Saturday, January 04, 2014

Genesis 12-15 Fulfilling covenant obligations

From Genesis 12-15
Gen 12.1-3; Story; God makes covenant promises to Abraham
Gen 12.4-9; Story; Abram heads toward the land the LORD promised him
Gen 12.10-20; Story; Abram and Sarai pretend to be siblings, God protects them and they get found out
Gen 13.1-13; Story; Abram and Lot separate because of the size of their flocks. Lot goes to Sodom.

Gen 13.14-18; Story; The LORD reaffirms his promises to Abram
Gen 14.1-12; Story; Kings of the land battle one another and in the process capture Lot
Gen 14.13-16; Story; Abram and 318 trained men defeat the victor of the previous battle and rescue Lot
Gen 14.17-18; Story; The rescued king of Sodom and Melchizedek king of Salem meet Abram.
Gen 14.19-20; Story; Abram is blessed by and tithes to Melchizedek
Gen 14.21-24; Story; Abram and the king of Sodom negotiate what they took back

Gen 15.1-6; Story; The LORD reaffirms his promises to Abram. Abram believed God and his belief in the promise is counted as righteousness by the LORD.
Gen 15.7-21; Story; The LORD ratified the covenant and the promises he has made to Abram

Passage and comments
This is one of the more important sections of the bible and it regards the promises of God. I thought it would be helpful to list them;

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to
1) the land that I will show you. And
2) I will make of you a great nation, and
3) I will bless you and
4) make your name great, so that
5) you will be a blessing.
6) I will bless those who bless you, and
7) him who dishonors you I will curse, and
8) in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:1-3)

Depending on what we are to consider promises there is about eight different promises listed here. Do any strike you are particularly interesting? One in particular is recalled by Paul in Gal 3.8. This I have labelled promise 8.

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “
To your offspring  (2)
I will give this land.” (1)
So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. (Gen 12:7)

Arguably these promises are reaffirmations of promises 2 and then 1. These promises in particular are important for the rest of Genesis (for 2) and the rest of the Torah / Pentateuch / Gen - Deut (for 1).

The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (Gen 13:14-17)

Again as I noted, promises 1 and 2 are repeated again. This next section has incredible importance for Paul’s faith - works arguments in Romans and Galatians.

[5] And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” [6] And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. [7] And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” (Gen 15:5-7)

So what we see here is God reaffirming his promise of offspring to Abraham. Abram believed God. God knows Abram believes and counts or regards Abrams belief as righteousness. If we read further on.

[18] On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, [19] the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, [20] the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, [21] the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” (Gen 15:18-21)

God, the promises of God, Abram and his belief in the promises of God are understood within a covenant context. Abrams belief in God’s promise is regarded by God as righteousness according to the covenant agreement. What that means is that Abram is seen as upholding his end of the covenant obligations by believing God.

Story of Jesus
The same applies to Jesus. When people hear the Gospel narrative of Jesus life, death and resurrection and come to believe he is the promised messiah of God and that they too will be raised from the dead. They connect themselves to Abram as their father because they have the same kind of faith. Faith in Jesus as the risen Christ is identifies people as part of the Abrams spiritual family. Where do you stand on believing that Jesus is the risen Christ of God? Do you believe God will honour his promise to you to raise you from the dead?