Sunday, February 28, 2016

Discussing Abraham: The Covenant

Genesis 17
1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.
17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.
22 And he left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.
23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
26 In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son.
27 And all the men of his house, born in the house, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.

A covenant is much stronger than a promise. A covenant is when both parties give up something in order to insure that a promise is kept. For instance, if you made a promise to your best friend, and your best friend made a promise to you, it would be well and good that you and they keep your promise to each other. But, to INSURE that that promise is kept, you take something from them (such as their deepest darkest secret, which, as best friends, you more than likely know). You agree that if that promise is not kept, then the thing that you took would be destroyed. (If your friend does not keep his/her promise, then you agree that you have permission to tell their shameful secret to everyone). That, then, would be a covenant.

God promised Abraham that his descendants would have the Land of Canaan. God promised Eve that, one day, her descendents would bruise the head of the serpent that deceived her. Each child born after that was subject to scrutiny by God. "Is this child worthy of bearing My Name?" This is the question God asked as He looked at each generation and made His choices. Seth was chosen. Then there was Noah. God chose Abram. Only those in the line of His descendants who were faithful, righteous and just were worthy; and, even they were never perfect. God never left them. His Spirit covered them. His love for them endured.

God made a promise to Abram, and now He wanted to make it official.

God told Abram to walk before Him and be perfect. Abram was human. How could he be perfect?

Genesis 15:6
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Abram believed, and that was enough. Abram could do no wrong worthy of damnation because of his faith in God. As long as he believed, he trusted. As long as he trusted, God would count him as righteous, perfect, and without flaw. You've heard people say of other people, "In his eyes, she can do no wrong." That person doesn't have to be perfect. She only has to love. This is how God viewed Abram, who became Abraham. It was as if He were saying to Abram, "If you walk with me, then you are good enough for me to walk with you."

The covenant is a contract between God and the family of Abram. Instead of signing a piece of paper, God requires the trading of blood. God requires obedience before He gives up anything. In order to see this obedience, God commanded that Abram circumcise his household. This was to be a token of the covenant. Anyone who was circumcised from that day forward was worthy of receiving the promise.

What did God give up?

John 1
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 18
30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

John 19
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.
34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

God changed Abram's name to Abraham, meaning "Father of many nations". God changes each of our names when we are adopted into the covenant with him. My name was "Shonda, the destructive", and "Shonda the weak" I am now called, "Shonda, the strong", and "Shonda the stubborn", and "Shonda the faithful". God does that, and no one but God CAN do that.

God promised Abraham that kings would be descended from him.

The old covenant required circumcision. The new covenant requires belief and acceptance of Jesus as Christ, the Risen Saviour, the Lamb of God.

In the Old Testament, we look forward to the cross. After the New Testament, we look back at the cross.

Sarai was renamed "Sarah", meaning "Princess". She would be the vehicle chosen to bear God's chosen seed, Isaac.

Abram laughed at the thought of fathering a child at such an old age -- but he did not doubt that God could do it.

God doesn't expect perfection, just purity of heart. He expects you to try your best in all you do to be perfect -- this includes your relationships with others as well as with Him. Perfection is judged by how well you follow His rules, with pure intentions of the heart.

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