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Form 1 CRE Notes On Faith And God's Promises: Abraham
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TOPIC 4:FAITH AND GOD’S PROMISES: ABRAHAM
BACKGROUND OF ABRAHAM (GEN. 11:21- 12)
After man had sinned in the Garden of Eden, he was driven out of the garden and God placed a cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. Thus the relationship with God was spoiled.
-It is only through Abraham that God tries to restore His relationship with man.
- Abraham lived with his father Terah in the land of Ur.
- The people of Ur were polytheists (worshipped many gods).
- Terah left Ur for Canaan with his son Abraham, Sarai (Abraham’s wife) and his Nephew Lot.
- On the way they came to a place called Haran and Terah died there.
- It was at Haran where God called Abraham.
- Before his call, Abraham was called Abram.
Why God called Abraham
- To reveal Himself to the Israelites.
- To begin God’s plan of saving mankind.
- It was a new beginning of rescuing man from sin.
- To teach the meaning or importance of faith, obedience and trust.
- So as to be the father or founder of God’s chosen people.
- God intended to teach mankind that He is a merciful and forgiving God.
- To give Abraham the land of Canaan.
- To separate Abraham from Idol worshipers.
- To begin the worship of one God
The call of Abraham (Gen.12:1-9)
The Lord appeared to Abraham and told him to leave his country and go to a country that He would show him.
God gave him several promises:-
- God would bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him.
- He would make him a great nation.
- Abraham’s name would be great.
- Through Abraham all nations would be blessed.
- He would give Abraham’s descendants a land to dwell in.
So Abraham went as the Lord had told him. Lot went with him.
By the time Abraham left Haran he was 75 years old.
When he reached Canaan, he built an Altar at Shechem and another one at Bethel as a sign of honour to God.
FAITH AND GOD’S PROMISES
Abraham believes he is going to have a son – (Gen: 15:1-6, 21:1-6)
Abraham and Sarah had grown old and then the Lord appeared to Abraham in a vision and told him that his own son would be his heir.
Abraham doubted this because they did not have a child and they had grown old.
According to tradition, his slave Eliezer of Damascus would be his heir. Abraham trusted and obeyed God’s voice and because of his great faith, the Lord was pleased with him. Nine months later Sarah gave birth to Isaac, which means laughter.
Abraham told to sacrifice his son Isaac (GEN: 22:1-9)
The Lord appeared to Abraham and told him to take his only son Isaac to Mt. Moriah and offer him as sacrifice to Him. Abraham arose in the morning, saddled his ass and took two of his servants and the son. He cut wood for the burnt offering on their way. Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was and Abraham told him “the Lord would provide”. On reaching the Mountain, he built an altar.
He tied his son and placed him on the altar. Then Abraham took his knife to slay his son, but the angle of the Lord called him and told him not to kill his son for the Lord had proved that he feared Him.
Immediately God provided a ram for the sacrifice and Abraham offered the ram as a burnt offering. So Abraham called the place “the Lord will provide”.
What Christians can learn about God from Abraham being told to sacrifice his son?
- God expects man to be obedient to Him as Abraham was.
- God works through men of faith, Christians should therefore be faithful to God.
- God is the provider. He provided Abraham with a ram for the sacrifice.
- God can test one’s faith and whenever one is tempted he should not fall into temptation.
- God does not want human sacrifice for He prevented Abraham from sacrificing his son.
- God keeps His promises for He had promised Abraham a son in old age and to make his descendants many.
- God is ever present for he was present even where Abraham wanted to sacrifice his son.
GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM (GEN: 15:1-19)
A covenant is a solemn agreement between two or more parties that had been separated before.
Major Elements of the Covenant
1. A covenant is always between two or more parties.
2. Promises are made and are meant to be kept.
3. There are witnesses.
4. There are signs.
5. A covenant is binding and whoever breaks it must be punished.
6. It involves a ceremony.
7. There is a seal.
Then the word of the Lord came to Abraham inform of a vision. In the vision, God promised Abraham that He would fulfill all the promises He had made to him.
Abraham was however very disturbed because, although God had promised him very many things, he continued being childless. Eliezer of Damascus his slave was therefore going to be his heir.
At the time God appeared to Abraham he was very old. He was 100 years while his wife Sarah was 99 years.
The Covenant Ceremony
God entered into a covenant with him. God assured him that his descendants would be as many as the stars.
God told Abraham to bring a heifer, goat, and a ram each three years old, a dove and a pigeon. He cut the animals into halves and placed them opposite each other.
The birds were not split. Towards evening Abraham fell into a deep sleep and was full of fear. While he slept, God appeared to him and told him that his descendants will be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years and after that He would take them out. That he would die in old age in peace.
After the sun had set and it was dark smoking fire pot and a flaming torch suddenly appeared and passed between the cut animals. That day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham.
Significance of Abraham’s covenant with God
- By passing through the carcasses, God was showing to Abraham that He would protect him.
- Abraham’s covenant was the beginning of salvation history where God started a new relationship with man after the fall.
- The blood of the animals sealed the covenant between God and Abraham.
- It is during the covenant that God made promises to Abraham.
- The covenant brought a new relationship between man and God.
- The smoking fire pot and the flaming torch symbolized the presence of God.
- The presence of the young animals – a heifer, a ram a goat each three years old symbolizes the holiness of God.
- The pigeon and the turtledove were to act as witnesses and messengers at the ceremony.
Characteristics of God’s covenant with Abraham
- The covenant was unconditional i.e. there was a personal relationship.
- The promises given by God were fulfilled.
- Circumcision was an outward sign of the covenant.
- The covenant was sealed through the sacrifice.
- The covenant was binding.
- The covenant was initiated by God.
- The covenant was voluntary, as Abraham was not forced into entering into an agreement with God.
EXAMPLES OF COVENANTS IN MODERN SOCIETIES
- Oath of office
- Employment contracts
- Land transactions
- Peace treaties between Nations
- Ordination of Priests
CIRCUMCISION OF ABRAHAM AND HIS DESCENDANTS (GEN: 17:1-16)
Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin of the male sex organ.
God appeared to Abraham when he was 99 years old and reassured him of the promises he had made with him.
Abraham was expected to obey and do what was right and pleasing to God. A sign of obedience to God. God requested that Abraham and all his male descendants to be circumcised when they were eight days old including slaves born in their homes and those from foreigners.
God told Abraham that his name would no longer be Abram but Abraham, which means father of many nations. And his wife’s name would no longer be Sarai but Sarah meaning mother of nations. So Abraham was circumcised with his son (Ishmael by Hagar the slave girl).
So from that day, circumcision would take place on the eighth day for all Abraham’s descendants.
The Importance of Circumcision to Abraham and his descendants
- It was a physical sign of true descendants of Abraham.
- It was an outward sign of the inner faith.
- It was a sign of obedience to the Mosaic Law.
- It was a way of identifying those who were joined with God’s people.
- It was a sign that God had entered into a covenant with Abraham.
- It signified purity.
- It was a sign of unity; through it one became a member of the Jewish community.
The importance of circumcision in traditional African communities
- It is sign of change from childhood to adulthood.
- Once one has been circumcised, he is now free to take part in the full responsibility
E.g. joining the class of warriors.
- The blood that is shed during circumcision bound the living and the dead.
- After circumcision one is free to marry and bring forth children.
- It is a physical identification of the true members of the community.
- During initiation the initiates are given special education that prepares them for adult life e.g. girls are taught how to relate with boys.
- Initiation is also a test of bravery and ability to endure hardship in life
Comparison between the Jewish circumcision and circumcision in traditional African society.
i. In both cases circumcision is for the purpose of identification.
ii. In both it marks the end of one stage in life and the beginning of another.
iii. In both, circumcision is performed by special people mostly religious leaders.
iv. In both there is a ceremony, which brings the members of the family together.
v. In both cases circumcision serves religious purposes.
vi. There is the shedding of blood in both cases to seal the ceremony.
- Among the Jews circumcision is done after eight days while in the traditional African society it is done at puberty.
- Among the Jews it is done on only the male while among some African societies it is done on both sexes.
- African circumcision is a test of courage while among the Jews it is a test of inner faith.
- In African circumcision there is seclusion while among the Jews there is no seclusion
- Among the Jews circumcision is a command from God while in the African societies it is in honor of ancestors
- Among the Jews it is for the identification of the descendants of Abraham while in African communities it is identification of members of that community.
- In the Jewish community it is an outward sign of the inner faith while in the African societies it marks change from childhood to adulthood.
Summary of the promises that God gave to Abraham
- God would bless Abraham.
- God would bless Abraham’s descendants and through him all nations of the world would be blessed.
- Abraham would die in peace in old age.
- God would give Abraham a son in old age.
- God would bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him.
- God promised Abraham many descendants.
- God promised Abraham a great nation.
- God would protect Abraham.
- God would make some of his descendants’ kings.
- God would make Abraham famous.
- Abraham’s descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land for many years, after that he would lead them into a promised land.
Ways in which Abraham showed his faith in God
1. He accepted to move from his ancestral land to unknown land.
2. He accepted to sacrifice his only son to God.
3. He believed God’s promises he was given.
4. He accepted to be circumcised in old age.
5. He built the altars to God one at Bethel and another at Shechem as a sign of honor to God.
6. He accepted to enter into a covenant with God.
7. He accepted to change his name from Abram to Abraham and his wife’s from Sarai to Sarah.
Importance of God’s promises to Abraham
- Through Abraham God had a plan to restore the relationship that was lost during the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
- Through God’s promises to Abraham Christians learn the love of God to mankind.
- God promised Abraham that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed, so Christians believe they receive God’s blessing through Jesus Christ.
- Just as God promised Abraham a great nation Christians believe that they are the great nation.
What can Christians learn from the stories of Abraham?
1. The same way God called Abraham from Idol worshippers so He is still calling Christians to his service.
2. God expects Christians be obedient as Abraham was.
3. Just as Abraham had absolute faith in God, so Christians need to have faith in God.
4. Christians should learn to be patient Abraham did.
5. God promised Abraham protection so Christians are still assured of God’s protection.
6. Christians should be prepared to face difficult situations or test of their faith.
7. God fulfill the promises He gave to Abraham so Christians should get assured that God fulfills His promises.
Ways in which Christians can demonstrate their faith in God
- Through offering constant prayers to God.
- Through helping the needy e.g. providing them with food, clothes and caring for the sick.
- By obeying the commandments of God.
- Through reading the Bible to have more knowledge and wisdom about God.
- Through caring for the environment knowing that it is part of God’s creation.
- Through praising and singing for God in church.
- By attending church services and taking part in church activities.
- Through preaching the word of God.
- Through repenting from their sins.
- By giving tithes and offerings as a form of worship.
- Not getting involved in idol worship and things that may lead one into sin.
- By standing firm in times of temptations and trials in life
Importance of Faith in the life of a Christian today
1. Faith enables Christians to obey and keep God’s laws.
2. It strengthens Christians in their relations with God.
3. Enables Christians to receive God’s blessings.
4. It enables Christians to face trials and temptations with confidence.
5. Faith enables Christians to endure suffering.
6. Faith enables Christians to make right choices in life e.g. career.
7. It enables Christians to share their possessions with the needy.
8. It enables Christians to live in peace and harmony with others.
9. Enables Christians to request God for certain things trusting that He would provide.
How God communicates with Christians today
Our communication with God is possible because we are created in God’s image.
Just as He spoke to Abraham so is God still communicating with Christians today in several ways:-
- Through inner voice. Sometimes when one wants to do something wrong, a voice within us stops us from doing it.
- Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can hear God’s voice.
- Through natural occurrences such as oceans, animals, plants, all these make man feel the greatness of God.
- Through the Bible. By reading the Bible one can have a deeper understanding of what God expects from us.
- Through pastors, priests etc.
- We may also speak to God through songs sang in church.
- Prayers can also be a way through which we communicate with God.
- Through dreams.
- Through vision.
- Through the Holy Spirit.