Day 9

The Abrahamic Covenant

from the Genesis reading plan

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.”
-Genesis 15:1

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.


Post Comments (43)

43 thoughts on "The Abrahamic Covenant"

  1. Anna Buchanan says:

    As I sit in the middle of my 21 Day Fix challenge and wish for the “perfect” body and as I finish up the school year resisting the urge to rest in my own strength I am reminded of my Heavenly Father’s perfect provision. I may break covenants, but he does not. He will not. He cannot. My God will complete the good work He started. Even when I feel like I have royally screwed up this time and there is no turning back, my Jesus draws near and says, “Come to me.” I long to be overwhelmed by a truthful God who loves a lying sinner because of a sacrifice made on her behalf. Jesus has given me access to the Holy of Holies through His blood. Praise the Lord!

  2. shamekamichelle says:

    My church is in the mist of a 21 day fast. God has shown me a few things for the year. It has been difficult and trials are amidst, but God is faithful! God never puts more on us than we can bear. In the mist of my circumstances, like with Abraham, God reassures me :)

  3. Nicole says:

    Mandee ! Wow . Thank you for that insight . We should all read the book “Abraham ” – it’s been on my list while . Understanding how the three major religions all trace back to Abram’s roots .

  4. Nicole says:

    Well said Anne Marie – and I can so much relate .

  5. Amen! Thankful that God is our shield and great reward!!

  6. Mandee says:

    Hagar’s story always stands out to me–El Roi is one of my favorite names for God. The God Who Sees Me.
    When I’m rocking my baby and praying God give him rest–He sees me.
    When there’s tension in my marriage and I cry out to God to change my hardened heart and resentful attitude toward my husband–He sees me.
    When I’m raising my hands in praise for all He’s done and all He’s promised to do and all He is–He sees me.
    He sees the good, bad and the ugly and still calls me His own. How great and awesome is this God who is mindful of –and SEES–even me!

    Also wanted to point out what I learned in a Bible class in college–that Ishmael is recognized as an important prophet and patriarch of Islam and is recognized by Muslims as the ancestor of several prominent Arab tribes and being the forefather of Muhammad.

    12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
    his hand against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
    and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”

    God was predicting the rise of Islam and their adverse relations with those around them–i.e. The Jews who would come through Abram’s second born Issac.

    While God is faithful to his promise, Abram’s actions that were carried out apart from God’s will don’t go without great consequence–one that our world is still suffering for today.

    1. Carol says:

      Such a strong reminder of his faithfulness and watchfulness.
      I’m ashamed so often at what he sees in my heart when my patience wears thin. Yet comforted that he knows my whole heart when I go to him in prayer. Thank you for sharing this insight and giving me an extra dose of encouragement today.

    2. April says:

      I wanted to add that Islam teaches that Ishmael was the promised son of Abraham, not Isaac, and that Muslims are the chosen people, not the Jews. It also teaches that Jesus was a great prophet but that Muhammed was the final, greatest prophet, who is higher than Jesus, and that Islam completes Christianity and Judaism. Surely the decision that Abraham and Sarah (Abram and Sarai) made not to wait on God to bless them as a couple with their own biological offspring has had an immense effect on our entire world from that time into our very present. We still see the result of jealousy and bitterness between two brothers, and two mothers.

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