For those who are just joining us, we have been in a series called, “On the Edge”. The series tells of the excitement and adventure found in following God. We have been studying the life of Abram better known as Abraham as an example of a life of faith. Today, we will carry on with a teaching called, “Covenant”.
In Genesis 12, God spoke to Abram. This changed everything for Abram. His entire life becomes centered around the word from God. The word changes his purpose, his location, how he lived, how he made decisions. Has God’s word changed your life? As we said in week one, there were several obstacles to the word of God coming to pass in Abram’s life. Last week, we saw God overcome one. This week, we study another from Genesis 15. God speaks to Abram and tells him two things that Abram can “hand his hat on”. One, God is Abram’s protector. Abram will forget this at a future point. The other is that God is Abram’s exceedingly great reward. Abram’s reward for following God will be very great.
Abram’s mind probably flashed back to the earlier word from God given to him right before he left for Canaan. The word included a promise about descendants and land. At this point in time, Abram had no children. One of the major obstacles to the promise of God coming to pass was the fact that his wife, Sarai was barren. God clarifies to Abram that his heir will come from his own body. God takes Abram outside and shows him the stars and says: “Count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be.” (Verse 5) At this point, there are no children. No solutions given to Sarai’s barrenness. Only stars as a parody of the reminder of God’s promise. At this point, we learn something critical:
Faith brings righteousness.
Man does not have the ability to be righteous. Righteousness is a product of God’s nature. And, we see that when Abram believed in God’s word, in His power, in His character, the power and character of God was transferred from God to Abram! Now, when you receive God’s power and character is anything impossible for the carrier? Do you believe God’s word? His power? His character? We are simply human. We need a basis upon which to believe for the impossible. So, God gives Abram a basis and He has given you the same basis for your belief in God word.
The biblical words most often translated "covenant" are berit [tyir.B] in the Old Testament (appearing about 280 times) and diatheke [diaqhvkh] in the New Testament (at least 33 times). The origin of the Old Testament word has been debated; some have said it comes from a custom of eating together ( Gen 26:30; 31:54 ); others have emphasized the idea of cutting an animal (an animal was cut in half [ 15:18 ]); still others have seen the ideas of perceiving or determining as root concepts. The preferred meaning of this Old Testament word is bond; a covenant refers to two or more parties bound together.
God tells Abram to prepare a sacrifice. Blood is shed and the sacrifice is prepared. Abram waits all day for God to appear. At night, God comes to Abram and a blazing firepot – a pot made of clay holding a fire passes between the pieces and God gives Abram revelation and reaffirms the word. Covenant gives us a basis for believing the word through two things.
Providing a vehicle for the promise to come to pass.
In short, blood was the vehicle. The blood of the sacrifice represented the blood of the participants in the covenant. They were bound together – they were of common interest and goal. The word was their bond and the blood was their shared destiny. God has given His Son – The Word of God through which we are forgiven, bonded to God – sharing a common destiny. Covenant binds us to God. It is the vehicle through which God does His work.
Providing assurance while we wait.
Covenant allows us to rest in the word of God because we know that the shedding of blood guarantees the promise. Jesus is your blood promise from God that the word will come to pass and He is the vehicle from which the power for the word to come to pass resides.
Genesis 12:1-3, 7
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