We wrote yesterday of the generations that stretched from Adam to Noah and eventually to Abram. And as Chris wrote on Monday, Matthew’s gospel delineated the generations from Abraham to Christ – demonstrating the Jewish rights of Christ through the tribe of Judah.
Today we look at this pivotal character of Abram – later named Abraham. In chapter 12 of Genesis we read of a promise of God to him that is called the Abrahamic Covenant. It is repeated in the second chapter we look at today – chapter 15 of Genesis.
God’s story of redemption will now be defined through his work in the life and lineage of one family—the family of Abraham, known soon as “Israel” through the descendants of his grandson Jacob.
The Lord’s Covenant with Abram in Genesis 12
12:1 – The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
The Lord’s Covenant with Abram in Genesis 15
15:1 – After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
6 Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7 He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
8 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
The Abrahamic Covenant had three primary promises:
- That Abraham’s name would be great. And indeed it is, as he is revered by the Jews, the Arab peoples, etc.
- That he would make a great nation from Abraham. Yes it did happen, and it continues to this day. His descendants have been as innumerable as the stars visible in the sky.
- That all the earth would be blessed through him and his descendants. And this is what has special interest to us, for it speaks ultimately of the coming of Jesus Christ and his work of redemption on behalf of the world.
So there is a physical family of Abraham, but also a spiritual family as well – those who are redeemed by the work of Christ. And that spiritual family consists of all of those who are God’s people from both before the time of Jesus and down to the present day. All salvation is based upon the price paid by Christ on the cross.
So indeed, Father Abraham had many sons; many sons had Father Abraham. And I am one of them and so are you … if you base your hope and trust in the payment of redemption (which is what the word means – to loose by paying a price). We are the fruits of redemption … the roots of which go back to Abraham, and even to the determination of God in the Garden of Eden to choose to save his lost creation.
Romans chapter 4 ties it all together…
16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.