God’s Covenant with Abraham

Genesis 12-15 and Psalm 5

“…in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness” Psalm 5:4-5

King David teaches us a lot about transparency by writing many of the psalms that reveal his frustration with those who seek to undermine God’s people. David made plenty of mistakes, but he always came back to God and entreated others to do the same. “Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies–make your way straight before me” (5:8). Just as we sing songs that repeat phrases as we emotionally pour ourselves out to God, David repeated asks the Lord to lead him and to wipe out the wicked; both with trust that God would do what he has promised.

And so we begin the amazing story of Abraham in Genesis 12. A story of promise, another covenant between God and a humble man. From the very beginning God’s promise is emphasized, “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” (Genesis 12:2).

So Abram took his family, everything they had, and completed the trip his father begun–they went to Canaan. There was famine in the land, so they packed up and headed to Egypt where Abram’s first deception plays out, “Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” Apparently, Sarai is quite beautiful, so Abram has a plan to take advantage of the Pharaoh’s eye for women…and it worked. Pharaoh’s men took Sarai to the palace and Abram was able to acquire cattle, servants, etc. When Pharaoh discovered Sarai was Abram’s wife he made them leave the country, but they were allowed to take all they had accumulated. So they departed.

Abram became quite wealthy and accumulated livestock with his nephew Lot, to the point that they needed to part ways to make room for the animals. Abram gave Lot the choice and Lot chose what he considered the better option in the area of Sodom. As time went on, the kings of the surrounding lands began to fight, “four kings agains five.” The band of four kings seized Lot and his possessions and took them away. The news was reported to Abram, so a rescue mission was planned with “the 318 men born in his household” (Genesis 14:14). This morning I noticed the phrase, “The 318 men…” not some random group, this is “the” group. According the NIV Study Bible notes, “the Hebrew for ‘trained men’ is found only here in the Bible.” Interesting.

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed AbramGenesis 14:18

The King of Sodom tries to make a deal with Abram, but he is rebuffed harshly, “I will accept nothing by what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me.”

Abram is still troubled that he has no child of his own blood. The Lord hears his lament and reminds him of the promise, “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them…so shall your offspring be.'” The response: “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” As Abram struggles with understanding how all of this will happen, God makes a covenant with Abram and gives him a glimpse of the future where his descendants flourish.

In Romans 4 Paul points to this text as the basis for preaching justification by faith over works, “therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring…He is the father of us all” (Romans 4:16). See also Galatians 3:6-14.

Lord let us be a people of faith. Help us to learn from the example Abram showed — all the honor and glory belong to you.

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This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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