Covenant, faith, and obedience feature prominently in the next era of the Old Testament narrative, the PATRIARCHS. After scattering all of humanity from the tower of Babel, the story focuses on the family line of one man: Abram, who would later have his name changed to Abraham. Abraham, his son Isaac, and grandson Jacob are the patriarchs, or fathers, of the Israelite people. From Genesis 12 through the end of the Old Testament, we read the story of God leading, loving, and patiently enduring the sinfulness of His chosen people, the Israelites.
This week's reading is incredibly important for understanding not just the remainder of the Old Testament, but for understanding the whole picture of God's work to redeem humanity from their sin. God establishes a covenant, or divine and unchangeable agreement, with Abraham. The covenant is three-fold: 1) A promise of land (Genesis 12:1). 2) A promise of descendants (Genesis 12:2). 3) A promise of blessing, not just to Abraham's family, but to the whole world through Abraham's family (Genesis 12:3). By faith, Abraham leaves his home in Ur, follows God, and steps into this covenant relationship with Him. The Lord, in His faithfulness, fulfills these promises to Abraham and his descendants throughout the story of the Old Testament. Later, God will bring about their ultimate fulfillment thousands of years later in the person and work of Jesus Christ, whereby all people can experience the blessing of salvation through faith in Him. God's covenant with Abraham initiates His eternally existent plan to bring redemption from sin through His Son, Jesus Christ.
FOR THIS WEEK'S SERMON ON GENESIS 12-17, LISTEN BELOW:
FOR MORE CONTEXT, WATCH THIS VIDEO FROM "THE BIBLE PROJECT"
FAMILY INGREDIENT: OUT OF THE COMFORT ZONE LIVING
How many of us always obey, right away, the first time? God calls Abram to leave everything behind; his country, people, and father's household to go to an unknown destination that He will show him. God promises Abram that if he will do this, he will receive blessings. Despite the insecurity of not knowing the plan or destination, Abram goes, taking his wife and household. In faith, Abram believes in God’s power and goodness. Likewise, God calls us to live in a way that sometimes asks more of us than we think we want to do or give. This is the family ingredient of Out of the Comfort Zone Living. God will ask us to take risks and obey despite obstacles. Evidence shows that leading our children in this kind of living teaches them how to live by faith, to be seen differently than the world, and to know the God who directs their path.
- How old was Abram when God spoke to him?
- What did God tell Abram to do?
- What do you think it would be like to leave your home, school, and neighborhood without knowing exactly where you were going? What would be your reaction?
- With time and prayer, do you think your reaction to God's adventurous plan might change?
- Abram heard God speak to him when he drew near and worshipped God. Read Psalm 16:11 together. What does God promise to us as we come closer to Him? Why is this important?
Props: Walking sticks and costumes (optional), building blocks, blanket or tent, paper, and crayons. Assign parts and label the signs (see below). The first character you always choose is God.
Characters: God, Abram, Sarah, Lot, animals, servants.
Action: Abram is seated by Sign #1 (Labeled “father’s household”). Others pretend to cook or care for animals. God speaks to Abram, "Leave your father's house and go where I show you". Have Abram gather up everyone and walk to Sign #2 (labeled “Tree”). God speaks again, "To your children I will give this land". Abram makes an altar using blocks; Abram worships. Pretend to walk up and down hills to Sign #3 (labeled “Hills"). Set up blanket fort or tent. Abram makes another altar and worships. Discuss the "Family Questions". Pray that God will help your family do whatever He asks of you, even if it seems scary or unsure.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION
- Is there a promise in which to trust or rest? – The Bible is filled with promises from God to His children – to bless, to enrich, to satisfy. God's promises provide hope and meet all of our needs. A challenge we often face is that His promises do not happen in our timing. God's promises are fulfilled in His timing.
- As you reflect on the reading from this week, how difficult do you think it was for Abraham to believe those promises? In what ways is God’s guidance for us similar to the way He guided Abraham?
- In what ways are Abraham’s faith and obedience examples for us?