Term 1 – Week 7
Big Idea – Abram believed God’s promises of a people, a place and blessing.
Genesis 12 & 15
- See these promises as the big promises of the Bible and how Jesus is the answer.
- Belief – God kept his promises to Abram through Jesus.
- Behaviour – Follow Abram’s example of faith in God’s promises as we trust in Jesus
We have started to see how the world was repopulated through the line of Noah. His sons and their wives and the resulting nations that came from these people spread and scattered. They are fulfilling God’s command to them. But God isn’t done with his people yet. Genesis zooms in on the line of Shem, Noah’s son until we get to a man named Abram.
In the following chapters in Genesis, God makes and keeps a number of the most important promises in the entire Bible. These promises are the covenant with Abram (note his name changes a bit later but he is called Abram until chapter 17). The rest of the lessons this term will focus on Abraham and his family, charting how God will keep his promises to this fledgling nation. We will see the birth of the nation of Israel through testing circumstances, centred on these promises. This particular lesson focuses on God’s covenant with Abram. Each of the promises comes with a problem, but we are shown Abram’s faith to trust what he could not see. We of course find our ultimate answer to these questions through faith in the promise-fulfilling work of Jesus Christ.
Firstly, the promise of a PEOPLE. 12:2 sees God promise that Abram will be made in a great nation, a vast multitude of people. But there’s a big problem – Abram was old and without any children! This becomes a serious issue for Abram’s trust in God. In Gen 15:2 he even points out this problem to God! However, in 15:5 God uses the stars as a striking visual of the multitudes of people who will come from Abraham’s offspring. This is a promise that is almost hilarious in its extent given the situation. How did Abram respond? Verse 6 is clear for us, Abram believed what the Lord said and it was credited to him as righteousness. This is key verse for how the New Testament defines faith (Romans 4:3) – the trust in God’s promises.
Secondly, the promise of a PLACE. 12:1 God commands Abram to leave his home, his country, to an unknown place ‘which God will show you.’ Abram ups sticks and goes. The Lord takes Abram to the land for this great nation (v6-7). The problem is that there are Canaanites in that land already. This land is not Abram’s yet, so he is still a nomad travelling from place to place. As is explained in Hebrews 11:8-10, Abraham showed faith to go where he was commanded, without any prior knowledge. When he did arrive the land was not his, and would not be the land of Israel for generations. But he went by faith in God’s promises.
Thirdly, the promise of BLESSING. This promise is heavily connected to the previous two. Count how many times ‘bless’ or ‘blessing’ appears in the promises to Abram in 12:2-3! God wants to bless Abram, but also bless the world through Abram. This one man and his wife will somehow be connected to a plan that will bless the whole world. What does this blessing look like? 15:1 gives us an indication – Abram’s great reward is God himself. The blessing for God’s people is his presence with them, dwelling with them. This would be a moment of significance throughout the Old Testament as Israel’s leaders celebrate, yearn for or neglect the presence of God with his people. Abram’s faith is expressed in believing these promises and following the Lord’s commands.
We know that Abram, later Abraham, would never see these promises fully realised. But we can look through the Old Testament and see how God kept these promises. A great nation was born, yet an even greater nation is promised, one that will certainly bless all nations. That promise comes through the offspring of Abraham, Jesus, born in his line and born of God, the one through whom all of God’s promises are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20). In Jesus, we are part of a multitude of people as many as the stars, with a promised land far greater than this world, and the blessing of a perfect relationship with God. Please read Galatians 3 in preparation for this lesson. In this lesson we want to give the kids these promises as a framework for their understanding of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. They will see the promises pointing to Jesus, and find an example of trusting faith in Abram.
‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise‘
Our God is a Great Big God – YouTube
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