All too often, we Christians want to complicate Christianity. We come up with rules we think must govern what it means to be a Christian. We make up rituals and rites and all manner of complication that have nothing to do with the Christian life.
It is our purpose in this series to cut through all the rituals and rules and expose the true essence of Christianity. Hopefully, by the time this series is complete, everyone reading it will see how truly simple Christianity is.
If you have not read the earlier posts on this subject, find the “Categories” list in the right-hand column of this page and click on “Christianity 101.” This will pull up all the previous posts so you can read through them in order.
We’ve looked at the Adamic and Noahic Covenants. Today, we take a look at the Abrahamic Covenant, which is stated in the first three verses of Chapter Twelve of the book of Genesis.
In this discussion, it’s important to remember that Abraham did not receive his name until after the time of this covenant. Although we call it the Abrahamic Covenant, his name was still Abram when God made this covenant.
1. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you;
2. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing;
3. 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.”
To initiate this covenant, Abram had to show his faith by doing what God told him to do. He had to leave his home country and his relatives and his father’s family. How many of us would be willing to do that? Many Christians answer the call to the mission field, just as Abram answered this call, but most of us are too comfortable in our regular surroundings to uproot ourselves and our families like that.
For the small price of obedience, God gave Abram a tremendous blessing. He was well up in age at the time and had no children, but God said He would make of him a great nation. What a wonderful thing. He also said He would bless him and make his name great so that he would be a great blessing.
Think about that for a moment. Here’s this unknown man from Ur, a man with no great things going for him. He wasn’t a great ruler or a wealthy merchant, but God made his name so great that we still honor him over 3500 years later.
The promise of this covenant would have been great if God had stopped at the end of verse 2, but He didn’t. In verse three He gave Abram a promise that still holds an important place in world affairs today.
In the first two verses, He talks about blessings to Abram himself, but now He extends those blessings to all who bless him. And He didn’t apply this only to Abram as an individual. He applied it to him and his progeny.
When we talk about progeny over a period of several millennia, how do we know exactly who is a direct descendant and who isn’t? I’m not sure we can, but we don’t need to. We know that his progeny in general applies to the nation of Israel and to those born to Jewish parents.
When I bless Renee Schuls-Jacobson or Nina Badzin or other Jewish friends, I am blessing Abram, and God promises to bless me because of that. When the United States blesses the nation of Israel, we are blessing Abram, and God promises to bless our nation because of it.
But let’s not forget, that same sentence goes on to say that God will curse those who curse Abram—or the nation of Israel or individual Jews. Those politicians in our government who would withdraw our support for Israel are playing with fire. Almighty God is watching, and the moment we turn our support to enmity, God will turn His blessing to curses.
We try to walk a fine line to maintain our support for Israel while not making enemies of the sheiks and other tyrants who control the oil over there, but we need to do that very carefully. If we ever get to the point of having to choose sides in the middle east, I’d rather have the blessings of the Creator of the Universe than to incur His wrath by supporting the enemies of His chosen people.
Yes, I realize Arabs claim their heritage to come from Abram also, and I’ve never known just what to make of that. All I can say for sure is that they descended from the bastard son, not the legitimate son, and that they made themselves the enemies of God’s chosen nation Israel. If God wants to bless them because they are Abram’s descendants, so be it. If, on the other hand, He wants to curse them because they curse His chosen people, so be that. It’s not something you and I have to decide about.
God’s final statement in verse three is that in Abram all the families of the earth would be blessed. That’s a pretty neat promise. All the families of the earth. I’m not sure I can explain how that pertains to the Orient, but the very fiber of Western civilization rests on Judeo-Christian ethic, and the Judeo part came long before the Christian part.
Having gone through this long-winded explanation, how do we apply this covenant in our lives today. The main thing I draw from this is security.
Because of Abram and the covenant God made with him, I can rest in God’s arms, secure in the blessings He promised me through Abram. That’s been a comfort our forefathers could rest in for over 3500 years now.
If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
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Hey David, I really like this. I’m very aware of the Judeo part of my Judeo-Christian roots.
I have mixed emotions, however, about Israel and the Middle East. Since God told Ishmael’s mother, when she and the child were lost in the desert, that he would also be the father of many nations (or words to that effect) I’m inclined to agree with Muslims’ claim of Abrahamic descent.
I’ve had many Muslim students through the years. One who particularly stood out was a young woman who was in my class on 9/11. She stood up and told the class how ashamed she was and begged them to not judge all Muslims based on the behavior of fanatics. She went on to say that while there are parts of the Koran that seem to encourage war (as there are in the Bible), Islam is a religion of peace just like Christianity.
I believe that the majority of Muslims just want to worship God in peace. I pray that the fanatics on both sides of the disputes in the Middle East will someday get that.
It amazes me that the three largest religions in the world worship the same God, and yet we can’t always seem to get along.
I’m aware of the promise to Hagar about Ishmael in the 16th chapter of Genesis, which I admit leaves me in some level of confusion. I would point out, however, that this promise is not quite the same as those in the covenants we’re studying here, and the capricious god the Muslims worship is totally different from our loving God.
God made His promise directly to Abram. He sent an angel to deliver the promise to Hagar. And He didn’t promise blessings. He promised that He would multiply Ishmael’s descendants and that they would be against everyone and that everyone would be against them. In Chapter 17, He does tell Abraham He will bless Ishmael, but the blessing is not specific, and He goes on to specify that His covenant will be made with Isaac.
Very interesting. Thanks, David.
Thanks, Sharon. I hope these are informative also.