imaginable to the prophets who foretold it.

In the Law of Moses, we see the promises to Abraham sealed with an oath to specifically bless Israel as the redeemer nation in the earth – the Law is clearly delineated with hundreds of commandments as well as further promises of blessings for obedience and and curses for disobedience. In the second commandment, God warns of punishments to the third and fourth generation of idolaters, but then promises of blessings that will flow to thousands of generations.

Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Are we to take this literally or figuratively? Even if this expression is figurative or hyperbole – such as God’s promise to Abraham’s promised descendants to number like the dust of the earth, the sands of the seashore, and the stars of the heaven – it is still inevitable that God is bound to bless His creation and all the nations of the earth through a covenant people. God’s blessing is an increase for thousands of generations according to Deuteronomy 7:9, in other words, tens of thousands of years. Given the context, this blessing would have to occur within time and history, not in a final eternal state after the resurrection.

If we expect human history to end soon, then how would a covenant given for the atonement of sin apply tens of thousands of years from now? Scriptures such as these – and we will look at many more – have caused more than a few Christians, who have been told their entire lives that the rapture is just around the corner, to experience a massive paradigm shift in their thinking about the nature of the millennium. Could it be that Christ’s kingdom is already here right now on earth as it is in heaven? Thus if God’s promises are for a “thousand generations,” we ought to be expecting a long, long history of blessing for God’s people.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

I once heard a friend say that he does not see “dominion theology” in the Bible.” My response was to wonder if the so called “dominion mandate” is as explicit as some expect it to be? Your article on the Abrahamic Covenant seems to support the idea of dominion without mentioning it directly. It is implied in all the promises to Israel. Succession and dominion seems possible only if families and lands are not consumed by a central or corporate state.

Posted by Noa Napoleon on 09/02/2012 07:49 PM #

“There is no doubt that the Great Commission is synonymous with the Abrahamic covenant. It is through the church that all the nations of the world will not only hear the Gospel, but will be blessed with both spiritual prosperity reflected in material wealth and peace in the present age far beyond what was imaginable to the prophets who foretold it.” “It is still inevitable that God is bound to bless His creation and all the nations of the earth through a covenant people.”

So youʻre saying the Gospel to Abraham, which combined the promise of inheriting land, numerous peoples, as well as 10X10 thousand generations, was preached to Abraham, which in turn layʻs the foundation for cultural blessings as part of the over-all message and intent of the Gospel? Iʻm loving this! BTW, would I be sacrilegious to mention that “Salvation” in the OT is translated “wide open space”?

Posted by Noa Napoleon on 10/02/2012 04:39 AM #

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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