Because of the covenant (Genesis 18 and 19) – Part 2

But because there was a covenant . . .

Post #452 on November 5 began a study of the LORD’s covenant with Abraham from Genesis 15-19. This post will continue that study as we look deeper into the covenant and its effects on the events surrounding the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19.

A REVIEW OF ABRAHAM’S COVENANT

Before we move on to Genesis 19, however, I want to review some of the key points we have already learned in our study and reveal their significance.

First, we saw that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Abraham expresses his faith in the LORD, and by his faith he is declared righteous.

Next, we see that, after Abraham expresses his faith, on the basis of a blood sacrifice, the LORD made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21).

Thus, by the end of Genesis 15, based on his faith, Abraham has received a covenant with the LORD that has been sealed by the blood of a sacrifice.

ABRAHAN’S COVENANT FORESHADOWS OUR NEW COVENANT

An examination of Abraham’s covenant reveals that it pictures for us the new covenant that believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ. For just as the LORD’s covenant with Abraham began when Abraham believed in the LORD, so our covenant of salvation begins when we believe in the Lord Jesus. Just as Abraham’s covenant with the LORD was sealed and ratified by blood sacrifice, so the new covenant is established on the basis of Christ’s shed blood on the cross. And just as Abraham was the passive recipient of the promises contained in his covenant with the LORD, so we, by faith, are the recipients of all the promises given in Christ. “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him (Christ)” (2 Cor. 1:20).

So, because there is a new covenant . . .

. . . we who believe in Christ receive all the promises of God.

Reading on, in Genesis 17, the LORD appeared to Abraham (17:1) to establish the terms and conditions of the covenant that He had made with Abraham in Genesis 15:12-21. It is clear that the purpose of the LORD’s appearing to Abraham was to establish His covenant since the word “covenant” is used eleven times in this chapter. Abraham is commanded to circumcise all males in his household as a sign of the covenant between him and the LORD (17:11). Also, in Genesis 17:16, 19, and 21 the LORD promises Abraham that Sarah shall bear him a son. His son shall be named Isaac and he will be born “at this season next year” (17:21).

We have now caught up to where we were before with the previous post (#452) in Genesis 18. What can we say about the relationship between the LORD and Abraham?

Because there was a covenant . . .

. . . there is peace between Abraham and the LORD. Even though the LORD has come down to render judgment on Sodom, the LORD and Abraham enjoy a fellowship meal. Because the LORD has established His covenant with him, Abraham has no reason to fear. The “Judge of all the earth” (18:25) is standing before him, yet Abraham enjoys pleasant communion with the LORD and His angels.

In the same way, . . .

. . . because there is a new covenant . . .

. . . those who believe in Jesus “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper, which is a fellowship meal that those who follow Jesus enjoy together as we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:27). We know that there is coming a day when the Lord Jesus will come from heaven to judge the living and the dead, but we have no fear of that day because Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross and He has become a propitiation for our sins to forever quench the wrath of God against us. ‘There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). So, because there is the new covenant, we do not fear the Judge, but eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28).

There is a very serious reason why the LORD has come down to visit Abraham.

THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION OF SODOM

The LORD has determined to destroy the city of Sodom because “their sin is exceedingly grave” (18:20). The two angels (19:1) have come down with the LORD for the purpose of destroying that wicked city. There is only one problem: Abraham’s nephew, Lot, is living in Sodom. If Sodom is destroyed, Lot will be destroyed along with the city. And now Abraham has a covenant with the LORD complete with fellowship and divine promises. How will the LORD’s covenant with Abraham affect this situation with Lot and the judgment of Sodom?

That will be the subject of our next post.

SDG                 rmb                 11/15/2021                 #455

Because of the covenant (Genesis 18 and 19) – Part 1

But because there was a covenant . . .

I have been spending time lately in Genesis looking at the life of Abraham, the father of faith, and this week I have been in chapters 15 through 19, which focus on the LORD’s covenant with Abraham. This post will be more like a series of observations than my usual study which presents my observations and then applies them.

THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM IS “MADE” BASED ON HIS FAITH

The covenant with Abraham begins in an unusual way. After Abraham expresses his faith; that is, after he “believes God, and it is credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6), the LORD has Abraham prepare a number of sacrificial animals and then causes him to fall into a deep sleep (15:12). While Abraham slept, the LORD “made” a covenant with him (15:18-21).

Why does the LORD make His covenant with Abraham while Abraham is asleep? The point of this seems to be to emphasize that this covenant between the LORD and Abraham is completely dependent on the LORD’s will and activity. Because Abraham has believed God (faith in 15:6), he is going to be the recipient of the benefits of this covenant, even though he is completely passive in making the covenant. Because of his faith, Abraham has full possession of this covenant with the LORD. By faith, he is now in covenant with the living God.

THE COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM IS “ESTABLISHED

Moving forward to Genesis 17, now the LORD “establishes” His covenant with Abraham. While the covenant was “made” (cut) when Abraham was asleep (15:18), in Genesis 17 the LORD appears to him while he is wide awake to “establish” His covenant. In Genesis 17, the word “covenant” appears eleven times. When Genesis 17 has ended, there is no doubt that the covenant has been established. It is public.

It needs to be stressed here that all the benefits of this covenant accrue to the passive participant. Abraham gets all the blessings. He receives all the promises. The sole requirement for Abraham is that he must keep the covenant by circumcising all his male descendants. That’s it. He will be a father of a multitude of nations (17:4, 5), and all he is obligated to do is to make sure that his “seed” are identified by circumcision.

All of this is really an introduction to my main observations.

THE LORD COMES DOWN TO ABRAHAM

In Genesis 18, Abraham has a face-to-face conversation with the LORD that lasts throughout the chapter. Let’s be clear on what occurs here. An ordinary flesh and blood human being has a time of peaceful fellowship with the LORD of the universe. Now ordinarily, when the LORD comes down, He comes in fire and smoke and whirlwind. When He came down on Mount Sinai, the entire top of the mountain was engulfed in flames and black smoke. When the LORD comes down, there is terror and judgment, like when He came down on the first Passover and killed all the firstborn of the Egyptians. But because Abraham has a covenant with the LORD, they enjoy a meal together and have pleasant fellowship. Because of the covenant, there is peace and friendship between the holy God and the ordinary saint.

I need to put a bookmark here, but next time we will look at this covenant relationship in greater depth and see how the covenant between the LORD and Abraham determines many of the amazing events in Genesis 19 and the destruction of Sodom.

SDG