OBSERVE - In the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis we see a steady spread of sin from its origin in the Garden of Eden. Five times God pronounced a curse on sin and sinner. But in Genesis chapter 12, God began the process of re-creating for himself a people by pronouncing a fivefold blessing on Abram: “I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12: 2-3).
INTERPRET - These are the promises the entire nation of Israel was built upon. It was these promises they held on to and believed God would be faithful to when their circumstances seemed to give them no evidence that they would come true. These promises to Abram encapsulated God’s vision not only for the children of Israel but for all of humanity. They were an expression of his love flowing over and enriching a guilty and dying world, starting with Abram; expanding to the nation of Israel; moving on to Israel’s greatest Son, Jesus Christ; flowing on to the church and reaching out to all the nations.
This blessing on Abram was the first big step of the promised rescue plan of God mentioned in Genesis 3:15. God has continued to fulfill this promise over time and will continue to fulfill all of his promises. When the angel came to Mary and told her she would give birth to the Son of the Most High, she recognized this moment as God fulfilling his promise to Abram/Abraham (Luke 1: 55). Her relative Zechariah understood it that way too, and he prophesied, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people…He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant – the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham” (Luke 1; 68, 72-73).
APPLICATION – God has continued to keep his promises no matter how many times humanity has failed. We see that Mary and Zechariah had held on to these promises many years later no matter how difficult their situation had become. Although it is not always easy to see God’s promises in the middle of the storm, God’s promises will help us to find calmness and clarity in the storm. Understanding God’s promises and God’s continued fulfillment of his promises should give us incredible faith no matter what situation we are in.
QUESTION – Knowing that God has fulfilled and will continue to fulfill his promises, how does this help you handle difficult times and/or situations? Are there any particular times and/or situations where you find it harder to lean on God’s promises? Why?
PRAYER – Jesus, all my happiness is tied up with and produced by God’s covenant grace extended to me in you. You are the Promised One. You are the blessing of my life.
SONG: Goodness of God (Bethel)
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.