Abrahamic Covenant

By Jerry Wierwille

One of the most critical events in the biblical narrative is God's covenant with Abraham. In this session, you will see how this covenant functions on a fundamental level in God's redemptive plan and purposes for the whole world.

The Plot Story Thus Far (Adam → Noah → Abraham)

Each is a new beginning where God begins something new. God’s dealings with Abraham will be last major re-start in the grand narrative of Scripture until the end and God’s eternal kingdom is established in a new heavens and new earth.

Key Points in the Abrahamic Narrative

  1. The Giving of the Promise: The Call of Abram (Genesis 12)
  2. The Making of the Covenant: The Promise of Descendants and Land (Genesis 15)
  3. Affirming the Covenant: The Sign of Circumcision (Genesis 17)
  4. Abraham’s Obedience and Confirmation of the Promises by Oath (Genesis 22)

Genesis 12—The Giving of the Promise: The Call of Abram

God’s Command and Promise (12:1-3)

“Go”                                                                             (command)

  1. I will make you into a great nation                         (promise)
  2. I will bless you                                                       (promise)
  3. I will make your name great                                  (promise)

“Be a blessing”                                                             (command)

  1. I will bless those who bless you                             (promise)
  2. I will curse him who curses you                             (promise)
  3. In you all nations will be blessed                           (promise)

Abram’s Response: Obedience (12:4-9)

  1. Abram left Haran (vv. 4-6) (obedience)
  2. Promise confirmed, Abram worships (v. 7)        (promise and worship)
  3. Abram journey to the Negev (vv. 8-9)                (obedience and worship)

*Outlines adapted from Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Kingdom through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (2nd ed;
Crossway: 2018).

Genesis 15—The Making of the Covenant: The Promise of Descendants and Land

Part 1—Promise of Seed/Descendants (15:1-6)

A.  God reveals himself and makes promises (v. 1)
             B.  Abram’s complaint and question (vv. 2-3)
      A’.  God’s revelation and confirmation (vv. 4-6)

Part 2—Promise of Land (15:7-21)

      A.  God reveals himself and makes promises (v. 7)
             B.  Abram’s complaint and question (v. 8)
      A’.  God’s revelation and confirmation (vv. 9-21) 

Genesis 17—Affirming the Covenant: The Sign of Circumcision

A.  Yahweh’s intention to affirm his oath about progeny (vv. 1-2)
B.  Abram falls on his face (v. 3)
C.  God promises descendants and land (vv. 4-8)
D.  The covenant sign of circumcision (vv. 9-14)

            A’.  Yahweh’s intention to bless Sarah with progeny (vv. 15-16)
            B’.  Abraham falls on his face (vv. 17-18)
            C’.  God promises a son from Sarah (vv. 19-22)
            D’.  The sign of circumcision is practiced (vv. 23-27)

Genesis 22— Abraham’s Obedience and Confirmation of the Promises by Oath

A.  God’s call and Abraham’s response (vv. 1-2)
B.  Abraham’s obedience (vv. 3-6)
              C.  Dialogue: Abraham and Isaac (vv. 7-8)
      B’.  Abraham’s obedience (vv. 9-10)
A’.  God speaks with Abraham (vv. 11-12)

D.  Abraham worships God (vv. 13-14)
E.  God confirms his promises with an oath (vv. 15-18)

Parallels in Creation and Abrahamic Covenants

1:28: And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

12:2: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and be a blessing! And I will bless those who bless you.

17:2, 6, 8: “I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly…. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will give to you and to your seed after you,…all the land of Canaan, . . .”

22:16: “Because you have done this, I will certainly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore…and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

The Significance of Abraham in the Grand Narrative

“Thus at key moments — Abraham’s call, his circumcision, the offering of Isaac, the transition from Abraham to Isaac and from Isaac to Jacob, and in the sojourn in Egypt – the narrative quietly makes the point that Abraham and his family inherit, in a measure, the role of Adam and Eve. The differences are not, however, insignificant. Except for 35.11 f., echoed in 48.3 f., the command (‘be fruitful…’) has turned into a promise (‘I will make you fruitful…’). The word ‘exceedingly’ is added to ch.17. And, most importantly, possession of the land of Canaan, and supremacy over enemies, has taken the place of the dominion over nature given in 1:28. We could sum up this aspect of Genesis by saying: Abraham’s children are God’s true humanity, and their homeland is the new Eden.”[1] [1] N.T. Wright, The Climax of the Covenant (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991), 21-23.

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