Pentateuch: Genesis 11-25

Abraham and Isaac

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Walking with God is not always easy, as Abraham and Issac discovered. Much of the time, God allows us to follow Him without knowing all the details of how it will all work out. Through this process, God teaches us to walk by faith. Mercifully, when we stumble, God is still faithful.  

God asked a lot of Abraham, from leaving his homeland and living a nomadic life, to trusting Him for a son despite his and Sarah’s advanced age, to being willing to sacrifice that son. Abraham did not always obey perfectly. He made some significant blunders, some of which still reverberate in the world today. But the promise God gave him has held fast, and today the sons and daughters of Abraham are more numerous than the stars in the sky, and include all who believe in Jesus Christ and have been adopted into God’s family. 

What we see in Genesis 11-25 is a picture of a faithful, promise-keeping God, and in the culminating scene of Genesis 15, we glimpse God’s plan to suffer for us, to sacrifice for our salvation. He never turned His back on Abraham, Issac or any of His chosen family. He showed mercy to Hagar and Ishmael, who experienced God as One who sees them. It is a magnificent picture of a God who is moving His big picture purpose forward while being intimately involved in every individual life, moving us deeper in our walk of faith.  

Pre-Video Reading

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Supplementary Reading - Covenants

Beginning with the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 8-9, God made five major covenants or promises with His people throughout scripture. The covenants were with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ. 

  1. Noahic Covenant: God promises never to destroy the entire earth and establishes a relationship with humanity. This was an unconditional covenant, which means there was no corresponding promise for humanity to keep. 
  2. Abrahamic Covenant: In Genesis 12, 15 and 17, God established a redemptive relationship with Abraham. He promised Abraham offspring, land and that Abraham’s family would be a blessing to the world. This was a conditional and unconditional covenant: God gave instruction to Abraham to walk blamelessly with Him and teach his children about God; He also gave the sign of circumcision for every male. Yet Genesis 15 shows us that God intended to fulfil both sides of the covenant, hinting at its fulfilment on the cross.
  3. Mosaic Covenant: In Exodus 19-24, God rescues Israel from slavery in Egypt and promises to make them a great nation. He promises to dwell with them and be their God and they would be His people. It was a conditional covenant that relied on faithfulness to the Law given at Mount Sinai. The sign of this covenant was the Sabbath established in the 10 commandments. 
  4. Davidic Covenant: In 2 Samuel 7, God responds to David’s heart desire to build a temple to God by promising to make his name great, that through his lineage, the promises given to Abraham will be fulfilled. David’s kingdom will last forever. There are conditional and unconditional elements to this covenant.  While God requires David’s obedience and covenantal faithfulness, David (and his descendants) fail, and yet God also promises a future Davidic king who will reign eternally, fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
  5. The New Covenant: Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 26:27-29. This is the culminating promise, an unconditional offer of grace and forgiveness of sins through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

The covenants are clearly linked through scripture and speak to a relationship that God wants with His people. Jesus fulfilled all the requirements in previous covenants, never failing to obey and submit to God. Because of Jesus, we can have the relationship God wants with us, where He dwells in our hearts and transforms us, where we walk in freedom from sin and judgement because we have been saved.

Application Questions

Spend some time processing what you have learned with your Life Group/Discipler/CLASSES@FGA study group.

  1. How can you relate to the ups and downs of Abraham’s life, in his bold acts of faith contrasted with sinful failures?  
  2. Read Genesis 15. What does it mean that the covenant God made with Abram was a one-way covenant?
  3. How do you respond to your own acts of disobedience? How do you respond to the sins of others, especially when it impacts you?
  4. How have you experienced walking by faith in uncertainty? What have you learned from it?
  5. What is your reaction to God’s judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19?
  6. Consider Lot’s wife in Genesis 19. If “seeing is believing”, how might your dependence on what is observable be limiting your vision of God and His work?
  7. What situation in your life is beyond human answers? 
  8. Has God ever asked you to do something that felt difficult? What encouragement do you receive from Abraham’s submission to God in Genesis 22
  9. What does God’s track record in your life tell you about His trustworthiness?

Closing Reflection

Abraham and Isaac’s stories remind us of our own walks with God: some hills, some valleys, and sometimes it feels like we take two steps forward and then fall ten steps back the next day. We usually stumble when we try to do something in our own strength, or tired of waiting on God and deciding to “help” Him! Yet God never wavers, never changes His plan, never gives up on us. What comfort does that give you that He is always faithful – to Himself, to His promises, to His people? How does knowing He is faithful change the way you want to relate to Him? In what area is God calling you to obey, even though it is hard? In what situation are you waiting for God to move? How are you tempted to take matters into your own hands? Will you surrender to Him, trust His timing and His ways? 

Take time to respond to these closing questions:

  1. What challenges did God place on your heart during the time of personal reflection?
  2. How can your Life Group members pray for you and keep you accountable to grow in this area of your life?

Prayer: Connecting with God

End the time by praying…

Pray for a heart that rests in God’s faithfulness.
Pray for a willing heart to wait on God’s ways and God’s timing.
Pray for an obedient heart when God’s calling is difficult.