Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The Covenant to Abram - Lent Mid-week 2 - February 20, 2013 - Text: Genesis 12:1-3
Our text for this evening is Genesis 12:1-3: “1Now 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.” This is our text.
This year during the season of Lent and Easter we are following the thread of God’s promise to send a Savior for all people (one covenant, not two). Last week began in the Garden of Eden when God first made His promise to send a Savior to Adam and Eve, before there was a Jew or Gentile. This week we continue with the reiteration of the covenant and the announcement of its fulfillment being narrowed, that is that the Savior of all nations would be born through the line of Abram whose name was later changed to Abraham.
We begin this evening with a bit of a review of history. Last week we talked about God’s creation of the universe and especially His creation of our earth as well as the first humans, Adam and Eve. God crowned His creation with the creation of Adam and Eve and He put them in a garden that He had especially created for them, the Garden of Eden. However, following their disobedience and sin, and because the tree of life was still growing in the Garden of Eden and so they would not eat of its fruit and live forever in their sin, God put them out of the Garden.
Now remember, God had promised that He would send a Savior, a seed of Eve, one born as a human, except without sin, in order to save the world, by taking the punishment for their sin. But God was not quite ready to fulfill His promise and as we can see, reading the history of the world, the sin of the world magnified with the birth of each new generation. Adam and Eve had many children and two in particular that we read about are Cain and Abel. Cain and Abel were important figures in our genealogy because their story helps us to understand how sinful the world was and it was even getting worse. Remember the story of Cain and Abel, how Cain killed his brother Abel because he was jealous and his jealousy turned into hatred and finally murder.
Well, as time went on, the world got worse and worse and worse until God decided that He had seen enough from this world which became sin infected and continued on its path to self-destruction. God decided to destroy the world and He would do that by sending a flood to cleanse the world. At the same time, God recognized the righteousness of Noah and so from Noah and his family God decided to repopulate the earth by saving them through the flood.
Yet, even after the flood and as the numbers of people again increased on the earth, sin continued to abound and increase. At one point the people of the world, after disobeying God’s command to spread out and subdue the earth, to be fruitful and multiply, at one point because the people failed to spread out, believing themselves to be gods so much that they decided to build a tower to themselves, one which would reach to the skies and show the nations and generations what great people they were. Yet, God would not allow this to happen and so He came down and confused the languages of the people so that they had to scatter to the various parts of the world taking with them certain knowledge and genetic coding which accounts for the various cultures we see in the world today.
As time went on, God continued to watch over and remember His people. As the populations of the world continued to grow, sin continued to grow as well. And yet, God never forgot His covenant to send a Savior. As a matter of fact, God remembered His covenant with the world and as He looked at His world, and in particular, at the timing of the events of the world, by His grace, out of all the people who were now alive in the world, God chose Abram. God chose Abram to be the one through whom He would fulfill His covenant.
Now please notice that God did not change or alter His covenant, the covenant He made with Adam and Eve and the world in the Garden of Eden, the covenant that He would send a Savior to take the punishment for their sin and our sin. When God chose Abram He was simply narrowing down the line of fulfillment of His covenant. In other words, God was simply reiterating His covenant with Abram that He would fulfill His covenant with Mary and Joseph through His family tree. God did not change the covenant, nor make a new covenant.
God came to and called Abram. Abram did not approach God nor initiate anything. It was God who came to and called Abram and said, “1 . . . ‘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.”
Notice God’s promise to Abram. God’s promise was to make him a great nation. Please understand that this did not necessarily mean a great nation by genetics, in other words it was not simply physically born humans that were to be a part of the great nation of Israel. We know today that by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus, as Jesus Himself tells us, we too are children of Abraham.
God promised Abram that he will be a blessing and indeed Abram was a blessing. He was a blessing for all those of his household as he cared for many people. But even more, he was a blessings, because through him all nations of the world were to be blessed. In other words, the Savior of all nations would be born through the line of Abram. And this is the line and the covenant that we are following and will continue to follow during lent.
Today God’s covenant made with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden continues to be remembered. The Christian faith and the Christian church goes back to the Garden of Eden when God promised to send a Savior. In Jesus’ day and even today, those children of Abram who rejected and who continue to reject Jesus are the ones who reject His covenant. The religion of Judaism was begun immediately following Jesus death and resurrection by those who refuse and reject Jesus’ Himself. The Christian faith was not born at the time of Christ, the religion of Judaism was born out of its rejection of Jesus. Thus, those who rejected Jesus are no longer children of Abram, no longer children of the covenant, because they have rejected the covenant.
Likewise, all who believe in Jesus as the Messiah are children of Abram. You and I are children of Abraham, not because we are born from the genetic line of Abraham, not because of some innate goodness within us, but by faith in Jesus and because God has made it so.
We are children of the covenant, by faith He gives to us. We rejoice because Jesus came for us. He came to live the perfect life for all of Israel and for us because they could not nor can we. Jesus came to fulfill all God’s promises and prophecies concerning the coming Messiah perfectly and then He took all the sins of all people, of all places, of all times on Himself and suffered and died paying the price for our sin. All because of His great love for us.
Today it is important that we continue to remember and follow God’s covenant because His covenant is a covenant, not based on human desire, DNA, genetics, need or work, but a covenant based on Jesus and His work of salvation for us. We need that constant reminder of our part in Jesus suffering and death. It was not only because of Adam and Eve’s sin, not only because the earth has been cursed, not only because we are conceived and born in sin, but also because of our own actual sins that Jesus had to come and die to pay the price for our sins, which He did freely because of His great love for us.
We see God’s great love for us because even before He began creation, He knew what was going to happen. Even before God began creation, He could look through time and He could see us, you and me. Because of His great love for us, for you and for me, He set into motion, not only creation, but also our redemption. Yes, you and I put Jesus on the cross. Yet, He went to the cross willingly because of His great love for us. At our Baptism He put faith in our hearts and made us His children. As we confess our sins and hear His words of absolution, as we hear His Holy Word read and proclaimed, as we partake of His body and blood in His Holy Supper, we are strengthened in our faith, we participate in His life, death and resurrection, and we are given His robes of righteousness. And all we can do is rejoice and give Him thanks, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.