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Describing The Abrahamic Covenant Theology Religion Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Theology
Wordcount: 1693 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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When we found our first evidence of Abraham in the Bible Genesis 12, there he doesn´t seem to me like the great person with the outstanding faith he is famous for. When we read through the bible he is one of the most known personalities of the whole scripture. It seems that his name tends to appear all the time even in the NT. This fact shows us that his faith had to undergo a process of huge growth. But what is the particular reason for this development? What happened that his trust in God was even bigger than the trust in himself? In the following paper I will try to explain and to deal with those questions properly.

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When describing the Abrahamic Covenant the people tend to use mainly Genesis 12:1-3. And there is nothing wrong about that but I think to be able to show God´s progressive revelation we have to look at more than only those few spots in the bible. This principle of progressive revelation is obvious in Genesis. It´s true that the covenant is introduced in Genesis 12:1-3, but it seems that only in very basic terms. [1] It is more like a general introduction of a promise from both sides. This will remain like that until the covenant will be ratified by the offered sacrifice in Genesis 15. But it was only after that offering when Abraham received the sign of circumcision in chapter 17.

God progressively reveals himself and his intentions to Abraham. For example God told Abraham that he will have many descendants in Gen 12. When this prophecy comes true Abraham is already a really old man with the respective age of 100 and his wife Sarah is 90 years old. To be able to give birth to a child within such an age is a true miracle. That is also the reason why Abraham assumed that the seed promised to him will be an adopted son from one of his servants. [2] In Gen 15:4 God tells Abraham that the seed he promised will come from his beloved wife which is has already the respected age of ninety. God tells him that after the birth of Ishmael. [3] This shows us again that God doesn´t tell all his intentions to Abraham at once but reveals them to him progressively. That is why we should expect that the details of the mentioned covenant to be revealed progressively, over a particular period of time.

As I mentioned in the beginning Abraham didn´t seem to me like the great man in faith we are used to know him. We can see the way God led Abraham to his outstanding faith very clearly. Let´s look at chapter 12 trough 17. In Gen 12:7 God assures him the land what he will give to his descendants and to him. He wandered through Canaan by worshipping God and building altars. When he reached the south of Canaan he has to endure with his folk a period of great hunger, that is why he is forced to leave the land which was promised to him. [4] I don´t think that he went to Egypt because of faith it seems to me that he was forced to. After all of that happening he still had a great faith in God.

In Genesis 12:2 God promised to Abraham to make his name great and to bless him. His name will only become great when he will have many descendants.

Genesis 15 starts with the words: Fear not. This indicates that Abraham was fearing something. We know that Abraham defeated many kings for example the king of Syria (Hadad). God told Israel that this king will seek for revenge. But I don´t think that his biggest fear came from one of his enemies. I think one thing that he was fearing the most was the fact that he hasn´t yet begotten the son which God promised to him. His heir was still only the son of Elizier of Damascus Gen 15:2. God encouraged him by telling him that his descendants will be more numerous than the stars of the heaven. In Genesis 15:6 we can see that he had faith in God. To make this covenant official God told Abraham to kill certain animals by cutting them in half. [5] With this ritual Abraham entered in the covenant with God. I think this should show us the symbolic mean that a covenant is binding when both parties stick to their commitments.

In this particular case only God was the one who passed between halves of the animals, that show us that this was an covenant which was unconditioned because it was only dependant on his faithfulness. After the ritual God shows to Abraham the future for his folk. He shows him that the way they have to go won´t be easy and it will take some time till they would own the promised land. They will have to endure slavery in a foreign land for four hundred years. God also tells him that he won´t be able to experience the fulfillment of the Promised Land because it will take such a long time. Even after realizing all that Abraham is still very strong in his faith. The flaming torch and the smoking firepot signalized that the official ceremony was over. I think Genesis 12:1-3 should be called a promise and this one a covenant which was formal. Now God informs Noah exactly which land and which people he will give him. Those were described in 13:14 trough 18. I think by letting Abraham know that it will take such a long time to fulfill his promises regarding the promised land and even with the promised on child he shows him that he the God which is eternal never has to hurry up because he can take as much time as he wants.

In Genesis 17 we can see clearly Abraham´s faith. He was 86 when Ishmael was born. [6] It were thirteen years between that date and the birth of his true seed Isaac. I think that he had big doubts over all those years that Ishmael should be the promised seed, that he should be the person which will have the promised countless descendants. Now Abraham is ninety nine years old and the hope of an own son is nearly gone. In that moment God appeared to him to renew the covenant. [7] 

Abraham is commanded by God to be “blameless” and to “walk before” him. In this “discussion” God progressed in his revelation to Abraham. He communicated so directly with God, this is the great privilege of only a few people will have over time. A special thing that should be mentioned is that the covenant between God and Abraham is ever lasting, because it is also established with his descendants his inheritance. Those people will possess the Promised Land mentioned in Gen 15.

The sign of the covenant between those two was the circumcision. Abraham was passing that to his descendants because it was an everlasting covenant. [8] 

As a conclusion I can say that he was not great in faith from the beginning. His faith needed to be evolved over time. Abraham didn´t obey immediately God´s command for example when God wanted him to leave Ur. In his first years he was not great in faith he had a lot of fear and doubts. His faith had really a lot of potential in his growth. I don´t think it was because of the great faith of Abraham that so many good things happened in his life, I think it is more the result of God´s faithfulness towards his covenant. There are no people without mistakes in our bible besides our lord himself Jesus Christ. All the other actors were humans with their passions and their mistakes. For example it took a long time and a lot of trouble that Abraham become the person God wanted him to be. It always takes time to shape people the right way. God doesn´t do it in an other way thought he would be able to do it. He wants to teach us human compared like a father wants to teach his children. And that is step by step.

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There is an important message for us regarding the way of true blessing. As we can see from the Garden of Eden, man always tend to seek for their own good in their own way. But we can only get the blessing by trusting and obeying God and his commands. Abraham didn´t listen to God´s commands and was looking for security and safety in Egypt. Only because of God´s faith in Abraham he intervened to safe his life. Abraham´s mistake was to make was his wife said even when it wasn´t the same what God wanted him doing. His painful consequence was having a son by Hagar instead of his wife.

This paper also makes clear that God has no hurry in achieving his purpose. Abraham didn´t get the promised land at once, but it will be a possession the descendants. But first they will have to undergo four hundred years of slavery. Abraham didn´t get his promised seed immediately. God waited until it would be a miracle. So that the true seed would be seen as God´s gift. As already mentioned he also didn´t give Abraham a fully developed faith from the beginning. After he called him Abraham had to undergo various tribulations and trials. That made is faith grow over the time. Through the fact that God never is in a hurry we have to learn how to wait for God fulfilling his promises. Abraham really learned a lot in terms of endurance and patience. I think that what faith is really about. That is why Abraham is able to teach us a lot about humility. For example he did not put his interest above the ones of a lot.

Finally we can say that this paper shows an outstanding example of God´s progressive revelation. He was spreading the revelation over several years, adding content and details to it bit by bit.


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