Abrahamic Covenant I
From Gospel Translations
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2–3).
- Genesis 12:1-3
When Adam broke the covenant of works, all humanity was sent far away from the gracious presence of God. But God was not content to leave us in such a state. Instead, He enacted a covenant of grace that would rectify Adam’s transgression. This covenant of grace is unfolded through a series of successive, smaller covenants. The first of these is the Noahic covenant where God pledged to preserve the stability of nature so that He can work out His redemptive plan.
Not one Old Testament figure is more associated with the covenant of grace than Abraham. It is to this man that God first makes it clear that He will bring a great number of people unto Himself. It is in this encounter with Abraham that we see one of the greatest examples that God, and God alone, ensures the covenant’s success.
We first read of Abraham and the promises that he is given in Genesis 12:1–3. God reaches down into a pagan land and, in all likelihood, a pagan family, and calls out Abram for Himself (v. 1). Even before the covenant has been formally enacted, God’s grace is at work to redeem a people He has chosen. Abram is promised a good land (v. 1), a great nation, a great name, and great blessing that will extend first to him (v. 2) and then to all the families of the earth (v. 3).
Let us now skip ahead to Genesis 15:1–6 where in verse 1 God promises to give Abram a great reward. Abram is a bit dismayed, however, and implies that God’s reward would be no good for his family since he does not have a natural heir (vv. 2–3). God replies that Abram will not need to have his servant become his heir, for instead he will be given many descendants (vv. 4–5).
Abram believed that he would be given many descendants, and he was counted righteous by God (15:6). God declared Abram to be righteous on account of Abram’s faith in God to fulfill His promises. Like Abram, God counts us righteous only on account of our faith in the person and work of Christ Jesus. The promise of descendants was not fulfilled until Abram was quite old (21:2). This shows us that Abram had to rely upon God alone if the covenant promises were to be fulfilled. Tomorrow we will examine the Abrahamic covenant in more detail and see how it is God alone who guarantees its fulfillment.
We will never bring about the kingdom of God ourselves. We, like Abraham, are utterly dependent upon God for all of His promises to come to pass. He will bring them about with or without us. As you seek to serve the Lord, remember that God can bring the kingdom without you but has graciously determined to use you anyway.
Passages for Further Study