Day 10

The Abrahamic Covenant

from the Genesis reading plan


Genesis 15:1-21, Genesis 16:1-16, Romans 4:1-5, Romans 4:9-25, Galatians 3:15-18, Galatians 3:27-29, Galatians 4:1-7

BY Bailey Gillespie

In his book, Beyond Words, Frederick Buechner says this: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” Buechner is echoing Christ’s words in the Gospel of John, where we’re told to take heart because Christ has overcome the world (John 16:33). There are many times when personal loss makes it feel as if God has removed His provision, and sometimes it takes everything in me not to project the actions of others onto my faithful Father, who has proven His provision in the past.

Although today’s passage records God’s covenant with Abram, I can’t help but notice the part Sarai plays in this story. First, she experiences the disappointment of infertility, fearing it to be God’s prevention of her potential family line. She takes action by asking her husband to sleep with their slave, Hagar, to produce an heir. “Perhaps through her, I can build a family,” she reasons (Genesis 16:2). So, not only must she endure her husband’s intimate relations with their slave, but she also grows to resent Hagar after the very thing she hoped for comes to pass—Hagar’s pregnancy.

Her own infertility must have felt emphasized by Hagar’s growing body. I imagine Sarai looking at Hagar and thinking this new life should have her features, her hairline, her DNA. So, what did Sarai really want? Did she want Abram to push back against her plan? Go at it with God? As emotionally complicated as her situation was, in the end, it was only God’s plan that could ease the depth of Sarai’s distress.

There’s an eerie line in this passage after God reveals that Abram’s offspring will be as countless as the stars. It describes how, after the sun set, “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the divided animals” (Genesis 15:17). After Abram sacrificed the animals that God requested, this strange apparition appeared. However, God’s presence was often associated with fiery images in the Old Testament, and according to the Faithlife Study Bible, that night “the passage of fire ratified the covenant.”

There’s a reason God often tells His followers not to be afraid. Famine and battles, new land ownership and elderly maternity, flaming objects that move on their own—these are not things you see every day. But these are the sort of plot twists God delights in using to develop trust in His people and further His kingdom. Still, He understood how alarming all this must have been for Abram and consoled him by saying, “Do not be afraid… I am your shield” (v.1).

Do not be afraid, friends. God is our shield. Before taking matters into our own hands, let’s believe that God is for us, not against us. Let’s give Him the benefit of the doubt and wait for His redemptive movement in our lives (Romans 4:20).

Post Comments (56)

56 thoughts on "The Abrahamic Covenant"

  1. Megan Ruth says:

    God’s first command in the garden was, “Be fruitful and multiply.” But then to Abram He promises, “I will multiply you.” His covenant with Abram was one-sided, with all the weight of fulfillment resting on God alone.
    I was reminded today that when His commands seem too hard for us— impossible to fulfill, we can cry out for His grace and help knowing that He will complete His good work in us and through us! (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:6)

  2. K D says:

    I am so thankful that God does not judge my faith based on all that I do. Abraham had faith and then once again took matters into his own hands…and yet God’s covenant with him held true. Overwhelmed with gratitude today.

  3. Carrie Carlson says:

    I take things into my own hands all the time. This is such a good reminder to wait and trust that God will do what He says.

  4. Churchmouse says:

    I love that God took Abram outside and they had a conversation beneath the night sky. It’s a tender sight of the Creator communing with His created. God reassures Abram and Abram believes Him. True, Abram still has questions but he is able to fall into a deep sleep. God then gives Abram a look into his future. 400 years of slavery and oppression in a foreign land. Judgment on that nation. Exodus of a bountiful Israel. A peaceful death for Abram in his old age. Israel returns to its land. Lest Abram need further reassurance, God makes a unilateral covenant with Abram. A covenant not based on Abram’s effort but on the sovereignty of God Himself. I picture God putting His arm around Abram’s shoulder and the two of them looking up into that starry sky. God speaks confidently and that touches Abram’s heart and mind. God has a plan and purpose for Abram and He will fulfill it. Sisters, let us walk outside and look up into the night sky. God has a plan and purpose for each one of us and He will fulfill it. Let us be confident. Let us trust in our sovereign God, the very one who put all those stars in place. Let us go forward, knowing His arm is always around us. Let us believe Him. Let us take Him at His Word.

    1. Jennifer Anapol says:

      Amen! Thank you for that encouragement my sister!❤️

      1. Mandy McCarver says:

        ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    2. Hillary H says:

      Amen! ❤️

    3. Jo L says:

      amen!! Thank you Sister for this encouraging message. ♥️

  5. Chantelle Cunningham says:

    It’s also very interesting that God himself walked through between the sacrifices. Typically a covenant involved two people but in this case God takes it upon himself to fulfill the covenant, pointing forward to Christ who would be the ultimate sacrifice.

  6. Searching says:

    Just an aside – Sarai listening to herself (or the evil one) and Abram listening to Sarai. No surprise that Sarai was unhappy with the consequences of what she set into motion. May we all seek to hear the Lord’s voice so as to not be misled nor to mislead others. Thankful for His forgiveness even in the midst of dealing with consequences of our choices.

    1. Janee Chanet says:

      Absolutely

  7. Blessed Beth says:

    God has so many perfect plans for us in the perfect timing, His are not always what we think ours should be thank goodness. Thank you for reminding me what an amazing God we worship.

  8. Kristen says:

    Thank You, God for being a Shield about me and the Lifter of my head. Thank You for the reminders to not be afraid. You are Sovereign. You are Good, and You are worthy of praise! If anyone gets a chance, search the videos on Instagram. Dr. Tony Evans was giving an update on his wife before Christmas time and before her passing. While his wife was dying, he said that you would find the Evans family still praising God. His wife was calling on Jesus and wanted to have Scripture read to her. He reminded us that God is still worthy of praise even in the hard times! That family has been through a lot. Dr. Tony Evans lost a brother and his young niece Winter from what I heard. His faith and praise continue through it all!

    1. Latoya Wanser says:

      Their family is a great example of being able to look past their current circumstances and looking to and praising Jesus for what he has done and will do!

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