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by Dr. John Thomas
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that (portion of the seed) only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all," both Jews and Gentiles, "before God whose promises he believed;" as it is written, "a father of many nations have I constituted thee" (Rom.
The Judaizers claimed a right to the inheritance because they bore the seal of the covenant, marked in their flesh by circumcision ; the apostle, because he believed the same things that Abraham did, and was the subject of God's righteousness through the faith of Jesus Christ, without any title derived from the law of Moses.
Seeing that he threw the law out of the question altogether, he anticipates the objection, viz, if this be so, wherefore, then, serveth the law?
Of what use is it?
To this he replies, "It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made".
"It was a schoolmaster untii Christ; but when the things of the Name of Jesus Christ were manifested for faith, or, as he expressed it, "after that faith is come," Israel is "no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all," both Jews and Gentiles, "the children of God in Christ Jesus through the faith" (Gal 3:19-29).
The apostle lays great stress upon the covenant of promise being prior both to circumcision and the law of Moses; consequently, Abram could not derive his title to Canaan and the world, from either of them; for the promise was given before he became the subject of the righteousness which is by faith of it: and he was constituted righteous before the promise was made a covenant and confirmed; and this confirmation was fourteen years before the institution of circumcision, and 430 years before the promulgation of the law of Moses.
"Faith," says the apostle, was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness when he was in uncircumcision;" and then it was he was constituted the father of many nations, and Heir of the World.
The promise, before it became a confirmed covenant with Abram indicated the country he is to inherit, but it did not point out its territorial frontiers.
This deficiency was supplied at the confirmation.
It was to extend from the Euphrates to the Nile, comprehending a tract of country of considerable extent, and inhabited by the nations enumerated in "the will".
Abram, therefore, could be at no loss to know in what direction, or to what limits, his future country was to extend; for he had travelled it all over in its entire length and breadth.
Now, if a map of the territorial area indicated in the covenant be examined, it will be seen that the broadest extent is "from sea to sea" as it is expressed in Scripture (Psalm 72:8; Zech.
9:10); that is, from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf; and its greatest length, from the rivers to the ends of the land;" or, from the Euphrates at its junction with the gulph, northward; and from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile, to the entrance into Hamath.
But, the frontiers of the territory were afterwards more particularly marked out at the time of the captivity in Babylon.
The twelve tribes were then all in exile form the land and it was once more wholly possessed by the Gentiles, as it is now.
They were powerless and prostrate under the heel of the oppressor, and with out hope of recovering the country by their own efforts.
At this crisis, the Lord revealed to them the extent to which in after times they should repossess their country.
"This," said He, "shall be the border whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel.
And this shall be the border of the land toward the north side, from the great sea (Mediterranean), the way of Hethlon, as men go to Zedad; Hamath, Berothath, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Harnath; Hazarhatticon, which is by the coast of Hauran.
And the border from the sea shall be Hazarenan, the border of Damascus and the north northward, and the border of Hamath.