Our Part In Covenant I
OUR PART IN THE COVENANT REST
A. Introduction: We have been talking about the fact that God offers us rest.
1. The rest He offers is a life of dependence on and trust in Him which brings us peace. Matt 11:28
2. One way God inspires our trust and confidence in Him is through covenants.
a. God has chosen to bind Himself to man through various covenants.
b. A covenant is a solemn agreement between two parties through which they bind themselves together for mutual purposes.
c. Since man has nothing to give God which He needs, a covenant between God and man is in reality a contract or promise from God to do good for those who have nothing to offer.
3. What does having a covenant with God mean?
a. For Israel under the Old Covenant, it meant that God met their physical needs (provision, protection, healing, direction, victory over enemies) and their spiritual needs (blood sacrifices to cover their sins and a tabernacle where He would meet with them).
b. For Christians under the New Covenant, it means everything Israel had plus more. Heb 8:6; 10-12
1. Our sins are remitted. Luke 24:46,47
2. We receive life from God in our spirits and our minds can be renewed. I John 5:11,12; II Cor 5:17; Rom 12:2
3. God dwells in us. I Cor 6:19; Phil 2:13
4. We become sons of God. I John 3:2
4. Knowledge of the covenants can produce confidence before God and in the face of trouble.
a. God will come through for you and enable you to triumph in the difficulties of life. That confidence brings us to a place of rest.
b. David was a covenant man who had confidence which gave him rest even in times of trouble.
c. I Sam 17--When David fought Goliath he knew the attack on covenant men could not succeed, God would come through for him.
d. Ps 23 is the testimony of a covenant man who knew God's provision in a sin-cursed earth and it gave him rest.
5. In this lesson we want to begin to deal with man's part in these covenants. We'll begin with Abraham. What did God want from him?
B. Gen 12:1--God told Abraham to leave his home and follow Him to a land God would show him. In return, God would give Abraham a 4-fold blessing. v2,3
1. Abraham did what God said. v4 Abraham did this by faith. Heb 11:8
2. What is faith? Heb 11:1 gives us the context of the word.
a. Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality -- faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses. (Amp)
b. Faith is believing what you can't see because God said so.
c. Canaan was a 400 mile journey away, yet Abraham made it. v5-8
3. Abraham did not yet have fully developed, fully persuaded faith. Gen 12:9-20
a. A famine came (that's life in a sin-cursed earth), but instead of trusting God to provide in the promised land, Abraham went to Egypt for help.
b. Abraham lied to Pharaoh about his wife (God protected them anyway), and Pharaoh sent them away. Abraham failed a faith test = a "life" test.
4. Back in Canaan, Abraham worshipped at the altar he had built. Gen 13:4
a. v15-18--God spoke to Abraham and repeated and refined the covenant.
b. God let Abraham know that his lack of faith didn't remove or undo God's faithfulness.
5. Abraham's confidence in God grew.
a. When nephew Lot was kidnapped during a battle among several kings, Abraham went after Lot and rescued him. Gen 14:12-16
b. Afterwards, Abraham gave a tithe of all he had to Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God. 14:20
1. Deut 15:23--The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives. (Living)
2. Gen 14:22,23--Abraham then told the king of Sodom who offered him all the war spoils: I have lifted up my hand and sworn to the Lord, God Most High, the possessor and maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a shoelace or anything that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abraham rich. (Amp)
C. Gen 15:1--Preincarnate Jesus appeared to Abraham.
1. Strong faith knows some things about God's character. Heb 11:6
a. You must know, believe He is and He is a rewarder of them that seek Him. b. To believe He is = to believe He is "I Am". John 8:58
c. Preincarnate Jesus showed Himself as I Am (your shield and your reward).
2. The Lord promised Abraham a son from his own body and numerous descendants. v4,5
3. Abraham's response to God was that he believed Him. v6
a. And [Abram] believed, (trusted in, relied on, remained steadfast to the Lord). (Amp)
b. Believed in = unqualified committal; give yourself up wholly.
c. This verse is quoted 3 times in the NT (Rom 4:22; Gal 3:6; James 2:23), and Abraham is held up to us as an example of faith. Rom 4:12; Heb 6:12
d. Rom 4:21 tells us what it means to believe: Fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. (Amp)
4. Gen 16--Abraham did have a son, but it was with Hagar.
a. Abraham did not yet fully "get it". Sarah was to be the mother of his heir.
b. Yet, God did not abandon Abraham or the covenant, for He spoke to Abraham again. Gen 17:1,2
D. In Gen 17:1 God revealed himself as EL SHADDAI = I am the Almighty God = God All-Sufficient.
1. The name comes from the word SHADAH = to shed or pour out.
a. I am the God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually. (Adam Clarke)
b. Gen 17:15-21--God told Abraham that Sarah would bear a son (because God is all sufficient).
2. God told Abraham to walk before Him = lit: set yourself to walk; be firmly purposed, thoroughly determined to obey. v1
a. And be perfect = Be as and what God would have you to be as He makes you such and empowers you. (Clarke)
b. In other words, God told Abraham, if you will set your will (your heart) to obey me, I will give you the power to obey (because I am all sufficient).
3. Some translation say: be sincere.
a. Sincere comes from SINE CERA = without wax; was a metaphor taken from clarified honey = honey from which every speck of comb or wax is separated.
b. God was asking Abraham to be completely separated to Him.
4. At this point, God changed Abraham's name. v5
a. His whole identity was been altered to what God said about him = father. b. Every time he spoke or thought of himself, he did so on God's terms, in agreement with God, identifying with what God said.
5. And, God gave Abraham a physical sign of the covenant -- circumcision.
a. Circumcision was not a sign for the world to see.
b. Was a personal, private sign to Abraham and Sarah of God's faithfulness.
6. Abraham's faith finally reached the stage called fully persuaded:
a. Rom 4:20--No unbelief or distrust made him waver or doubtingly question
concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God. (Amp)
b. But, God continued to help the faith of Abraham and Sarah grow.
1. Preincarnate Jesus visited them before Sodom and Gommorah were destroyed, and strengthened Sarah's faith. Gen 18:10-18
2. v19--Note, the Lord said: I know Abraham; he's going to make it!
7. But Abraham was still fully human and still capable of messing up. Gen 20
a. Fear prompted him to try to pass his wife off as his sister again.
b. We must always remember what God has done for us in the past.
c. We must make moment to moment commitments to obedience and faith. d. God did not abandon Abraham and Sarah -- Isaac was born. Gen 21:1,2
E. Many years passed; Isaac grew up. God spoke to Abraham once again. Gen 22:1
1. God came to prove Abraham, not for God, but for Abraham's sake.
a. God asked Abraham to offer Isaac to him (not kill, offer), v2
b. God's test in our lives is always His word -- will we believe His word?
2. Abraham's confidence in God had grown tremendously.
a. God promised him a son -- he knew he'd have a son. v5;8
b. Heb 11:17-19 he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead if needed. c. Note, also, Isaac had trust, confidence in God.
1. This 25? year old man allowed himself to be laid on an altar.
2. Abraham passed his faith on!! Gen 18:18,19
d. God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. Gen 22:12
3. This was Preincarnate Jesus who spoke to Abraham. v1;11,12; 15-18
a. Jesus gave Abraham more insight into his future: descendants as sand.
b. Only about 3,000 stars are visible to the naked eye; can't count sand.
c. Preincarnate Jesus discussed His incarnation with Abraham. John 8:56
d. This event is a beautiful picture of what would happen on Calvary.
1. A father who loved his son (1st time word love appears in Bible), but willing to sacrifice him. v2
2. Traveled three days; Isaac carried wood for sacrifice on his back. v4;6 3. God would provide himself a lamb. v7
4. This occurred on Mt. Moriah where Solomon's temple (place of sacrifice) would be built. v2
4. Abraham is called the friend of God. II Chron 20:7; Isa 41:8; James 2:23
a. God's purpose in creating man was / is sonship, relationship. Eph 1:4,5
b. Part of relationship is friendship. Jesus called His disciples friends.
c. Jesus said He would tell His friends all that His father told Him. John 15:15--That's what we see with Abraham.
F. As we look at the interaction between God and Abraham, it's clear what God wanted from the covenant man, Abraham.
1. God wanted Abraham to believe Him because he trusted Him.
a. God wanted Abraham to set his will to be and stay faithful to Him.
b. God wanted Abraham to be separated to Him and to put Him first.
c. God wanted Abraham to live by a faith which was fully persuaded that what God had promised He would do.
2. When we talk about man's part, we still have to talk about God's part.
a. Faith in God comes from knowing God -- God continually revealed Himself to Abraham through His word in order to produce the desired response. Ps 9:10; Rom 10:17
b. Abraham had to look at, listen to, agree with, believe, remember the revelations God gave him.
3. God just wants us to believe Him, trust Him.
a. Everything else comes out of that: obedience, faithfulness.
b. He has "bent over backwards" to show Himself to us through His word -- written (the Bible), Living (the Lord Jesus Christ).
4. Do you know that anyone in Israel could have done to Goliath what David did if they had just believed God?
5. Do you know the Bible mentions non-covenant people who received covenant blessings because they believed God's promise = demonstrated faith in God?
a. Rahab the harlot -- Josh 2:9-15;18; 6:17;25; the Roman Centurion -- Matt 8:5-13; the Syrophenician woman -- Matt 15:21-28; Luke 7:26
b. Notice these connections -- their knowledge of the Lord, their boldness, their determination, their expectancy.
G. Conclusion: We haven't said all there is to say, but consider these points:
1. All God asks of you is that you believe Him, trust Him.
a. He has revealed Himself to you in a way which will produce that trust.
b. Chose to know and believe His word above everything else.
2. As you do this, you will begin to experience the rest that God offers His people.