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A New Covenant
Abraham's Covenant

Genesis 12:1-4 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  So, Abram went...

This is the beginning of the story of Abraham.  But it is also the end of the story of Abraham.  Notice the blessings of the Abraham’s covenant.

--From Abraham there would be a great nation.

--God was going to bless Abraham.

--His name would be as famous... as anyone who has ever lived.

--Abraham, himself, would be a blessing.

--All who blessed Abe would be blessed.

--But, all who showed him any dishonor would be hammered by YHWH.

--The Big One, at least for us... All of humanity would be blessed through Abraham (even us… the end of the story).

This morning I am going to tell three Abraham stories which will demonstrate how Abraham’s Covenant worked.  It will help us move deeper into the New Covenant.  The New Covenant is our theme for 2019.

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Abraham Story One... Abraham and Pharaoh

Genesis 12:10-13 Now there was a famine in the land. So, Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.  When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, "I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife.' Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake." 

This story is early in Abe’s career with YHWH.  He knows Sarah is an attractive woman.  He knows the Egyptians are a brutal people.  He is taking out a little life insurance policy as he enters Egypt. 

You are thinking to yourself, “This seems a little dishonest.  Where is Abraham’s famous faith?”  Keep those thoughts to yourself.

Genesis 12:14-16 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.  And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.  And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 

So, this is working out well for Abraham.  He’s getting wealthy from his wife’s beauty. Not the only guy who has taken advantage of a woman’s beauty.

You are still thinking to yourself, “What about Sarah?  She is going to end up in Pharaoh’s harem. Abraham is still not coming off as the father of the faithful.” 

Stop thinking those thoughts.

It’s about to gets even more unfair.

Genesis 12:17-19 But the LORD afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife.  So, Pharaoh called Abram and said, "What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?  Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go."

Another Pharaoh, about 500 years in the future, from this story, gets treated much the same.  Pharaoh gets plagued.  Until he finds out Sarah is Abe’s wife.  Then, Pharaoh tells them to get out.  

I can still hear your gears turning, “This is hardly fair. I agree with Pharaoh.  Just tell me the truth.”  Just keep those thoughts to yourself…

...while I tell you Story Number Two. (I am going to make a point about covenants at the end.)

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Abraham Story Number Two... The Smoking Fire Pot and the Flaming Torch

Genesis 15:1-3 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."  But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"  And Abram said, "Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir." 

In order to become a great nation, you need to have kids.  Now, I’m on my way to becoming a great nation; 14 grandkids is a great start.  But, Abram is older than me at this point in his story and he has zero... kids; zero grandkids.  Abraham believes in the blessings of the covenant, but would like YHWH to get on with it.

Genesis 15:4-6 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: "This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir."  And the LORD brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  And Abraham believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  

I hear some irritation in YHWH’s voice... “Okay, look at the stars.  You shall have more offspring than Tim.” 

Abraham’s belief is at the heart of what it means to be in covenant with YHWH. 

Genesis 15:7-12 And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess." But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?"  The LORD said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."  And Abram brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.  And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.  As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 

This is getting a bit scary... Dead animals cut it half; vultures sweeping down; Abram in a coma; (Interestingly, the same word for “deep sleep” was used of Adam when he was put to sleep when Eve was created.) There is a dreadful darkness.  Whatever is about to happen it is going to be huge.

Genesis 15:17-18 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land.”

Ka-rath Be-rith... cut a covenant.  YHWH passes between the cut sacrifices.  In the form of a fire pot and a flaming torch.  YHWH, alone, passes between the sacrifices. YHWH, alone, takes the oath of a covenant with Abram.  All the promises of Genesis 12 are affirmed in the cutting of His covenant. 

Wow... God cut a universal, unconditional, timeless covenant with Abraham!

That’s Story Number Two.  One more story.

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Abraham Story Number Three... Abraham and Abimelech

Genesis 20:1-3 From there Abraham journeyed... in Ger-ar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Ger-ar sent and took Sarah.  But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."

Flashback.  We’re doing Story Number One again.  Abraham did to Abimelech what he did to Pharaoh. 

Genesis 20:4-7 Now Abimelech had not approached Sarah. So, he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did Abraham not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this."  Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not let you touch her.  Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you, and all who are yours." 

God lays out Abimelech’s choices... give Sarah back or die, along with everyone you love. YIKEs.  YHWH tells Abimelech, Abraham is a prophet; or spokesman; Abraham is in covenant with me!

Genesis 20:9-12 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done."  And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What did you see, that you did this thing?" Abraham said, "I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’  Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.”

The story right before this one, Genesis 19, is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham is thinking what happened to the two angels in Sodom could happen to me and Sarah in Ger-ar.

 Genesis 20:14-18 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him.  And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you."  To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated." Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children.  For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

You guys are thinking again. “This is hardly fair.  Abimelech is cursed even though he was innocent.  Something weird is going on here.”

Something weird is going on here.  Abraham fudges the truth about Sarah to Abimelech.  Abraham almost gets Abimelech killed.  Yet, Abimelech pays off Abraham.  Abraham heals Abimelech.

Let’s get to the point... of the weird, and this sermon.

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God is keeping His covenant with Abraham.  Remember where we started... Part of God’s covenant with Abraham said...

Genesis 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and him (Pharaoh and Abimelech) who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 

That is the point.  What?  Even though Pharaoh and Abimelech did nothing wrong; even though Abraham lied to both of them; even though Pharaoh and Abimelech were almost killed; God kept his covenant with Abraham!  God’s covenant is unconditional!  God blessed Abraham… regardless.  God’s covenant was to bless Abraham, whatever the circumstances!  Those who dishonored Abraham were cursed!  When God makes a universal covenant... nothing keeps it from happening!

“Are you serious?”  Seriously.  YHWH is faithful to His covenant!

Now you are thinking, “Wow. I want that kind of covenant with God.”

You cannot have that kind of Covenant.  You can have that exact covenant!  You can have Abraham’s covenant!

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Listen to Galatians 3... (Your wheels will really be cranking.) 

Galatians 3:6-9 Just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"?  Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.  And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed."  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Seriously! We get to be blessed along with Abraham!  We get Abraham’s covenant!

Galatians 3:27-29 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

We, who are in Christ, are heirs of Abraham’s Promise.  Wow!  We get Abraham’s covenant!

 

Tim Stidham

March 17, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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