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SIMPLIFIED JOURNEY (3): Covenant With Abraham

The name Genesis means “beginning.” In the first post of this series, we saw the beginning of the earth, the human race, sin, and God’s promise of redemption. In this article we will see God begin to execute that plan in the most significant event of the Old Testament (after the Creation and Fall), as He calls Abraham and makes a covenant with him.

The covenant with Abraham is even greater than the giving of the Law of Moses at Sinai.

Galatians 3:15-18 – Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

This promise, made as a covenant, is for the purpose of blessing the world by turning it away from its sinful ways into a covenant walk with God – as Adam and Eve had in the Garden. As God gave it to Abraham, there were three main components, the first two designed to prepare for the third.

  1. God would make Abram (later called Abraham) a great nation.
  2. He would give this nation a land in which to live.
  3. From that nation in that land He would raise up One Seed of Abraham who would bless the world.

Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15:6

Testing Abraham’s Faith

Abra(ha)m believed God – but his faith was tested.

The first test of Abraham’s faith was that he was told to leave his home country and his father’s house to go to a land the Lord would show him. “He went out, not know whither he went.” He obeyed God – but his obedience was imperfect. His father accompanied him from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran in Mesopotamia.

The second test of Abraham’s faith was his childlessness. He was 75 when God called him. His wife was also old and barren. Yet, when God promised him his descendants would be as numberless as the stars, Abraham believed God.

The third test, and perhaps the greatest test, was when God told him to sacrifice his only son (that is, his only son by his wife, Sarah). As he and the boy were climbing the Mountain to the place of the sacrifice, Isaac asked, “Here is the fire and the wood for the sacrifice, but where is the lamb?” Abraham’s faith led him to reply, “God will provide a lamb for the offering.”

When Abraham’s knife was at Isaac’s throat ready to slaughter him as an offering to God, God stopped him. He said, “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” Later, a New Testament writer said that Abraham acted in faith that God would raise the boy from the dead. This event, of course, pre-figured God’s own sacrifice of His only Son, thus providing the perfect “lamb” for the sacrifice all of us need because of our sins.

Abraham’s faith was not perfect, especially in the beginning. He had doubts, and his obedience to God’s command was imperfect. He left Ur with his father; he did not leave his father’s house to go to the land God would show him. When he left Haran, to took Lot, his brother’s son, with him – with tragic later results. He feared the inhabitants of the land would kill him to take his beautiful wife for themselves, so he asked her to tell them she was his sister. He believed God’s promise to give him a son, but he thought he would help God out by taking a concubine. Yet, these tests of faith caused him to grow in faith – so much so that we know him as “the Father of the Faithful.”

At each test, God renewed his promise and covenant with Abraham.

It is interesting to observe that these three tests correspond to the three promises. He met the test of leaving his homeland – and God gave a new land to his descendants, though Abraham had to buy a place to bury his dead while he lived in that land as a sojourner. Abraham believed he would receive a son through God’s grace, and God made his descendants “as the sand of the seashore or as the stars of the sky” in number. He met the test of sacrificing his son, and God blessed all nations of the earth through the sacrifice of His own Son who was also the descendant of Abraham.

See Genesis 12 – 22 for the narrative of Abraham’s walk with God and how God gave him promises and made a covenant with him.

NEXT (4): I Will Make of You A Great Nation

PREVIOUS (2): Sin Increases in the World


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