Abraham, Law, Works and Obedience

It is argued that Adam had a "covenant of works," then Abraham had a covenant of grace, then Moses brought another covenant of works, then the New Testament brought grace and faith.

The Bible shows that Abraham's covenant was one of "works," and that the law of Moses is written on the hearts of believers in the New Covenant.

Genesis 26:3-5 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

Genesis 12:4
So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Genesis 17:23
So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.

Genesis 18:17-19
And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD , to do righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.”

Genesis 22:10-20
10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!”
So he said, “Here I am.”
12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”
13 Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-LORD-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”
15 Then the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16 and said: “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son— 17 blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

Psalm 112:1
Praise the LORD!
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.

Matthew 5:19
Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:24
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:

1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Galatians 5:6
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.

[Couldn't Abraham have said this? (1 Samuel 15:22)]

Hebrews 11:8
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. [faith = obedience]

James 2:21
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?

Hebrews 8:7
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says:
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 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 did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Ezekiel 36:25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.

Hebrews 10:15ff
But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. 26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Genesis 3:8
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden as the Spirit of The Day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

While there are many phenomena associated with the [Glory-]Cloud (most are listed in Ps. 18:6-15), perhaps the most striking characteristic is the peculiar, unmistakable noise or voice: virtually every account mentions it. Depending on the situation, it can sound like wind, thunder, rushing water, a shout, a trumpet (or many trumpets), a marching army, the rumbling of chariot wheels across the heavens, or the fluttering and beating of wings (see the passages already cited; also Ezek. 3:12-13; 10:1-5; 2nd Sam. 5:24; 2nd Kings 7:5-7); and Ezekiel tells us that the sound, in fact, has its origin in the beating of the wings of the myriads of angels (Ezek. 1:24; 3:12-13). Consider the following description of the sevenfold Voice from the Cloud:

The Voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The LORD is over many waters.
The Voice of the LORD is powerful,
The Voice of the LORD is majestic.
The Voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
And He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The Voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
The Voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh [cf. Num. 16:19-33].
The Voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve,
And strips the forests bare.
And in His Temple everything says, "Glory!" (Ps. 29:3-9)

It was this Voice—an ear-splitting, earth-shattering roar that Adam and Eve heard on their last day in the Garden: "And they heard the Voice of the LORD God traversing the Garden…and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden"

When Adam and Eve sinned, they heard the characteristic sound of the Glory-Cloud blasting its way like an express train through the Garden: the thundering Voice of the Lord caused by the beating of angels' wings. The literal translation of that verse reads:

And they heard the Voice of the LORD God traversing the Garden as the Spirit of the Day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the Garden" (Gen. 3:8).

In other words, Adam and Eve heard the sound the Cloud makes when God comes as "the Spirit of the Day," when He comes as He did at the Beginning, as Judgment. God did not take evening strolls through the Garden, contrary to the sentimental reflections of third-rate evangelical poets. When Judgment came to Adam and Eve, it came in the form of the Glory-Cloud: with blinding light, scorching heat, and deafening noise—the Spirit of the Day.

David Chilton, Paradise Restored, Chapter 7, Chapter 15.


If Adam had a "covenant of works" with God, so did Abraham, so did Israel in Ezekiel's Day, and Ezekiel foretold a gracious new covenant of law and works with a fearful God, more fearful than under the Old Covenant.

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