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God's Covenant With Abraham And Israel: Distinct Covenant Signs

Covenant with Abraham

1. No Sabbath Commandment:

- In the narratives of Genesis detailing Abraham’s life (Genesis 12-25), there is no mention of the Sabbath as a commandment or practice for Abraham.

- Abraham’s covenant with God is characterized by different signs and promises, chiefly the promise of land, numerous descendants, and being a blessing to all nations.

2. Sign of the Abrahamic Covenant:

- The sign of the covenant with Abraham is circumcision (Genesis 17:9-14). This physical sign is a token of the covenant between God and Abraham, and it is instituted as a lasting practice for his male descendants.

3. Covenant Characteristics:

- The Abrahamic Covenant is primarily unconditional, based on God’s promises to make Abraham a great nation, to bless him, and to bless all families of the earth through him (Genesis 12:1-3).

Covenant with Israel (Mosaic Covenant)

1. Introduction of the Sabbath:

- The commandment to observe the Sabbath is formally introduced in the Mosaic Covenant, specifically in the Ten Commandments given to Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:8-11).

- The Sabbath is established as a weekly day of rest and a remembrance of God’s creation and the Israelites' deliverance from Egypt.

2. Sign of the Mosaic Covenant:

- The Sabbath is described as a sign of the covenant between God and the Israelites (Exodus 31:12-17). It symbolizes God's sanctification of the Israelite people and serves as a weekly reminder of their special relationship with Him.

3. Covenant Characteristics:

- The Mosaic Covenant is more conditional, relying on the obedience of the Israelites to a detailed set of laws and commandments, including moral, civil, and ceremonial laws.

Distinction in Covenant Signs

- Abrahamic Covenant: Circumcision is the covenant sign, representing a personal and generational commitment to God, reflecting the covenant's focus on family lineage and the promise of numerous descendants.

- Mosaic Covenant: The Sabbath is the covenant sign, representing a communal and continual act of worship and rest, reflecting the covenant's focus on a holy community living in obedience to God's law.


The covenant signs for Abraham and Israel under the Mosaic Covenant highlight the distinct nature of these covenants. While Abraham's covenant is marked by circumcision and focuses on personal and generational promises, the Mosaic Covenant, with the Sabbath as its sign, emphasizes communal obedience and worship. These different covenant signs underscore the unique roles and relationships that Abraham and the Israelite nation have with God in the biblical narrative.

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TayU Yaho
TayU Yaho
Nov 18, 2023

Exo 31:12  The LORD commanded Moses 

Exo 31:13  to tell the people of Israel, "Keep the Sabbath, my day of rest, because it is a sign between you and me for all time to come, to show that I, the LORD, have made you my own people. 

Exo 31:14  You must keep the day of rest, because it is sacred. Whoever does not keep it, but works on that day, is to be put to death. 

Gen 17:11  You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.

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