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From Eden to Eden

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    CHAPTER II. THE PROMISE OF GOD TO THE FATHERS

    When Adam transgressed the law of his Creator, he was driven out from the garden in which the Lord had placed him, and deprived of access to the tree of life. This was the carrying out of the sentence, that he should return to the dust from which he was taken. In this we see that Adam left no hope to his posterity; their only hope is in the help offered through the seed of promise. But the record in the third chapter of Genesis is so very brief that from it alone we could form no definite idea of the method of carrying out the divine plan of restoration. But we are not therefore left in the dark, in the book of Genesis, as to that plan. In the New Testament we are directed to certain promises made of God to the fathers, as the foundation of our hope. But not one of these promises is original in the New Testament. It only directed to them as they already existed. Thus Paul spoke before Agrippa: “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.” Acts 26:6. And thus again he wrote to the Hebrews:—FEE 19.1

    “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence unto the full assurance of hope unto the end; that ye he not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he aware 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. For men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” Hebrews 6:11-19.FEE 19.2

    As the word of God is the sole foundation of all true faith, so is the promise of God the sole foundation of a good hope. According to the texts quoted from the New Testament, our hope rests on the promises made unto the fathers, but especially to Abraham, the chief of the fathers to whom the promises were made. Therefore if we desire to understand the unfolding of the divine plan for the recovery of a fallen race, we must go to the covenant that God made with Abraham.FEE 20.1

    In regard to these promises, we must come in contact with the three errors noticed in the introduction. To prepare the minds of the readers to appreciate the evidence of the scriptures which we shall now examine, we call attention to what will be found, fully disproving the erroneous ideas concerning the differences of dispensations, which have so largely obtained.FEE 20.2

    1. To the fathers were fully revealed the divine purposes; to them were given the promises which underlie the divine plan of restoration. It was by such means that Abraham saw the day of Christ, and rejoiced in it. John 8:56; Galatians 3:8, 9.FEE 20.3

    2. The writers of the New Testament clearly and continually teach that Abraham is the father of all who hold the faith of the gospel; that to him were given the promises on which rests our hope; and this, of itself, is sufficient proof that the several dispensations are not independent of each other, but there are essential truths coming down to us through them all, which are common to them all.FEE 20.4

    3. We are not to infer, because the Saviour did not appear in their days, but did appear in the beginning of this dispensation, therefore their faith was deficient in the elements of spirituality and faith in Christ, and that they did not enjoy the freedom which faith alone can bring. In Hebrews 11, we have a list of most remarkable instances of faith, set before us as examples, from Abel to the prophets, all before the advent of Christ. If it be said that they had to typify Christ in their sacrifices, but did not see him; we reply, that we do not see him, but he is continually represented to us in ordinances. If it be said that they lacked the certainty in their faith that we possess, because Christ has now come, of which we have so good historic evidence; we reply, that thereby their faith is proved to have been purer and stronger than ours. They gave greater evidence of genuine faith than is given in this age, as they had not so much historic evidence to rest upon as we have. They rested only upon the word of God. Our faith is more like that of Thomas, who believed because he saw; but the Lord most highly commended the faith of those who believed without seeing. As for the genuine spirit of piety, it was abundantly shown in the experience of the fathers and prophets. As was said, the book of Psalms is the devotional part of the whole Bible.FEE 20.5

    Let us now examine the promises to the fathers, upon which, according to the Scriptures, our hope rests. In Genesis 12 we read:—FEE 21.1

    “Now the Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee; 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.” Verses 1-3.FEE 21.2

    Obedient to this call, he went into the land of Canaan, directed by the Lord, “not knowing whither he went” (Hebrews 11:8), and came to Sichem in the plain of Moreh. And the Lord said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Genesis 12:7.FEE 21.3

    These promises embrace the following points: 1. The Lord would make of him a great nation. 2. In him all the families of the earth should be blessed. 3. The land should be given to his seed. In some form the same promises were often renewed. And the three points noted embrace all that the promises to Abraham contained. Chapter 13 says the Lord appeared to him again and said:—FEE 21.4

    “Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it: for I will give it unto thee.” Verses 14-17.FEE 21.5

    Chapter 14 contains one most interesting fact, namely, that Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. How Abram came to understand the duty to pay tithes, or how he came to understand the character of Melchizedek, or in what light he held him, we are not informed. The writer of the book of Hebrews presents Melchizedek as the highest type of the Messiah, and no doubt Abram looked upon him in that light—as representing the seed of the woman who was to bruise the head of the serpent. In him, by faith, he saw the work of the Son of God, and he honored him accordingly.FEE 22.1

    Chapter 15 contains Abram’s complaint that he had no heir, and the assurance from the Lord that he should have a son. He was instructed to prepare an offering of a heifer, a she goat, and a ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon. It is worthy of remark that these were samples of the beasts and birds that were required or accepted when the law of sacrifices was given to Abraham’s descendants. This also shows that not only the purpose and the plan, but the unfolding and the fulfillment of that plan, were carried in one unbroken chain through all dispensations.FEE 22.2

    Abram, having pleaded with the Lord to accept Ishmael as his heir, was assured that he should have a son of Sarah, and he should call his name Isaac, and he should be his heir, and the promises made to him should be fulfilled in Isaac.FEE 22.3

    “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” “In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” Genesis 15:7, 18.FEE 22.4

    In every renewal of the promises, whether to Abraham, to Isaac, or to Jacob, the gift of the land always held a prominent place. In chapter 17 we learn that his name was changed from Abram to Abraham. The change was to indicate the enlargement of his blessing to the people. Other points in this chapter will be noticed hereafter.FEE 22.5

    [Graphic Of ABRAHAM OFFERING ISAAC.]FEE 22.6

    In chapter 22 is the account of the trial of Abraham’s faith in the offering of Isaac. It was not merely the trial of his faith in the goodness and mercy of God in requiring such a sacrifice, or the trial of his fatherly feelings for a son whom he loved so dearly; it was a trial of his faith in the fulfillment of the promise that Isaac should be his heir—that in Isaac should his seed be called. But Abraham’s faith stood even this test, and he was therefore called the friend of God.FEE 23.1

    We will quote a few more passages to show the prominence of certain points in the promises; to show in what light these promises were held by the fathers to whom they were given, and that the reader may have all the evidence before him.FEE 23.2

    When Abraham sent his servant to take a wife for Isaac, he said to him:—FEE 23.3

    “The Lord God of Heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shall take a wife unto my son from thence. Genesis 24:7.FEE 23.4

    This servant was also a believer in God, and in the efficacy of prayer, as we learn from the record of his journey.FEE 23.5

    In chapter 26 we find the promise renewed to Isaac. There was a famine in the land, and Isaac went to Gerar, and thought to go down into Egypt. But the Lord said unto him:—FEE 23.6

    “Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and I will bless thee; for unto thee, and to 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 I 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 26:2-5.FEE 23.7

    And when Isaac sent Jacob to his mother’s kindred, because he would not have him take a wife of the daughters of the land, he said:—FEE 23.8

    “And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.” Genesis 28:3, 4.FEE 23.9

    As Jacob went on his way toward Haran, he lay down at night in a certain place to sleep, and he dreamed, and in his dream he saw a ladder.FEE 24.1

    “And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” Genesis 28:13-15.FEE 24.2

    After Jacob’s long sojourn in the East, he returned to Canaan, and he came to Luz, or Bethel, where the Lord had appeared to him in his dream, and there he built an altar. And again the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him:—FEE 24.3

    “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; and the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.” Genesis 35:11, 12.FEE 24.4

    And yet again when Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph, he said:—FEE 24.5

    “God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said unto me Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession.” Genesis 48:3, 4.FEE 24.6

    These are the promises which God made unto the fathers; and upon examination they will be found to contain the gospel in all its fullness. They are the foundation of the hope set before us,—sure and steadfast, because they rest upon the promise and the oath of the everlasting God.FEE 24.7

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