God's Covenant with Abraham
Lesson 12

 

In the previous lessons we have considered the problem of sin and God’s efforts to reconcile mankind to Himself as it relates to us as individuals. We will now shift our attention to the larger picture, tracing the history of God’s dealings with mankind as a whole.

We have already considered the effects that sin had on the race in bringing about a change in attitude toward the Creator’s authority, setting mankind at variance with the divine will, causing separation and alienation. We have seen God’s response in the promise of the Deliverer to come, and the promise that the Seed of the woman would overcome the enemy. See Genesis 3:15. Coupled with this promise was the promise that there would be a deadly antagonism between those who accepted His overtures of love and peace, choosing to again become loyal subjects of the heavenly kingdom, and those who would reject the salvation proffered them. It is at this point that this lesson begins.

1. What effect did sin have on the race as a whole?

Genesis 6:5, 11–12
Genesis 6:5, 11–12

2. How did God choose to remedy the situation?

Genesis 6:7, 13
Genesis 6:7, 13

3. How did God indicate He would bring about this destruction?

Genesis 6:17
Genesis 6:17

4. What did God propose to establish with Noah?

Genesis 6:18
Genesis 6:18

Note: A covenant is a binding and solemn agreement between two or more parties; in this case, God and man. Noah stood as a representative of the whole human family, and thus the covenant God made with him extends to mankind as a whole.

In the beginning God created man and gave him life subject to obedience. See Genesis 2:16–17. When man sinned, accepting Satan’s leading, Satan became his new master. See Romans 6:16. God did not, however, enforce the death decree at that moment, but allowed man a second opportunity, a probation, to experience the reality of his choice—a world out of harmony with God. If, during this period of life, man would choose to change masters, and again return to loyalty to God, as would be reflected in obedience to His revealed will, a plan was devised whereby man might again be re-instated as a part of the heavenly family.

Notice that God does not say that He would establish a covenant with Noah, but, calls it. His covenant. This was not a new covenant, or different dispensation that God was establishing, but a renewal of the same covenant that He had originally made with Adam and Eve when He promised a future Deliverer and had given the promise of enmity between the seed of the woman and that of the serpent. This covenant is the same covenant, differing from the original only in the added provision that in His dealings with mankind God would never again bring upon the earth a worldwide flood of water.

5. What did God tell Noah to build?

Genesis 6:14
Genesis 6:14

Note: This was not an insignificant undertaking. The record indicates that the ark was one hundred and twenty years in the making. How many times during those years must Noah have been tempted to doubt that a flood would really take place. Everything that speaks to the senses indicated that life would continue as it always had. There was nothing that could be discerned in the visible world that spoke of an impending doom. But Noah, “being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Hebrews 11:7

6. As an expression of appreciation for God’s protection and care, what did Noah do on leaving the ark?

Genesis 8:20
Genesis 8:20

Note: Noah came out of the ark to see an entirely different kind of world than the one which he had known. The earth’s surface had changed greatly as the result of the changes that had taken place during the flood. Massive trees, as well as the tropical vegetation that had covered the earth, were swept away, leaving a most desolate scene. In spite of changes that were everywhere so evident, Noah was filled with gratitude to God for sparing his life, and that of his family.

7. In response, what did God promise concerning His future dealings with mankind?

Genesis 8:21; 9:11
Genesis 8:21; 9:11

8. What did God give them as a sign of this promise?

Genesis 9: 12–16
Genesis 9: 12–16

Note: Consider the goodness of God to give man a sign of His favor. He knew that after having experienced the flood, fear would fill men’s hearts whenever storm clouds would arise. To assuage his fears, God condescended to place within those threatening clouds a reminder of His promise never to destroy the earth again with a flood of water.

The flood slowed, for a time, the tide of evil that had threatened to completely take over the earth. Very soon following the flood, however, men again entered into idolatry and formed a confederacy to commit evil. God’s response was to confuse their language, greatly retarding the united efforts for evil and the consolidation of power that was taking place.

9. Who did God call out from the midst of this gross apostasy?

Genesis 12:1–3
Genesis 12:1–3

10. In promising Abraham that all nations would be blessed in him, what was God preaching to him?

Galatians 3:8–9
Galatians 3:8–9

Note: It is significant to note that the blessing to be received through Abraham could only be received by faith.

11. In what does Paul tell us the preaching of the gospel consists?

1 Corinthians 1:17, 23
1 Corinthians 1:17, 23

Note: Since the preaching of the gospel is the preaching of the cross of Christ (and there is no salvation by any other means), and God preached the gospel to Abraham, it is clear that the promise of the cross of Christ was made known to Abraham. Verses 13–14 state in most explicit terms that the blessing of Abraham, which was to come on all families of the earth, was to come only through the cross of Christ.

12. What did Jesus say that Abraham was privileged to see?

John 8:56
John 8:56

Note: All the misunderstandings of the promises of God to Abraham and his seed have arisen through a failure to see the gospel of the cross of Christ in them.

13. To whom did God promise to give the land into which Abraham entered?

Genesis 12:7
Genesis 12:7

14. Who is the Seed of Abraham?

Galatians 3:16
Galatians 3:16

Note: The Seed of Abraham to whom the promise is made is Christ. He is the heir of all things. See Hebrews 1:2.

15. Who else are included in the seed of Abraham?

Galatians 3:29
Galatians 3:29

16. When we receive Christ, what do we become with Him?

Romans 8:17
Romans 8:17

Note: Though there are many thousands included in the seed, there is only one seed, for they all are one in Christ, who is the Seed.

Stephen in his last testimony makes very clear that the Promised Land was not for Abraham’s seed alone, but that he would also share in the inheritance. “So he [Abraham] left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.” Acts 7:4–5, NIV

We learn from these verses that, although it is sometimes merely stated, “Unto thy seed will I give this land,” Abraham himself was always included in the promise. Moreover, we learn that Abraham died without having received the fulfillment of the promise. Had God’s promise failed? Certainly not. God “cannot lie.” “He abideth faithful.” Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:13

17. For what did Abraham look as the fulfillment of the promise given him?

Hebrews 11:8–10
Hebrews 11:8–10

Note: Clearly, the promise given to Abraham and his seed was, in its fullest understanding, that which can only be received through Christ and the resurrection. Had it been otherwise, Abraham would have died in disappointment, instead of dying in full faith of the promise.

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