The Covenant Blessings

Genesis 19:27-29

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There is a medical condition called Amnesia, where people lose memory of facts and information and past events of their lives. And even apart from the medical condition, forgetfulness is normal with us. I believe we have all ever forgotten about something we should have done. Therefore, it is human to forget. The Phrase God remembered Abraham therefore is an interesting phrase to consider. Does it mean God forgets sometimes? Are there times in our lives God forgets about us and then later remembers us? That will not be comforting at all if the one we have entrusted our lives with as believers, the one who controls all things, the one who is sovereign can forget things. No, that is not the God of the Bible.

But clearly, the text says God remembered. So God might have forgotten?

No, God is unlike us. He never forgets. And we can take comfort in this. Whatever, you are going through. Whatever you are experiencing, God has not forgotten about you. And the Bible is clear about this: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you (Isaiah 49:15)”

God remembered Abraham, therefore should not be read as God forgetting Abraham at a point. You remember in the first sermon in this chapter, I spoke of human language used to paint a picture of God’s attributes. Anthropology–using human language to describe an action of God. Now because we started this from Genesis 19, we may not have seen the picture well. But the whole narrative is about God and his relationship with Abraham. It is about God and his covenant with Abraham. And the narrator helps us by bringing that to our attention (vv.27;29). This morning, I would want us to consider for a title “The Covenant Blessings”.

What Is A Covenant?

Some commentators have divided Genesis into two parts; Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50. 1-11 recounts Creation, The Fall, The Flood and The Tower of Babel. Then Chapter 12-50 recounts the Call of Abraham and God’s dealings with the descendants of Abraham. From Genesis Chapter 12, we see God calls Abraham, entered into a Covenant with him. And as the Chapters progresses, at every turn of a Chapter, God shows up to reiterate or give further details to the covenant

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

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 (Genesis 17:7)

These texts points us to the covenants God made with Abraham. A covenant then is an agreement or contract between two or more people with terms and conditions to be adhered to. It also outlines consequences for breaches. In this country I believe we have all heard of Judgement Debts. These are parties to a contract who have felt aggrieved for a breach of contract and have gone ahead to sue or demand their right. But this picture is just a partial picture of what a Biblical Covenant is. A biblical Covenant, though it is an agreement, it is not an agreement between two equal people where one party can decide to opt out. In a Biblical covenant, God is the one who spells out all the requirements of the covenants. And the terms of the covenant are binding on humans, whether they like it or not. God is our Sovereign Ruler and has absolute power over his creation. In Reformed Theology, three kinds of Covenants are identified.

(i) Covenant Of Redemption. This covenant is identified as a Covenant between the Godhead—that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit—to save a people. This is a Covenant entered into before the foundation of the earth: “Under this covenant, the Father plans redemption and sends the Son in order to save His people. The Son agrees to be sent and to do the work necessary to save the elect (John 10:17–18), and the Spirit agrees to apply the work of Christ to us by sealing us unto salvation (Eph. 1:13–14).” (R.C. Sproul)
(ii) Covenant of Works. The covenant of works is the agreement God made with Adam and Eve to keep his commands. In disobedience, they were threatened with death (Genesis 2:15).
(iii) Covenant of Grace. Adam and Eve as we know, didn’t keep the Covenant of works and therefore plunged all human beings into sin. And God out of his mercy, inaugurated the covenant of Grace to redeem his people. So after the fall, we see the Noahic Covenant, Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, Davidic Covenant and The New Covenant.

Where Are You In God’s Covenant?

This is a question we all have to answer. Because it is a crucial question. It is a life and death question. Your eternal destiny hangs on this question. Whether you will survive the judgement of God or not depends on whether you are in the Covenant of Works or the Abrahamic Covenant. So long as you are a human being, you must be in one or the other of God’s covenant. And there are only two places you can be. Either in the covenant of works or in the Abrahamic Covenant. The Covenant of works, as we have seen already is God’s covenant with Adam and Eve which they disobeyed. And in disobeying, they plunged the whole human race into sin. Adam is our federal head. He is like our representative in Parliament: whatever decision they take, becomes binding on us. Adam’s disobedience therefore became binding on us, and his punishment became our punishment: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). So if you are still in the Covenant of works, then you have to work for your own salvation. You have to keep all of God’s law. But nobody can do that and our only hope is the Grace of God.

So after the fall, God ushered in the Covenant of Grace, where he will save those he has planned under the Covenant of Redemption by his Grace alone (For By Grace you have been saved). Going back to the Covenant with Abraham which is a part of the covenant of Grace, God said “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Paul picked this up and said, that was the Gospel. When God therefore made a promise to Abraham, the gospel was being preached to him.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”  So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:7-9)

The New Covenant
Amazing, isn’t it? The Covenant to Abraham was the Gospel. This means that the Covenant made to Abraham pointed to a Greater Covenant, that is The New Covenant Ushered in by Jesus Christ through his death and resurrection so that whoever will believe in him will be saved. Again, Paul will tell us in Galatians that “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16). Paul works through the Abrahamic covenant and tells us it points to Christ and is fulfilled in Christ.

The Bible is the great drama of the fulfilment of God’s Covenant of Redemption. It is the unfolding of the fulfilment of all of God’s Covenant with humanity through Adam, Noah, David and Abraham. God is calling a people to himself from the world of sin just as he called Abraham. God is gathering a people for himself in fulfilment of his Covenants. Through Abraham, God has promised that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Will you heed to this call if you haven’t? God calls sinners to himself through Christ: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). There is rest for your soul if you will

Now what are these covenant blessings?

The Covenant Blessings

Faithfulness To His Covenant

We come back to our verse, that is Genesis 19:29, and we see that Lot was not destroyed because God remembered Abraham “So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.” (v.29). You may ask yourself, what did God remember about Abraham? God remembered Abraham because of his covenant with Abraham. That phrase God remembered then points to God’s faithfulness to his covenant. It is, I call it a Covenant language. It is a phrase that always points to God’s faithfulness to his covenant and the fulfilment of the promises in the covenant. Anytime! Anytime you see that phrase in the Bible, then God has come on the scene to fulfill his covenant. It is a language Scripture uses to always paint a picture of God’s faithfulness to his covenant promises to his people.

But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided (Genesis 8:1).

And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew (Exodus 2:24)

He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever (Luke 1:54-55).

God’s remembrance is linked to his faithfulness. The “I wills” spoken by God in the Covenant is he bounding himself to fulfill the obligations he has put on himself.So God says I have spoken and I will do it. In the life of Abraham, we see that the promise of a seed in Isaac was fulfilled. The promise of Abraham’s offspring inheriting the lands of the Cannanites etc was all fulfilled. And most importantly, the promise of the One through whom the family of the nations will be blessed, that is Jesus Christ has been fulfilled. Jesus came to give life to those who are burdened by sin. God is faithful and his promises will never fail. What he has promised, he will fulfill. He is a covenant keeping God and dear friends, you can entrust your life to him.

So Matthew opens his gospel with the words “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” Matthew announces that the Promise to Abraham has been fulfilled. The promise of a King to sit on David’s throne has been fulfilled. The One who will bring blessings to the families of the earth, Jesus is here.

Deliverance from Sin and Judgement: Eternal LIfe

Humanity’s biggest problem is not disease or poverty. But our biggest problem is our need to be delivered from sin and reconciled to God. And God has made a way of escape in his Son Jesus so sinners will flee from sin and run to Jesus for life. Again, we are clear on this. God didn’t save Lot because of Lot or because of any good thing in Lot. Lot was delivered out of Sodom, because of God’s covenantal promises to Abraham and his mercy (v.16). The text tells us “God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow” And we have seen that the covenant with Abraham points to a more better covenant: the New Covenant sealed in Jesus’ blood. In God’s covenant faithfulness, he has decreed before the foundation of the earth to Deliver a people out of the world of sin.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ephesians 1:3-7)

Lot was delivered from Sodom and Gomorrah; a picture of sin. Abraham himself was a man delivered from sin and pagan worship. (Joshua 24:2-3).

Reconciliation To God

We are not only delivered from sin, but we are justified before God. In other words, all those who have come to faith in Christ Jesus are as Paul says “blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.” The man of faith. You see, we can only be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. And the Bible makes it clear that Abraham had that faith. Genesis 15:6 tells us, Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness. Abraham was also considered a friend of God and someone with whom God shared secrets (Genesis 18:17;Isaiah 41:8). A more clear picture of Abraham’s reconciliation to God is in the verse 27: He stood before the Lord. That is a picture of one who is justified. That’s a picture of one who has a right standing with God. That’s a picture of One who has been reconciled to God.

God gives us his Spirit. His Spirit dwells with us. An everlasting presence

God’s Providential Care For His People

Now because of the ills of the prosperity gospel, many of us Reformed people shy away from material blessings. So we tend to explain away the blessings of God as only spiritual and in terms of only salvation. But when you read the narrative, you cannot miss the point that there is a material component to the promises to Abraham: I will multiply you, I will make your name great. I will give you a land to possess. These promises to Abraham were firstly tangible blessings and right there in the life of Abraham, we see the blessings manifesting materially. Towards the end of his life, the Bible tells us “Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.” (Genesis 24:1). My point is that in the Covenant blessings, God has sworn to care for his people.

One day, just like Sodom and Gomorrah, we will all face the judgement of God and those who will be able to escape from the city of destruction are those who will put their trust in Christ. Lot heeded the warning of the angels. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Dear friends, be like Lot. Be like Abraham. Be reconciled to God. Believe in the gospel just as Abraham believed. Believe in Jesus, to whom the promises pointed to and you will have eternal life. You will be reconciled to God.

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