6.7.15 | Rev. Darin Pesnell | Genesis 17
On Jun 7, 2015, pastor Darin preached from Gen 17, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours. Abraham and Sarah had moved on from hoping for a son, but in our text God reassures Abraham of His covenant promise to him (vv. 1-2). What is a covenant? See WCF 7.1: http://www.opc.org/wcf.html#Chapter_07 . The only way we could know God is if He stoops down to us, and He does this by covenant. Reflection: a biblical covenant is a divinely imposed legal agreement that binds God and man in a permanent relationship with specific promises and obligations. Here, God has decided to bind himself to Abraham and his descendants forever in relationship. In our text we see three points related to being a covenant with God:
1. Blessing: God blesses His people
a. The promise to Abraham keeps getting more spectacular: Genesis 12 and 15, the promise was of a great nation, and a son—but now, it is of a multitude of nations and kings, and the son is to come supernaturally through the “dead” bodies of Abraham and Sarah.
b. The essence of being in covenant with God can be found in Romans 8:28 – God is working for your good in this world according to His purpose. God is wholly devoted to your good in Christ. Reflection: God’s purpose for you is grounded in His eternal covenant with you in Christ. It is in and through Christ and His perfect work on the cross (blood bought covenant!) that every spiritual blessing is lavished abundantly upon us! (see Eph 1:3-14)
2. A new name: God “renames” His people
a. Your name is the most common thing that identifies you, but to enter into covenant with God is to undergo a change in identity.
b. God gives us His name in baptism. Reflection: We are baptized in the Lord’s name (Matt 28:19) and called His children (Rom 8:15-16)
3. Sign: God marks His people as His own possession.
a. Identity is wrapped up in the sign. We all struggle with the question “who am I?” A proper response to the Bruce Jenner situation is compassion (without condoning). The response of Scripture to our identity crisis is that God declares powerfully in baptism that you belong to Him. He says “you are mine.” Every struggle with identity is resolved here. In Christ, your identity is rooted in who he is.
b. Who is the sign for? In the text, it is all males, to include male children.
c. Why does God give us signs? In that culture, when a covenant was made, there was an ordeal: if I break the covenant, may this ordeal happen to me. So, in circumcision, the person was saying “may I be cut off from God if I break this covenant.”
d. Stipulations of the covenant: faithful and blameless. But we know that Abraham, and his descendants after him (the people of Israel) were not blameless. So how can they, and we have any fruition of the covenant promises (blessings of the covenant)?
1) Jesus fulfills the stipulations of the covenant: He is the one who was truly blameless. He is also cut off at the cross for His people as He bears the judgment that we deserved for our covenant breaking. He bears the curse of the covenant.
2) With the coming of Christ, circumcision is replaced by baptism because baptism points to comprehensive cleansing of sin.
3) Baptism is the sign and seal of God’s promises to you in Christ. Reflection: In baptism, God is saying that all of the promises of the Gospel are yours by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone. In union with Christ, who is your righteousness, you are approved by God, and sealed in His covenant forever as you rest in your Christ, your covenant keeper.
Conclusion: May we be filled with joy as we turn from our sin and rest our hope fully in Christ and the promises of the Gospel that are ours in Him.