S3E1: Unconditional Promise (Jan. 30)
People of Promise /:1:/ Unconditional Promise.
Remember, all the preview material below is optional. Just show up!
Scripture Covered: Genesis 11 (review), Genesis 12-15
Themes: Review of the Creation Epic, the Human Condition, and the Beginning of God's Plan of Restoration through an Unconditional Covenant Promise
Key Question: How am I included in God's Plan?
While the history of Genesis 1–11 examines God’s relationship with humanity as a whole, the narratives in Genesis 12–50 (often called the "patriarchal narratives") explore God’s relationship with Abraham and his descendants, as the family through whom God makes an unconditional promise back to all of humanity.
The patriarchal narratives describe God’s plan to restore a fallen and sinful people to right relationship with Himself through the special blessing on Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). The major themes of promise and blessing run throughout the patriarchal narratives as the promises are repeated to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Scripture paints the patriarchs not as role models, but as imperfect actors to whom we can relate. They, like us, continue to demonstrate flaws and faults that are the effects of sin and our human condition, which sends a resounding message of hope: that God’s choice to bless them (and us) was not due to any righteousness of their own character, but strictly from His own source of grace. This message repeats through the remainder of Genesis and the entire Bible, demonstrating that God is faithful to His promises, even when we mess things up again and again.
Our ministry partners at The Bible Project have created a short video describing the repeating pattern of God's relentless faithfulness, and His plan to rescue, restore and bless His rebellious world without compromising human free will. Enjoy!
The history of God's interaction with humanity in Genesis "Part 1" (Genesis 1-11) leaves us with an impression of a relational God with very high standards, at best. In the worst case, we're faced with a judgmental God who will accept nothing short of perfect behavior. But as we transition into Genesis "Part 2" (Genesis 12-50), which is the focus of this series— People of Promise, we observe a slight shift in God's strategy for relating to a post-flood humanity that concentrates on a single family and an unconditional promise of divine blessing.
The "hinge" between the two distinct parts of Genesis are centered around the unconditional promise of blessing for all of humanity, which is commonly called the "Abrahamic Covenant" because Abram (who God later renames "Abraham") is the recipient of the covenent promise. But notice: the covenent isn't just a promise to bless Abram and his family, but to bless all families (i.e. all people) on earth through the work that God is planning to do through Abram's family. This sets the stage for about 4,000 years of human drama that leads to the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
As we observe God's promise and plan, we recognize a pattern in human behavior in Abram and his family that should be familar to us. It's s a pattern that characterizes our human condition, wavering between faith and faithlessness, sin and reptentance— experiencing the consequence of sin, which inspires us toward righteousness and justice that seems perpetually elusive. And all the while, God's unconditiona promise of blessing to everyone hangs out there like a safety net, encouraging us to shake off our faults and continue moving toward God.