The foundation covenant is the Abrahamic (Gen. 12-13, 17). Its features are threefold: (1) Personal to Abraham (12:1); (2) to His seed it promises a land, a nation, and blessing (12:2-3); (3) to the families of the earth, blessings through Abraham and his seed (12:3). This is an eternal covenant (Heb. 6:13-18). It was ratified by God alone (Gen. 15:8-18). The ratification process was to kill an animal, split it in half, and both parties pass between the pieces of the animal. But here God alone passed through the pieces, Abraham was asleep. It was God alone binds Himself to fulfill the covenant.
The significance of the Abrahamic covenant is fourfold: (1) It was based on the principle of Grace (unmerited favor). God made the covenant with Abraham by His grace. (2) It is the title deed to the land of Israel. It gives the land as an inheritance. (3) It is the basis of expectation and prophecy. It is the basis of the future hope of Israel (Rom. 11:25-29).
This is the foundation covenant for Israel. It is the root of all the promises given to Abraham’s seed (Israel). It promises them a land, a nation, and blessings (i.e. redemption). This covenant was expanded by other covenants.
The promise of land was expanded by the Palestinian Covenant (Deut. 30:1-10). This covenant guarantees the land to them, and obligates God to judge and remove its enemies. This is reaffirmed in Ezekiel 16:60-66.
The promise of a nation is expanded in the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:8-16). This promises David an everlasting throne (cf. Psalm 89:34-36). It will be fulfilled in the earthly kingdom when Christ sets upon the throne in Jerusalem (Rev. 20:6, 11-15).
The promise of blessing and redemption is seen in the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). Many forget that this covenant concerns Israel—today’s church is not its fulfillment. While we may received some of the redemptive blessings by grace, the dispensational blessings of Israel’s conversion is still future, and this covenant is a foundation of end time events (Rom 9:25-27).
These are what Paul calls the covenants of promise to which the Gentiles were strangers (Eph. 2:2). Notice Paul’s phrase—covenants of promise. Not all covenants were covenants of promise. I have heard preachers say all the covenants were made with Israel—not true. An example would be the covenant made with all the earth through Noah. We should be careful how we phrase things. The covenants of promise were made with Israel, not all covenants. They are covenants of promise because they build upon the foundational Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant was expanded by the Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenant—all covenants of promise. All of which the end time events are based and will be fulfilled. These covenants of promise necessitate that: (1) Israel as a nation and a people be preserved; (2) Israel must be in the land at the end times; (3) they be restored and redeemed when Christ returns and sets up His Kingdom on earth.