Father Abraham

Father Abraham

DAY 6 OF 10

Abraham’s Covenant with God: Genesis 15:1–17:27

Now we come to the third major step of Abraham’s life, the covenant that God made with Abraham in 15:1–17:27. In general terms, this step focuses on God’s covenant with the patriarch in ways that reveal the character of Israel’s covenant relationship with God. These chapters divide into three main segments. 

The first episode focuses especially on God’s covenant promises to Abraham in 15:1-21. This chapter is the well-known account of the time when God entered into a covenant with Abraham. God promised to give Abraham progeny and land. Specifically, God promised that Abraham would have a multitude of descendants, and that after a time of mistreatment in a foreign land, Abraham’s descendants would be brought back to the land of promise. This passage was designed to remind the Israelites that God had made a similar covenant with Israel through Moses. And more than this, it showed them that they themselves were experiencing the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham. The Israelites were Abraham’s promised progeny, and they were returning to the very land that God had promised to their patriarch. To doubt these facts was to doubt the gracious covenant promises God had made to Abraham and reaffirmed with Moses. 

The second episode that focuses on God’s covenant with Abraham is the patriarch’s failure with Hagar in 16:1-16. This sad story recalls how Abraham and Sarah turned from the covenant promises of God by seeking a child through Sarah’s Egyptian handmaiden, Hagar. Abraham and Sarah failed to trust God’s covenant promises, but God rejected their alternative plan by not accepting the child Ishmael as Abraham’s true seed. Moses’ original audience repeatedly turned from God’s promises in covenant and desired the comforts of Egypt. And this story from Abraham’s life taught them that just as Abraham’s plan had been rejected, their alternatives to God’s plan would also be rejected.

The third episode focusing on God’s covenant with Abraham is the account of Abraham’s covenant requirement in 17:1-27. In this passage, God confronted the patriarch over his failure to follow God’s plan. The Lord also reasserted the need for covenant loyalty by instituting circumcision as a covenant sign that was to be applied to Abraham and his sons. By this sign, God reminded Abraham that his covenant relationship entailed the responsibility of loyalty, and that loyalty would lead to great blessings. Moses recounted this side of Abraham’s covenant to confront the Israelites in his day over their failures to remain faithful and to reassert the Israelites’ need for covenant loyalty. Only as the Israelites were faithful to their covenant God could they rightly hope for his great blessings.

So, the centerpiece of Abraham’s life, his covenant with God, drew attention to the grace of God’s marvelous promises to Israel. But it also forcefully reminded his audience that they were obligated to display loyal service to their covenant God.  

About this Plan

Father Abraham

This reading plan explores the account of Abraham's life in Genesis from a distinctly Christian perspective in order to answer questions such as: What did these stories mean for those who first received them? And what do...

We would like to thank Third Millennium Ministries for providing this plan. For more information, please visit: http://thirdmill.org

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