I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12:2–3)
Today’s big question: where do we find consistency in covenant?
Have you ever looked up at the stars in the sky or tried to count the grains of sand on a beach? We couldn’t even begin to know the number, but God does. This is the type of number that God promised Abraham in relation to his descendants. They would be innumerable. But there is much more significance found in God’s promise to Abraham than just a number.
God promised Abraham (Abram) three very important things.
- Abraham would become a great nation. (Genesis 12:2, 13:16, 15:5, 16:10, 18:18).
- These descendants would possess the Promised Land. (Genesis 12:7, 13:14, 15:18, 17:8).
- These descendants would be God’s own people. (Genesis 17:2–8, 18:19).
These promises to Abraham were made in terms of an earthbound location and people, but also included a promise of a people who would belong to God. There is one very important element to this promise that is perfectly consistent with the message of salvation right through the entirety of Scripture. We accept God through faith alone, and this is no different for anyone, including Abraham. "And he believed the Lord and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). In fact, Paul quoted this verse to show that salvation has always been by God’s grace, and it is received through faith alone rather than by works (Romans 4:3).
The act of faith for Abraham to take God at His word was significant. Abraham and Sarah were too old to have children, let alone consider becoming a great nation. This caused great tension for them, which becomes clearly visible in the account of Hagar and Ishmael, highlighting Abraham and Sarah as fallible humans. After the relief of the birth of Isaac, Abraham’s faith was shown to be authentic by his willingness to sacrifice his son and to remain centered in God’s promise. He trusted that God would have raised Isaac from the dead if he had been sacrificed (Hebrews 11:19). Of course, God provided a ram as a substitute sacrifice, and the birth of a great nation belonging to Him was underway.
In the account of Abraham we find a great and important pointer to the protected line to Christ. God in His unlimited grace had established a people for Himself, and made a covenant with them to be the line to the Seed that would crush the serpent’s head. All through God’s Word we see a re-establishment of His covenant with a rebellious people to bring blessing through salvation. Through God’s covenant with Abraham, we are again reminded of our sinfulness, and that the only way of salvation is through the sacrifice God would provide—His Son!
Today’s big idea: God’s covenant with Abraham reminds us that He is faithful to save and gracious to establish His people through Jesus Christ.
What to pray: praise God for His love for His people and His gift of Jesus.