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God’s Covenant between Him and Us (Genesis 17:7; Galatians 3:29)

Sermon on 7 May 2023 by Sis Hui Ling

Introduction

What does a covenant mean? It is a pledge to do something or not to do something, that cannot be cancelled; it is everlasting (Genesis 17:7). It is initiated and sealed by God, not human (Genesis 17:1-2, 7). It brings forth a relationship between the covenantor and covenantee; it shows a responsibility of God towards us (Genesis 17:8 – “I will be their God”).

Message

A covenant is NOT a contract. A contract can be dissolved if 1 party fails to uphold the agreement; two parties are required to sign a contract and there are mutual benefits in a contract.

What is the covenant that God initiated with Abraham?

“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. – Genesis 17:7

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. – Galatians 3:29

God announced and introduced Himself to Abraham – “I am El-Shaddai” (God almighty) (Genesis 17:1). He confirms His covenant with Abraham in verse 7 – “I will always be your God”. God confirms His same covenant with each one of us, in John 1:12-13. Like Abraham, we have a relationship with God.

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. – John 1:12-13

God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. The significance is that God gave him a new identity. His wife, Sarai, became Sarah. God also gives us new identities. Romans 6:4 tells us that we live new lives.

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. – Romans 6:4

What are the terms and conditions to the Covenant? God told Abraham to serve him faithfully (Genesis 17:1).

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. – Genesis 17:1

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him. – 1 John 2:29

Do we live a blameless life? What do our parents/children/family members say about us? What does the Holy Spirit say of us?

God told Abraham to obey the terms of the covenant.

Then God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. – Genesis 17:9

The term of the covenant is not only about physical circumcision. It is about the heart. Circumcision is painful. It draws blood. It takes great commitment.

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. – Deuteronomy 10:16

No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. – Romans 2:29

What is the meaning of ‘Everlasting Covenant’? God’s covenant, once established, cannot change. Our responsibility is to obey the terms and conditions.

if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. – 2 Timothy 2:13

We may run away from God, but God remains faithful to us. We have the assurance that God helps us.

“This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” – Hebrews 10:16

And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. – Ezekiel 36:27

Closing

God’s covenant with Abraham is the same covenant as with us. God wants us to remain in close relationship with Him. Through the covenant, He gives us renewed identities and lives. The covenant cannot change. What we need to do is to obey the terms of the covenant. God helps us.

Highlights


Genesis 17:7

“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Galatians 3:29

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.

1. What is a covenant?

  • Initiated & sealed by God, not human. (Genesis 17:1-2,7)

  • Is a pledge (to do / not to do something) that cannot be cancelled. (Genesis 17:7)

  • Brings forth a relationship between the covenantor & covenantee, it is a responsibility of God towards us. (Genesis 17:8)

2. Covenant ≠ Contract

  • Contracts can be dissolved when 1 party fails to uphold the agreement.

  • 2 parties need to sign a contract.

  • Mutual benefits in a contract

Differences

God with Abraham

  1. God announced & introduced himself to Abraham. - V1 " I am El-Shaddai " (God Almighty)

  2. God confirms his covenant with Abraham & He is Abraham's God - V7 " I will confirm my covenant with you ... I will always be your God. "

  3. God changed Abram's name go Abraham. - A new identity

  4. God's conditions to Abraham - V1 " Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life." God's conditions to Abraham - V9 “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility." - V13 "All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant.

God with us

  1. God announced & introduced himself to us. - The full word of God, which Abraham did not have - The Holy Spirit, whom Abraham did not receive

  2. God confirms His same covenant with each one of us. - Genesis 17:7 - John 1:12-13

  3. Baptism - we live new lives. - Romans 6:4

  4. For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. - 1 John 2:29

  5. Since we know that Christ is righteous, we also know that all who do what is right are God’s children. - Deuteronomy 10:16

  6. Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.

Romans 2:29

No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.

Similarities

  • Same God

  • Same God who has a relationship with us

  • Same God who has a relationship with us, gives us new life!

  • Do we live a blameless life? What do our parents / children / family members say about us? What does God and the Holy Spirit say of us?

  1. Meaning of everlasting covenant. - (2 Timothy 2:13) If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is. God's covenant, once established, cannot change. Our responsibility is to obey the terms and conditions.

  2. The assurance - God helps us. "Party not getting his / their needs met supports the failing party so that they can meet their obligations." - (Hebrews 10:16) “This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” - (Ezekiel 36:27) And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

Summary

  • Covenant ≠ Contract

  • God's covenant with Abraham, same covenant as with us

  • God wants us to remain in a close relationship with him.

  • Our identity is renewed in God - new life.

  • God's covenant with Abraham and us is eternal (cannot change)

We just need to obey the terms and conditions. (Hint: God helps us to obey)

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