The Abrahamic Covenant

Open Your Bible

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

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).

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56 thoughts on "The Abrahamic Covenant"

  1. Hannah says:

    In my human frailty, I want to take things into my own hands. I don’t want to wait on God. I’m afraid that if I leave things in His hands, I’ll be forced to give up something that I desperately want to hold on to. Logically, however, I realize that He is in control anyway. Even when I fight Him and struggle against His plan, He is in control and He is working for my good. Just as His plan and promise held firm in spite of Abram and Sarai taking matters into their own hands, His plan for my life will hold firm. It seems like the simplest thing in the world, doesn’t it? All we need to do is humble ourselves and let God work in us. Wait on the Lord. Give up on trying to micromanage. It sounds so freeing. But my pride and my desires get in the way. My prayer is that I could humbly give up my false sense of control over the people and situations in my life, and that I would have the courage to trust God’s plan.

    1. Gina Snow says:

      Yes, to this! What I needed to read at this moment in my walk.

  2. Paulyn Canamaso says:

    That last paragraph is so profound. I think what really stood out to me is that “God is for us, not against us.” I know that but my heart wrestles with God in this truth because certain things in my life are, well, uncertain. I have always loved the story of Hagar especially when she encounters God and she comes to the conclusion that he is “the God who sees me.” But I thank God because he lets me wrestle with him on this and in the end I can choose to allow him to change my heart.

  3. Mari V says:

    The past few days I’ve been dealing with lots of anxiety. And wondering why is this taking so long. I try to keep in mind that God has it all under control. I remind myself often and surrender it to God daily. I’m so grateful for SRT and today’s devotion once again God reminding me, assuring you and I not to be afraid. HE is our shield. My human nature wants to speed things up, but here clearly it states not to take matters into my own hands and I will not. I can’t anyway as matters have been prolonged to another date. So I’m having to wait. I wait knowing that God has it all under control. It won’t be easy but I do not want to interfere with God’s plan. And I can only do this through Christ who gives me strength. Phil 4:13.

    1. Jennifer Anapol says:

      I will be praying for God’s peace and continued strength as you walk through this season of waiting.

  4. Allison Sherwood says:

    That last paragraph was so good, and a severe warning for me. I was raised to believe that I could do anything I put my mind to, which sounds wonderful as a child but, and maybe I have grown older, I have realized that sometimes what I am capable of doing is not where God is leading me. It takes so much self control to choose God over what I know I can make happen. Lord, please help me to forever desire to work things out in your will!

    1. Chris Swan says:

      Wow Allison. You just described me. My prayer also. Thank you for your post

    2. Traci Gendron says:

      Thank you Allison ❤️

  5. Maura says:

    Thankful for our Lord and His faithfulness to me. He is trustworthy. May the heavens a d earth sing His praise and bring Him glory.

  6. Annette Kendall says:

    God- who gives life to the dead and calls things in existence that do not exist. That God is powerful enough to save my unbelievingly husband. That God makes a way for me. I am in awe

  7. barb Rugani-Kyser says:

    So thankful that our God is the covenant keeper. We fall away, He’s steady onward never failing to do what He promises.

  8. Elise Cooper says:

    “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” This verse is everything. Even when the odds were up against Abram, he stood strong in his faith and I can only hope to navigate the same way.