45 The Abrahamic Covenant and the Covenant of Grace

Genesis 15v7-21

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.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 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, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” (ESV)

Background: Adam and Eve rejected God and His loving council, and this is where our childlike dependence on the living God fell away. Man wanted to promote his own wisdom and glory and scorned the love and will of God. With that fell the whole human race! We all have a nature that is prone to sin which is rooted in our hearts. The essence of sin is self-reliance and self-exultation. There is now terrible enmity between man and God, the natural heart seeks after itself. From God’s side His nature will not allow Him to be indifferent to our sin (see Isaiah 48v11). No man or woman will ever have God’s glory. This age shapes the course of the world then and now. The kind of action that God took to redeem this world is astonishing. God zones in on one man, who worships false gods (see Joshua 2v3, Genesis 12). God in His sovereign grace approaches this man and blesses him and through him to the whole world. God’s 4000 year relationship is important to believers today and the Word is written for our instruction that we might have hope. By steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Consider the following:

  1. What were the promises made to Abraham?
    a) Promise of Posterity: The promise of a land to dwell in (see Gen. 13v14). With this his name changes from Abram to Abraham.
    b) Promise of Justification: God justifies Abraham through his faith (see Gen. 15v4-6; 17v7; 24v27).
    c) Promise of Resurrection: He is the God of resurrection which occurs through our Lord Jesus Christ (see Mat. 22v31; Ex. 3v50). God gave him freedom from condemnation and eternal life. God is his shield. Abraham is the conduit for God’s blessings. God has in view, as we see with Jesus Christ, a plan for the whole world.

  2. What are the conditions for these promises to be realized?
    a) The promises are sure, steadfast and irrevocable. God is in control of them (Gen. 15v4-5, see Ez. 36v27) and were conditional on Abraham’s obedience (see Gen. 18v19).  Just because they are conditional does not mean they are uncertain. Who can frustrate God’s plans? Obedience is the necessary outcome of trusting God’s promises which are required to meet the conditions for the promises. It is based on the obedience through faith (see John 3v36; Heb. 5v9). God will see that we keep His covenant. The seed of Abraham will not be limited to the seed of Israel but will include many nations (see Gen. 12v3; Gal. 3v8). Many nations of families will be heirs of these promises. Paul says Abraham’s promises have not failed even though many Jews are unbelievers. His promises weren’t made to every physical descendent of Abraham as they do not share his faith and obedience. That’s why John the Baptist said “do not say they we have Abraham as our father…” These promises were opened to all the nations for all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins (see Gal. 3). If you are of Christ then you are a son or daughter of Abraham.

  3. Who are the heirs of these promises today?
    Believers in Christ are the seed of Abraham and heirs of the promises (see 1 Corinthians). We must be grateful and live according to His promises.