Abraham was called "Friend of God"(Isa. 41: 8; James 2:23).
Abraham is the "father of all believers" (Rom. 4: 11). As such he is not only the beginning but the pattern of all believing experience. There are, above all, four chief principles which in connexion with him are plainly introduced for the first time into the history of salvation
i. The free character of salvation---in justifying and glorifying.
ii. The central basis of salvation---the resurrection power of God.
iii. The Mediator of salvation ---the coming Seed.
iv. The goal of salvation ---the heavenly city.
The migration from Ur in Chaldea (Gen.12) was not really the most significant event in Abraham's life, but rather that revelation on a starry night, almost ten years later, when God concluded with the Patriarch the covenant of faith (Gen. 15:5,18). That was the time when Abraham received the Divine declaration of justification, and it is there that in the annals of salvation the very first plain and express mention is made of the jusufication of a sinner (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:2-4).
(I) The Justification. But here it is definitely the time of its taking place which is the main and decisive point. For " When was faith reckoned to Abraham unto righteousness? before or after his circumcision?" (Rom. 4: 10). The answer runs: Not less than thirteen years before he was circumcised. Because the covenant of circumcision was first introduced when Abraham was already ninety-nine years old (Gen.17: 1-14); but the covenant of faith and the justification took place before even the birth of Ishmael, and therefore before his eighty-sixth year (Gen. 16, esp. ver. 16; comp. 17:1). Consequently Abraham had been justified already thirteen years before he was circumcised.
Upon this sequence Paul, in Rom. 4, builds his whole celebrated proof from Scripture that justification is through faith alone. As to Abraham himself, humanly speaking it might have been without significance whether the justification had been before or after the circumcision. God had, however, a prophetic end in view in this precise sequence. For through it Abraham was to become the "father of all such as without circumcision, but through faith alone, should become justified." But this was only possible if he himself received justification as one uncircumcised. Therefore the sequence in his life of the two covenants is not a matter of indifference, but in relation to the development of salvation is prophetic. Through this very fact it became evident that circumcision cannot be a condition precedent to but only a " seal " of the righteousness by faith (Rom. 4: 11). But one sets a seal only to a completed document. Therefore the justification of Abraham must have been something completed and concluded in advance.
From this it follows that now, in later times, uncircumcised Gentiles do not need first to be circumcised to acquire justfication, but on the contrary, the circumcised must have the faith of the still uncircumcised Abram. To attain to the temple of salvation the Gentile must not first pass through the ante-room of the Jews-that is, through the law-but the Jews must first pass through the ante-room of that faith which Abram already had while being, so to say, a "heathen."
Thus it is set forth clearly that salvation is without human merit and that redemption is of grace, a free gift purely to faith, and proof is given that the gospel of the church age was foreshadowed in the covenant with Abraham. Thus the " new covenant" is the continuation and glorious perfection of the covenant with Abraham (Gal.3:9, 14; Rom. 4), and, consequently, according to its nature, is older than that "old" covenant which began with Moses (Heb. 8: 8, 9). "The patriarchial age is more evangelic than the law; as the age before the law is a prototype of the age after the law."
(2) The Glorification. But at the same time, with the justification, there was joined the assurance of the inheritance. "I am the Lord who caused thee to migrate out of Ur of the Chaldees, so as to give thee this land for an inheritance" (Gen.15:7). With the declaration of righteousness-this beginning of the new life-the patriarch thus received at the same time-and equally as a gift of God's free grace-the inheritance, the goal, of the new life (comp. Heb. 11: 8-10).
Upon this fact Paul, in Rom. 4: 13-17, places precisely the same value as on the first one. For it signified, as to its connexion with the historic-prophetic salvation, that just as justification was not connected with any kind of law (except the law of faith, Rom. 3: 27), so it would be with the inheritance, its completion and glorification. Therefore the law is neither the means of justification (see Romans) nor of sanctification (see Galatians), and nothing can set in doubt the title of the redeemed to the glorious inheritance. With the beginning of the new life its title to the consummation is guaranteed. For all is a free gift of divine grace (John 10: 28, 29; I Pet. 1: 4, 5; Rom. 8:30).
(3) The Sign of the covenant. Thus it is of the highest significance for the understanding of the history of salvation to distinguish between the conclusion of two covenants in the life of Abraham: the foundation covenant of faith in Gen. 15, and the additional covenant of circumcision in Gen. 17. Both are described as being a "covenant" (Gen. 15: 18 and 17: 9-l1), and between the two lie at least thirteen years. The first is the eternally valid covenant of grace, given to the "heathen " Abram; the other is a confirmatory covenant (Gen. 17:7), appointed as a "seal" to the already "justified" Abraham, not intended to last eternally, but to be simply preliminary to, and to last only until, Christ (Gal. 4:2). But the first is the determining covenant; grace is the beginning; and Gen. 15 is thus far the most basic chapter of the Old Testament.
The covenant of promise included two promises, both of double purport, and each with a covenant sign. The one is the promise of posterity and develops into justification; its covenant sign is the starry heavens (Gen. 15: 1-6). The other is the assurance of the land and looks towards glorification; its sign is the covenant sacrifice (ver. 7-21). Majestic and exalted is the one; mysterious and dark is the other.
The offerings have been divided; the sun has gone down; deep sleep falls on Abram. Terror, thick darkness, and anxiety fill his soul. Birds of prey swoop down upon the offering, but Abram scares them away. Finally the Lord passes between the pieces of the offering, under the guise of a smoking furnace and a flaming torch, and the covenant is concluded. From the point of view of the history of salvation this is the most significant covenant-making of the Old Testament (Gen. 15:9-18).
But why so much gloom with a covenant of grace, this darkness and horror with the promise of light, why the birds of prey, the smoking furnace, the flaming torch?
The sacrifices are Israel. What happened to them was a type of the national destiny of this people. And this is gloomy, full of terror and darkness (Deut. 28: 15-68). Therefore the conclusion of the covenant itself takes place through a smoking furnace and flaming torch. The birds of prey are the nations, especially the Egyptians (Gen. 15: 13-16). But Abram scares them away; for on account of the "holy root" Israel will be granted preservation and maintenance (Rom. 11: 16, 24). " YOU cannot bless us-for a curse lies on us: you cannot curse us, for a blessing lies on us."
The passing between the pieces of the offering, which lay over against each other in two rows, signified the filling up of the " gap " between the two partners to the covenant, the smelting and forging together of their duality into unity and thus the perfecting of the covenant itself. But that the Lord alone passed through (Gen.15:17,18), and not Abram also after Him, signifies that the covenant is a pure gift of divine grace, that man neither works nor co-works therein, that God alone does all, and that man is simply the recipient (Rom. 3: 24; Phil.2:13).
Not only the sacrifice, but also the victory of the sacrifice is necessary for the completion of the redemption. "Is Christ not raised, then is your faith vain" (I Cor. 15:17). Consequently the resurrection power of God is part of the determining ground of salvation.
Particularly in this is revealed again the spiritual connexion between the present age and the covenant with Abraham. For both reach their acme in the faith that God is able to create life out of death. There exists indeed an essential difference, in that Abraham's faith looked forward to something yet to be accomplished, while our faith looks backward to something already completed; and in that Abraham's faith expected a divine wonder in the realm of creation and in reference to an ordinary mortal man, while our faith confesses that such has already come to pass in the realm of redemption, and in reference to the Son of God Himself, our risen Saviour and Lord.
Twice, at the birth and at the sacrifice of Isaac, this came notably to the fore in the life of Abraham, and in such a mariner that the second instance is,the enhancing and glorifying of the first.
(I) The Birth of Isaac. Abraham's faith was being steadily educated toward this high point. Here lies the real reason why he must wait so long-till his hundredth year-for his heir (Gen. 17: 17). "Death" (Rom. 4: 19) and "extinction" (Heb.11:12) must first have entered before the new life could be born. Upon this basis alone could Abraham's faith become "resurrection" faith. Only so could he learn to believe on Him who "makes the dead to live and calls the non-existent as if it were already there" (Rom. 4: 17). Hereto must he attain because he, as the "father of all believers" should also be the prototype of all believers, and because in all ages saving faith stands and falls with the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:17-19).
Thus there lies in the life-story of the Patriarch, as the Bible narrates it for us, something that is continuously and compulsorily prophetic-the waiting for the Seed was the chief matter in his life; and this must be so "for our sakes," we "who believe on him who has raised from the dead Jesus, our Lord" (Rom. 4:17-25, esp. 24).
This faith stands out still more distinctly in the sacrifice of his son (Gen. 22).
(2) The Sacrifice of Isaac. Faith is growth into God. Therefore it requires a progressive education. More and more must it be loosed from the earthly and attached to the heavenly. In this sense there are in Abraham's life four ascending tests. The highest was that on Moriah.
First there was the departure from Ur, the separating from his father's house and relations. But, because the family of Abraham were idolaters (Josh. 24: 2) that meant separation from the world(Gen.12).
Then came the separation from Lot, this indeed "righteous" (II Pet. 2: 7, 8) but nevertheless worldly-minded man (Gen. 13: 10-13; 19: 18.). That meant release from all half-heartedness and lukewarmness, and thus separation from all conformity to the world(Gen.13).
The third step was the dismissal of Ishmael, the son of his own human strength; and thus separation of soul and spirit (Heb. 4: 12), the parting from all thoughts and plans of pious self-help (Gen. 21).
The last was the sacrifice of Isaac, who was God's own gift to him as the promised seed. Even the blessings which the Highest gave to him, faith gives back to the Giver; thus there is separation from even divine gifts (Gen. 22). The worshipper takes the crown which he has received from the King, surrenders it to Him, laying it before His throne (Rev. 4: 10,11); and says "To the Lamb be the blessings" (comp. Rev. 7: 12).
From this it becomes clear that the account of the sacrifice of Isaac, so much impugned, is not perhaps merely some chapter in the Old Testament which, in certain circumstances, could, as some think, be left out, but is the highest point in the life of the Patriarch himself; and, because he is the "root" of the revelation of redemption, it is to be viewed as prophetically symbolic, the culminating point of the promise which is the basis of the gospel in general.
In fact, the conception of sacrifice which is here taught is unique. It cannot in any way be classed with the Canaanitish-Phoenician, Semitic, Indian, Aztec, or any other sacrifices of human beings: the sacrifice of Moriah is distinguished from them all by at least a threefold contrast.
(a) Firstly, by the soul of the sacrifice. Not the form but the heart is the chief matter. Abraham had "sacrificed" Isaac to God (Heb. 11:17), and yet had not killed him. The external completion of the act had been suddenly prevented by God Himself (Gen. 22:12, 13). Thereby was proclaimed the principle that it is not the external performance that makes the sacrifice to be a sacrifice, but the intention of the heart, not the presenting of the gift, but the devotion of the soul. This is a wholly inward and spiritual conception of sacrifice, which here for the very first time comes to the fore in the record of salvation. It was for this spiritualized conception of sacrifice that the later prophets of the Old Testament, in the battle against Jewish externalism, constantly strove with spiritual power (Isa.1: 10-15; 66: 3; Jer. 6: 20; Hos. 6: 6; Amos 5: 21, 22; Mic. 6: 6-8; Psa. 40: 6-8).
(b) Secondly: by the victory of the sacrifice. Not death but life is the final goal of true sacrifice. Indeed the command to sacrifice the one and only person through whom the promise must be fulfilled must have seemed at first to the Patriarch to be full of contradiction. For how should the promises of God ever be possible of fulfilment, seeing that they were bound up with none other than this same Isaac, who, moreover, was at the time of the sacrifice without descendant (Gen. 17: 21; 1l: 12) ? Here appeared to be a conflict between the command of God and the faithfulness of God, which plainly was intolerable. Nevertheless, since God never can lie, there remained to reflecting faith a solution-either God would provide Himself a beast to be sacrificed in place of Isaac being offered (Gen. 22: 7, 8), or, in case it should really come to the death of the firstborn, He would raise him, as the bearer of the promise, again to life (Heb.1l: 19). He demanded a burnt offering (Gen.22:2, 3, 6-8); He required in Abraham's case, that Isaac, slaughtered with the knife (v. 10), should be burned to ashes. But, for the sake of His faithfulness and promises, this very Isaac, burned to ashes, He must bring again from death to life! And to this last supreme height it appeared that it would really come on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22: 9, 10).
This is Abraham's boldness of faith. So the Scripture testifies. In the very act of sacrificing his son he reckoned it that God was able even to raise him from the dead" (Heb. 11: 19). Therefore as he left his servants he had said to them "When we have worshipped, we (not "I") will come again to you" (Gen. 22:5).
"Faith reconciles contradictions;" 1 and by this test Abraham's faith was ennobled unto becoming the type of the New Testament faith in resurrection. At the birth of Isaac it had first been a "faith in resurrection," in the sense of new quickening of impotent " dead " natural powers (Rom. 4: 17-20); but at the sacrifice of Isaac, it became, in the circumstances, a resurrection faith, in the sense of a literal resurrection of one literally dead. So the Patriarch gained " through the advancing activity of his faith the idea of resurrection, and, in the actual outcome of the narrative of the sacrifice-the sacrifice of the ram in place of Isaac- he gained the idea of the true sacrifice, i.e. substitution" (J. P Lange). Therein he is a new type of our faith; for in the sacrifice of the Lord the resurrection belongs inseparably to the cross, and life triumphs over death (Rom. 8: 34; 5:10; I. Cor.15: 17-19).
1"Fides conciliat contraria" (Luther, who explains Gen. 22 as above).
(c) Thirdly. But the goal of Moriah is Golgotha. Not the present but the future gave this sacrifice its highest value. Therefore did it take place nowhere else than on "Moriah," the mount where "God is seen" (Gen. 22:14), where later the Temple stood (II Chron. 3: 1), where upon the altar of burnt offering all the sacrifices which pointed to Christ would be brought, and where in the death hour on Golgotha the veil between the holy and the all-holy places would be rent (Mark 15: 38). Thereby Isaac became a type of Christ and Abraham of God the Father, and the summit of the most decisive and fundamental covenant of the whole Old Testament became a symbolic prophecy as to the centre of all testaments and covenants of God, the cross of Golgotha.
Thus the sacrifice of Moriah announces three great salvation truths of the Biblical conception of sacrifice:
1. The spiritual nature of sacrifice;
2. The resurrection of the victim sacrificed;
3. The personal fulfilment of the sacrifice in Christ.
And the last is the greatest of them all.
(1) Abraham and Christ. Of Abraham's long life of 175 years (Gen. 25: 7) we know extraordinarily little. Almost everything deals with the expected seed. But it is this that is of the highest significance. Before Abraham there had indeed been announcements of the coming Redeemer: of the Crusher of the serpent (Gen. 3: I5), of the Rest-bringer (Gen. 5: 29), of Jehovah, the God of Shem (Gen. 9: 26). But all this came in very veiled form and extremely seldom-according to Biblical chronology only these three times in the course of almost twenty-hve centuries!
But now, with Abraham, the expectation of the "seed" became the all-prevailing and chief thought (Gal. 3: 16), and, for the first time, stands in the foreground of all events in the sacred history. So much is the "seed" the centre of the Patriarch's life that his history, as recorded in the Bible, occupies itself scarcely at all with his person, but almost exclusively, in nearly every chapter, with his expectation of the promised heir. One has only to think of the first promise of the seed (Gen. 12), the conclusion of the covenant (ch. 15), the birth of Ishmael, the false seed (ch. 16), the circumcision covenant and the promise to the man of ninety-nine (ch. 17), the visit of the three men (ch. 18), the casting out of Ishmael (ch.21), the sacrifice of Isaac (ch. 22), and the wooing of Rebecca for his son (ch. 24).
Thus the life-goal of the Patriarch lay not in himself but in the coming Mediator of salvation. Abraham exists for the sake of Christ.
Christ lived before him (John 8: 58);
Christ lived in him (I Pet. 1:11, comp. Gen.20:7).
Christ lived after him and moved before his vision (John 8: 56)
For this reason the sight of Messiah's day was the summit of his life. Never in the Old Testament do we read that Abraham " rejoiced ;" but in the New Testament the Lord Jesus speaks of it. And what was the ground of this exultant cry of joy of the Patriarch? The Lord says: "Abraham, your father, rejoiced over this, that he should see my day; and he has also seen it and rejoiced over it" (John 8: 56). Thus by the view of the coming Redeemer, Abraham's faith rose to exultation; and the like joy is imparted to all true sons of Abraham (I Pet. 1: 8).
But for Abraham himself the Redeemer is something manifold:
the origin of his being (John 8: 58);
the aim of his life (Gal. 3:16);
the secret purpose of his efforts (Gen. 15: 3);
the strength of his service (I Pet. 1:11, comp. Gen. 20:7);
the channel of his blessing (Gal. 3: 14);
the goal of his hope (John 8:56);
the subject of his joy (John 8: 56).
(2) The "Angel of the Lord." The spiritual significance of the covenant with Abraham is also the reason why at this very moment (Gen. 16: 7), for the first time in the history of redemption, the "Angel of the Lord" comes forward. As the church fathers had already recognized, 2 this is no less a person than the Son of God Himself, the Word (John 1:1; Rev. 19: 13; Prov. 8: 22,23), who appeared later in Christ (John 1:14).
2Among later scholars we mention Calvin, Hengsteberg, Keil, Ebrard, Lange, and Stier.
Therefore He calls Himself plainly " God " (Exod. 3: 2, comp. 6), and is so named by the Bible historians (Gen.1:22,11, comp. I; Exod. 3: 2, comp. 4: 7; Jud. 13: 22, comp. 15).
Therefore Divine characteristics are ascribed to Him (Judges 13: 18, comp. Isa. 9: 6; John 12:41, comp. Isa. 6: 1-4), and Divine actions (Gen. 16:10; 18:10, comp. w. 13, 14; 48:15, 16; Exod. 23:20, 21; 14: 19,Comp. 13:21;Judges 2:1; I Cor.10:4).
Therefore also is Divine honour rendered to Him (Gen. 16:13, comp. 7; Judges 6: 22-24), which also He accepts (Josh. 5: 14, comp., on the contrary Rev. 19: 10; 22:8,9).
And if this "Angel of the Lord" before He appeared to Abraham, had first appeared to Hagar (Gen. 16: 7), this is on the same principle that later the Risen One revealed Himself first to Mary Magdalene, not to His mother Mary or to John the disciple (John 20:1-18; Mark 16: 9). For He shows Himself first to the most afflicted and dejected. He is the Saviour of the poor(Matt. 5: 3; 11: 5).
But that at exactly this point in the patriarchal age, He appears for the first time under this name and in this form of manifestation, rests on the fact that this patriarchal age is the very foundation of the revelation of salvation, the actual beginning of a more definite preparation of His own incarnation.
Therefore nothing can be more fitting than that just here the Son of God Himself, the true end of this incarnation, should appear for the first time, indicating at one and the same time His oneness with God and also a certain self-distinction from God. To the father of the "seed" (Gal. 3: 16) appears the "Seed" Himself as the "Messenger," 3 the "Angel of the Lord" (Gen.22:11, 15); and from now on throughout the whole Old Testament there runs an organic unfolding of this veiled self-revelation of the Son; from the "Angel of the Lord" (Gen. 16: 7), to the "Angel of the presence" (Isa. 63: 8; Exod. 33: 14; 23:20,2l), on to the "Angel of the covenant ' (Mal. 3:1), unto indeed, Jehovah Himself, Who will come suddenly to His temple (Mal. 3: 1).
3In the New Testament also Christ is once named the "Messanger"(Apostle) of our confession(Heb. 3:1).
In Christ faith arrives finally at its goal, heaven and the heavenly city. Thus also Abraham. Hc lived as a stranger in the promised land, and " dwelled in tents with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs of the same promise; for he awaited thc city which has the foundation walls, whose designer and master-builder is God " (Heb. 1 l: 9, l0)
Here below, an alien-there above, a citizen:
Here below, a tent (Gen. 12:8; 13: 18)-there above, a city:
Here below, the altar (Gen. 12:8; 21:33)-there above, the face of God, the eating and drinking in His kingdom(Matt. 8:11).
This is the heavenly calling of the Abrahamic covenant.
The covenant with Abraham has developed in a remarkable manner, first in the life of the Patriarch himself, and then also in his bodily and spiritual descendants.
(I) The stages of development in thc life of Abraham. In the life of faith of Abraham five stages are plainly to be distinguished, whose beginnings are always signalized by Divine revelations of epoch-marking significance.
The first stage (Gen. 12 to 14) begins with the departure from Ur in Chaldea and the migration to the land of promise. This stage is connected especially with his call.
The second stage (Gen. 15 and 16) begins with the covenant of faith, when he was declared to be righteous, and with the sealing of that faith by the covenant sacrifice. The special significance of this stage is justification.
Then, after a waiting period of thirteen years (Gen. 16: 16, comp. 17: 1), which was the Divine answer to the precipitate action of Abraham over Hagar and Ishmael, there comes the third stage (Gen. 17 to 21). This begins with the changing of his name from Abram ("exalted father") to Abraham ("father of the multitude"), together with the introduction of the covenant of circumcision, and the dedication of the Patriarch to devotion and holiness.
The circumcision is indeed no means to justification (Rom. 4: 9-12) or sanctification (Gal. 5: 2-12), but it is nevertheless a symbol, or more exactly a type of sanctification, and more especially of the principle of the surrender of the sinful self-nature unto death, the "cutting off" of the God-estranged life and all its impulses. Therefore the " circumcision not made with hands" is the "putting off of the body of the flesh," that is, being crucified and dead together with Christ (Col. 2: 11, comp. Rom. 6: 2-4)
Connected with this dedication is the fourth stage, the chief test and proof (Gen. 22) in the surrender of his son on Moriah; and thus finally, after this supreme testing of his faith, can the fifth stage arrive, the period of calm and repose from work, life's evening and perfecting (Gen. 23-25:10).
(2)The transferences of thc Covenant. The covenant of God with Abraham continued as the foundation for the two following Patriarchs. For when it speaks afterwards of a covenant with Isaac and Jacob, this is not another, a new covenant, but simply a confirming, maintaining, and transferring of the same Abrahamic covenant to new participants (Gen. 26: 3; 28:13-15; 35:12). Therefore said God to Isaac: " I will maintain (establish, fulfil) the oath which I have sworn to thy father Abraham " (Gen. 26: 3); and to Jacob He revealed Himself in Bethel unreservedly as the " God of Abraham " and the " God of Isaac " (Gen. 28:13). Moreover, He added to the promises no substantial and new covenant stipulations (Gen. 35:12).
Such transferences of the covenant were necessary, because Isaac had Ishmael and the children of Keturah as brethren (Gen. 25: 1-4), as also Jacob had Esau as brother. Therefore a special Divine promise was always needed to declare which one of all these should be the incumbent of the Abrahamic covenant. From Jacob onward, however, this was no longer necessary, since no one of his children was excluded from the blessing. In consequence, transferences of the covenant cease from this point.
In all, Abraham had three kinds of posterity:
(a) purely bodily: Ishmael, the children of Keturah (especially Midian, Gen. 25: 1-4), and Esau (Edom);
(b) bodi!y and spiritual: Isaac, Jacob, and Israel, and
(c) purely spiritual: the believers from all nations (Rom. 4: 11,12; Gal. 3: 14).
Thus there is threefold fulfilment of the promise given to him that his descendants should be as "the dust of the earth" (Gen. 13:16), as the "sand by the sea" (Heb.1l:12), and as the stars of heaven" (Gen. 15:5). And Abraham became both "ancestor of a multitude of peoples" (Gen. 17: 5), which came to pass through his bodily and bodily-spiritual descendants; and also the channel of blessing for all families of the earth (Gen. 12:3)-this is fulfilled in Christ and the spiritual blessing of redemption (Gal. 3: 14).
(3) Thc Possessors of the Covenant. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are the leading personalities in the period of the patriarchal promise of faith. Faith is common to them all, and, as its foundation, the covenant promise. Nevertheless this common possession shines in each case with a different brightness.
Abraham is the seeking and finding faith. He looked first for the land, then for the heir, and finally for the heavenly city (Gen. 12:1; 15: 3; Heb. 1l:10).
Isaac is the enduring and resting faith. He endured on Mount Moriah (Gen. 22), renounced his wells so as to avoid conflict with his enemies (Gen. 26:15-17, 20,22), and made no such great journeys as Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph.
Jacob is the serving and fruit-bearing faith. Although humanly less attractive than his brother Esau, he yet, on account of his faith in the promise, was preferred to his unbelieving brother (Mal. 1:2; Rom. 9: 12, 13), and at last, after many years service, he attained to greater increase and fruitfulness (Gen. 29 and 30).
Finally, Joseph is the suffering and triumphing faith; in his humiliation, as also in his exaltation, a prophetic type of Christ.
But all four together, taken in this order, display the law of the growth of faith. Faith begins with seeking and funding. It shall be glorified in its triumph. But between lies the enduring and serving, and in the serving the fruit-bearing.
Thus the succession of the four Patriarchs is of the deepest significance. We must begin with Abraham, and then pass through the experience of Isaac and Jacob so as to attain to the suffering and victory of Joseph. In this sense the history of the Patriarch's faith becomes the history of all experimental faith in general; and as the former reached its summit in Joseph as a type of Christ, so has the latter its perfection in Christ, the 1iving One, Himself.
To carry forward the history of salvation directly to Him is the task of the next following period, that of the law.
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