Week 2: Covenant With Abraham

Progress After This Week
8%

Reading & Summaries

READ: GENESIS 12-14

God calls Abram—later called Abraham—to leave his home and go to a foreign land (Canaan), which God promises to his descendants. On his journey to the promised land, Abram detours to Egypt because of a famine; while there, he protects himself by lying about his wife Sarai.

Abram separates from his nephew, Lot, because of the size of their flocks, then rescues Lot who finds himself caught in the middle of a war between local kings. Abraham pays tithes to Melchizedek, a priest-king who is ministering in the area.

Melchizedek — A Hint About Jesus: This strange king-priest seems out of place in the story of Genesis. In the New Testament book of Hebrews (Heb. 6:19-7:28), we learn that God used Melchizedek to foreshadow what Jesus would be like. Melchizedek was “the King of Salem” and Salem means peace; Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Melchizedek was a king-priest; Jesus is the King of Kings and our Great High Priest (the one who stands between us and God). And so on. Remember: At this point in history, God’s people knew very little about the Redeemer. God began giving hints about what he would be like. When reading the Old Testament, always look for hints about Jesus and watch for cross-references in your Bible that connect OT passages with NT passages about Jesus.

Recommended video: Read Scripture: Genesis Ch. 12-50 by The Bible Project.

READ: GENESIS 15-17

God makes a covenant (binding promise or agreement) with Abram. Instead of trusting God for a son in their old age, Abram and Sarai take matters into their own hands to produce an heir. Abraham has a son, Ishmael, through Sarai’s handmaiden, Hagar. God reaffirms his covenant to Abram, then demonstrates that Abram and his wife Sarai are his special possession by renaming them Abraham and Sarah. God gives circumcision as the sign of his covenant and promises that Sarah will give birth to a son, Isaac.

KEY CONCEPT — The Abrahamic Covenant: God’s covenant promise was that Abraham’s descendants would be numberless; earlier (Gen. 12:3), God promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him. How could this be possible? As the OT unfolds, we learn that it would happen through the Redeemer. The promise to Abraham is the next big step in God’s plan of redemption. We now know that Jesus, the descendant of Abraham, died to open the gate of spiritual blessing to all peoples. By getting connected to Jesus by faith, we become a son of Abraham. All the world is blessed through Abraham’s great descendant, Jesus.

KEY VERSE — Genesis 15:6, Righteousness is by Faith. When God made his promise to Abraham, he believed the Lord, and the Lord counted it to Abraham as righteousness. Romans 4:23-24 tells us, “the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” God forgives us of our sins and declares us righteous because of our faith in Jesus, not because of any good works that we do.

KEY SYMBOL — Circumcision: Circumcision as a spiritual sign may seem strange to us, but it had deep significance for God’s Old Testament people. After the fall, men were born morally corrupt and self-centered, with a desire to sin. The male reproductive organ carries the seed that produces these sinners. The cutting away of skin was symbolic of the need for the cutting away of sin—a cleansing that would reverse man’s sinful condition. Now that Jesus has made it possible for our hearts to be cleansed from sin, outward circumcision is not required; Romans 2:29 says, “circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit.”

READ: GENESIS 18-20

God judges the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, lust, and homosexual behavior. Abraham asks God to spare Sodom, where his nephew Lot lives. When not even ten righteous men can be found, God sends angels to deliver Lot and his family, then consumes the cities in fire.

READ: GENESIS 21-23

Isaac is born, the promised child through whom the Redeemer will come; meanwhile, God protects Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham makes a treaty with Abimelech. God tests Abraham’s faith by asking him to do the unthinkable: sacrifice the promised child. When Abraham is obedient, God spares the child and renews the covenant promise.

More Hints About Jesus: Genesis 22 is an expertly crafted story, packed with important clues about the Redeemer. For example, the story depicts a father’s willingness to sacrifice his only begotten son; we know that it was because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,” Jesus, to die as a sacrifice on the cross (John 3:16). Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb”; Jesus is called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And so on.

READ: GENESIS 24-25:11

Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac from among his own people; when the servant asks God for help, God reveals that Rebekah is the right choice. Abraham dies and is buried.

Study Exercises

When exercises require a written response, record your answers in a journal or email them to a pastor or class leader who will provide you with feedback.

  1. What questions do you have about this week’s reading?
  2. What is admirable about Abraham? What is not?
  3. Abraham is one of the most important Bible characters. He is mentioned over 70 times in the New Testament. Carefully read Romans 4:1-25; what does it reveal about Abraham, his faith, and his relationship to God? What lessons should we learn from his life?
  4. God promised Abraham that through his “seed” (descendant) the entire earth would be blessed; this descendant was Jesus. When Matthew wrote his Gospel (record of Jesus’ life and teaching), he traced Jesus’ genealogy back to Abraham. Go to Matthew 1:1-17 and highlight the name “Abraham” in verse 2 and the name “Jesus” in verse 17. Do you recognize any other names in Jesus’ genealogy?
  5. Where else in Genesis do we read about a human “seed” (descendant) bringing hope?
  6. God promised Abraham that his descendants would be numberless. According to Galatians 3:6-9, who are the children of Abraham?
  7. What can we learn from the example of Lot (good or bad)?
  8. Twice, Abraham committed the same sin because of fear and a failure to trust God for protection. Look up Hebrews 12:1-2 and 1 Corinthians 10:13. What sins have you fallen into repeatedly? What do you think it will take to have total victory?
  9. Although Abraham had faults, he stands out as an amazing example of faith. James 2:21-22 says that Abraham’s faith was perfected when he offered Isaac on the altar; in light of Hebrews 11:17-19, why was this the ultimate act of faith?
  10. In what area of life does your faith need to be perfected? Do you struggle to trust God with your children (if you have any)? Your marriage? Your career? Your finances? Your reputation? Your past? Your present? Your future? Pray and ask God to strengthen your faith. Our faith cannot be perfected until we surrender ourselves completely to God in prayer. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Ro. 12:1).

Coming soon.