26 March: Genesis 17.3-9

Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, ‘As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God.’

God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.


 

Does our covenant history matter? In what sense do we claim to be a covenant people?

It is easy to forget, in our modern emphasis on the individual and a personal relationship with Christ as saviour, that covenants are at the heart of God’s relationship to humanity throughout the old and also the new testament.. Whether they be covenants of grace, of works or of redemption, whether conditional or unconditional, the story of the Bible is that of covenant between God and the people of God.

In the Abrahamic covenant what God promises seems impossible – that Abram should be the father of nations. The change of name to Abraham confirms it. It’s enough to make him laugh (v 17). This covenant is to be everlasting not just with Abraham but with his successors. So we all become children of Abraham.

Importantly it is God who initiates the covenant. “I will be your God”. We do not choose God, he chooses us. Not only historically but everyday. How do I respond to the opening of the relationship and to God’s promises? How will I keep the covenant today and through this Lent? A start might be to examine my relationships with others in the light of the concept of covenant. It might take me deeper than just trying to be nice and kind.