Advent Devotional | Day 3: Jesus and the Abrahamic Covenant

Jesu to alikawoli nya Ibrahim

Nupe / Genesis 12:1–3

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
– Genesis 12:1–3

The call of Abram introduced some incredible promises into God’s relationship with man. As one goes through the great themes of Genesis—creation, the fall, the flood, the tower of Babel—the inescapable impression is like a descent from a mountaintop into a valley. Neither God nor man could be excited about such universal regression. But God did not despair or abandon man to the consequences of his rebellion. Genesis 12 opens with God’s initiative for a new beginning: “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you’” (Genesis 12:1).

There is both mystery and marvel about this call. The mystery is why the Almighty Creator should need to relocate Abram to a land of promise when He could easily have blessed him in his homeland. To relate with God requires absolute trust in Him over and above all else. That is the import of Abram being asked to break away from his established sources of security—his family and homeland—all that had defined his life up to that point. It had to be a relationship of faith in God. This remains the unchanging pattern for anyone who will follow Christ. It demands breaking from the cherished past and launching into the unknown future, trusting in Him. May our trust in Him grow this Advent season!

The marvel is that God who owns the universe is so mindful of man in our sinfulness (see Psalm 8:3–4). But He is, and Genesis 12 is about more than Abraham. His call builds on Genesis 3:15 and God’s promise, following the fall, to fix what the fall broke. In Genesis 12, God advances His plan for humanity’s redemption. He calls Abram (later Abraham) into a covenant relationship that moves progressively through him to his offspring (seed) who become the chosen nation of Israel. The climax is reached with the birth of Jesus who is the true seed of Abraham.

This call came with major promises: of land of becoming a great nation of a great name in special relationship with God, and of becoming the channel of blessing to all the families of the earth. God made and kept these great promises because He is the Almighty, ever faithful, ever sure. Each came true in some sense for Abraham and the nation of Israel, and all will be fulfilled in the fullest sense through Jesus: a great multitude that no one can count from every tribe and language and people and nation dwelling with God in the new heavens and new earth as His beloved children with His name on their foreheads! Through the gospel proclaimed around the world from generation to generation, despite persecution, many have become God’s children. Through Abraham’s offspring, Jesus, God is a blessing and will bless all nations—as He promised.

With men, promises are easy to make, but often those making them are unwilling or unable to keep them. Not so with God. In my country, Nigeria, promise-keeping is a major test of integrity. On wedding days, couples make promises of lifelong fidelity to each other; parents make promises to their children; friends make promises to each other; politicians assure the public that they understand and are pained by their hardships, promising to turn things around. Sadly, others use the sacred platform of religion to make promises that have no foundation in biblical discipleship only to deceive the gullible. Promise-keepers are rare and much needed, for they are the people who paint the true picture of our faithful God.

Advent reminds us that God fulfilled His promise to Abraham with the coming of Christ. Advent strengthens our faith in God who is able to keep all His very great and precious promises! He will uphold us, never leave us in this life, however turbulent, and take us to be with Him for eternity.

Bishop in Central Africa

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