INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017
THIRD QUARTER 2017 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"THE PRIORITY OF THE PROMISE"
AUGUST 5, 2017
A will is a legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to
make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after
his death. Years ago there was a distinction between a will and a
testament, but over time the distinction has disappeared in that a
will, can also be known as a "last will and testament." A will serves
a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his
heirs rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution
to choose the heirs, who, although among blood relatives, might be
people the testator deems as unfit or with whom he is unacquainted.
Therefore a will allows a person to decide which individual could best
serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property to the
beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a
court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. In addition, a
will also safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve
as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.
Thus, the testator bequeaths his property or estate to heirs of his
choosing. To the heirs, what is bequeathed to them is an inheritance.
The heirs typically receive the inheritance without having to work for
it; it is a gift.
Now, the word "covenant" today means contract, but in the Bible it can
be used in two ways. In the Greek, we have two separate words that
can be translated as the word "covenant" in English. The words are
'will' and 'contract'. As seen above, a will is made by one person but
may affect many. The word translated as covenant in relation to what
God gave to Abraham, is "will." A contract, however, is made between
two persons. For example, the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ended
up being like a contract, not because it was the Lord's intention, but
because of the response of the Hebrews. God gave the law and the
Hebrews responded with, "All that you have said we will do" (Exodus
What we see in Genesis is that the Lord promised an inheritance to
certain individuals. The Lord did this with Noah, his sons and all
the creatures alive after the flood (Genesis 9:9-11). Neither Noah,
his sons, nor the animals responded to God with what they would do,
they just received the promise.
A few chapters later, the promise of inheritance was also given to
Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3,
Now the LORD had 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
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.
Abraham responded by hearing and believing the word of God.
The Lord appeared to Abraham in chapter 15 and reiterated the promise.
Abraham asked the Lord who should be his heir and the Lord answered, I
will give you a son "that shall come forth out of thine own bowels"
(Genesis 15:4). The Lord then told Abraham to look at the sky and
count the stars. Abraham realized he could not, to which the Lord
said, "Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky" (Genesis
15:5). Then verse 6 gives us one of the most important thoughts in
the Bible: Abraham, "… believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him
When Abraham asked for surety, the Lord had him prepare a sacrifice in
the way 'business deals' were confirmed in his time. Abraham slayed
the animals and laid them on the ground according to the custom. The
custom was for both parties involved in the deal to walk through the
sacrifice. However, in verse 17, we read only the Lord walked through
the sacrifice. This showed that God did not make a deal or contract
with Abraham. The Lord promised Abraham the inheritance and the Lord
would deliver it. Abraham (and his Seed) just accepted the
inheritance by faith.
Sadly, to the Jews this posed a problem. Why give the Law? What was
the purpose? (Wherefore the Law?) Paul answered, that it was added
(spoken) "because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19). The law was
added because of unbelief. Why did Moses permit divorce? Moses
allowed divorce, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew
19:7-8). The law was spoken to show the children of Israel, and the
world, how sinful they were and how incapable they were of keeping the
law. It was spoken to make sin exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). It
was spoken to make justification by faith desirable and was never
meant to be used as an instrument to achieve righteousness or to be a
method for salvation. The law is not an alternate. Therefore, it has
not disannulled justification by faith.
In Paul's time a Will or Testament could not be changed (by taking
away or adding anything) or disannulled after it was confirmed
(Galatians 3:15). Thus Paul is saying that the promises made to
Abraham and his Seed cannot be modified or disannulled, either
(Galatians 3:17). Just so, the giving of the Law did not change the
covenant, nor "make the promise of none effect" (Galatians 3:17).
Paul adds in verse 18, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no
more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." And, Abraham
believed God. For this reason, the law was not spoken to Abraham
because he believed the promises of the inheritance. Had the children
of Israel believed as Abraham believed, there would have been no need
for the law and no need to write it on tablets of stone. The Lord
would have written the law in their hearts.
So what about today? Are we repeating the same mistake by
misperceiving the Promises of God as well as the law? Are we demanding
the Lord to be in a contract with us in regards to the law, and the
inheritance, in order to earn His favor? Or will we allow Him to write
the law in our hearts and minds, so that when He (the Lord) makes
promises, we'll respond with a heartfelt, "I believe, help Thou my