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What the Bible says about God's Covenant with Abraham
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 13:14-15

This is a direct promise of not only Abraham's children's owning of the land, but also of Abraham's personal ownership of it. Yet the only land he ever truly owned was Sarah's burial plot—certainly not all the land he could see! For him to receive this promise, and for him to receive it “forever,” means that he and his descendants will live forever.

Now eternal life has entered the picture. Eternal life includes a spirit body that will not decay and a nature that is appropriate or fitting for endless life, one that is sinless and not continually incurring the death penalty. Only in the resurrection of the dead at Christ's return will the called of God—including Abraham—be raised incorruptible and given immortality, such that death is swallowed up in victory (see I Corinthians 15:42-54). Then, Abraham and his spiritual descendants will inherit the Promised Land, retaining it forever.

Romans 4:13 expounds on the promise of the land: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” God's promise to Abraham was not based on perfect obedience to the law, but on the imputed righteousness that comes by faith, which happened when Abraham “believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). This took place well before the covenant of circumcision (Genesis 17:1-14). Abraham's faith produced good works, as true faith always will; in Genesis 26:5, God says, “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” But his righteousness in God's eyes was shown in his belief in God's faithfulness, not in anything he did or did not do.

Clearly, God's promise of the land to Abraham goes far beyond physical inheritance—it is, rather, an eternal inheritance, bestowed on those who have become his spiritual descendants through receiving the faith of Abraham. The patriarch, though, was among those who “died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them” (Hebrews 11:13). So significant are these promises that God confirmed them with a covenant that condemned Him to destruction if He failed to fulfill the terms. Not only that, the timing of Christ's sacrifice coincided with the preparations for God's covenant with Abraham, for it is His sacrifice that allows us—Abraham's spiritual seed, his “great nation”—to begin to receive these promises.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)

Matthew 27:46-50

Christ's sacrifice confirming the New Covenant occurred on the anniversary of God's covenantal promise to Abraham—the same day and hour! Its specific timing draws our attention to the “eternal inheritance” promised to Abraham and his spiritual seed. Jesus set the example of when and how He wants us to observe the Passover—at the beginning of the 14th—and then on that afternoon, He shed His blood so that a New Covenant could be made.

This covenant is an outgrowth of the covenant with Abraham, making his “great nation” a reality. It provides for justification on the basis of faith—for Israelite and Gentile alike—and promises eternal life to those who continue to the end in faith. Christ is our Passover, not by lining up with the timing outlined in the instructions given to Israel, but by renewing and advancing the covenant God made with Abraham.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part Two)

Hebrews 9:19-26

So, how did Jesus fulfill the Passover requirements? He ate the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th day of the first month. While they probably did eat roasted lamb with bitter herbs, what Jesus emphasized for His disciples was the bread and the wine. Through washing His disciples' feet (John 13:2-17), He set the example of humble service, as well as forgiving others, because cleansing is symbolic of forgiveness. Most importantly, His sinless blood was shed on Passover day.

Yet, parts of the original Passover instructions were not fulfilled in their letter! Consider that He and His disciples left the house before morning, which the Israelites were forbidden to do (Exodus 12:22). Jesus was our Passover Lamb, yet He was crucified rather than being roasted in fire (Exodus 12:8). His remains were not burned, even though that, too, is specified. His blood was not caught in a basin, nor smeared on any doorpost (see verse 7). And, as we know, He was not killed between sunset and dark at the beginning of the 14th day.

So did Jesus fulfill the Passover? We know He absolutely did, and our Father was satisfied. But He fulfilled it according to requirements that were different from what He gave to a carnal people.

Jesus set the example for us of when and how to keep it. It was during the night of the 14th when He said to partake of the bread and wine “in remembrance of Me.” In reflecting on that night, Paul instructs the Corinthians to “proclaim the Lord's death till He comes” (I Corinthians 11:26). However, the timing of His death, which did not occur until the following afternoon, was about far more than just being the Passover Lamb—as pivotal as it was.

The death of the Lamb was planned from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). The timing was not an afterthought—it was deliberate, drawing our attention to something momentous. Jesus only died once to fulfill all the sacrificial requirements, including those for the Passover, the Day of Atonement and the other holy days offerings, the Sabbath, the New Moon—His one sacrifice satisfied it all. Yet, the date and time He was crucified do not correspond with any holy day, nor with any sacrifice that God commanded Israel to make! Rather, it corresponded with a much earlier event: God's covenant with Abraham.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part One)


 




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