A Great Covenant

abrahamThis sermon is based on Genesis 11:27-12:9.

“Father Abraham had many sons…” But not at first. Like, not at first as in not the first 99 years of his life. He had no son. Not one. He had a wife, Sarai his half sister (Genesis 20:12), but she was barren.

Depending on the archaeological or scholarly evidence you believe, Abraham was born Abram to Terah the son of Nahor in the south of Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) or in the south of modern day Turkey. The cities mentioned in Genesis 11:27-32 as places Abram dwelled are Ur and Haran. Both were centers of worship to the local moon god, Nanna (sometimes called Sin). Terah’s, Sarah’s, Milcah’s, and Laban’s names all suggest an allegiance to that moon god. Joshua affirms that Terah and his people served other gods (Joshua 24:2). But Abram was predestined to serve the One true God who made the moon and everything else in Creation. He was called into covenant with that God, the LORD, and to follow Him wherever He did lead.

So the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you,” (12:1) and Abram went. He walked by faith, not by sight, and “by faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents… looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God,” (Hebrews 11:9-10). He went by faith, but he did not go empty-handed. He possessed the promises of God: that he would be made into a great nation, that his name would be made great, that he would be protected by God, and that through him all the clans of earth would be blessed (12:2-3). To possess the promises of God is to be blessed, even if they have yet to be fulfilled, for the promises of God never fail. There are no falling words with Him. So Abram believed. The call is there for us to put our faith in Jesus and follow Him. He never gives His disciples all the details of where He will lead them. He simply says, “Follow me,” and they do! Are you following Christ with an Abram-like faith, dying to yourself and living to the glory of God?

God also made some mighty promises to Abram and He delivered on every one of them, though they did require quite a bit of patience on Abram’s part. It was twenty-five years before Sarai bore Abram a son, Isaac. When Sarai died Abram purchased a burial cave in the side of a mountain. It was the only piece of land in Canaan he would possess in his lifetime, though his people would become numerous and would return to possess the land in a fuller sense some 400 years later. Along the way God protected Abram, Sarai, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and all his offspring until the coming of Jesus the Christ through whom people from all nations are now blessed. We live in an instant gratification culture. We want what we want and we want all of it and we want it now. We want faster food, faster internet, faster pleasure. People are increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs because they don’t feel they are climbing the ladder fast enough. They want to be the boss overnight. In romance, not only are most people too impatient to wait until marriage to enjoy sex, but many are too impatient to wait for the first date, hence the rise of the hook up culture (Tinder, etc.). We hate waiting. If God doesn’t give us what we want when we want it we are tempted to give up on Him and find a god who will. The fact that God doesn’t work on our schedule and we grow impatient with Him speaks ill of us, not Him. Abram’s story shows us that God’s promises are worth the wait. Abram is still waiting for some promises to be ultimately fulfilled. He longed for a city with foundations established by God and he will receive it on the Day of Christ’s return. We long for that same city. May we be encouraged by the grace of God in Abram’s story and by the patient faith Abram lived out. May that same grace sustain us in Christ and enable us to be patiently faithful as we follow Him wherever He may lead along the way to His holy city, the New Jerusalem.

Discuss and Pray

  1. Abram left his country, his people, and his family to go where God called him. Jesus’ disciples did similarly. What does it look like for you to “leave everything” and follow Jesus (keep Matthew 19:29 in mind while considering this)? For a church?
  2. Abram waited a long time for his son, Isaac. He never fully possessed the land that the Lord promised to his offspring. Yet he remained faithful and trusted God would keep every one of His promises. What is the nature of your eternal hope in Christ? What are some ways in which you have displayed a similar trust to that Abram showed? What promises from God do you struggle to believe because they seem so distant? What are the blessings you enjoy in Christ?
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