Where God Made a Promise

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When asking the question of how the Abrahamic covenant points to Christ, we must evaluate what the actual promise was in the first place; Abraham's decendants are not of the same bloodline, but faithline.

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Welcome back everybody, i’m glad that everybody made it back, and welcome back to the tables *round of applause*
So we are still in our How series, which is discussing how Jesus is shown in these known or not so well known aspects of Scripture to help shine new light on how the Bible is one cohesive story with the climax of that story being Christ.
So last week we discussed creation, today we are discussing the time God made a promise and entered into a covenant with a man named, What was His name? Abram, and it was later changed to Abraham. We are going to talk about this critical covenant in depth but first, lets play a game!

Small Group Question:

Tell a story of a time where you took all the credit for something.

The Covenant was first made in Chapter 12, but some things happened and Abram was beginning to doubt God, so we step into the story and see this new interaction between God and Abram in chapter 15 and this is what we will be taking about today!

15 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.” 2 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?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 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.” 5 And he 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.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

So this is where we are, Abram was promised in chapter 12 that he will be the father of a great nation, A man who now has no kids and he is well past His prime, as well as his wife. In His conversation with God, God brings Him outside as Abram looks up and God tells Him, Count the starts, if you even are able to there are so many, so shall your descendants be among the earth. So Abram is comforted by this and is like, alright we good.

7 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.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He 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.” 10 And he 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. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Man what is Happening here? God tells Abram to bring Him animals and Abram starts chopping them in half, what in the world! You see, this is very similar to what we saw a lot of in some of the earliest recorded writings of civilization covenants and we actually see this in another part of Scripture:

18 And the men who transgressed my covenant and did not keep the terms of the covenant that they made before me, I will make them like the calf that they cut in two and passed between its parts— 19 the officials of Judah, the officials of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf. 20 And I will give them into the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their lives. Their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth.

OK, so this is giving us some context as to what is happening in Abram’s story. This is a covenant that it seems whoever passes through these animals that are chopped in half, is saying that if they don’t uphold their end of the bargain, then they will end up like these animals.
I was tempted to bring up a cow and chop it in half and walk through it as a demonstration but i could only imagine the complaints I would have gotten from parents.
I actually wanted my wedding to be like this, instead of walking down an isle of friends and family i wanted chopped bull carcasses surrounding me. I think that would help us take covenants like marriage more seriously. So, with this in mind, lets go and see what happens in Abram’s story.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.

For those of us that don’t know, God often manifested Himself in objects relating to fire in the Old Testament, like a pillar of smoke, a pillar of fire, or in this case, a smoking pot of fire and a flaming torch.

Small Group Discussion:

What does this mean?

In this particular covenant, both parties involved would walk through the severed animals, as to say that whichever one of these parties breaks the covenant or fails on their side of the bargain, They will die and be cursed. God, caused Abraham to fall asleep, and walked through it Himself. Meaning that both ends of this promise are on Him to do. Both Abraham’s part and His Part. So, now we have to ask the question:

Small Group Discussion

How does this point to Jesus?

We turn to The New Testament, Paul’s letter to the Galatians Chapter 3.

5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 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.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Listen very carefully to what is being said here beloved. Those who have faith are the children of Abraham. This is setting us up for how it points to Christ, watch this:

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

This is going to be hard for some of you to understand and it is because your flesh does not want to believe it, your flesh wants to hold on to every sense and sort of pride that there is. Your salvation, is not dependent upon you, if it was, then you would have something to boast about, and Paul says let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. This is the condition of Humanity:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;

11  no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

So in light of this, what hope is there? Because of the Federal Headship of Adam, I now have sin. I am radically corrupt, to the point where everything that i want and desire and do is in spite and hatred of my Creator. That’s right, we are so sinful that we hate God, more that that we would kill him if we had the chance, and we did. So how will God keep his promise to Abraham? We see that this promise was not physical descendants but spiritual descendants. Those that had Abraham’s same faith, so in a faithless humanity, how could God keep up with His end of the bargain? Remember that God and God alone walked through those carcasses. So this is up to God.

Small Group Discussion:

How will He keep His Covenant?

We have discussed this before, but God willing this will help shine light onto this immense problem we have. Turn with me to Ephesians 2.

2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

This is the bad news beloved. This is another way that Paul is laying it out clearly for us. We are spiritually dead. What does that look like? Death. It looks like Romans 3, not seeking God, Not doing Good, wanting absolutely nothing to do with God. Death. You’re not spiritually wounded, just trying to muster up enough courage, just needing to summon up enough strength to pull yourself up by your spiritual bootstraps and desire God. You are dead. You are Lazarus in the grave decaying, all signs of life gone. When we are born we are spiritually dead on arrival. How does that which is faithless, have faith? How does belief come from previous unbelief? How does the dead come back to life? Verse 4:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

This is the grace of God. This grace is not just God sustaining you in existence, waking you up each morning when His wrath and His justice should have crushed you in the days previous. It’s not just that He crushed His Son under that full and unhindered wrath that should have been directed toward believers but in order to justify them it was poured out on Jesus. Those are very important aspects of God’s grace, but it is not the full picture.
It is by grace you have been saved. It is out of God’s love that He makes us alive by causing us to be born again through the supernatural regeneration, the new birth, caused by the Holy Spirit, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins. We keep reading:

6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

You might have heard this analogy, you are in the process of drowning in the ocean, you are looking around calling out for help and God throws out a life preserver and all that you have to do is reach out and grab it. I have heard that symbolism hundreds of times in churches. Do you want to hear a more Biblical example? First of all, dead men can’t reach out their hand. Shoot, dead men can’t even swim. You are dead at the bottom of the ocean, God goes down into the depths of that watery grave and picks you up, takes you ashore and breathes into your nostrils the breath of life. That is what is pictured here.
If you have thought these past questions were tough, if you are at a cross roads here with what I am showing you from scripture, this is where i’m going to challenge you. Have you ever wrestled with the question:

“Why do I believe?”

Do you ever look around and say, “God, look at all these stupid people. I mean I cannot believe how crazy dumb they are. You offer this free gift of salvation, you must be glad that I was wise enough to turn from my sin and worship you.” Nobody talks like that. And if you do then you don’t know the Gospel, your assurance is not in Christ and him crucified but it is in yourself, and if you think this way, the only thing you can be sure of is you are not saved. You are blinded by arrogance and pride.
When we want to see someone come to Christ we don’t say “get good son, straighten up and fly right. What do you do? You pray.
Beloved, we are to be humble. Because, quote from a dead guy:

“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

You can’t take credit for any of it. If you could then that would give you something to boast about, and if you are boasting in anything apart from God, that is not the Gospel.
Let us finish off Galatians 3 and hopefully this will wrap it all up for us well.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Listen here beloved, if you are a believer, you are Christ’s, and if you are Christ’s, then you are a child of the promise of Abraham. You were promised by God. Jesus went to the cross with you in mind. Whenever He said “It is finished.” He said “You are mine, you were bought at a price. The highest price imaginable. If you are an unbeliever, turn from this sinful lifestyle you are in toward Jesus. The author and perfecter of our faith. That is the firstfruit of regeneration.
Believers, this should be a great assurance for you to hear and bring you to your knees in humility. This should also greatly effect our understanding of evangelism. We did our “Go” series, it looked great, it was fun to do, but by all intents and purposes it failed. Why aren’t we sharing the gospel? Are you scared? What are you scared of? The person won’t like you? You might say the wrong thing? Listen carefully.

You don’t save people, God saves people.

Share the Gospel in its entirety. The fallenness of humanity, the Messiah that came to save sinners, and the call to turn from a life of Sin. God will do the rest.
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