The Abrahamic Covenant
Open Your Bible
Genesis 15:1-21, Genesis 16:1-16, Galatians 3:15-4:7, Hebrews 6:13-20
BY Guest Writer
Text: Genesis 15:1-21, Genesis 16:1-16, Galatians 3:15-4:7, Hebrews 6:13-20
We are a covenant-making people. We make promises and vows monthly, weekly, even daily.
I’ll start exercising and lose ten pounds.
I’m swearing off Coke, for good this time.
I vow to read through my Bible in a year.
I promise to have and to hold, for better or for worse.
Our desire to make covenants comes from being made in the image of our covenant-making God (Genesis 1:27). The difference between us and God, however, is we’re more than covenant-makers—we’re covenant-breakers. We make our promises with the best intentions, but then fall woefully short in keeping them.
But our God is trustworthy, and we see His faithful character on full display in His relationship with Abram. He promises to make Abram into a great nation, blessing him, and then blessing all families through him (Genesis 12:1-3).
For Abram, this particular promise must’ve seemed impossible because his beloved wife, Sarai, was barren. How was Abram to be a great nation when his wife was unable to conceive? It’s the sort of promise only God can make. Only He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield;
your reward will be very great.”
It’s no surprise that Abram needed God’s reassurance. In light of his current circumstances, God’s promises perplexed him. How could this be? He and Sarai were childless, but here God was, assuring Abram they would have not just a son, but as many heirs as the sky holds stars. Loving Father that He is, the Lord also promises to provide land for this offspring to live and prosper (Genesis 15:3-5,19-20). What a clear picture of the faithfulness, compassion, and care of God!
Then we come to chapter 16, and everything seems to fall apart. When the fulfillment of God’s promises didn’t come quickly, the barren couple took matters into their own hands.
Have you ever done this like I have? Instead of trusting and waiting on the Lord, I’ve plunged into plans of my own, only to understand later that it was not the wise or faithful thing to do. Likewise, Abram, at the request of Sarai, took their servant Hagar to be his wife. And though Hagar did bear him a child—a son—the circumstances were less than ideal.
While we don’t get to see the fulfillment of God’s promise of an heir for Abram in this passage, we do see how the Lord remained faithful and true to His covenant—and not just faithful to Abram and Sarai, but to Hagar and her son, Ishmael, as well (Genesis 16:10-11).
Why? Because our God is a covenant keeper. His character is faithful. He can never and will never do anything against His faithful and trustworthy words. God cannot lie. When God makes a promise, He fulfills that promise (Hebrews 6:18).
Just as God made and kept His covenant with Abraham, He’s promised to make all things new through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus was the ultimate promise, fulfilling the law and making a way for all people to come to Him. Those who place their trust in Jesus are now children of God through faith, fellow heirs of Christ (Galatians 3:28, Romans 8:14-17). God’s promises were true for Abraham and they are true for us.
Father, help us to rest in your faithful arms today, knowing that Your covenants are true and You are faithful to keep them.
Trillia Newbell is the author of Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves (2015) and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity (2014). Her forthcoming book Enjoy will publish in Spring 2017. She writes on issues of faith, family, and diversity, and is Director of Community Outreach for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. For fun, she enjoys group fitness, cycling, and listening to a variety of music. Trillia is married to her best friend, Thern, and they reside with their two children near Nashville, Tennessee.