Abrahamic Covenant questions

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Puritan Board Sophomore
Gen. 17 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 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. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you. 7 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. 8 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.”

9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

What is the covenant? Of course we include the promise to be our God and to our children, but what about the land of Canaan "for an everlasting possession?"

A secondary question, why do we not continue the administering the sign on the eighth day?


Puritan Board Sophomore
Many say The eighth day here is very important, as it is at that time that the blood develops the ability to coagulate. Additionally perhaps the mom had a week of rest as mom can handle it better and waiting a week is a kindness to her. .... not sure if that carries over to today somehow but the new testament speak of a circumcision of the heart and perhaps that should be emphasized but looking forward to the child responding to the gospel in faith

I think Psalm 119, in a way, is describing walking in the covenant.
When Paul talks about a child of a believer being holy, suggests to me that a child of a believer seems to me to have some special blessing or protection or access to the gospel whether they are eventually saved or not
Additionally females were not circumcised which muddies the waters, males being circumscribed perhaps emphasizes a covenant upon families in a sense
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Puritan Board Junior
Canaan - the promised land is a type. You see the land promise become clear when Paul interprets the 5th Commandment in Ephesians 6, where the land of promise is seen as the entire earth (contrast with Exodus 20, for instance):

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.

As for the 8th day, I believe some also see that as typological, from what I can recall in the hazy cobwebs of my memory. The 8th Day therefore signifying the 1st Day of the New Creation - pointing to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I also seem to recall that some early councils were debating whether baptism should be performed on the 8th Day for Infants.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I have also heard the eighth day is typological of a new creation... that would be something to verify

Wiki "Sunday was also known in patristic writings as the eighth day. .... (Saturday night or Sunday morning) marks both the resurrection and the new creation."


Puritan Board Doctor
In Romans 9-11, the Apostle says that there will always be some branches in the covenantal Olive Tree that are Jewish, in fulfillment of the covenant with Abraham.

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Rom 11:1-5)

blindness in part is happened to Israel (Rom 11:25)

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Rom 11:28-29)

Alongside these branches the Gentiles are engrafted and have spiritual equality with the Jews in "the Israel of God" (Gal 6:16)

The Land was never unconditionally given to the Jews but depended on them producing good works by grace through faith, otherwise they could be expelled for a time (e.g. Deut 28) The dimensions given to the Israelites by God were also sometimes smaller and sometimes larger, meaning that it was but a part and token of a larger inheritance.

In the New Testament period, the Church/Israel of God, is not promised unconditional progress, either, although all the elect will be saved. The candlestick can be removed from a certain place for a time, maybe a long time e.g. Revelation 2:5.

Abraham and his true offspring, both Jewish and Gentile, inherit not only the Land but also the rest of the world too.


For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.(Rom 4:13)

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.(Matt 5:5)

The Land of Israel (Palestine or whatever one would like to call it) no longer has the typological significance it had under the period from Moses to Christ, but has historical significance for Christians and for Jews, and also for some Arabs. If God in His providence wishes some Jewish people to settle there - including some believing Jewish people who are part of the Israel of God - that is in His providence, and they will have to find a way of getting on with the Gentiles who live there, including some Gentiles who are part of the Israel of God.

The Apostle does not indicate that the return to the Land is of any spiritual significance, but that the conversion of Israel after the flesh to Christ is, whether the Jews live in Tel Aviv or Timbuctu.

All nations, including Israel after the flesh, are to be incorporated into the Israel of God, the Church, a trans-national and trans-historical people, which is to inherit the earth, including the OT territory, together.

That process will only be partially and imperfectly accomplished before the Eschaton.

Calvin on Romans 4:13
That he should be the heir of the world, etc. Since he now speaks of eternal salvation, the Apostle seems to have somewhat unseasonably led his readers to the world; but he includes generally under this word world, the restoration which was expected through Christ. The chief thing was indeed the restoration of life; it was yet necessary that the fallen state of the whole world should be repaired. The Apostle, in Hebrews 1:2, calls Christ the heir of all the good things of God; for the adoption which we obtain through his favor restores to us the possession of the inheritance which we lost in Adam; and as under the type of the land of Canaan, not only the hope of a heavenly life was exhibited to Abraham, but also the full and complete blessing of God, the Apostle rightly teaches us, that the dominion of the world was promised to him. Some taste of this the godly have in the present life; for how much soever they may at times be oppressed with want, yet as they partake with a peaceable conscience of those things which God has created for their use, and as they enjoy through his mercy and good-will his earthly benefits no otherwise than as pledges and earnests of eternal life, their poverty does in no degree prevent them from acknowledging heaven, and the earth, and the sea, as their own possessions.

Though the ungodly swallow up the riches of the world, they can yet call nothing as their own; but they rather snatch them as it were by stealth; for they possess them under the curse of God. It is indeed a great comfort to the godly in their poverty, that though they fare slenderly, they yet steal nothing of what belongs to another, but receive their lawful allowance from the hand of their celestial Father, until they enter on the full possession of their inheritance, when all creatures shall be made subservient to their glory; for both heaven and earth shall be renewed for this end, — that according to their measure they may contribute to render glorious the kingdom of God.

The eighth day is a pointer to resurrection and the new creation and was fulfilled by our Lord's rising on that day and in the Christian Sabbath.

In ceremonial connection with circumcision, it maybe pointing to a spiritual fresh start, and renewal, since the eighth day commenced a new week for the child, but there are also the practical considerations mentioned (?) :2cents:

Now that the new creation has commenced and we have baptism it is not important that this be conducted on the eighth day after birth, although the Lord's Day is in a real sense "the eighth day", and many (most?) baptisms take place on the Lord's Day. (?) :2cents:


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Abraham understood that any earthly territorial donation was prelude to, and typical of, the heavenly. He was content to live in tents in the earth for, Heb.11:10, "he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God." Whatever came to him and his seed in worldly terms was both temporary and conditional.

And we confess the very same truth Abraham believed: "For here we have no continuing city, but seek the city that is to come," Heb.13:14. Respecting the earthly land/city, the promise was most certainly conditional. The conditions are spelled out in the law given to Moses. And they were exacted upon the disobedient. The unconditional promise is of the heavenly reality. The seed of Abraham will never lose that inheritance.

The only reason to put biblical eschatology into reverse, and expect some kind of reconnection of some fleshly identified people with particular geography, is if one thinks that there is some salvific work of God as yet unfulfilled, which requires both a local people and place in order to bring it about. What would that be? The purpose for the local people and place was the divine intent to bring Messiah into the world to do his saving work in a particular context for the display of that work to all succeeding ages. Despite all the opposition to the plan of God from men and devils, it was perfectly fulfilled according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God.

Even some Reformed people have taught a mass-conversion of the physical seed of Abraham to Christ as a precursor to the greatest worldwide evangelistic advance since Pentecost, shortly before the 2nd Coming. Perhaps they are correct; but I don't think that reviving the typological land-promises in connection to such an ingathering orients the redeemed to the heavenly city. It turns eyes downward to rest in the shadows again. Why should a mass-conversion of the Jews to the Lord Jesus Christ make them pine for temporal rewards? A land for some (living in the flesh), and not the Land that belongs to all? How does this earthly expectation not render moot Hebrews' encouragement to live here as pilgrims, and think of heaven as our home?

God's covenant with Abraham (see the outline, Gen.12:1-3) is to bless him with a home, a posterity, and to use him to bring divine grace to the whole world of mankind. All the rest of the covenant activity--ch.15, the oath; ch.17, the sign; and physical tokens (a son of his body, a burial plot, etc.)--serves the essence of salvation hope and blessing. The sweep of the promise is too much for this fallen world to contain. In the 1st Coming, the limits of the land have been exploded. Only the whole world is enough to claim; but in its present condition even the whole earth does not suffice. A total renovation is required for the everlasting home of God's people.
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Puritan Board Sophomore
The typology of the land helps. So both promises - to be a God to us and our children & to give us a land (heavenly) - apply to Christians today? I put this in this forum because it seems infant baptism is based upon the first; so reading the whole thing I was naturally curious about the second.

Rev. Buchanan, I'm not sure what you mean to communicate with the "conditions". Temporary I can understand, but as far as I can tell, both the earthly and heavenly city are conditional. No one in the church today can expect to see God without faith in Jesus.


Puritan Board Doctor
The Land pointed forward to our NT world and the new heavens and new earth, because the new world commenced - in principle - with Christ's resurrection.

The typological function of that part of the world (Israel-Palestine) has gone, but it still has historical and sentimental significance for the Jews, in particular, and for Christians and some Arabs. How much of it they regain, and security and settlement for Jews and Arabs, is a political and military problem that is ruled by Christian ethics.

The main thing for the Jews, as with any nation, is that they get right with God in Christ. They could have all the Land from the Euphrates to the River of Egypt, and from the East Bank of the Jordan to the Great (Medi) Sea. But those Jews who do not have Christ have nothing.

Heaven is conditional on faith, but faith is purchased for the elect unconditionally by Christ.

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Puritan Board Sophomore
Isaiah 52:1 [ The Lord's Coming Salvation ] Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.

Sounds topological

It's a bit problematic that the Jerusalem council during the discussion of the circumcision issues didn't clarify allot of things many put high importance on today, if they are indeed essential
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