Blueletterbible.org (for looking up scripture references)
Lesson 9: The Abrahamic Covenant – Part II (Pastor Barbara Caesar Stephenson)
We have seen that God entered into covenant relations with Abraham in order to preserve upon the earth the Revelation of Himself which He had given to man. Abraham and his descendants were to be God’s covenant people. Genesis 17:7 “and I will establish My Covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God unto thee and thy seed after thee.” Through this Covenant people, God was going to send the Redeemer. Genesis 22:17,18, “That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed My voice.” The people who were brought into Covenant relationship with God were also to be His testimony upon the earth. Palestine was located geographically so that ancient civilizations had to pass through it in their commercial relations with each other. God’s covenant people were to be a witness to these civilizations of the Revelation of the true and living God.
After giving to us the history of Abraham, the book of Genesis gives to us a brief history of his immediate descendants: Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. All Genesis may be grouped around five names; Adam: chapters 1-5; Noah: chapters 6-11; Abraham: chapters 12-26; and Jacob: chapters 38-45. We will give just a brief summary of the character of these descendants of Abraham in the Blood Covenant: Isaac – Isaac is a gentle, quiet spirit who has left an impression upon Jewish life that no other of the fathers ever did. His marriage and love for Rebecca is one of the loveliest of the stories of the founders of these people. Jacob – Jacob is another character: crooked, selfish and shrewd. It is doubtful that he ever made anyone happy. He met God at jabbok and God laid His hands upon him. Jacob is a different man from that day. He had power with God and man. His life proves that God can change the most crooked lives and make them straight. Joseph – Joseph is a prince, beautiful. The fragrance of this life lingers upon the ages of Israel’s history. At the age of 17, Joseph was sold as a slave into Egypt (Genesis 37:25-28). At thirty years of age he became the ruler of Egypt (Genesis 41: 37-45). When he was forty years old, Jacob went into Egypt with seventy souls (Genesis 46:1-26). The Covenant-keeping God remembered His promises to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation.
THE SOJOURN IN EGYPT
To save His Covenant people from destruction during the famine that was sweeping the land of Canaan the Covenant God brought them into Egypt to thrive and multiply. Genesis 45:6 – 7 “For these two years hath the famine been in the land; and there are yet five years, in which there shall be neither plowing or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a remnant in the earth, and to save you alive by a great deliverance.” God used Joseph to preserve His people. He overruled the work of Satan. He has brought good out of evil throughout the ages. Genesis 45:8 “So now it was not you that sent me hither but God: and He hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and ruler of the land of Egypt. This gives us a picture of the faithfulness and loving care of the God who said when He entered into the Covenant with Abraham, “By myself have I sworn.”
The children of Israel thrived among the ease and abundance and balmy brightness of that land. They were favored settlers. The best of the land had been bestowed upon them. They held honorable and well paid positions under the Egyptian kings (Genesis 47:1-12, 27). Above all, the favour of God was upon them. He was keeping His Covenant with Abraham and the word that He spake saying that his seed should be a multitude as the stars of heaven, and as the sand upon the sea shore. Their increase was marvelous. God was making of them a great nation.
The Scriptures, in repeated statements, direct our attention to the marvelous growth of God’s Covenant people. Exodus 1:7 “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” In the 210 years in which the children of Israel were in Egypt, their number increased from 70 to over 3 million. The chronology shows that 210 years were spent in Egypt. This seems on the surface at first to present a difficulty with other passages of scripture, such as Exodus 12:40, which would seem to give the period of their sojourn in Egypt as 430 years. However, the Septuagint translation of this reads: “The sojourning of the children and of their fathers which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt.” Galatians 3:16-17 throws light upon it as showing that the period began to be reckoned from the date of the promise to Abraham to the deliverance of the children, which makes precisely 430 years. There passed between the entering of Canaan and the birth of Isaac, twenty-five years. from the birth of Isaac until the birth of Jacob, there were sixty years. Jacob was 130 years old when he entered Egypt. This whole interval amounts to 220 years, 210 years added to this number makes the 430 years-the 430 years of sojourning from Abraham to the deliverance from Egypt.
We saw in the last lesson the working of Satan to destroy “the seed of the woman” through whom the promised Redeemer was to come. Now that the Redeemer has been specified as “the seed of Abraham, Satan seeks to destroy God’s Covenant People. After a period of 100 years in Egypt, during which the Israelites had grown into a mighty people, Satan seeks to destroy them. Satan put fear into the hearts of the statesmen of Egypt, and ill-grounded fear that the Israelites, who were so mighty in number, would join themselves to the enemies of the Egyptians in time of war (Exodus 1:8-10). Then followed counsels of systematic oppression and enslavement, determined tyranny and cruelty (Exodus 1:10-14). The increase however of Israel was a part of the Divine plan for His covenant people, and all the world could do nothing to arrest it. The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew (Ex 1:15-22).
The treatment that slaves received from the Egyptians was sometimes very horrible. The mutilations and tortures that were inflicted upon the Israelites – with the command that every son be killed or cast into the river, were of Satanic character. The persecution that Israel receives is so great that they cry to the God of the Covenant for deliverance. He hears their cry and remembers His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Covenant keeping God comes down to deliver His people from their bondage (Exodus 2:23-25). “And He said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover He said, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:5-8).
The second chapter of Exodus gives to us the birth of Moses and his life until the time of his call. We notice two facts here. The hiding of the baby Moses at the river’s bank by his mother, and Moses’ later renunciation of Egypt, were not rash acts. Hebrews 11:23-27 shows us that both acts were based upon faith in the Covenant keeping God. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents. By faith, Moses when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, by faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. The third and fourth chapters of Exodus give to us the call of Moses, including the story of the burning bush; the revelation of God to him in His plans for delivering the Israelites, Moses’ hesitancy to respond, and the permission for Aaron to accompany him.
We notice the power given to Moses’ rod whereby he might perform miracles. We notice that God manifested Himself to Moses not only as the covenant keeping God, but also as the miracle working God. Exodus 4:20-26 reveals the important place that the Blood Covenant held. Moses had neglected the circumcision of his first born. He had been unfaithful to the Covenant. While on his way from the wilderness of Sinai to Egypt, with a message from God concerning the uncovenanted first born of the Egyptians, Moses was met by a startling providence and came face to face with death. “The Lord met him and sought to kill him.” It seems to have been perceived both by Moses and his wife that they are being cut off from a further share in God’s covenant plans for the descendants of Abraham because of their failure to fulfill their obligation to the Covenant of Abraham, by circumcising their son.
In the next lesson, we shall become spectators of the mightiest conflict in history. On one side is arrayed all the power and wealth and splendor of Egypt: its learning, its pride, and its confident dependence upon its gods. On the other hand is a poor, weak, aged, broken and discredited man. He has but one follower, his brother Aaron. It is no formidable procession which these two make as they pass through the palace gates and ask an audience of the king. Two slaves demanding liberty, not for themselves, but for three million people. Demanding it again and again after repeated refusal from Pharaoh, the god-king of the mightiest civilization of that day. These two Blood Covenant men hold the fate of Egypt in their hands and leave written upon the land words which remained alive when Egypt’s greatness had passed away.
Facts concerning the Egyptian kings
A prince in mounting the throne in Egypt was, so to speak transfigured in the eyes of his subjects. In the mind of the Egyptians, pharaoh was equally man and god. We may imagine what prestige such an exaltation in Egypt gave to the sovereign power. The Egyptians, in the eyes of the king, were but trembling slaves compelled by religious motives to execute his orders blindly. Worship was addressed to him as to Divinity. He and his ministers occupy two different platforms.He sits apart and alone. When he has spoken, the matter is judged. It is to him alone that God’s demand is addressed, and on him the responsibility of refusal and continual injustice is laid. We now understand why Pharaoh stands forth as the one man in all Egypt with whom the Deliverer of the Israelites has a controversy. Such words as these take on new significance when they are set forth in the light of these facts. Exodus 8:10,22,23 “That thou(Pharaoh) mayest know that there is none like unto Jehovah our God…and I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall there be; to the end that thou mayest know that I (emphatic I and not thou I and not thy gods) am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. And I will put a division between My people and thy people.” God and His people are on one side; Pharaoh and his people are on the other side, it is the contest between the true and living God and a pretender. God has to break the idol to pieces and lay the idol low to deliver His people.
- 1. Explain the place, geographically, that the Israelites held as a witness.
- 2. Give a brief character sketch of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph
- 3. How did God use Joseph to preserve His people
- 4. Describe the life of the Israelites in Egypt to oppress the children of Israel? Why did he do this?
- 5. Upon what were based the hiding of Moses by his parents and his later renunciation of Egypt
- 6. Why did God come down to deliver the Israelites
- 7. Why did God seek to kill Moses
- 8. Who were involved in the conflict that took place in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt
- 9. Why was it that God had to humble Pharaoh