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!
4 thoughts on “WAS GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM UNCONDITIONAL?”
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
Genesis 26:3-5 KJV
Abraham obeyed and kept my commandment, my statutes, and my laws. And that in combination with his faith God did fulfill His promises to Abraham.
So a Covanant is never one-sided.
I think you might be confusing the offer and acceptance of a covenant with the conditions imposed within the covenant . I’m not sure the person you had the conversation with understood covenants/contracts either. A promise and a covenant are NOT the same thing. A promise can be made by one party, a covenant requires 2.
Consider today …
A)Farmer A offers to sell his land for the price of $5000
B)Farmer B if he accepts pays farmer A the $5000 and the land transfers hands.
C)Farmer A put’s conditions in the contract of sale that says in 100 years the land transfers back to Farmer A’s family.
This would be a conditional covenant. If we removed the 100 year condition of the contract … it would be well unconditional.
God appears to Abraham and makes a covenent with him – Genesis 12:2-5
A)”, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will” – this is the offer accept and I will
“make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” – ,
B) “So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” – he accepted the offer.
C) .. there’s no C Abraham doesn’t have any conditions by which he can loose what he was promised.
That’s a covenant…
Genesis 12:2-5 –
“Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.”
The lord didn’t say if you build me an Altar I’ll give you this land …he said ““To your offspring I will give this land.”
Thank you for your reply.
Covenants are not unconditional, because as you correctly stated they are between two parties. This is why we have a new Covenant. Israel failed to keep their end of the first covenant (the law given through Moses), and consequently, the law covenant given to Israel has been annulled and replaced by a new covenant established by the blood of Jesus.
Consider the following from Hebrews 8:
But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. ~Hebrews 8:6-9
Notice that this covenant with Israel began when God led them out of the land of Egypt into the wilderness where he gave them the law. God’s covenant with Israel (which was predicated on the law) was put away because Israel failed to obey God and keep his commandments.
God’s words to the nation of Israel were, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known”. ~ Deuteronomy 11:26-28
God gave to Israel the tabernacle (temple), the priesthood, and the sacrificial system as a remedy for their shortcomings but over time they persisted in disobedience and inherited the curse. When Jesus died on the cross he absorbed the curse, bringing an end to the law, and established a new covenant with his blood and is now the surety of a better covenant established on better promises.
The new covenant did not replace the covenant promises God made to Abraham. Jesus is the promised seed that God spoke of when he made a promise to Abraham, and God fulfilled his promises to Abraham in Christ. God’s covenant with Abraham was predicated on God’s promise and Abraham’s faith, and not God’s promise alone, because justification is to be by faith.
The promise of God was God’s part of his covenant with Abraham. Abraham’s faith was Abraham’s part of the covenant. All covenants are binding by the parties involved. If there were no conditions, there would be no covenant.
For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. ~ Romans 4:13
Notice that the promise was through the righteousness of faith. Whose faith? Abraham’s!
For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. ~ Romans 4:13-25