Understanding the Old Testament

God’s Covenant with Abraham (aka Abram)

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Abram’s family was originally from Ur, which was located on the Euphrates River in what is now southern Iraq. Abram’s father, Terah, moved the family—which included Abram, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot—upriver to Haran, in what is now southern Turkey. (See Genesis 11:26-31.) Genesis 11:31 tells us that Terah originally intended to go to Canaan, which is now the country of Israel, but instead stopped and settled in Haran.

When Abram was 75 years old, the Lord told him to leave Haran and go to a land God would show him. This meant leaving everything and everyone that was familiar to him. Abram did not hesitate. Genesis 12:4 says, “So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him. . . .” Taking Sarai and Lot with him, Abram traveled to Canaan, a distance of more than 500 miles.

Because of his faithful obedience, God made Abram a remarkable promise:

                           . . . I will make you a great nation,

                          And I will bless you,

                          And make your name great;

                          And I will bless those who bless you,

                          And the one who curses you I will curse.

                          And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.

(Genesis 12:2-3) The promise was all the more remarkable because Abram and Sarai had no children at the time, and Sarai seemed unable to conceive a child. (Genesis 11:30) Yet God promised to give the land of Canaan to Abram’s descendants. (Genesis 12:7)

Later God made a covenant—that is, a solemn contract—with Abram, promising to make him “the father of a multitude of nations” if he would be righteous and faithful to God (Genesis 17:1-4). Furthermore, the Lord promised to do so through a son who would be born to Abram and Sarai—whom God now renamed Abraham and Sarah. (Genesis 17:5, 17:15-21.) Sure enough, Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 years old and Abraham was 100. (Genesis 17:17, 21:1-5) As a sign of this covenant, all males were to be circumcised. (Genesis 17:10-14)

God’s covenant with Abraham and his descendants would later be renewed with Isaac (Genesis 26:1-5) and Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15) as well as with their descendants at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1-8).

Question to ponder or discuss: Abraham’s descendants would prove much less faithful to God than was their patriarch. Why do think God did not renounce the covenant when this happened?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

My book, Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15), is available on Amazon.com as either a print book or a Kindle e-book. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074MVHVHP Read Chapter 1 (pdf format)



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