Someone recently said the following to me: “The Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant. God made promises to Abraham that required nothing of Abraham.”
The person who made this statement did so in defense of his position on Israel, but is he correct? Did God make a covenant with Abraham that required nothing of Abraham?
What if Abraham had not obeyed God and not left his father’s house? What if Abraham had not believed God’s promise to make him the father of many nations?
The gentleman who made the statement above, also said the following:
“The problem that rises from this issue is that most people do not comprehend the concept of a covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. There are two basic types of covenants: conditional and unconditional. A conditional covenant is an agreement that is binding on both parties for its fulfillment. Both parties agree to fulfill certain conditions. If either party fails to meet their responsibilities, the covenant is broken and neither party has to fulfill the expectations of the covenant. An unconditional covenant is an agreement between two parties, but only one of the two parties has to do something. Nothing is required of the other party.”
This simply isn’t true. If it were true, God would save everyone whether they believe the gospel or not, but salvation requires something of the beneficiary, namely, faith.
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. ~ Galatians 3:6-9
Abraham became the father of many nations because he believed God. Nowhere in your Bible will you find any text that teaches that nothing was required of Abraham.
For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. ~ Hebrews 6: 13-15
Notice that Abraham obtained the promise after he had patiently endured.
The covenant God made with Abraham was not one sided. It was as much dependant on Abraham’s obedience and faith as it was God’s promise, for the covenant God made with Abraham was the promise of the gospel. Truthfully, there is no such thing as an unconditional covenant in scritpure, which requires nothing of one of the parties. The very nature of a covenant is that it requires something from both sides. In Abraham’s case, it required both faith and obedience. After Abraham obeyed God and offered up Isaac, which he did by faith (James 2:21-23), God said to Abraham, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice”. ~ Genesis 22:18
Abraham’s faith was the result of his obedience to God’s instructions.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ~ Hebrews 1:8-10
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. ~ Hebrews 11:17-19
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. ~ James 2:21-23
There is absolutely no language anywhere in your Bible that claims that God’s covenant with Abraham was unconditional and required nothing of Abraham.
On the contrary, when the Lord appeared to Abraham in Genesis 17, God said to Abraham: “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.” ~ Genesis 17:1a-2
Later in Genesis 22, God required Abraham to offer up his only son, and Abraham obeyed God!