Lesson 5

Children of the Promise

(Genesis 12, 15 & 28)
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Introduction: This week we continue with our study of the covenant with Abraham and his descendants. God promised Abraham great things. Do these promises extend to us? Are we his descendants? If so, what exactly did God promise to Abraham? Let's jump into our lesson and find out!

  1.         Shield and Reward

  1.         Read Genesis 15:1-3. What did God offer to be to Abram? (A shield and a very great reward.)

  1.         What do you think God meant when He said He was Abram's shield? (I think God meant He would protect Abram because God prefaced His statement by saying "Do not be afraid.")

  1.         Does God make this same offer to us? Can we have peace in our life knowing that God will be our shield?

  1.         What do you think God was offering to Abram when He said Abram's "reward shall be very great?"

  1.         Is a relationship with God in itself a "very great reward?" Or, is there a material side to this?

  1.         To what part of God's offer did Abram respond? (It seems Abram was concerned about the material "reward" part because he speaks only of that.)

  1.         Abram obviously had a material reward because he was worried about who would inherit his estate. Why would Abram care? After you are dead, do you care about your stuff? (Abram is not complaining about a lack of "stuff," he is complaining about a lack of children. He felt very keenly that he had no children.)

  1.         When you were growing up, who was your shield and your reward? (Most people would answer, "My parents." The picture I love here is that God comes to us with the same attitude as a loving parent.)

  1.         Consider Abram’s attitude. Is this rather tough talk with God?

  1.         Do you think God minds tough talk?

  1.         Read Genesis 15:4-6. If you were Abram, would this promise (this answer to your complaint) be hard to believe?

  1.         What do you like about God's answer? (God has grand plans.)

  1.         Look again at Genesis 15:6. It tells us that Abram was credited with righteousness. Is that the goal of our life - to have God credit us with His righteousness?

  1.         What, exactly, did Abram do to obtain this credit? Explore beyond the simple answer of just believing God. (Abram started out with a complaint about how God was fulfilling His part of the contract (the covenant). God gave Abram a fantastic promise, no part of which had been fulfilled. Abram believed a very big story. He displayed much faith on the basis of very little evidence. God called that righteousness.)

                                                                        

  1.         Read Hebrews 11:11-13. Did Abraham become a great nation during his lifetime?

  1.         Was part of Abraham's righteousness the fact that he believed God even though he never saw most of the fulfillment of the promise?

                                                                        

  1.         Is that what God calls on us to do today?

  1.         Great Name, Great Blessing.

  1.         Read Genesis 12:1-2. God promises Abraham several things in addition to his descendants becoming a great nation. What are they? (God will bless Abram, God will make his name great and Abram will be a blessing to others.)

  1.         Would you like to have a great name? If so, why?

  1.         We all want to be blessed by God. Would you like to be a blessing to others? If so, why?

  1.         Read Genesis 12:3. The first part of this verse deals with good or bad things happening to other people. Why would you care about this if you were Abram?

  1.         What does this suggest about Christians working together? (This is a very important concept. God promises that He will bless those who bless Abram and curse those who curse Abram. We will learn later that these promises to Abram also apply to us. What a comfort this is in our daily struggles.)

  1.         Does it seem "un-Christian" to want God to curse those who curse you? (It is a sobering idea to think that God will curse those who curse us. At one point in my legal career I started thinking about those who opposed my clients in religious freedom cases. In one case the primary witness on the other side died during the litigation. Negative things have happened to some of my opposing counsel.)

  1.         How Great is the Reward?

  1.         Read Genesis 28:13-15. We have moved forward in time to Jacob, the grandson of Abraham. Is God sticking to His covenant with Abram?

  1.         Has anything been added? (God tells Jacob "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring." This was part of the original promise to Abram. See Genesis 12:3)

  1.         Read Galatians 3:26-29. The reference to all being blessed through Abraham’s offspring points to Jesus. Is God making a promise to bless the Jewish people, or is this really a promise to bless us all through Jesus? (I think it is both. Any reasonably neutral observer would agree that Jewish people are generally intelligent, industrious, productive people who create wealth and excel in science. At the same time, they seem to be the special target of Satan. Gentiles are incredibly blessed by becoming, according to this verse, "sons of God" and "Abraham's offspring," through Jesus.)

  1.         Look again at Galatians 3:28. It says that being Jewish no longer makes any difference. Why is that?

  1.         Do you think this was the original plan? (There is a school of thought that says that if the Jewish leadership had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, then the Jewish nation would have been a source of light to the world - much as the nation under King Solomon was world renowned for his God-given wisdom.)

  1.         If the ultimate goal is to convert everyone, then what difference would it make whether the Jewish nation as a whole followed Jesus? (The series of covenants that we have been studying show that God had the practice of picking certain people to be His partner in doing His work.)

  1.         Do you think it is God’s preference to work exclusively through one person or one group of people?

  1.         Is God on a mission to find another "group" through whom He can work today? Has God's program changed from the time of Noah and Abraham? (The idea that God works through one specific church, or race, or sex, or economic strata, is very difficult to reconcile with Galatians 3:28. As we just read, it says that the only "grouping" that makes a difference is being "one in Christ Jesus." If you serve Jesus, then you are part of the "group." The new "Jewish nation," for purposes of spreading the good news about Jesus, is all those who believe.)

  1.         Re-read Galatians 3:29. This tells us that we are also heirs of the promise to Abraham. Remind me what promises we have inherited? (The first promise, of course, is that of Jesus. Remember that Abram was asked to leave his country and go to a place where God would bless him. We look forward to a "new country," heaven, where we can be blessed by the presence of God.)

  1.         Friend, would you like to be an heir of the promise made to Abraham? You can become one today by accepting Jesus as your Savior.

  1.         Next Week: Abraham's Seed.

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Lessons on The Promise: God's Everlasting Covenant

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