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God’s Covenant With Abram
Fall Quarter: Covenants With God
Unit 2: Called Into Covenant With God
Sunday school lesson for the week of October 1, 2017
By Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell
Lesson Scripture: Genesis 15:1-6, 17-21
Background Scripture: Genesis 15
Purpose: To have the courage to question and trust in the Word of God.
Key Verse: “That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abraham: ‘To your descendants, I give this land, from Egypt’s river to the great Euphrates.’” (Genesis 15:18)
Hearing the Word
The Adult Bible Studies’ writer refers to Lesson 2 reading and discussion from Genesis 17:1-14 and reminds us that in this passage that God reaffirmed the Abrahamic covenant with a 99-year-old Abram. The covenant was the promise of descendants, land, and the prospects of future nations.
The writer says that God’s covenant with Abram was sealed by a name change (Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah) and the circumcision covenant. The text, Genesis 17:15-27, portrays the close relationship and trust between Abraham and his God. The scripture also conveys Abram’s disbelief of the promise of a child at his age with laughter and an exchange with God over the destiny of Ishmael (his son with Hagar), but makes the point that he still walked with and faithfully obeyed God.
Teacher: Ask class members to share an experience of promise by God that seemed unbelievable or a disagreement with God. What was the outcome? Did they still obey God?
Genesis 15:1-6, 17-21
The writer begins with a summary of Genesis, Chapter 14 before examining Genesis 15:
Genesis 14 describes Abram as a devoted warrior who would not hesitate to protect his kin. Hearing that his nephew, Lot, and “Lot’s property, wives, and people” (Genesis 14:16) had been captured, he raised a small fighting force, waged war on those who had seized Lot, and victoriously rescued Lot, his family and people, and the looted property. Afterward, the king and priest Melchizedek of Salem (Jerusalem) came out with bread and wine to bless Abram and celebrate his victory. Abram, in turn, gave Melchizedek one-tenth of the spoils of the battle as well as shares of food and property to his fellow soldiers. He seemed to have kept nothing for himself. Nonetheless, God had a reward for him.
Verses 1-6: “After these events, the Lord’s word came to Abram in a vision, ‘Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector. Your reward will be very great.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.’ He continued, ‘Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.’ The Lord’s word came immediately to him, ‘This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.’ Then he brought Abram outside and said, ‘Lookup at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them.’ He continued, ‘This is how many children you will have.’ Abram trusted the Lord, and the Lord recognized Abram’s high moral character…’”
Abram’s belief of God’s promise goes beyond faith without evidence but transcends to a faith built on his trust in God. The writer makes note that the vision in Genesis 15:5 occurs during the nighttime and is a normal time of vision occurrences in the Scriptural text: 1 Samuel 3:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:4; Job 4:13; Micah 3:6. In our times of waiting on God for answers, it seems that the answers sometimes come in the darkest of our hour of need. We only have to be patient, not be afraid, and not get ahead of God’s plan. Abram was able to hear God through his “vision.” He heard God say, “Don’t be afraid” (Genesis 15:1). We can only imagine that this divine audible voice from God could be strange and frightening, as well as emotionally and spiritually satisfying.
Reflection: Teacher, ask the class members to recall an experience that they didn’t have an answer for, but, instead, heard “audibly” from God. Ask them to share how they experienced (visually, audibly and spiritually) their encounter with God. Did they trust God?
Verses 17-21: “After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals. That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abram: ‘To your descendants I give this land, from Egypt’s river to the great Euphrates, together with the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’”
The text continues with the second of Abram’s vision and continues with God speaking to Abram in the dark of the night. We see in verses 7-16, the lead-in to this second vision of Abram and the reminder from God of what he had done for him and his promise. Verse 7 states: “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” The writer parallels verse 17 to the smoke and fire that represented the presence of God in Exodus 13:21. Throughout Biblical history, we see God as a deliverer, provider, and a rewarder.
Throughout the Abrahamic text, we witness God’s covenantal promises of descendants, land, and nations, as well as his protection. We also see a God that speaks audibly, that shows visions, provides protection, but also requires obedience to his directives. God still does the same for us today and requires “moral character” (15:6). We only have to exercise trust, faith, and obedience.
Dear Father, may we be grateful for your covenantal promises and remember the blessings and protection that you have bestowed upon us. Let us walk in obedience to your directives. Amen.
Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell serves as the Associate Director for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at email@example.com.
The Adult Bible Studies, Series Fall 2017 book is used for the content of this lesson.