Millennial Series: Part 12: The Abrahamic Covenant and Premillennialism -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 108:432 (Oct 1951)
Article: Millennial Series: Part 12: The Abrahamic Covenant and Premillennialism
Author: John F. Walvoord

Millennial Series:
Part 12: The Abrahamic Covenant and Premillennialism

John F. Walvoord

It is recognized by all serious students of the Bible that the covenant of God with Abraham is one of the important and determinative revelations of Scripture. It furnishes the key to the entire Old Testament and reaches for its fulfillment into the New. In the controversy between premillenarians and amillenarians, the interpretation of this covenant more or less settles the entire argument. The analysis of its provisions and the character of their fulfillment1 set the mold for the entire body of Scriptural truth.

Most of the discussions on the issue are distinguished for their disregard of the specific provisions of the covenant. Albertus Pieters in his closely reasoned book on this subject2 is no exception. Like Louis Berkhof,3 Oswald Allis,4 and other amillenarians, he finds it convenient and suited to his purpose to overlook the details of the promise and seize upon its general promises of blessings. This is of course necessary for the amillennial interpretation which does not provide any fulfillment of the details ignored. The premillennial interpretation on the other hand is able to account for the entire prophecy and its ultimate complete fulfillment.

The issue, in a word, is the question of whether Israel as a nation and as a race has a prophesied future. A literal interpretation of the Abrahamic Covenant involves the

permanent existence of Israel as a nation and the fulfillment of the promise that the land should be their everlasting possession. Amillenarians generally deny this. Premillenarians affirm it. What, then, are the provisions of the covenant with Abraham and do they promise what premillenarians affirm?

The Provisions of the Covenant

The language of the Abrahamic Covenant is plain and to the point. The original covenant is given in Genesis 12:1–3, and there are three confirmations and amplifications as recorded in Genesis 13:14–17; 15:1–7; and 17:1–18. Some of the promises are given to Abraham personally, some to Abraham’s seed, and some to Gentiles, or “all families of the earth” (Gen 12:3).

The promise to Abraham. Abraham himself is promised that he would b...

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