God's Covenant w/ Abraham

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mark

Puritan Board Freshman
My question is, in Genesis 17, God promises Abraham many things
1) the father of many nations--kings would come from Abraham v.4-7
2) the land of Canaan v.8
3) an everlasting sign in the rite of circumcision 9-14
4) a son, Isaac, from whom all Abraham's offspring would be blessed v.19
5) a blessing given to Ishmael--he would become a great king and multiply greatly and father many princes v. 20
6) But, God says, the covenant would be established w/ Isaac.

Now, Abraham immediately circumcised Ishmael all his servants (including foreigners) as well as himself.

My question is, if Isaac was to be the one with whom God established his covenant, why did God also command Abraham to circumcise everyone, including Ishmael and the servants of Abraham's household (v. 9-14)?

Pointer: All three aspects of Abraham's covenant are called "everlasting": 1)that Abraham would be the father of many nations; 2) the rite of circumcision; 3) the covenant with Isaac.

It seems to me that the covenant with Abraham should be understood monolithically as one covenant given the "everlasting" language used to describe the different aspects of the covenant.

And then there's Paul's interpretation taking the plural of "seed" and making it singular.:worms: but let's just focus on the aforementioned topic and not get:offtopic:
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
There is one, solitary covenant with Abram/Abraham.

It is originally given in ch12, and repeated with minor variations to the language, but with no essential change in form, in chs 15 and 17.

Its essential characteristics are a 1) country, 2) a posterity, and 3) to be blessed and be a blessing. As Hebrews tells us, Abraham understood that all this promise was ultimately spiritual and heavenly, though there were evident tangible tokens.


And for the "off topic" issue: Gen 22:18 "and in your seed {singular} shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." This, I believe, is Paul's reference in Gal. 3:16. Which only serves to show how the whole story of Abraham is a unit. All of it hangs together, and forms a "covenant-context" in which these things are interpreted.
 

mark

Puritan Board Freshman
There is one, solitary covenant with Abram/Abraham.

It is originally given in ch12, and repeated with minor variations to the language, but with no essential change in form, in chs 15 and 17.

Its essential characteristics are a 1) country, 2) a posterity, and 3) to be blessed and be a blessing. As Hebrews tells us, Abraham understood that all this promise was ultimately spiritual and heavenly, though there were evident tangible tokens.


And for the "off topic" issue: Gen 22:18 "and in your seed {singular} shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." This, I believe, is Paul's reference in Gal. 3:16. Which only serves to show how the whole story of Abraham is a unit. All of it hangs together, and forms a "covenant-context" in which these things are interpreted.

Thanks, pastor. I looked up Gen 22:18 and it looked like a plural ending. Are you sure it's not plural? Thanks for looking.

Also, what is your opinion on the inclusion of Ishmael in the covenant ( he was immediately circumcised to fulfill vv.9-14); but then God says the covenant is made with Isaac only? Thanks again.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Thanks, pastor. I looked up Gen 22:18 and it looked like a plural ending. Are you sure it's not plural? Thanks for looking.

Also, what is your opinion on the inclusion of Ishmael in the covenant ( he was immediately circumcised to fulfill vv.9-14); but then God says the covenant is made with Isaac only? Thanks again.

b-zera-ka "in-seed-of you"; the ending is "of you", speaking to Abraham.

The substance of the covenant is made with the elect.
WLC Question 31: With whom was the covenant of grace made?
Answer: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.
However, we don't know who the elect are.

Now, depending on one's interpretation of how much God was revealing to Abraham about Ishmael's faith-condition, or eternal destiny, in Gen 17, God may have been telling him that Ishmael wasn't among the elect at all, but God was clearly telling Abraham Ishmael was neither the Elect (Christ) or his forebear). It is in this detail that God declares Isaac is the elect son, the one by whom the line of Messiah will be propagated.

Regardless, Ishmael was a party to the worldly administration of Abraham's covenant. "In that respect" he was in the covenant. He had a duty to find himself in the "tents of Isaac," and not chasing his own glory and ends. If he had, then he would have given us much more hope of his election in the one (Isaac) or One (Christ) with whom the covenant was made.
 

mark

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks, pastor. I looked up Gen 22:18 and it looked like a plural ending. Are you sure it's not plural? Thanks for looking.

Also, what is your opinion on the inclusion of Ishmael in the covenant ( he was immediately circumcised to fulfill vv.9-14); but then God says the covenant is made with Isaac only? Thanks again.

b-zera-ka "in-seed-of you"; the ending is "of you", speaking to Abraham.

The substance of the covenant is made with the elect.
WLC Question 31: With whom was the covenant of grace made?
Answer: The covenant of grace was made with Christ as the second Adam, and in him with all the elect as his seed.
However, we don't know who the elect are.

Now, depending on one's interpretation of how much God was revealing to Abraham about Ishmael's faith-condition, or eternal destiny, in Gen 17, God may have been telling him that Ishmael wasn't among the elect at all, but God was clearly telling Abraham Ishmael was neither the Elect (Christ) or his forebear). It is in this detail that God declares Isaac is the elect son, the one by whom the line of Messiah will be propagated.

Regardless, Ishmael was a party to the worldly administration of Abraham's covenant. "In that respect" he was in the covenant. He had a duty to find himself in the "tents of Isaac," and not chasing his own glory and ends. If he had, then he would have given us much more hope of his election in the one (Isaac) or One (Christ) with whom the covenant was made.

Thank-you for this clarification on "seed." (I thought the case ending meant something different) I understand that "seed" can be both a collective and singular noun, then?
So Paul isn't incorporating a christological interpretation upon the text that "isn't there" in the minds of his opponents. In other words, it fits grammatically.
 

mark

Puritan Board Freshman
[/QUOTE]Now, depending on one's interpretation of how much God was revealing to Abraham about Ishmael's faith-condition, or eternal destiny, in Gen 17, God may have been telling him that Ishmael wasn't among the elect at all, but God was clearly telling Abraham Ishmael was neither the Elect (Christ) or his forebear). It is in this detail that God declares Isaac is the elect son, the one by whom the line of Messiah will be propagated.

Regardless, Ishmael was a party to the worldly administration of Abraham's covenant. "In that respect" he was in the covenant. He had a duty to find himself in the "tents of Isaac," and not chasing his own glory and ends. If he had, then he would have given us much more hope of his election in the one (Isaac) or One (Christ) with whom the covenant was made.[/
QUOTE]

It sure was gracious of God to bless Ishmael the way he did! Esp. if in fact Ishmael was not forgiven of his sins...what do you think about that?
The idea of God being so gracious to those who are in covenant with him, but are not forgiven. Does this have anything to say about hypocrites in the church (entire question here based the surmise that Ishmael was unforgiven).
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
It's gracious of God in the "common-grace" sense to send rain on the just and the unjust. Ishmael was a scoffer and a persecutor. So was Paul. Ishmael seems to have rejected a relationship with God, as did Esau. Paul was knocked down, and turned around, by saving-grace.

Merely because God shows some favors to the non-elect--e.g. by not throwing them into hell immediately, by given them a space in which they might have repented, by preaching the gospel to them, by bringing them so close (!) to his kingdom of mercy--is not ultimately to their lasting benefit. Only to their temporary, superficial benefit. And they store up judgment against the Day of Judgment.

The degree of blessing the reprobate may experience is quite wide. The closer he is to the kingdom of God, the greater his opportunity to "enter it" (Mk. 12:34) and the greater his condemnation when he refuses (Mt. 11:21-24). The difference between the above referenced Pharisee (himself in the OT church) and a believer is total: the difference between "close" and "in". But, Paul states (Rom 3:1-2), it is still a blessing and an advantage to be in the church. There he may hear the gospel. A hypocrite can turn from his hypocrisy.
 

ColdSilverMoon

Puritan Board Senior
Now, depending on one's interpretation of how much God was revealing to Abraham about Ishmael's faith-condition, or eternal destiny, in Gen 17, God may have been telling him that Ishmael wasn't among the elect at all, but God was clearly telling Abraham Ishmael was neither the Elect (Christ) or his forebear). It is in this detail that God declares Isaac is the elect son, the one by whom the line of Messiah will be propagated.

Regardless, Ishmael was a party to the worldly administration of Abraham's covenant. "In that respect" he was in the covenant. He had a duty to find himself in the "tents of Isaac," and not chasing his own glory and ends. If he had, then he would have given us much more hope of his election in the one (Isaac) or One (Christ) with whom the covenant was made.

Very interesting. Thanks for this insight! Not to get off topic, but the whole Hagar-Ishmael episode is fascinating to me. Clearly Ishmael is not part of the elect, though it seems Hagar may be a different story...
 
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