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
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).
55 thoughts on "The Abrahamic Covenant"
Loved the reflection where it said “before taking matters into our own hands, let’s believe God for who He is” so powerful and true!
So often God’s timing doesn’t line up with what we think it should be. Just as Sarai got impatient with His plan for her and wanted Hagar to beat children for her. We take matters into our own hands forgetting the love and faithfulness of God and so often we are disappointed with our decisions. God is good and He is worth waiting for.
Amen! I loved this reading!
“And Abram believed God”. He believed God could and would, He believed God was able and capable, He believed God promises and fulfills!
Abram would question “how” but not “if”. He would in his humanity wane and wander but never walk away!
I was struck by the contrast between Abram and Sarai’s views of the same situation! Much like Adam and Eve both stood at the tree but saw the situation differently! I am struck by the influence a woman has over her husband, Eve to “cause” Adam to sin and Sarai to manipulate Abram. I pray the Lord help me use my influence for His glory not for the enemy gain.
And Hagar, a slave girl with no rights of her own yet seen by God in her distress and encouraged in her future. I love that God cares for each character in this divine story. I love that in due time each will see, experience and know Gods loving care and plan for them.
I shall not fear the future but I shall wait for God
We did Jen Wilkin’s study “God of Covenant” and she talked about this very thing! I think she said something like how that was God’s mercy to Hagar because she was cared for but if she had kept wandering she would have been vulnerable to all kinds of things, weather, bad people… I should look back at my study notes. I had always wondered that too!
Does anyone ever wonder more about Hagar?? Even though she is a slave at the point in time she should still matter because she is someone the Lord crafted and cared about. I always wondered why he wanted her to return to her bondage (Sarai) when she could have just kept on traveling. It seems like she got handed the short end of the stick…
Great thoughts! ❤️
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