God’s Covenant with Abraham – Genesis 12:1-9; 15; 17:1-19
These passages are some of the most significant in all the Old Testament because they lay the groundwork for the rest of the Bible. In chapter 12, God makes a covenant with Abraham and promises him people, a nation, land, and blessing, not because Abraham was so incredible but because he was chosen to be a conduit of God’s blessing to the whole world; Abram was blessed to be a blessing, and so are we.
Chapter 15 doesn’t make lots of sense to us unless you understand that this chapter is describing an ancient practice of making a promise. The two parties who wanted to make a covenant would cut animals in half, separating the pieces far enough apart that the people involved could walk between the pieces. Of course, as they walked between the animal halves, the blood from the animals would flow onto the feet/shoes/dragging clothing of those making the promise. As they walked between the pieces, each person was declaring to the other, “If I don’t uphold my end of the promise, you may do to me what we have done to these animals.” It’s grisly but certainly an incentive to uphold your end of the bargain! Knowing this, you can understand why Abram cut apart the animals, but then couldn’t seem to move to walk between the pieces. Abram knew himself well enough to know he could never hold up his end of the bargain to be faithful to God, so he sat … all day and into the evening. What a quandary! Finally, as the sun was setting, God came in the form of a smoking firepot, and God Himself moved between the pieces. God was saying, “I will hold up my end of the bargain AND your end of the bargain.” Isn’t that what God does for us today? He does for us what He knows we can’t do for ourselves; we can’t save ourselves; we can’t live righteously; we desperately need a Savior, and God provides His Son! All we must do is believe, just like Abram. Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
1. REVIEW THE STORY
- • Game – Blessed to Be a Blessing – give one child some supplies you intend for him/her to distribute to the family (candy, napkins, coloring sheets, anything). Draw attention to the fact that you have given the supplies to this child. Ask – Should _____ keep the supplies for himself/herself? No, s/he should pass them out to everyone. In our story today, God blesses Abram so that he can bless others. How has Abram blessed us? He was the great-great-great …. Granddaddy of Jesus! Has God given us anything He wants us to use to bless others? Money, homes, food, clothing, friendship, love, etc.
- • Coloring – let kids draw pictures of their blessings as you discuss questions
2. DISCUSS THE STORY (possible answers in italics)
- • What did you like about this passage?
- • What didn’t you like about this passage?
- • What do you learn about God from this passage?
- God knows that we aren’t faithful.
- God blesses us with so many good things.
- God wants us to use our blessings to bless others.
- God is faithful all the time.
- God does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.
- God gives us all time to realize that we aren’t enough and that we need God.
- • What do you learn about people from this passage?
- People are not able to perfectly keep promises.
- People who believe God can have righteousness credited to their account.
- People are blessed by God so that they can share their blessings with others.
- • What do you learn about yourself from this story?
- I must share my blessings with others.
- I want to believe God with all my heart.