The Coming Kingdom 002

Dr. Andy Woods | Jan 11, 2017 | Genesis 15:18-21 | The Coming Kingdom

Andy Woods

The Coming Kingdom

1-11-17     Genesis 15:18-21        Lesson 2

Let’s take our Bibles if we could and open them to the book of Genesis, chapter 12.  I want to welcome everybody back as we are in session 2 of a study on the Kingdom, which to me is a very exciting study because to understand the Kingdom you have to understand the whole Bible.  So this study will take you to really the high points of the whole Bible on this issue of the Kingdom, Genesis to Revelation.  And the material we’re going to start covering tonight is in chapter 3, I don’t think we’ll get through everything in chapter 3 tonight; we’ll likely finish it next time.  So if you haven’t read chapter 3 you might want to try to have that read by next week to keep up.

And you’ll recall from the beginning of our study, our introductory lesson, we’re following this outline that has four parts to it and we’re  just here in part 1, What Does the Bible Say About the Kingdom?

And this particular point has 17 stops on it so we’re only barely making our way into point 2 here, the Abrahamic Covenant.  But you might recall from last week that we saw that the story of the Kingdom really begins in Genesis 1:26-28 because that’s where God vests authority in Adam and Eve to govern creation for God.  [Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ [27] God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. [28] God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”’]

So that’s the beginning of God’s design for the Kingdom.  And you know from Genesis 3 that what happens is Adam and Eve, particularly Eve, who’s influenced Adam, starts to listen to the animals, one in particular, a talking snake, and in the process rebel against God.  So that’s a top to bottom perversion of the Kingdom that God has established.  God originally wanted to govern the first Adam and the first Adam is to govern creation for God.  Satan gets our forbearers to listen to the animals and rebel against God.  And the moment that happened is the moment the Kingdom, what we call the Theocratic Kingdom disappeared from planet earth.  And who became the ruler of this world?  The devil did, and the New Testament and Old Testament says this over and over again.

So the story of the Bible really is how is that structure that God established in Eden, how does it come back to the earth.  And we know one day that God the Father will govern, not the first Adam but the last Adam who will govern creation for God over this earth.   And that’s called the millennial Kingdom.  So really what’s happening in the Bible is how is this millennial Kingdom brought back to the earth and it happens in different stages and the Old Testament in particular is filled with promises.

So then we go to step 2 which is the Abrahamic Covenant and here we see starting to come into existence the promises of God and the plan of God through which the Kingdom is going to be restored.

And the Abraham, as you’ll see, is a massive topic.  If you understand the covenant that God made with Abraham the rest of the Bible will make sense to you.  If you don’t understand the Abrahamic Covenant and what God covenanted Himself to do what is happening in the Bible seems very strange and mysterious because what is happening in the Bible is God is working to make good on promises that He made through Abraham.  So we have all kinds of different things to talk about with the Abrahamic Covenant; I’ve got these divided up into subparts.  I don’t think we’ll get through all these tonight but at least we can get a good start at it.

The first point is the necessity of the Abrahamic Covenant.  God calls a man named Abraham whose name at that time was just Abram, and He decides to start a new nation.  And we might ask ourselves, well why didn’t God just an existing nation.  And there’s an answer to that in Genesis 11; God starts to work with Abraham in Genesis 12 but what happens in Genesis 11 explains the reason why God is working with Abraham in Genesis 12.  So you can’t understand Genesis 12 unless you first understand Genesis 11.  So there’s a reason that Genesis 11 comes before Genesis 12 in your Bible.  Do you guys agree with that thinking that chapter 11 comes before chapter 12… okay.

Now Genesis 11 is the story of the tower of Babel and even before we get to the story of the tower of Babel, right after the fall of man God made a promise in Genesis 3:15; we call this the proto-evangelium, which just means first gospel.  It’s the first proclamation of the gospel in the whole Bible.  And right after man fell God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” So there is coming a person through the woman’s seed.  Who’s “the woman” here?  Eve.  There’s coming a person through her seed who will crush Satan’s head, who will take Satan’s existing Kingdom reign, Satan becomes the god of this age at that point, and destroy it and turn things back to how God originally intended in Genesis 1.

And as you go through early Genesis what you’ll discover is this promise is channeled through Seth, channeled through Noah, channeled through Shem; now from the word “Shem” you get the word Semite.  So we know that this Messiah, when He comes, is going to come through the Semitic peoples of the earth; we don’t know it’s Israel at this point because we don’t have any knowledge of Israel in Genesis 9.

And then you get to Genesis 12:3 and this is where you start to learn that God is going to work through a specific man and through that man is going to come a specific series of descendants, ultimately called the Hebrews.  And through the Hebrews is going to come this Kingdom that God wants to reassert over the earth.  And then of course the promise will be passed down through the patriarchs, Abraham to Isaac, to Jacob, and then Genesis 49:10 is very specific because of the twelve tribes of Israel, it gives a specific tribe that Messiah is going to come from, the tribe of Judah, Genesis 49:10.  [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]

So that theme is developing from Genesis chapter 3 through Genesis 9, but as that theme is developing the devil is working.  Right?  And you start to see the devil’s work at the tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-9, most of us know this story from Sunday School, but it says: “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. [2] It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”

Where is Shinar?  Shinar is an area called Mesopotamia, that’s a Greek name, it’s a compound word, “Meso” means middle, “potamia” means rivers, you recognize the word Potomac, a famous river in America, coming from that word potamia. Mesopotamia literally means between the rivers.  What rivers am I talking about?  The Euphrates and the Tigris, and the Hebrew name for that area is called Shinar.  If you’ve been tracking with us on Sunday morning it’s where Daniel and his three friends were taken into captivity in the 6th century B.C.

And at this time as you know the story, now the whole earth used the same language.  So there were no multiple languages at this point, there was only one language.  So the reason that’s significant is because what you have to understand is that what happened at the tower of Babel affected every culture.  It’s kind of like throwing a rock into a placid pond and you watch the wake reverberate in all directions.  What happened at Babel the evil that was happening at Babel was exported into every language, into every culture because all people groups traced their origin back to the tower of Babel.  And you see, this is necessary explanation to understand why God has to raise up a new nation; He’s got to raise up a nation independent of the universal effects of the tower of Babel and that’s why God worked with Abraham in a special way.

So it says, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. [2] It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. [3] They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’  And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. [4] They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name,” so obviously these people aren’t doing things for God’s glory, they are doing things for self-glory, “otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’

[5] The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. [6] The LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.  [7] “Come, let Us” see the Triunity of God there?  That’s an early hint of the Trinity, “‘Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.’ [8] So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. [9] Therefore its name was called Babel,” or Babel which literally means gate of the gods, El means God, and b-a-b there means gate and so they were trying what I like to call a stairway to heaven; they were trying to make a path into heaven without God’s grace, that’s basically works righteousness.  “…because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

So what you have to understand, and the biblical text doesn’t tell me this, I’m depending on… you’ll notice at the bottom of the screen there a book by Alexander Hislop, , which is considered a classic, called The Two Babylons.  And Hislop did a study of Babylonian tradition; he got his hands on everything that he could find in extra biblical material that dealt with Babylon and he writes about it in this book, what was happening at the tower of Babel.  The tower of Babel was coming together under a man named Nimrod, who is mentioned in the biblical text; he’s mentioned in Genesis 10:8-10.  [Genesis 10:8-10, “Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. [9] He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” [10] The beginning of his Kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”]

In fact, Nimrod’s very name means revolt.  So he is the first prefigurement, if you will, of the coming antichrist.  And Hislop says that Nimrod was married to a woman named Semiramis.  And essentially what happened is the two of them had a child named Tammuz; Tammuz was killed by a wild animal but then Tammuz was miraculously resurrected to life, very similar to the way Satan, in Revelation 13, is going to bring the antichrist back to life in the tribulation period.

So what happened is everybody started to worship the mother and the child; so they worshipped Semiramis and they worshiped Tammuz.  And that was the whole religious system that was in place in Genesis 11.  So God did not like this one-world project, we talk a lot about one-world government and people wanting one-world government; this  is man’s first attempt at one-world government and they were basically trying to build what we would call a new world order which is a system of politics, economics and religion that excludes God, that controls every facet of a person.

And this system was political, this system was economic and the system was also religious.  And it’s religious in the sense that people were worshipping, according to Hislop, the mother and the child.  And God understands something about human nature; He understands that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  So God did not like this project so he went in and performed a miracle so that people couldn’t understand each other.  So from one language you now have multiple languages.

So from there the human race spread abroad, so people that spoke one language went one direction; people that spoke a different language went a different direction, people that spoke even another language went a different direction.  And what did each culture take with them?  A piece of the religious system of the tower of Babel.  See that?   So the point is every country on planet earth has been corrupted by this system.  And Hislop says you can look at all kinds of cultures and you find remnants of this Mother-Child worship system, it’s just the names get changed from culture to culture.  So in Assyria the mother is called Ishtar.  By the way, what word do we get from Ishtar?  Easter, so all this stuff about bunnies and eggs and things like that, you all realize that’s not in the Bible; that’s Babylonian paganism that we’ve incorporated into our holiday.

The mother is called Ishtar; the child is called Tammuz.  In Phoenician the mother was called Astarte, the child was called Ba’al. In Egypt the mother was called Isis, the child is called Osiris or Horus.  In Greece the mother is called Aphrodite, the child is called Eros.  In Rome the mother is called Venus, the child is called Cupid.  So I’ve already wrecked Easter, I must wreck Valentine’s Day.   This thing where you shoot an arrow into somebody and they madly fall in love with you, Cupid and all these things, that’s Babylonianism. I still think you should celebrate Valentine’s Day, unless you want to go to divorce court or something; don’t tell your spouse your church said we’re not going to celebrate Valentine’s day.  In Asia the mother is called Cybele, the child is called Desius.  In India the mother is called Isi, the child is called Aswara.

Now Alexander Hislop is no friend of Roman Catholicism.  If you mention Alexander Hislop around Roman Catholics they will… and if they’re well-read they’ll react angrily against the name Alexander Hislop because Hislop’s point is the Mary and Jesus of Roman Catholicism is not the Mary and Jesus of the Bible.  We accept that as true because we had a Protestant Reformation.  So in the Roman Catholic system Mary is actually like a Co-Redemptress and she is actually someone that you pray to.  And Mary, of course they believe remained a virgin her whole life; they call that the Perpetual virginity of Mary, which is sort of hard to argue because Jesus had a lot of half-brothers, didn’t He?  And Jesus, of course, in Roman Catholicism is just… it’s a works based system.  So Hislop said this Mother/Child cult went right into Roman Catholicism and adopted the biblical names Mary and Jesus.  And this is why God raised up Israel because Israel was the only nation started independent of this Mother-Child Cult. This is why when the Mother-Child cult, later on in Israel’s history, comes into the borders of Israel God is irate at this.

For example, notice a few verses. Jeremiah 7:18, this is much later on, after Israel’s already been in existence, it says, “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven…”  Now who’s the “queen of heaven?”  The “queen of heaven” is Semiramis.  And I’ve had, in my classes at College of Biblical Studies I’ve had Roman Catholic students who have told me, you know what, this is exactly what Roman Catholics call the Virgin Mary today; they actually call her the “queen of heaven.”

Notice Jeremiah 44:17, it says, “But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven….” There it is again.  And one more, notice Ezekiel 8:14-15, and this is the reason Israel went off into deportation.   God was so angry at His people because He started them independent of the Mother-Child cult and lo and behold they had become just like the very system that he started independent of the Mother-Child cult.  Israel had lost sight of her purpose.  That’s why God is so angry with the nation of Israel when she says we want a king so we can be like what?  1 Samuel 8, all the other nations.  Well, why do you want to be like all the other nations; you were started for the purpose of being different than the other nations.

Notice, if you will, Ezekiel 8:14-15, is says,  “Then He brought me to the entrance of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and behold, women were sitting there weeping for” who? “Tammuz.”  Now that’s the child in the Nimrod system.  And then verse 15, “He said to me, ‘Do you see this, son of man? Yet you will see still greater abominations than these.’”  So what you have to understand about Genesis 11 is the Mother-Child cult was exported into every single culture.  And this is why the Lord raised up the nation of Israel.   You see, God can’t use Assyria, she’s been corrupted by the Mother-Child cult.  He can’t use Egypt, Phoenicia, any other nation on here because they’ve all been corrupted by the Mother-Child cult.

So God has to create a brand new nation and through this brand new nation He’s going to fulfill  His Kingdom promises that begin as early as Genesis 3:15.  That’s why early Genesis is carefully tracing the genealogy, the lineage of Genesis 3:15 right from Adam to Abram.  So Israel has a    very special place in the outworking of God’s purposes because she is the only nation started independently of the Mother-Child cult because God’s starting of the nation of Israel was subsequent or after every other culture had been infected with the virus of the Mother-Child cult.  That’s why Genesis 11 is necessary background to understand what God is doing with Abram in Genesis 12.  So there has been a universal contamination because this Mother-Child system, this idolatrous system has been exported everywhere.

So what does God do?  He calls a man named Abram from the Ur of the Chaldeans and He tells him to walk by faith, to leave his heritage, to leave what he knows and God is going to take him to a place that Abram has never seen, the Promised Land.  And you’ll notice at the bottom of the screen there, but I have the book of Joshua, chapter 24, verses 2-3 which is one of those lengthy historical sermons that you find in the Bible, stretching all the way back to the time of Abram.  And it says this: Joshua 24:2-3, “Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.”   You see that?   [3]‘Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.”  So the nation of Israel begins at that point.

But you’ll notice in this historical documentation of Israel’s past that Abram was an idolater just like everybody else.  So he had to be taken away from that system; he had to trust in God and God had to progressively sanctify him or separate him because Abram has a very special call on his life, to be the progenitor of a race or a nation through which God is going to fulfill His Kingdom program.  God has to do this because every other culture has been corrupted by the idolatrous Nimrod Mother/Child system.

So there is Abram there on the right side of the map in the east and he’s told to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and most people believe that that’s the path that he took, he’s walking by faith not knowing where he’s going.  And God is going to take him to a special place that we now know as the land of Canaan.  So he’s going up and then back down into the land of Canaan.

And around this time, as you go to Genesis 12:1-3 the Lord begins to lavish upon Abram very special promises and these are what we call the Abrahamic promises.  We do not yet have a covenant because the word covenant is not used in these verses.  Later God is going to take these promises and ratify them into an official covenant.

But right now what they are, are promises and these verses say, Genesis 12:1-3, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;  [2] And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;  [3] And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.  And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

And then dropping down to verse 7 it says, “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’” That’s Canaan, later called the land of Israel, whose borders are going to be developed for us a little bit later in the Bible.  [7, “So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him. [8] Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. [9] Abram journeyed on, continuing toward the Negev.”]

So by my count there’s about nine promises here that God made to Abram at this point.  Number 1, he would become a great nation.  Number 2, God said He’d bless him.  Number 3, God said He’d make his name great, and it is interesting to me that the name of Abraham is revered in the three greatest religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all… I say great religions in the sense of the most influential religions; they all have a high regard for Abram to some extent.

And so we can see how literally God fulfills these promises.  You shall be a blessing, in other words, the blessings I’m going to give you are not just for you; I’m going to channel My blessings to the whole world through you.  I will bless those who bless you is another promise.  Another promise is I will curse the one who curses you.  Now the devil doesn’t like these promises so he’s always working in history to blot our Israel.  So God made provision for Abraham and his descendants that those who curse the nation of Israel would be cursed.  “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  That’s another promise.  And then later on in verse 7 He gives him the promise of the land.

So these are, by my count, nine promises that God made to Abraham whose name was still Abram, as he was walking by faith and leaving Ur of the Chaldeans.  So the thing to understand is God calls Abraham because it’s necessary, every other nation has been corrupted, and these promises really help explain how God is going to make good on His promise, going all the way back to Genesis 3:15.  [Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”]   From the seed of the woman is going to come one who’s going to crush the serpent’s head.  There’s going to come upon the earth a Kingdom of God and it’s in Genesis 12 we learn through which man and through people group this Kingdom will come, the nation of Israel.

The third thing to understand about these promises is that they’re literal, and this is the dispute that I would have with a lot of interpreters because they make these promises sound as if it’s in heaven somewhere.  But in reality these are very earthly promises.  So we start to get a hint here of an earthly Kingdom on planet earth and notice if you will Genesis 11:31.  It says in Genesis 11:31, “Terah” that’s Abram’s father, “took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there.”

So let me ask you a question: is the land of Canaan a literal place?  Well of course it is because it’s juxtaposed against Ur, which is a literal place, and Haran, which is a literal place.  So if you believe that Abraham was literally called out of an actual place called Ur of the Chaldeans in Mesopotamia and most everybody believes that’s a literal place, by definition you have to make Canaan a literal place; you can’t just pick and choose what parts of these are literal and earthly and which ones are not.

And over in Genesis 13:14-17 it says this: “The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; [15] for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. [16] I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered.”  Look at verse 17, “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”  So this obviously has to be a very literal piece of real estate because Abram, by God’s command, was told to actually walk around the land which his descendants would one day possess.

Now over in Genesis 15:18-21 you start to get some information about the dimensions of the land.

It says, ‘On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: [19]  the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite  [20] and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim [21] and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

So notice the land there is mentioned, Genesis 15:18, and the land that Abraham and his descendants will possess one day is analogized to “the river of Egypt” and “the river Euphrates.”    Now was the Euphrates an actual river?  Of course it is.  How about the river of Egypt?  Some think that’s the Nile, some think it’s what’s called Wadi-el-Arish, there’s a debate on that.   But whatever “the river of Egypt” is it’s a literal place.  So obviously the land, which is compared to those rivers must be a literal place as well.  See that?

So notice the land there is mentioned, Genesis 15:18, and the land that Abraham and his descendants will possess one day is analogized to “the river of Egypt” and “the river Euphrates.”    Now was the Euphrates an actual river?  Of course it is.  How about the river of Egypt?  Some think that’s the Nile, some think it’s what’s called Wadi-el-Arish, there’s a debate on that.   But whatever “the river of Egypt” is it’s a literal place.  So obviously the land, which is compared to those rivers must be a literal place as well.  See that?

And this is all initial hints in the Bible that the earthly Kingdom that God one day is going to set up on planet earth.   Now how about all of these “ites”?  Were those literal people groups?  Yeah, they were actually Canaanites living in Canaan (it’s called Canaan at that time) so just like these are all literal people groups on planet earth Abram and his descendants must also be inheritors, as a literal people group, on planet earth.

And see, what people like to do is they want to drag this promise and they want to go all the way to the right hand side of the screen, which is the new heavens and new earth and they want to say well this is a promise that’s going to be fulfilled in the eternal state.  And that really is not our belief; we believe that before the eternal state is set up there’s an intermediary thousand year kingdom.  We believe these promises are not going to be set up in the eternal state; we believe they’re going to be set up primarily, at least initially, in the thousand year kingdom.

And we can’t just drag this over into the eternal state the way many people want.  Why is that?  Because Abram walked around this earth; he was actually walking on soil on planet earth when God made these promises to him.

The eternal state is not this earth, it’s a new earth.  So in order for these promises to come to pass God can’t allow the present earth to go out of existence until these promises are realized and once they’re realized then He is free to destroy this world by fire, 2 Peter 3:10 and replace it with a new heavens and a new earth.  [2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”]

But these promises that are being given here are not applicable to the eternal state; these are applicable to the thousand year kingdom which precedes the eternal state, which is brought into existence after our Lord returns at the end of the tribulation period.

So these promises are necessary, it was necessary for God to raise up Israel as God began to work with Abraham He gave him very specific promises, about eight or nine total; these promises are very earthly and literal.  And something else to understand is these promises relate to Abram’s physical descendants.  God has purposed to bless the world; I’m happy about that, aren’t you?  That would include me.  But he has purposed that the blessings would come to me through the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God is using Israel in a special way; He can’t use any other nation because they’ve been corrupted by this Mother/Child idolatrous harlotrous system.  So all of these promises relate to Abrams physical descendants.

And you’ll notice that in Genesis 15:4-5, “Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying,” now Abraham was kind of weak in faith at some points, wasn’t he?  I don’t really blame him for that, I mean, how would you feel at the age of 99 or 100 if the Lord came and told you that you and your wife would have a child.  So he just kind of thought well, it’s going to be a common slave in my household, Eliezer of Damascus, through him the promises are going to come about.

Notice what God says, “Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own” what? “body, he shall be your heir.”’  [5] And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’”  Kind of an interesting point here is you can go back in history and all of these philosophers and so-called scientists thought the stars could be counted and now with the advent of technology that we have today, like the Hubble telescope and things like that, we learn that the stars are innumerable.  So God makes kind of a challenge to Abraham, count the stars if you can, hint hint, you can’t count them.  You kind of get the idea that an omniscient God who spoke this designed the universe that we’re in.  Don’t you get that picture, and that He knows how many stars are actually out there.  [5] “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’  And He said to him, So shall your descendants be.”’

In other words, this innumerable people group is going o come from Abraham’s own body.  So these are not just generic promises to anybody because God has purposed to bless Israel and through Israel the world will be blessed.  And you’re starting to see the foundation of it here in early Genesis.

Do you remember Genesis 12:7, “The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’”  So  it’s very clear that it’s through Abram’s physical lineage that these promises are going to come.  That’s why the birth of Isaac is such a big deal.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait on the Lord for a long time for that kid to be born and that’s why Abraham really had to walk by faith when God told Abraham related to Isaac, now I want you to take Isaac and kill him at Mount Moriah.  And the book of Hebrews tells us that Abraham reasoned that God would do what?  Even if he killed Isaac?  Rise him from the dead because these promises are ironclad.  So the whole program is going to go from Abraham to Isaac; we’ve got to wait for the birth Isaac who is a physical descendant of Abraham.  It’s not going to be Eliezer of Damascus, it’s not going to be a common slave in the household, it’s going to be through Abraham’s own body.

And then, of course, from Isaac will come Jacob and then from Jacob will come Jacob’s dozen who became the twelve tribes.  And then of those twelve tribes keep your eye on a very special tribe, the tribe of Judah because the King is going to come from the tribe of Judah.

Now at this point the promises that Abram has, and it would be one thing, would it not, to have a promise from God, not just a promise but promises, what did we say, eight or nine of them here?    But at this point the promise takes on covenantal force.  Notice if you will Genesis 15:18.  God takes these promises and ratifies them into a form of an Ancient Near East covenant.  And it says this, “On that day the LORD made a” what? “covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, [From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:]”

Now this is the first time the word “covenant” shows up in the Bible relative to God’s dealings with Abraham, whose name at this time is still Abram.   The only other time in the Bible that the word “covenant” has ever been used thus far is God’s covenant with who?  Noah, which is not a covenant of redemption, it’s a covenant where human government comes into existence to restrain evil, where the sword was placed in the hands of the government and Genesis 9:6 you see the beginning of the institution of capital punishment.  [Genesis 9:6, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed, For in the image of God He made man.”]

In our Bible and Voting series that we did in this church on Sunday mornings we went into a little bit into the Noahic Covenant, you can go back and listen to that; those sermons, to get some background on the Noahic Covenant.  And of course, every covenant has a sign.  The sign of the Noahic Covenant is what?  The rainbow.  The sign of the Abrahamic Covenant, as we’re going to discover, is what?  Circumcision.  The sign of the Mosaic Covenant which we haven’t even covered yet is what?  The Sabbath. And then the sign of the New Covenant which we haven’t talked about yet it the communion table.  So every covenant has a sign and the covenant with Noah had the sign of a rainbow.  So we’re not dealing with the Noahic Covenant; that’s the only time the word “covenant” has ever showed up yet.

And now for the first time, as God is dealing with Abraham the word “covenant” shows up.  It says, “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.”  The Hebrew word for covenant, translated covenant, is berith, and I cannot emphasize to you what a big deal that word is.  The best I can analogize it to is it would be analogous to a legal contract; that’s the only thing I can come up with.  God is legally, not just promising, God is legally contracting Himself; He is legally obligating Himself to fulfill those eight or nine promises, going back to Genesis 12.  And that’s why these promises have to be literal.  They have to be literal because the rest of the Scripture is ascertaining as to whether God has met His obligations under the covenant.  In order to determine breech of a contract you look at the performance of the parties.  Right?  So you have a contract to borrow money, you have a contract to get a loan for a house, mortgage  contract.  Think of all of the kinds of contractual arrangements you enter to; have you ever once entered into an allegorical contract?

Every contract you’ve ever entered into is literal, the terms are literal.  They have to be literal because you have to determine compliance and breech.  See that?  That’s why lawyers love this system of theology that I’m describing here because a lawyer is trained in contract law and they understand the nature of a contract, and they understand the nature of compliance and breech and the only way to determine compliance and breech of a contract is if the terms of the contract are construed according to their ordinary sense.  See that?

So “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram.”  Everything God has said He would do in and through Abram at this point is a promise, which would be enough, but God now says I’m going to up it a little bit… not a little bit but a lot, I’m going to take those promises and ratify them into an actual legal contract.  Now in ancient times they didn’t use the word “contract,” they used this word “covenant” which is the Hebrew word berith.

So at this point Abram’s promises take on covenantal force.  Now what are these promises that God gave to Abram?  What did we say, eight promises or nine, I keep going back and forth, let’s go with nine.  We can take those promises and we can simplify them and break them into three categories.  He promised Abram, number 1, land; He promised Abram, number 2, seed or innumerable descendants, as innumerable as the stars.  And He promised Abram, number 3, a personal blessing.

So let’s kind of unpack these.  The first thing God promised to Abraham is land: “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:’” [Genesis 15:18]  Look at the size of that land; it’s fairly large; it’s much bigger than even what Israel possesses today, just west of the Jordan River.  It’s a tract of real estate that literally stretches all the way from modern day Egypt all the way up to modern day Iraq.  It’s a tract of real estate that the nation of Israel, both in the Bible and in modern times has never fully occupied.

In fact, that darker area is what the Joshua generation got.  That lighter area is everything that God has promised through Abram and not just a promise but now a covenant.  So Abram is promised land stretching from the River of Egypt all the way to the Euphrates.

So we have land, verses 18-21, by the way, I’m in Genesis 15.  Genesis 15 is the most important chapter in the Bible.  Now the first time one of my teachers told me that I didn’t believe that was true.  He said what’s the most important chapter in the Bible.  I thought well John 3 because that has John 3:16 in it, and my professor, Dwight Pentecost said no, the most important chapter in the Bible is Genesis 15 because it’s in Genesis 15 that God contractually binds himself.  And all that is happening in the rest of the Bible is God is making good on these promises, literally construed, because God is not going to be in breach of His covenant.

So if you understand Genesis 15 and the significance of it everything else in the Bible starts fitting into place.  The rest of the Bible is God simply making good on what He contractually obligated Himself to do in Genesis 15.

So Abram, in Genesis 15, number 1, is given land; backing up a little bit number 2, he’s given seed.

And by the way, before I even get to the seed, do you want to make Genesis 15:18-21, shall we drag it to the far right hand side of the screen and make that part of the eternal state?

It doesn’t fit there, does it because it talks about the river of Egypt and the river Euphrates that both flowed into a common source into the ocean, didn’t they, when you look at the map here.  What are you not going to have in the eternal state?  John, in Revelation 21:1 said he saw no sea.  [Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”]  Genesis 15:18-21 is talking about two rivers connected to a sea.  So all of these theologians that want to say this is not part of the intermediate kingdom that God is going to set up on planet earth, let’s just drag all this stuff to the eternal state does not fit; it does not fit the details.  The eternal state is an entirely different matter.

So Abraham is going to have land; he’s also going to have seed or descendants coming forth from his own body… “so shall your descendants be.”  [Genesis 15:5, “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”]   So through Isaac, and then Jacob, and then the twelve tribes is going to come this innumerable race of people that God is going to use to bless planet earth.

So we have land in Genesis 15; we have seed in Genesis 15, in fact that seed is going to be more numerable than the stars of heaven.   And then the next thing that we’re given here is land, seed and what?  Blessing.  Look at Genesis 15:1. God promises a personal blessing to Abram.  It says, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.’”  So God didn’t just give him land, He didn’t just promise him innumerable descendants, but He promised him a personal blessing; He says I’ll be like a shield to you and I’ll be the one that rewards you.

So those nine blessings you can sort of simply into three major categories: land, seed and blessing, and you really start seeing that develop in Genesis 15.

Now something else to understand about the Abrahamic Covenant is it is ironclad reliable.  It’s ironclad reliable because number 1, Abraham didn’t just have promises but he had, number 2 a what?  A covenant.  And if that weren’t enough, number 3, this goes directly to the character of God, can God lie?  He cannot lie.  In fact, the Bible tells us over and over again that it is impossible for God to lie.

Philosophers ask the question, well can God make a rock so big that He can’t lift it.  No He can’t.  God cannot make a rock so big that He can’t lift it because that would violate God’s character who’s sovereign over His creation at all times.  For God to make a rock so big that He can’t lift  would be creation controlling God rather than the other way around.  There are certain things God can’t do and one of the things God cannot do is lie.  And see this is why you have the commandment in the Bible, “Thou shalt not lie.” If we’re really to be imitators of the character of God we should be people of truth because it’s an impossibility for God to lie.

Numbers 23:19, it says this over and over again, the impossibility of God to lie, Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that He should lie…,” lying is what human beings do in their depravity.  It’s not what God does.   Over in the book of Titus, Titus 1:2, it says, “in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago.”  And one more just for good measure, Hebrews 6:18 says this: “so that by two unchangeable things” now in context what are the two unchangeable things that Abraham had?  Promises and a covenant, and if that weren’t enough, Hebrews 6:18 says, “so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie…”

So there has to come a point in history where God makes good on all of these promises for the simple reason that “it is impossible for God to lie.”  And see, what you’re starting to see developed very early on in the Bible is this belief that there has to be an earthly kingdom on planet earth, unless you want to pretend like these promises are just spiritual or allegorical or symbolic.   You would have to defy the ordinary laws of language to believe that.  That’s why I’m kind of laboring here to show you.

And then one more point and it’s a vast point so I won’t be able to get into it tonight, but these promises that Abraham has, land, seed and blessing, become the basis for the sub covenants.  See, there’s one foundational covenant, the covenant He made with Abraham, Genesis 15, land, seed and blessing.  Those three provisions are given further detail and amplification in subsequent specific promises or covenants that God makes later on in biblical history.  And with all of these other covenants we call them sub covenants because the flow out of the foundational Abrahamic Covenant.

And in all these sub covenants the Hebrew word berith is used in all these other sub covenants as well.  So the land promises in the Abrahamic Covenant are given further amplification and clarity in what is called the land covenant that God made with Moses 600 years after the time of Abraham.  The seed promises of the Abrahamic Covenant are given greater clarity and amplification and development in what is called the Davidic Covenant, which is a covenant that God entered into with David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 about a thousand years after the time of Abraham.

[2 Samuel 7:12, “When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. [13] He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. [14] I will be his father, and he shall be my son: if he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men; [15] but my loving-kindness shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. [16] And thy house and thy kingdom shall be made sure for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established forever. [17]According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak unto David.’”]

The blessings, the personal blessings is given greater clarity and development and detail and amplification in what is called the New Covenant, which is revealed in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and that covenant isn’t even revealed until almost prior to the time of the deportation, about one thousand four hundred years, roughly, after the time of Abraham.  [Jeremiah 31:31-34, “‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, [32] not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD.  [33] “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. [34] They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”’]

So what is God doing in these sub covenants?  He’s not changing the original structure at all; the original structure is right there in Genesis 15, nothing changes.  The only thing these sub covenants do is add more information.  And because God cannot lie he never alters what He originally said; He just adds more and more details.  And as I’ll be showing you next week, if you understand that these covenants are literal, and something called unconditional, and unfulfilled and God can’t lie, you start to see how He has to move His hand in history or else He’s the one that has egg on His face.  So He has to establish this earthly kingdom through the Hebrew people.  He has to!  It’s just a matter of time before it happens because of the ironclad nature of this covenant.

So number 1, the  covenant is necessary because of the corruption of the earth due to the mother/child cult.  Number 2, God calls Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans and gives him promises, nine promises. Number 3, These promises are literal.  Number 4, these promises are going to be channeled through Abraham’s physical descendants.  Number 5, these promises take on covenantal force in Genesis 15. Number 6, you can for purposes of simplicity categorize these promises in land, seed and blessing. Number 7, these promises are reliable.  Number 8, they’re the basis of the sub covenants which we just had time to introduce but not go into.

So do you see what’s happening here, what is being developed?  This earthly kingdom that’s coming.  This is the mistake people are making, they’re getting their whole understanding of the coming kingdom from Revelation 20:1-10 so they call us premillennialists a one-text theology.  Oh, you guys are just getting that from Revelation 20.  I can’t think of more of a misstatement than to say something like that.  Revelation 20 is just the end of the matter; the whole thing has already been developed, going back to early Genesis. Do you follow.  We’ll continue on this next time and talk more about these covenants.