Fulfillment of Abrahamic Promises

Fulfilled in Natural Israel and In Christ

In Two Parts

The Land and The New Testament

There is no argument that the promise of seed and land was made to Abraham. The point of contention is to whom does the promise ultimately apply. As mentioned before, Scofieldism believes that this promise of seed and land applies only to natural Israel.

What does the New Testament teach on this matter? If we call ourselves New Testament believers, then the New Testament should be our guide. We should filter our understanding of the Old Testament writings through the New Testament. Where it speaks to and interprets the Old for us, we should listen. The New has much to say about this matter of the promise to Abraham of seed and land. In fact, this Abrahamic Promise is at the very foundation of the New Covenant.

Does the NT hold to the opinion that the Abrahamic promises apply only to natural Israel as Scofieldism teaches? No, it does not. The apostle Paul deals with the topic more than any other writer. From Paul’s teaching it is clear that the OT reference to Abraham’s seed clearly refers to Christ.

Gal. 3:16
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.

Notice Paul emphasizes the fact that it was to Abraham and his seed, singular not plural, that the promises were made. It is without question verifiable that all the references to the promised seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is masculine and singular. The promises made to Abraham were for seed and for land. If Paul teaches that the promised seed is Christ, then how is the promised land understood? Is he suggesting that the land of Israel actually belongs to Christ? The answer is yes and no.

Before we address what the NT teaches us about the promise of land, we want to clarify the extent to which the promise of seed is fulfilled in Christ.

Gal. 3:26-29
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

According to Paul, all those who believe in Christ Jesus, regardless of their genetic background or cultural status, have been baptized into Christ. This baptism into Christ signifies being in or putting on Christ. You can condense the theology of Paul into these two words, that of being In Christ.

It is interesting to note, that the orthodox Jew prays three times a day and thanks God he is not a Gentile, a slave or a woman. In his daily prayer, he makes plain the difference between the Judaism which makes a proud boast of who they are in the flesh, and the faith of Christ, wherein all these cultural distinctions fall as impotent at the foot of the cross. It is very likely that the same prayers said today by the orthodox Jew, a spiritual descendent of the Pharisees, were said by the Pharisees in Paul's day. Paul likely prayed this same prayer or one very similar, when he lived as a "Pharisee of Pharisees."

He continues by stating that if you belong to Christ, then you are also Abraham’s seed, “and heirs according to the promise.” Regardless of whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, if you are in Christ, you are counted as Abraham’s seed. Not just counted as Abraham’s seed, but “heirs according to the promise.”

According to Paul, being In Christ makes us heirs with Him, according to the promise! What promise? Obviously the promise of all that God had promised to Abraham. Does this mean the land also? Oh, so much more than that tiny strip of land in Palestine.

What Scofieldism fails to recognize is that Abraham and his seed was to inherit the world. Have you not heard this? In Paul’s presentation that Abraham was counted righteous by faith while he was still uncircumcised, Paul says,

For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law [Natural Israel], but through the righteousness of faith[Israel of God]. [Rom. 4:13]

First of all, notice that this promise to be heir of the world was made to Abraham and to his seed. Paul’s point in this verse is that this promise came not through the Law(not to natural Israel), but through the righteousness of faith(the Israel of God). The amazing point Paul makes here, is that the promise made to Abraham encompasses the whole world. How can Paul say this?

Part of the promise that God made to Abraham is contained in the following.

Gen. 12:3
“… and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

God promised Abraham’s influence should reach all the earth, and that in Abraham and by association his Seed, all families of the earth shall be blessed. This promise of blessing all the families of the earth can only be fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The fact that Paul states Christ is the promised seed of Abraham would automatically place the scope of the promises on a world-wide scale. Why is that? Because the scope of the inheritance promised to Christ is world-wide.

Psalm 2:6-8
6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
7 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

There is no doubt among Jewish or Christian scholars, that this Psalm is Messianic in its subject. Here the Lord says, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”

This is a statement of fulfillment of the promise to David. This Davidic promise is restated in Jeremiah 33:17.

Jeremiah 33:17
17 For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want[or lack] a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel;

This promise that David “shall never lack a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel,” is fulfilled in Ps. 2:6. The holy hill of Zion is where the throne of David was set (2 Sam. 5:7; Ps. 48:2). It was from Zion that the Messiah was to rule over the Kingdom of God (Ps. 110:2; Isaiah 2:1-4).

This was not a promise of a continual, eternal succession of Davidic kings, but the promise of One Eternal King, ruling the Kingdom of God from His father David’s Throne, from the holy hill of Zion. This Zion is not the physical hill that exists in the land of Israel, but is the Holy Mount Zion, from which God rules His Kingdom(Heb. 12:22-24).

A Multitude in One Seed

On the surface, there seems to be a problem with Paul’s interpretation of Abraham’s seed being understood as singular. How can that understanding be true, when God told Abraham that his seed would be like the sand of the sea and the stars of the heaven (Gen. 22:17)? Both of these phrases speak of the seed as being of a vast, innumerable count. How can Abraham’s seed be considered as singular and yet be innumerable?

The answer is that in that one singular seed is an innumerable host of offspring. Have you never heard the old saying, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you cannot count the apples in a seed.”

John 12:24
24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Through the death of Christ, the Seed of Promise, He is able to bring forth much fruit. It is through the death of the Promised Seed that, “all families of the earth shall be blessed.” It is this blessing of all families and nations that Psalm 2:8 speaks of.

8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

It is in this we see the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham of land and seed. It is to the Seed of Promise, the Eternal Davidic King who sits on the holy hill of Zion, that is given,

  • The heathen for inheritance (seed as the sand of the sea and the stars of the heaven)
  • The uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (not just a strip of land in Canaan, but the whole earth).

The Summary

To determine whether certain promises and prophecies of Scripture have been fulfilled, we can run into misunderstanding. We try to classify a promise or prophecy as being fulfilled literally or spiritually. The classification of these into literal or spiritual is the cause of the confusion. An example of Literal vs Spiritual would be like this.

In John 10:7, Jesus said, “I am the door of the sheep.” Now does Jesus mean that he is a literal door with hinges and a knob? Of course not. That would be taking what Jesus says in a very literal, wooden sense. We know what He meant was that He is the way for the sheep to enter into God’s fold. This would be to understand what Jesus said in a spiritual sense.

To set up literal against spiritual, is to imply that the spiritual is somehow not real. This is a great error. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal [2 Cor. 4:18]. The choice of classification is not between literal or spiritual, but is between natural and spiritual. How do we know this? The apostle Paul in his teaching concerning the resurrection, sets forth this understanding for us very clearly.

1 Cor. 15:45-49
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

Paul tells us that which is natural is first, then afterwards, that which is spiritual. The fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise to his natural offspring was fulfilled first. As stated earlier, we have Joshua 21:43-45, Jeremiah 32:21-23 and 1 Kings 4:20-21; 24, among others that tell us the ancient Israelites possessed all the land they had been promised. However, they lost their right to dwell in that land through disobedience.

Edward Hendrie makes the same observation.

God’s plan is to first establish the earthly and then the spiritual. “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:46-48 AV) God will not reverse course and reestablish the earthly kingdom of Israel in place of his spiritual kingdom of Israel. That is contrary to his revealed plan. Fleshly Israel was intended by God for an example to us, his church. 1 Corinthians 10:6. It is not the circumcision of the flesh that counts but the circumcision of the heart. Colossians 2:11.
[Hendrie, Edward. "Solving the Mystery of Babylon the Great", 2010, p.vi]

After the promise was fulfilled to Natural Israel, the spiritual and eternal fulfillment is accomplished through Christ. It is in Christ that the Abrahamic Promises find their ultimate and truest fulfillment.

As noted earlier, Scofieldism believes that the promise of seed and specifically the land was unconditional and forever. This is true, but only as it relates to the eternal seed of Christ, who is the eternal Davidic King, ruling over the Kingdom of God of both heaven and earth.

It is clear that New Testament teaching sees the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham as being realized in Christ Jesus. Those who follow the teachings of the Talmudic rabbis (Schofieldism/Dispensationalism) fail in this realization. They have ceased to follow New Testament revelation and have placed their confidence in the tradition of the elders (Talmudism), which Jesus condemns.

This is only one of the many tenets of Scofieldism that fails the Biblical analysis test. Many of the points of belief in this system have more things in common with Judaism than with Biblical Christianity. The focal point of Biblical Christianity is Christ Jesus, while with Scofieldism, the status of those who identify as Jewish is its main focus.

It is obvious that Scofieldism believes that the subject and focus of the Bible is the Jew, while Biblical Christianity knows that the subject and focus from Genesis to Revelation is Christ Jesus.

You must decide which path to follow when faced with this fork in the road.