The God Who Cuts Covenant

The God Who Is  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  37:08
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The Sovereign God cannot be manipulated by man.

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Three of the World’s largest religions trace their lineage back to Abraham (Jews, Muslims & Christians). Understanding the God of the Bible requires that we understand how He interacts with Abram.

Religious Views of God

1. Grandpa God – This view of God leads people to say, believe and do whatever they wish, and that somehow God is obligated to be nice to them. Any talk of judgment, or God “not being nice” and they believe they are excused for disbelieving in Him.
2. Distant, Disinterested Deism – God is transcendent so that He simply started the whole creation, and leaves it to its own laws.
· The God of the Bible is described as holy, loving and personal so both of the first two views fall short.
3. Quid Pro Quo God – Sacrifices are offered to the god of the area where you want blessing. We Bargain for favor.
a. We “scratch his back” (sacrifices & praise) and he “scratches ours” (benefits and blessings).
b. Neptune if you want a safe sea voyage. Hermes if you need to make a speech.
c. Many Christians live as if we serve a Quid Pro Quo God. We say our prayers, give our tithes, and volunteer for Bible School and we thing God is obligated to protect our kids, our careers and our health.
d. This only works if the god has needs that we can meet.
Transition: The New Testament book of Acts details one specific debate where Paul confronts the idea of Quid Pro Quo deity.

Revealed View of Elohim (Acts 17)

1. Missionary Paul engages the philosophers of Athens (the city that our students visited in VBS) and Paul differentiates the God of the Bible from their known gods.
Acts 17:24 (ESV) — The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
2. God cannot be put in your little box (or temple) that can be manipulated by priests or our contributions. There is no barter system (Acts 17:24)
3. God needs nothing you have (Acts 17:25a)
Acts 17:25a (ESV) — nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything…
a. He doesn’t need your worship. He’s existed in triunity in eternity past, and has always had relationship.
b. He doesn’t need our tithes
i. By Tithing – God doesn’t need your percentage, He owns it ALL.
ii. By Christian Service – Going to the mission field does not generate extra credit points. Volunteering in the nursery doesn’t cause God to look the other way when we offend. Worship leading doesn’t guarantee a front row seat in Heaven.
c. He delights and responds to these deeds, but He is not lacking in any way.
Any artwork done by our child. The effort and the devotion are beautiful. The value is not found in the skill of the drawing, but in the motivation and the act itself.
4. God meets our needs (Acts 17:25b)
Acts 17:25b (ESV) — …since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
a. I am the utterly dependent creature, I am not Creator.
b. How do we negotiate with a God who holds all the cards?
Transition: Since God owns everything and we have nothing that He needs, how are we to relate with this God? He writes all the agreements, called Covenants, and in all of them He displays sovereign grace.

God’s Grace Displayed in Covenants

Covenants in General

1. To understand the God of the Bible, it is extremely helpful to understand the various covenants.
2. Some see an Adamic Covenant, that others call the Eden Mandate – Adam was to be fruitful, to multiply and to subdue the earth. God would respond by blessing the work of his hand and sharing relationship and communication with him.
3. The Rebellion that we studied last week multiplies to the point God is ready to end humanity. But he chooses Noah to preserve (along with his sons and their wives). After the flood God makes a Covenant with Noah. God says if you follow me, I promise never to destroy the earth by water and he sets His bow in the sky as a picture of setting aside His wrath.
4. Later we will see covenants with the Hebrews at Sinai as recorded by Moses, a promise to David regarding kingly rule over God’s people, and Joel speaks of a New Covenant that is initiated as the temple veil is torn, and ratified on the Day of Pentecost.
5. Sometime after the flood, about half-way between Creation and the coming of Jesus, We see God choose 1 man out of all of humanity and create a covenant with him. Not because of his wealth or power, but simply as a sovereign act of grace, God sets this one man apart.

The Abrahamic Covenant – 4 scenes of God’s Grace

Scene 1 – Trust in a Promise (Genesis 12)

1. Ur to Haran to an unknown place that we will later know as Israel.
Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV:2016) — 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. 2And 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. 3I 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.”
2. A people - (many sons through a promised son) Although Abram is 75 years old, his wife is no spring-chicken and they have no children.
a. Abraham creates a real mess when he tries to hurry along God’s promise, but finally Isaac is born of the union of Abraham and Sarah, just as promised.
b. Isaac eventually marries and his wife conceives twins, God sovereignly (before either one has taken first breath) indicates that the younger will be preferred. Abraham’s grandson Jacob will be given the name Israel and the entire nation traces their roots back to this grandson who’s father was the promised son of a Rancher chosen by God.
3. A place – some of the most fought over soil on the entire planet.
4. A purpose (ALL peoples blessed through your descendant)
Transition: If you are the type of person who want to know HOW, not just WHAT, then this first scene of God’s promise must drive you nuts. The 2nd scene indicates that God has the long-game in mind.

Scene 2 - Cutting Covenant (Genesis 15:1, 8-18)

· If you compare 12:4 with 16:16 we find that about 10 years had passed since the promise was first given. Abram is thinking in terms of years, but God is in no hurry and is viewing the centuries.
1. Cut and divided sacrificial animals
o This dividing of the sacrifice was as common in Abraham’s day as getting a contract notarized is today. And it played into the ancient view of Quid Pro Quo gods. It was a way of saying “By offering these animals we give you permission/obligation to do the same to the party who break the agreement”.
2. Punishment (400 years) then reward
3. God’s presence proceeds through the sacrifice.
a. It was normative for the greater power to walk through the divided animals first.
b. As Abram is waiting for God to go first, God goes ALONE and God takes full responsibility for the fulfillment of the covenant—that is grace!

Scene 3 Cutting Flesh (Genesis 17:1-10)

1. Many nations – Ishmael had been born and would have descendants, but there would be another son—Isaac.
2. name change – from Abram to Abraham is a play on language and emphasizes the promise made in ch.12
3. everlasting covenant
4. Obedience marked by circumcision (vv.9-10, cf. v.23)
Ishmael and all Abram’s servants are given a painful reminder that God had made a promise.
Transition: There is one more scene that sheds important light on this covenant with Abraham.

Scene 4 Sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-2, 7-18)

1. By this time the promised son had been born and is now about 12 years old and has witnessed the sacrifice of animals.
It was not uncommon for parents to sacrifice children to their Quid Pro Quo gods in these days.
2. There is a tension in the air when Isaac speaks in v. 7
3. God provides the sacrifice for Himself. (v.13)
4. “I swear by myself” (v.16)
5. That mountain got renamed (v.14)
Mount Moriah
Mount of Olives
a. Notice Mt. Moriah is a range equal to the top of the Dead Sea just to east of this creek.
b. Fast forward 2000 years and what is that Mountain called? The Mount of Olives that contains Gethsemane – the very area where Jesus was betrayed and crucified. (v.18)
Transition: The Abrahamic covenant is an important piece of Scripture where we learn that God’s Covenants are displays of His sovereign grace. But the Greatest covenant is the one called the New Covenant that is ratified by Jesus’ blood and symbolized by cutting of the heart.


God is not pleased with the sacrifice of our children, He provides His Son. Later in Exodus the blood from a lamb without blemish will need to be painted on the doorposts as a sign of faith. In Leviticus a sacrificial system will be established that points to the sinless, perfect Lamb.
Ultimately we find that God is not satisfied with the blood of bulls and goats, or some ram caught in the thicket. His wrath on Sin will be appease once and for all in the atonement of His own Son who dies in place of all who believe.
God provides the sacrifice and he asks us to respond by faith and repentance. Faith that what Jesus did atones for me, and repentance in allowing God to remove our hardened hearts of flesh and replace them with tenderness toward His Spirit.
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