November 5, 2010


This post will show the continuity and discontinuity of Abraham and the Abrahamic Covenant.

Continuity (Belief-Faith)

Since there are no direct references to the words continuity and discontinuity within the Bible you will have to assume these concepts are to be found in the holistic and overlying narrative and the fact that Abraham’s trust and faith and obedience to God is ideal. As such, Abraham’s behavior and inner faith showed an ongoing or obedience that had continuity. Because of Abraham’s faith he was determined or reckoned righteous by God. His faith was accredited to him as righteousness, based on this fact God reward Abraham with the promise of a “seed”, even in light of the fact that Sarah, his wife is barren and unable to produce offspring. This then carries over to the Hebrew ideas of progeny and progenitor. The progeny or offspring represent the progenitor or parent. In Abraham’s case not only is he to be Isaac’s father physically but also the progenitor of the entire physical line descending from Isaac (and Ishmael). He also is the origin point for the faith and the benchmark or measure of the line to descend from the “seed” mentioned in Genesis. We see in the Genesis narrative of Isaac and subsequent offspring of Abraham a human set of characteristics that have this line a times behaving with dignity and in a noble manner and at other times behaving like unbelieving faithless boneheads (yes, you can quote me on that one).

It is from the “seed” that we the promise of a “great nation”. The implication is that Abraham will have many descendants that will possess a specific land (Canaan, later know as Israel). With this promise of land there is then a sealing of the covenant with Abraham by God. God unconditionally guarantees through this covenant (and subsequent covenants) that He will fulfill what He has promised regardless of whether or not Abraham and his descendants live up to their end of the deal. Unconditional covenant…sounds pretty continuous to me (i.e.: continuity). It is through this covenant that all nations will then be blessed. We know in the end this nation produces the Messiah and all that believe in Him regardless of nation are indeed blessed through Him with eternal life if only they believe.

It warrants mentioning the “testing of Abraham” also because it fits into the pattern of scripture and the account of Abraham’s pattern of faith, obedience and the fact that God accredits this faith as righteousness to not just Abraham but all those that follow God’s required pattern of obedience. His faith is resolute. He was prepared to sacrifice his son no questions asked. He believed God even though in the end the covenant was not completely fulfilled in his lifetime, he will only experience the “first fruits”. He believes in light of the fact there are clear and obvious inhibitors to fulfillment of said promise.

Discontinuity (Disbelief-Lack of Faith)

The discontinuity based on the descriptions of the book lean towards the disobedience aspect or lack of faith. We see this is immediately made manifest in the Sarah’s (and subsequently Abrahams lack of faith that God will do as he says and give them a son. Sarah offers her servant Hagar and this is where the major discontinuity begins. As we see about the entire promise / anti-promise stems from one act of faith and one act of lack of faith. Isaac and Ishmael. We see that conflict and strife arises from this estranged relationship between Hagar and Sarah facilitating the need of expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from the camp of Abraham. When we see disobedience it is not long before we see the narrative and storyline of redemption grind to a halt and take unrighteous detours.

We see and exceptional usage of the narrative of Abraham by Paul in Romans and Galatians as he expounds upon the idea that it is solely by faith that men are saved not by the Law and circumcisions. Abraham’s righteousness was not achieved by keeping the Law that was given to God’s people through Moses but rather but by believing God. When Abraham was obedient and had faith there was the continuity of God’s promise and fulfillment of it. When Abraham was disobedient and had little or no faith it “short-circuited” the process. Also, this blessing normally meant for Israel was extended to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ and a believer’s and faith in Him.

The other striking parallel in terms of continuity and discontinuity is the fact that those who emulate and have the same type of faith as Abraham can expect to share in the blessing associated with Abraham. Thos that do not have this type of faith can expect a blessing or lack of it in proportion to the level of faith they have in God and His promises.

Since it is so eloquent in its wordage and delivery in the book concerning the anticipate arrival of a future king and its fulfillment of aspects of the covenant I will quote the dictionary verbatim.
“The divine promises to Abraham anticipate the coming of a royal descendant who will impart God’s blessing to all the nations of the earth. Although the Genesis narrative does not identify this future king, the New Testament writers, building on the rest of the Old Testament, share the belief that he (the king) is Jesus Christ, the son of David” (Alexander 372).
So there you have it, from the beginning to the end…continuity. I am the Alpha and the Omega. Before Abraham was, “I AM”. It is God’s plan, perfect in obedience and faith, imperfect in disobedience and lack of faith.

Alexander, T.D. . "Part Three-Abraham." New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity & Diversity of Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 367-372. Print.

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