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Summary: Jesus continues the covenant that was established with Abraham and we are now under the eternal covenant.

Abraham set free to be blessed and a blessing! Genesis 17:1-22

Last week I had said that I was going to start a series called ‘Great Men warts and all’; it looks like I may have to change the name of the series to ‘Great People warts and all’ as there are some fairly warty women in the Bible also. I was going to talk of how God was able to take the weaknesses of people in some cases weak people and in the big picture show that these were indeed things that God could use in a powerful way and things that were used by him in a mighty way to bring people into his kingdom.

Last week we looked at Moses a man of faltering lips and this week we will have a look at a married couple. This couple started out in a place called Ur which was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located in what is now modern Iraq. This couple stated life as Abram and Sarai.

A few things about this couple:

• Terah, Abrams father had originally left Ur and settled in Haran (MAP)

• Abram was called by God to leave Haran and to travel to the land that he God that is would give him

• Abram (meaning exalted) had his name changed by God to Abraham (meaning ‘father of many’), we will find out more about this soon

• Abraham ancestors were worshippers of other God’s prior to this, “Joshua said to the people, “this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says; ‘Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods.” (Joshua 24:2) They were idol worshippers.

• Abraham lied to preserve his life

• God made a covenant with Abraham that would lead to the birth of the nation of Israel. Interestingly all that he would possess of that nation were a field and a burial cave

• The same covenant is part of the reason that we are all here today worshipping God

• He had a son called Ishmael with his wife’s maidservant Hagar (we could spend days debating the morals of this but remember, different times, different way of living, laws etc)

• He had a son Isaac with his first wife Sarai who was afterwards known as Sarah (meaning princess)

• Sarai gave permission for Ishmaels conception

• Sarai treated Hagar badly after Ishmael was born

I’m keen to look at a small part of this couples journey and discuss response and blessing. For while Abraham and Sarah were a couple with a fair number of faults it was their response to God that changed their lives and from that place changed the earths future and millions of lives forever to the glory of God.

We join Abram as he was then aged of ninety-nine…remembering that people lived longer back in the day. Let’s read Genesis 17:1-7 and 17:15-22.

Let’s have a wee look at what the verses 15 on meant to Abraham and Sarah.

1) In verse 15 we see that Sarai has a name changed to Sarah which means princess. This name points to her being a mother of kings. Abraham’s name remember means ’father of many’.

When we take a look at Abraham’s family we see that most of the Arab people and the Jewish people are both his descendants today, in the main Ishmaels family are the Arab people, though not all and Isaacs’s family are Jews though there are some who are Palestinian Arabs.

God has blessed both family lines of Abraham’s descendants. Abraham married again after the death of Sarah, to a lady called Keturah, their descendants have pretty much combined with the descendants of Ishmael.

So how does this affect us as New Zealanders who are Christian?

2) Well what was it that God said to Abraham; there’s the whole Sarah will be giving you a son, to which Abraham fell face down laughing, with joy and responded, “ Will a son be born to a man aged a hundred years old? Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” Was it joy or disbelief, I think it was joy, as he was to be having a son with the wife he had married all those years before. Isaac means ‘he laughs’.

Then Abraham asked that God might bless Ishmael to which the reply was “Yes, but…your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

So on from there God was to bless Ishmael and his descendants.

But the covenant that God had established with Abraham was to continue down the line of Isaac, the Israelite people or the people we know today as the Jewish people. We see that Abraham a man who was not perfect and Sarah a women who was not able to have children until her ninetieth year responded to God’s call and were blessed and not only where they blessed but the whole world through them we also were blessed because of their response to God!

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