October 1, 2017

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session


Godís Covenant with Abram
Genesis 15:1-6, 17-21

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ďThis LandĒ

Land, water, storms, and earthquakes all play a part in Godís covenants with humanity. The first covenant God established with humanity started with Godís first chosen priests, Adam and Eve. Eve and Adam loved the LORD as they cared for and tended to the garden of Eden. But then the first couple broke their covenant and brought humankind under the subjugation of sin and death. God first took steps to redeem the human race with Noah by washing the land to make way for a new creation. Godís next step was to establish an eternal covenant with a landless Chaldean named Abram. Godís promise to Abram was the gift of land stretching from the Euphrates River to the valleys in Egypt, a land already inhabited by Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites (vv. 18-21). The tragedy of Adam and Eveís introduction of the world to the oppressive rule of sin is that it cost people groups such as the Amorites their precious possession due to the Amoritesís wickedness (v. 16).

At that time, human unrighteousness co-reigned with death, and both operated as daily reminders of just how fragile human life is. The Bible has many poignant reminders that the land on which we stand is a costly gift from God. The price of being humans cursed to till the land and work it until our time arrives is not being in control of our own fates as we should be. Rather than possessing the freedom that Adam and Eve had, we are now confined to the whims of the weather and such natural occurrences as earthquakes. God tied land to Godís promise to Abram because we can never separate our original mission from Godís purpose in creating us. The covenant with Abram, as the narrative goes, speaks to human finitude (even though Abrahamís descendants would be as numerous as the countless stars) and Godís infinitude.

We cannot just spiritualize this promise. Abrahamís heir had to be of his own flesh and blood (v. 4). The material and spiritual are forever bound, as we Gentiles learn in the New Testament. Land was never meant for empire building or for being implanted with nuclear artillery. The devastation of recent earthquakes in Mexico, Japan, and New Zealand remind us of this truthóhuman existence is just as shaky as the soil from which we come. May we always remember this as we work to show each other tender love and care.

  • What do you think happened to the Kenites, Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, and other people groups who once inhabited the Promised Land?
  • What are some of the ways you and your local church can show love to people who may be considered landless in your community?

—Rod Thomas, miteewarrior@gmail.com

© 2017

Rod Thomas is a child-centered, fair-minded academic; a Christian who sometimes writes; and an aspiring preacher and layperson at University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. He is actively involved in his congregationís homeless and childrenís ministries and is a syndicated blogger for MennoNerds.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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