Summary: The Patriarchs The Mission of God in the Abrahamic Covenant Genesis 17-18:15 David Taylor May 1, 2016
The Mission of God in the Abrahamic Covenant
May 1, 2016
Google earth is a great little tool that can help you find a location. You can zoom in and get a pretty detailed picture of where you are and you can zoom out to see where you are in relationship to your surroundings. That is what I want to do today with this passage. First, I want to zoom out to see how this passage fits into the larger context of Genesis, then zoom in to focus on some details of this passage and then zoom out again to see how this passage fits into the larger context of the bible, specifically the New Testament.
In Genesis chapters one through six, God creates order out of chaos and gives humanity responsibility to rule by bringing moral order to all creation. But sin quickly enters creation through rebellion and by the time of Cain, moral chaos rules his creation. In chapters seven through eleven, God wipes out the moral chaos by the flood and out of the receding waters comes Noah, a new Adam with a new covenant. Yet Noah fails morally, showing us that humanity needs more than just a fresh start and a clean slate and chapter eleven ends with moral chaos again with the tower of Babel. Then in chapter twelve God chooses one man, a new Adam, to reverse the curse among the nations. To secure this reversal God makes a covenant with Abram. Abraham is not only the most significant character in Genesis, he casts a long shadow forward in history. He is the launching pad for the mission of God, the salvation of the nations.
Chapter seventeen starts out with the Lord appearing to Abram to encourage him. Abram is now ninety-nine and it has been twenty-four years since God had promised him a son. God describes himself as God almighty and then commands him to “walk before me and be blameless that I may make my covenant between me and you and multiply you greatly.” I am God almighty means all powerful. God is all powerful to accomplish his promises to Abram. “Walk before me” refers to an emissary, like a diplomat. God chose Abraham to represent him to the nations. Second, he is to be blameless. God chose him, saved him by grace, and is teaching him to walk by faith as a diplomat on mission to the nations. God almighty does that for each one of us. The answer to the moral chaos in your heart or the chaos in your life is God almighty. God committed himself to Abram by a covenant and he has committed himself to you by a better covenant.
“Walk before me and be blameless that that I may make my covenant with you.” Now if you have been with us you may be thinking, he already cut the covenant with Abraham! He did but now he is expanding upon the breadth of that covenant. Not only will Abraham become a great nation and a blessing to the nations but the blessing is by him being that father of a multitude of nations, “I will make you exceedingly fruitful,” meaning God will make him into nations, kings, and generations of offspring. The promise is so expansive that God must change his name to reflect this, from Abram, meaning exalted father, to Abraham, meaning the father of a multitude! Who are these nations that are included in the covenant? It is not all the nations that come from his offspring as it does not include Ishmael or Esau. Again, he is pointing to the mission of God, the salvation of the nations. Now if we we zoom out again we can get see how this connects to the rest of the bible. We were prepared for this with the original promise of God putting hostility between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in serpent Genesis 3:15. We are meant to see a ribbon of redemption that ties the whole bible together. And if we zoom out even more, we can see how the New Testament understood this the fulfillment of Abraham’s offspring and him being a father of a multitude of nations. The apostle Paul tells us, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” So the promise of offspring is ultimately and most significantly narrowed and fulfilled in one offspring, Jesus Christ. But Paul also expands to include the multitude of nations. Paul says, “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.” God chose one man to bless the nations by spiritually fathering a multitude of nations through one offspring, Jesus Christ. Now anyone who puts faith in Christ is the offspring of Abraham. The mission of God has always been for a multitude of nations to call upon and worship Jesus Christ. The mission of God is woven in the fabric of the bible from Genesis to Revelation.