Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
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THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
(A Sign Of Agreement)
September 10, 2017
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 17:1-14
KEY VERSE: This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:10)
INTRODUCTION: Some fourteen years had passed since God last spoke to Abram. Not since his disobedience in the matter of Hagar had Abram heard the voice of God. The times of God’s silence are most devastating when they come our way. We need to learn that our disobedience almost always brings God’s silence.
I. A NAME CHANGE. (Genesis 17:1-6)
A. Abram was an old man.
(Genesis 17:1) And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Think of that! Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born, and it was not until fourteen years later that Isaac was born. “The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect” God says, “I am El Shaddai, the Almighty God” -- this is a new name.
B. God made a promise.
(Genesis 17:2) And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
Thirteen times in this chapter we find the word covenant. For it to appear thirteen times in twenty-seven verses obviously means that God is talking about the covenant. This is God’s fifth appearance to Abram. He comes now not only to make the covenant, but also to reaffirm the promise of a son that He has made, which absolutely rules out this boy Ishmael, of course.
Paul, writing in the fourth chapter of Romans, says this: “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (Romans 4:19).
Sarah’s womb actually was a tomb -- it was the place of death. And out of death came life: Isaac was born. Paul concludes that fourth chapter by saying this about the Lord Jesus: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Life out of death -- that is the promise God is now making to this man. Abram is 99 years old, and that means that Sarai is 89 years old. When Isaac was born, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90.
C. God’s covenant with Abram.
(Genesis 17:3-4) And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
God says to Abram that he will be a father of many nations. I suppose it could be said that this man has probably had more children than any other man that has ever lived on the earth, as far as we know. Just think of it: for four thousand years, there have been two great lines -- the line of Ishmael and the line of Isaac -- and there have been millions in each line. What a family! What a homecoming!
Added to that, there is a spiritual seed, for we Christians are called the children of Abraham by faith in Christ. In Romans 4:16, speaking of Abraham, Paul says, “… who is the father of us all” -- that is, of Christian believers, of the nation Israel, and also of the Arabs, by the way. Just think of the millions of people! God says here, “I am going to make you a father of many nations,” and He has made that promise good.
D. Abram’s name is changed.
(Genesis 17:5-6) Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
Abram means “high father” or “father of the height” or “exalted father.” Abraham means “father of a multitude.”
INSIGHT: Here was a man who was a father before he had any children. Abraham was Abraham, father of a multitude, by faith at that time. But four thousand years later, where you and I sit, we can say that God sure made this good. The name stuck, if you please, and he is still Abraham, the father of a multitude.
II. AN EVERLASTING COVENANT. (Genesis 17:7-8)
A. God gave Abraham (and all Jews) an everlasting covenant.
(Genesis 17:7) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
What kind of covenant did God make with Abraham? (An everlasting covenant.) If it is everlasting, is it good today? It certainly is.
INSIGHT: God promised you and me everlasting life if we will trust Christ -- that is a covenant God has made. If God is not going to make good this covenant that He made with Abraham, you had better look into yours again. But I have news for you: He is going to make your covenant good, and He is also going to make Abraham’s good.
B. God gave Abraham (and all Jews) the land.
(Genesis 17:8) And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
God tells Abraham what He will do. God says, “(1) I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee …. (2) And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed …. (3) And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee (the Jews).… (4) all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.”
God has made a covenant with Abraham (and all Jews) that is an everlasting covenant. Since it is, it is not one that will be easily broken, and it is not one that is going to run out. God did not give them a ninety-nine-year lease on the land. God gave them an everlasting possession.
The Jewish people have been put out of that land on three occasions, but it is theirs. The important thing is that the Jews occupy it only under certain conditions.
1. First of all, God sent them down into the land of Egypt, and they were dispersed there. They went down a family of about seventy people and came out a nation of at least one and one-half million people.
2. They were put out of their land again at the Babylonian captivity because they went into idolatry and were not witnessing for God.
3. We find that the Jews again went out of the land in a.d. 70 after they had rejected their Messiah. (The nation of Israel again came into existence in 1948 and was officially recognized by the United States of America under President Harry Truman.)
INSIGHT: God predicted that three times they would be put out of the land and three times they would be returned. The Bible teaches that the Millennium will take place when God gathers and brings them back into the land. The return of Christ may be near today!
III. THE SIGN OF THE COVENANT. (Genesis 17:9-14)
A. All male Jews were to be circumcised.
(Genesis 17:9-11) And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
Circumcision is the sign (the badge) of the covenant. The Israelites did not circumcise themselves in order to become members of the covenant. They did this because they had the covenant from God.
Circumcision occupied the same place that good works occupy for the believer today. You do not perform good works in order to be saved; you perform good works because you have been saved. That makes all the difference in the world.
INSIGHT: One man illustrated it this way, “When I went away from home as a boy, although I did get into a lot of trouble, the one thing that kept me from becoming an absolute renegade was the thought of my dad. I said to myself, ‘Because I’m a son of my father, I won’t do this or enter into that.’
I refrained from things because of my dad. Now, I did not become his son because I did not do certain things. I already was his son. But because I was his son, I didn’t do them. The sign of the covenant was circumcision. The thing that put them under the covenant wasn’t circumcision, but circumcision was the sign of it, the evidence of it.”
B. Records were kept concerning male circumcision.
(Genesis 17:12) And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
Have you noticed how meticulous the record concerning the birth of Christ is? All the law was fulfilled in connection with the birth of this little baby Jesus. It is recorded that He was the son of Abraham, the son of David; He was in the line, and on the eighth day He was circumcised. He was “born under the law,” Paul says in Galatians 4:4.
C. Every male in a household was to be circumcised.
(Genesis 17:13) He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
They did not have to be circumcised in order to get into the covenant; God had already made the covenant with them. I trust that you see this because it is very important.
INSIGHT: The same thing is true today. A great many people think that, if they join the church or are baptized, they will be saved. No, you don’t do those things to get saved. If you are saved, I think you will do both of them -- you’ll join a church, and you’ll be baptized -- but you don’t do that to get saved.
We need to keep the cart where it belongs, following the horse, and not get the cart before the horse. For in fact, in the thinking of many relative to salvation, the horse is in the cart today.
D. Disobedient people were put out of the covenant.
(Genesis 17:14) And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
The fact that there were those who disobeyed (practically the entire nation disobeyed when they came out of the land of Egypt) did not work against the covenant. That disobedience simply meant that the individual would be put out.
INSIGHT: However, as far as the nation is concerned, no individual or group could destroy this covenant which God had made with Abraham and his seed after him. It is an everlasting covenant. The man who had broken the covenant was put out, but the covenant stood. That is how wonderful it is.
[Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; – Romans 4:20
“You gotta have faith,” people say. But what does that mean? Is any faith good faith?
“Believe in yourself and all that you are,” wrote one positive thinker a century ago. “Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle.” As nice as that may sound, it falls to pieces when it crashes into reality. We need a faith in something bigger than ourselves.
God promised Abram he would have a multitude of descendants (Genesis 15:4-5), so he faced a huge obstacle -- he was old and childless. When he and Sarah got tired of waiting for God to make good on His promise, they tried to overcome that obstacle on their own. As a result, they fractured their family and created a lot of unnecessary dissension (see Genesis 16 and 21:8–21).
Nothing Abraham did in his own strength worked. But ultimately he became known as a man of tremendous faith. Paul wrote of him, “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be’” (Romans 4:18). This faith, said Paul, “was credited to him as righteousness” (verse 22).
Abraham’s faith was in something far bigger than himself -- the one and only God. It’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.
Lord, I want a strong faith in You, not just faith in myself or my abilities or
in others. I am nothing without You.
-- Adapted from Tim Gustafson, Our Daily Bread, September 30, 2016
CONCLUSION: The central theme of the Book of Romans is that humanity cannot save itself and that God justifies the sinner by grace through faith in Jesus alone (Romans 1:16–17). Paul reveals that all people -- Jews and Gentiles -- are sinners. All have sinned. All stand condemned before our holy God (Romans 3:23). Sinners are saved, not by obeying the law, but by God’s actions of justifying the sinner through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:22–26). We are justified (declared righteous and made right with God) by grace alone, through faith alone, and in Christ alone.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “Our faith is good if it’s in the right Person.”
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REFERENCES: References used in these Bible studies are the King James Bible (KJV), The Moody Bible Commentary, Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, Dr. Alan Carr’s The Sermon Notebook ( www.sermonnotebook.org ), With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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