Gods Covenant With Abraham
Abraham was a native of Chaldea, and a ninth generation descendant of Shem, the son of Noah. He was born on the southern tip of the Tigris and Uuphrates rivers in the city of Ur around 2161BC. Before his name was changed to Abraham, his name was Abram.
When Abram was about seventy years of age he moved with his family to live in Haran. The reason he moved was because “The God of glory appeared to our father Abram when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, “Depart from your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.” 2 While in Haran, Abram’s father died and God spoke to him again saying, “Leave your country, and your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1) He obeyed and left Haran with his brother Nahor’s family and his Nephew Lot without really knowing where he was going. At this time, God did not reveal to him he was going to Canaan. When he did arrive in Canaan, he camped in the plains of Moreh, between the mountains of Ebal and Cerizim. It was here he was given the second promise from God that his seed would possess this land. Abram built “an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him” (Genesis 12:6-7) He then moved to the mountainous district between Bethel and Ai. Here, he built another altar to Jehovah. Throughout the story of Abram, he consistently went back to Bethel to make amends with God. When in this area, a famine struck forcing Abram to move southward toward Egypt.
When he did get to Egypt, Abram told his first recorded lie. Because his wife Sarah was beautiful, he feared she would be lusted by after the Egyptians and endanger his life. He also knew the Pharaoh was also concerned of Abram’s presence along with other Hyksos in the region (Genesis 12: 11-13). Abram persuaded Sarah to pass herself off as his sister. When the Egyptians saw how beautiful she was, they took her to Pharaoh’s harem. As a consequence, God plagued Pharaoh & his house. When the Pharaoh found out Sarah was Abram’s wife, he sent him and his clan out of Egypt to fend for them selves in the famished land (Genesis 12:14-17).
Abram went out of Egypt and returned to Bethel the second time to call on the name of the Lord. While in Bethel, both Lot’s and Abram’s livestock could not be supported by the land, and strife began between their herdsmen. Abram gave Lot his first choice of where he wanted to settle. Instead of choosing the unknown territory toward Canaan, Lot chose the easy way out and went East to Jordan near the populated city of Sodom (Genesis 13:8-11). He let Lot take what he wanted and left it to God to bless him with what was left. Lot’s mistake was he stopped growing in God’s faith and stagnated. He soon found out that everything is not as it seems. If one only takes, but does not give, it soon gets them into trouble. On the other hand, Abram was rewarded with a third blessing for his faith. God reiterated His promise to give him the land of Canaan and posterity as numerous as the dust of the earth. So Abram moved his clan and camped near Hebron where he built another altar to the Lord (Genesis 13:18).
In the mean time, Lot got himself in the middle of a war between rivaling Babylonian kings in the area. As a result, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell and their cities were spoiled. Lot and his goods were also carried off. When Abram heard of this, he immediately armed his dependents, 318 men, and some of his neighbors. They overtook and defeated the kings at Dan, near the springs of Jordan. To accomplish this, Abram must have been a military genius. After Abram freed Lot, you would think he would have learnt his lesson, but he returned with his family to live in Sodom (Genesis 14).
When Abram was returning, the king of Sodom came out to meet him at the King’s Valley along with Melchizedek, king of Salem(Genesis 14:17). Melchizedek brought him bread and wine, and blessed him by saying, “Blessed be Abram of the God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand”(Genesis 14:18-20). In return, Abram presented Melchizedek a tenth of all he had (Genesis 14:20). The king of Sodom attempted to give Abram the spoils of the war, but he refused. Abram told the king, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, “I made Abram rich.” I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten”(Genesis 14:22-23). After this episode, The Lord rewarded Abram for his faithfulness and came to him in a vision. God said, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, and your very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). In response, Abram asked how this could be since he did not have any children.
God proceeded to encourage Abram through a distinct and detailed repetition of former promises He had made and by a solemn covenant contracted between himself and God. But after living in Canaan for ten years, Sarai went to Abram and said, ” The Lord has kept me from having children”(Genesis 16:1-2). As she was seventy-five years of age, she allowed Abram to impregnate Hagar, her Egyptian handmaid. After this, Sarai got jealous of Hargar and told Abram that Hargar was looking at her with contempt. Abram told Sarai that Hargar was under her authority, and she could to with her as she pleased. Sarai subsequently dealt so harshly with Hagar tha t she fled. But an angel of the Lord appeared to her in the wilderness and convinced her to return to Sarai and submit herself to her. The angel told her she was pregnant and would give birth to a son who would greatly multiply her descendants. The ang el told her to call the name of this child Ishmael (Genesis 16).
Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. In a token to consummate the covenant, God commanded that Abraham, all males of his tribe and male descendants of his be circumcised (Genesis 17:3-14). God also renewed his covenant to Abraham through the angles by assured him that Sarah, then ninety years old, would bear a child from his loins. Abraham laughed at this and questioned how an old man like himself could impregnate a 90 year old woman. God assured him Ishmael would make him fruitful also and make a great nation of him. But God told him that Sarah would indeed bear him a son and he should call his name Isaac. God said he would establish a covenant with Isaac and all his descendants. After this meeting with conversation with God, Abraham obeyed him and all males were circumcised (Genesis 17).
When Abraham was one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, Isaac was born. Abraham circumcised Isaac when he was eight days old as commanded. Subsequently, during a feast on the day Isaac was weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael and Hagar mocking her. This infuriated her so much that she insisted to Abraham they be sent away. Abraham gave Hagar bread and water and sent her off. God subsequently kept Hagar from leaving Ishmael to die when all food and water was gone. An angel of God called to her from heaven and told her a great nation would rise from Ishmael. This great nation would be the Arabs. God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water and gave her son a drink. Ishmael eventually grew up in the wilderness of Paran, and became an expert archer (Genesis 21).
Sometime later, God tested Abraham by commanding him to go to Mt. Moriah and offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. This was a great test of Abraham’s faith, because Isaac’s death would nullify all the promises God gave to Abraham concerning Isaac. Abraham probably decided to obey (Genesis 22).Abraham rose early in the morning, cut wood for the burnt offering, and set off for the mountains near Moriah with two of his servants and Isaac. On the third day of their journey, Abraham saw the place God told him to go to. He told his servants he and his son would go on without them to worship and then return. When Isaac asked Abraham where the lamb for the burnt offering was, Abraham told him that God would provide the lamb Himself. Abraham proceeded to build the altar and secured on top of it. As he was about to slay Isaac with a knife, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the lad, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son from me” (Genesis 22:6-12). Abraham stopped, looked up, and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. He took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. After this, the angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time and said, “Because you have done this, and with held your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations of the earth will be blessed, because you obeyed me.(Genesis 22:15-18).” The next event recorded in Abraham’s life is the death of Sarah at 127 years of age. She died near Hebron in the land of Canaan. Abraham buried her in a cave he cleverly purchased from the Hittites n the field of Machpelah.
The next significant act of Abraham was to procure a suitable wife for Isaac. He commanded his eldest servant to go to Haran, where Abraham’s brother Nahor lived to get Isaac’s wife. The servant went to Haran with many camels and gifts. When he got to Haran, he made the camels kneel down by a well during the evening. He did this because he knew the women of the city would come out at that time to get water from the well. He then prayed to the Lord to make him successful and before he had finished this prayer, Rebekah, a beautiful virgin, and granddaughter of Nahor, came out with her water jar upon her shoulder. When she had filled her jar with water, the servant ran to meet her and asked her for a drink. Rebekah quickly let down her jar and told him she would draw water for his camels also. After the camels finished drinking, the servant gave her gold ring and two bracelets and asked her who her father was. Rebekah said she was the daughter of Nahor and ran to show her family the jewelry. After some convincing by the servant who told the family it was God’s will for Rebekah to return with him, they let her go. She returned with the servant and married Isaac (Genesis 24).
Abraham died when he was 175 years old and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah around 1986 BC with his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed Isaac as promised. He gave Isaac and Rebekah twin boys Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:24).
God kept his convent to Abraham and continued to bless his many descendants which include Jacob and Joseph.