The Story of Us, Pt. 6: ‘When God Establishes Covenant’
How do we get to participate in God’s plan to put the world back together? Do we try to impress God? In Genesis 17, we see God’s covenant once again as God’s gracious initiative. There is nothing we do to deserve it. It is a promise that changes our identity and our relationship to God. And yet, as Pastor Glenn Packiam explains, it is the gift that requires everything from us.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

OT Reading: Genesis 17:1-8 (ESV)
NT Reading: Colossians 2:11-15 (NIV)
Gospel Reading: John 3:1-6 (NIV)

[ATTENTION/TENSION]
STORY: CD club; $0.01…but then hidden cost

How do I get in on this?

  • We try to get the free stuff without committing
  • Or, we keep thinking it’s too good to be true
  • Or, we think we have to perform for God before He gives us anything

[TEXT/CONTEXT]
Recap series…

This is the fourth account of God’s promise (Gen. 12, 13, 15, 17)

Genesis 17:1-2 (ESV)
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.’ ”

  • We don’t do and can’t do anything to earn God’s covenant
  • But we are not passive in this!
  • Gift-giving in the ancient world: Creates bonds of relationship, where mutuality and reciprocity are expected.

When God establishes covenant, He gives us a new identity.

Genesis 17:3-6 (ESV)
“Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, ‘Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.

When God establishes covenant, He invites us into a new relationship.

Genesis 17:7-8 (ESV)
“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.’ ”

  • “I will be your God…And you will be my people…” in Torah and Prophets

When God’s establishes covenant, He demands our total surrender. 

Genesis 17:9-10 (ESV)
“And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.’ ”

  • Circumcision is costly:
  • … in its scope:
  • … in the duration: Circumcision was an existing practice, but almost always enacted at puberty. Here it becomes shortly after birth as a way of indicating that the whole life is God’s, not just the ability to produce offspring.

[PARTICIPATION]
It is not easy to surrender…Look at how Abraham responds:

Genesis 17:17-18 (ESV)
“Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, ‘Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’ 18 And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’ ”

How is this a response of faith?

Genesis 17:23-27 (ESV)
“Then Abraham took Ishmael his son and all those born in his house or bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very day, as God had said to him. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 That very day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 And all the men of his house, those born in the house and those bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.”

“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead.  For what we are trying to do is to remain what we call ‘ourselves’, to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good’.”  – C. S. Lewis

[GOSPEL]
The demands of God are not those of a tyrant but of a lover.

The Presence, the Promise, the Practice: Baptism and a life of surrender

Colossians 2:11-14 (ESV)
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

  • Paul saw baptism as the ‘circumcision’ of the new covenant…an act which embodies our surrender
  • Surrender is not abstract; it is embodied each day.

The Faithfulness of God TO Us and the Faithfulness of Christ FOR Us

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