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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.”—Genesis 17:7–8 (NLT)
There are two unique covenants being referred to in this passage. One speaks of the temporal and conditional, the other of the everlasting and unconditional. What are the two covenants?
The Covenant of the Promised Land
In verse eight, God promises Abraham the land of Canaan, saying, “I will give the entire land of Canaan . . . to you and your descendants.” We saw this come to fruition in the days of Joshua, as the people of Israel, the children of Abraham, took ground and entered the Promised Land at last. And while the land is the possession of the people of Israel then, now, and always, we know that they haven’t always inhabited it. Why? Because they didn’t always honor the conditional covenant God established later with Moses.
Named after Moses, this was a conditional covenant in which God promised to bless and protect Israel (Exodus 19:5–8) if they obeyed the Law and honored Him. But if the people failed to follow the Law and honor the Lord, if they turned their backs on the Lord, the blessing and protection would be removed from them. And when the blessing and protection of the Lord was removed, the people usually lost the land—to the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans.
The Covenant of the Adoption
The second covenant the Lord mentions is the most significant. Here, the Lord says, “This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” What an amazing thing to hear; what a truly wonderful, comforting, and powerful promise.
Of this, Matthew Henry says, “The covenant in question was one that involved great blessings for the world in all future ages. Even the blessedness of Abraham himself, and all the rewards conferred upon him, were for Christ's sake. Abraham was justified, as we have seen, not by his own righteousness, but by faith in the promised Messiah.”
This is amazing news for us! How so? “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29 NIV). This is a covenant for us! He’s promised to always be our God as we enter freely into this covenant through faith in Jesus Christ. It’s a promise that says no matter what happens, no matter how low we fall, how far we stray, He has adopted us and claimed us as His own children.
DIG: What are the two covenants being referred to here?
DISCOVER: What makes them different? How are you experiencing and enjoying the promises made to you?
DO: Thank the Lord for His promises and covenant to always be our God!
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.