Sermon: The Abrahamic Covenant and Miraculous Births ( Selected Verses )

Truth Taught- We who hope in Jesus Christ and follow him in the obedience of faith are descendants of Abraham and heirs of his covenant promises.

Introduction

Our days studying the Book of Genesis have been a great blessing to me.  I pray your hearts have been encouraged as well.   We have just come through the section that covers the birth of the promise to Abraham and Sarah. 

There is a biblical promise given to all people that is infinitely more valuable than anything you will receive this Christmas.

We who hope in Jesus Christ and follow him in the obedience of faith are descendants of Abraham and heirs of his covenant promises.

God had made the promise that through Abraham the families of the world would be blessed.

Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV)

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The question that we must ask, especially now at this time of the year is, How will all the families of the earth be blessed? Then a related question, How am I included into this covenant?

The blessing is that in the fullness of time God would bring forth the Savior who is Christ the Lord.

Later, in Genesis 17 God ratifies the covenant by changing Abram’s name to Abraham, which means father of many.

If God is going to save His people from their sin He has to do it.  Between disobedient key people and barren wombs the covenant would never have even got started, it would have failed in that first generation.

Now before we get to the last two I want us to review something.  These miraculous births were accomplished by God to show His power and truthfulness in the covenant continuing through the generations.  The covenant of God making Abrahams offspring into a great nation and blessing all the families of the earth.

At specific junctures throughout God’s plan there were times of crisis.  The crises might be God’s people and their sin.  God would send them into exile they would suffer for many years and some thought the covenant would end because God’s people may not live through their exile.  God would remember His people and bring them out of exile.  Sometimes, like the passages we looked at there would be a possible break in the chain of covenant recipients then God would move and a barren womb would conceive and husband and wife who could not have children would give birth and through God’s mighty hand the covenant would be pushed along through another generation.

Prayer

1.  The Abrahamic Covenant Continues: The Miraculous Birth of Isaac

Genesis 17:15–19 (ESV)

15 And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 17 Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” 18 And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” 19 God said, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.

Genesis 18:10–14 (ESV)

10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Genesis 21:1–3 (ESV)

21 The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.

The promise of God namely, the covenant promise that through Abraham He would bring about a blessing, namely the Savior, to all the families of the earth took a step forward when Isaac, the son of promise, was born.  It took God doing a miracle in Abraham and Sarah because Abraham was 100 and Sarah 90.  In other words, the only way God could fulfill His promise to Abraham is if God alone did it.  Abraham and Sarah could never have a child unless a miracle occurred and God did a miracle and the covenant moved forward.

2.  The Abrahamic Covenant Continues: The Miraculous Birth of Jacob

Genesis 25:19–26 (ESV)

19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,

       “Two nations are in your womb,

and two peoples from within you shall be divided;

       the one shall be stronger than the other,

the older shall serve the younger.”

24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

Again we see that Isaac and Rebekah could not have children because she was barren.  How will God’s promise continue?  How will Abraham’s lineage produce the Savior when his son and his wife cannot have children? 

Do you see this dilemma?  Do you see this crisis of belief?  Do you see that from a human perspective the covenant will not make it through the second generation? 

Isaac prays and God hears his prayer and Isaac’s wife Rebekah gets pregnant.  Rebekah conceives twins, Esau and Jacob.  Esau is the first born of the two.  God has already determined that His covenant promise made to Abraham would not extend through Esau but Jacob.  Jacob was a miraculous birth.  God had to act in order that His promise would continue.

3.  The Abrahamic Covenant Continues: The Miraculous Birth of Joseph

Genesis 30 (ESV)

30 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

Jacob and Rachel had no children and had no hopes of having children because Rachel was barren.  Again, God’s promise to Abraham was on the verge of failing since Rachel could not have any children.  Everyone else around her was having babies but she could not.  If God’s covenant was to continue and His Word trustworthy something amazing would have to happen…

Genesis 30:22–24 (ESV)

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!”

It would be through Joseph God would keep His promise alive and keep the twelve tribes through the great famine.  All looked to be lost until God moves at Joseph’s conception and at the preservation of the Israelites in Egypt.

4.  The Abrahamic Covenant Continues: The Miraculous Birth of Samson

Judges 13:1–5 (ESV)

13 And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore be careful and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he shall begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

Because of their covenant infringements God had had enough of the Israelites.  They would be given over to their enemies the Philistines.  For forty years their enemies abused them.  God would also raise up a deliverer to save them from the hands of the Philistines.  His name was Samson.  

It seems Samson did everything wrong.  He went against his Nazarite vowel time and time again.  Samson did finish well and through him God judged the Philistines and delivered His people.

5.  The Abrahamic Covenant Continues: The Miraculous Birth of Samuel

1 Samuel 1:1–2 (ESV)

There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

1 Samuel 1:19–20 (ESV)

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

Samuel would also be a deliverer of Israel.  God would use him to continue the covenant.

I pray that you have noticed something through this short summary of God’s promise to bless the families of the earth through Abraham.  The one thing we can truthfully say is that if God’s covenant is going to succeed He cannot depend on humans we must depend on Him. 

6.  The Forerunner: The Miraculous Birth of John the Baptist

Luke 1:5–7 (ESV)

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Luke 1:11–13 (ESV)

11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.

John the Baptist also had a miraculous birth, and everything about his birth was predicted before he was born. God spoke about John hundreds of years before he came. He was to be the forerunner of the LORD, the Messiah and savior of the world. His parents were descendants of Aaron the first priest of Israel. They were trusting in the promises of God, yet Elizabeth was barren but God opened up her womb. When the time came for her to give birth, the angel Gabriel made an announcement to both Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to Zacharias and Elizabeth. When John was born his father uttered an amazing prophecy about God’s faithfulness and his promises to Israel and to all people.

Luke 1:67–79 (ESV)

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68    “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,

for he has visited and redeemed his people

69    and has raised up a horn of salvation for us

in the house of his servant David,

70    as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,

71    that we should be saved from our enemies

and from the hand of all who hate us;

72    to show the mercy promised to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant,

73    the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us

74        that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,

       might serve him without fear,

75        in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

76    And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

77    to give knowledge of salvation to his people

in the forgiveness of their sins,

78    because of the tender mercy of our God,

whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

79    to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

In those days God was doing a wonderful work.  There had previously been 400 years from the last OT book to this time.  These were called the years of silence.  God’s people wondered, had God deserted us?  It was a dark time for Israel when tyrants ruled and the people had little in which to find encouragement.
We’ve looked at 6 miracle births where God used a husband and wife who could not conceive and caused the to bear a child.  It was this child God would use to preserve His promise to the next generation.  Now let’s look to a miraculous conception beyond all imaginings.

7.  The Fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant: The Virgin Birth of Jesus Our Lord

Our Lord’s birth is ultra-miraculous.  What I mean is the difference is that Mary and Joseph were not old and Mary was not barren.  She was young and able to bear children.  Jesus was not the product of a man and a woman coming together but born of God.  His incarnation came about by the miracle of the virgin birth. 

Luke 1:26–38 (ESV)

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

After Jesus was born, the angels come with an amazing message…

Luke 2:8–14 (ESV)

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14    “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels declare that the Savior Jesus Christ will be for all the people they are using God’s Abrahamic Covenant language…All the families of the earth will be blessed. 

How will all the families of the earth be blessed? The answer…through the birth and salvation found in Jesus Christ.

How am I included into this covenant?  We are not Jewish.  We cannot trace our ancestry back to Abraham, so how are we included?

God had in view that Jesus Christ would be the descendant of Abraham and that everyone who trusts in Christ would become an heir of Abraham’s promise.

Galatians 3:29 (ESV)

29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Romans 4:16–18 (ESV)

16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18 In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

We who hope in Jesus Christ and follow him in the obedience of faith are descendants of Abraham and heirs of his covenant promises.

There is one more miraculous birth that we must see together…

This birth was impossible.  Everything was against this birth.  As hard as we might try we could not accomplish this birth.  This birth must happen to be included into the Abrahamic Covenant.  Just like all the other ones, it takes God to accomplish it.

John 1:9–13 (ESV)

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

I want to close this morning with the picture of this new birth; this miraculous birth that happens to all of Abraham’s descendants by faith.

Ephesians 2:1–9 (ESV)

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We who hope in Jesus Christ and follow him in the obedience of faith are descendants of Abraham and heirs of his covenant promises.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Truth Taught

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