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March 21 – God’s first covenant with Abram and the goal of creation

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram…” – Genesis 15:18

Scripture reading: Genesis 15:7-21

I trust you have not forgotten what I wrote about biblical covenants between God and His people. Covenants regulate an existing relationship, often dealing with a problem in this relationship that causes uncertainty.

Against this background of the function of covenants in God’s relationship with His people, it should not surprise us that we once again read about a covenant, for there is a problem in Abram’s relationship with his God that causes uncertainty. God has just promised to give Abram and his descendants the gift of the land of Canaan, but Abram is not sure whether this will indeed happen, for he says to God, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Abram wants God to guarantee His commitment of giving him and his descendants the land of Canaan, possibly still in the light of the fact that he does not have a biological heir and that his wife is barren, even though he had believed that God would give him descendants as countless as the stars in the heavens.

So, God makes a covenant with Abram according to the custom of those days where covenant partners cut animals in half and then walk between these animals, thus guaranteeing their commitment to the covenant they just made or cut. Except, in this covenant, only God walks between the bloody carcasses of the animals. In doing so, He is swearing an oath: “May I be cut in half if I do not fulfill my promise of giving you the land of Canaan”.

Suggestions for prayer

Ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to the deep significance of His covenant commitment to you (and your children).

Rev. Dick Moes is pastor emeritus of the Surrey Covenant Reformed Church in Surrey, BC. He and his wife Elsina have five children and 14 grandchildren.

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