The Covenant Of Multiplication
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 17:1-8, Genesis 1:28
Sunday 17th January 2016
We began a new series ‘Experiencing the Power of Multiplication’ a fortnight ago. Here are the four things that God changed in Abram’s life in order for him to receive the promise in the message titled, ‘Multiplication Is Your Birthright’: (a) God established His covenant with Abram (b) God changed Abram’s name - God reprogrammed Abram’s mind (c) God took Abram outside of his tent, representing his limitations that had confined him hitherto (d) God changed Abram’s perspective, setting his eyes towards heaven. Until God’s word is received by faith, and the promise embraced, there can be no conception. It’s the conception of God’s word in our hearts that delivers us with fruitfulness and ultimately multiplication.
Here is our foundation scripture in Genesis 17:1-8; ‘When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations’. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
In the discourse above between God and Abram, we can count four times in which God mentioned the word ‘covenant’. One of the outstanding attributes that personify God is His covenant-keeping. In order to ensure that Abram received the promise, God established His covenant with him. A covenant can be defined as a pledge, a vow, a contract or agreement between two or more parties to carry out the terms agreed upon. In Abram’s day, such agreement was enacted with blood, which could only be broken by death. Conversely, God deals with us as his children on the basis of His covenant. Hence, it is important that we fully understand what God’s covenant represents and stands for.
Let’s read a few verses as we trace the story of Abram from Genesis 11:27-28: ‘This is the genealogy of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans’. Here is Genesis 12:1-3 with the varying colours highlighting the five-fold blessing declared by God on Abram: ‘Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” From these verses, we can deduce that Abram’s origin was the Ur of Chaldeans. God nonetheless chose Abram as a model of His grace to humanity, despite the fact that he was originally a moon-worshipper who had no relationship with God. In the same way, God longs to relate to each of us on the basis of His grace. Our efforts or performances could never have measured up to what God initiated and outlined for our salvation. Better put, through the life of Abraham, God was demonstrating that it is solely by His grace that we qualify for His mercy and salvation and by no other means. We receive this promise by faith.
Here is Romans 4:16, which reads: So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe (NLT). Our actions towards receiving the promises must be faith driven and faith motivated. We must always remember that God’s promises are His gifts to us, and cannot be earned by our actions. Abraham did not earn the promise; rather God’s grace qualified him. I declare that your testimony this year will be like that of Abraham, in which you will receive from God what you do not deserve ordinarily, in Jesus name!
Here is Genesis 15: ‘After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” And he said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.
This chapter begins with a reassurance from God to Abram of His relentless purpose to bring to pass what He had promised in Genesis 12. The stark reality before Abram was so strong that he could not fathom how this promise was to be fulfilled. Ten years had passed between God’s promise and this chapter and it looked as if the situation was hopeless. It was upon this premise that God declared those words: “Do not be afraid, I am your shield and exceedingly great reward.” Can I encourage you, if you are feeling a bit like Abram today due to the passage of time? Do not give up, there is still hope; do not be afraid!
Fear often echoes in our minds the lie that God’s word will not come to pass, or that He will not come through on His promises. It intends to interrupt the flow of grace. It compels its victims to focus on the realities of the circumstances they are facing, instead of holding on to God’s promises. Fear and faith can never co-exist. Hence, as Christians we have to choose what we decide to give our attention to. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 put it this way: ‘For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever’. God’s word was not stirring up any corresponding faith or action from Abram, simply because Abram was preoccupied with his natural circumstances. In order to guarantee His promises to Abram, God decided to enact the covenant as described in Genesis 15. This explains the fact that God eagerly desires to bless us, even beyond our own natural expectations.
Genesis 15:9-12 describes the covenant process that God began: the three-year-old heifer denotes purification; the three-year-old female goat represents the sin offering or reconciliation (scapegoat), while the ram connotes the sacrifice. All three elements; purification, reconciliation and sacrifice signifies our redemption. Right in the Old Testament, God was preparing the way for our redemption and salvation. The dove and pigeon represents the work of God’s spirit or the Holy Spirit in redeeming us. After Abram cut the animals into two pieces, the bible records that Abram slept off, implying that his part in the process was done.
This covenant was between God and Himself, as Abram could not fulfil the terms of this covenant. This was God’s way of demonstrating His grace. Our performance will never measure up to God’s requirements. Just like Abram was expected to do, our part in seeing God’s covenant fulfilled in our lives is in simply exercising our faith.
Having been promised by God, the following chapter in Genesis 16 puts some spanner into the work that God had begun. Sarai introduces Hagar to Abram, ultimately leading to the birth of Ishmael. Here is a lesson for us; we must discard every attempt to ‘help’ God. Galatians 4:21-25 reads: ‘Tell me, you who want to live under the law, do you know what the law actually says? The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfilment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfilment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. The first woman, Hagar, represents Mount Sinai where people received the law that enslaved them. And now Jerusalem is just like Mount Sinai in Arabia, because she and her children live in slavery to the law’.
How does this covenant relate to us today? Here is Galatians 3:14 ‘Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith’. The promise God made to Abraham has also been given all of us who believe in Christ Jesus. Verse 29 also reiterates this truth: ‘And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you’.
Like the animals that were sacrificed in Genesis 15, Jesus also made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf on the cross, in order to guarantee the promise of God for our lives. Galatians 3:13-14 gives us some perspective on this: ‘But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith”. God’s promises for us will ultimately be fulfilled and will not fail.
Here is 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 describing the Lord’s supper and its symbolism in establishing God’s covenant and His promises to us: For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
Here are 7 messages that we can learn from the life of Abraham:
(a) Your condition is not supposed to stop you from embracing God’s promise: God’s word has been authorized in scripture, then it will remain true. Our responsibility as God’s children is to believe and watch our situations turn around. Instead of focusing on the limitations of our circumstances, let’s rather focus on God’s promises that are irrevocable.
(b) The passage of time is also not supposed to stop you from embracing the promise: We were not created to be enslaved or controlled by time. In other words, we must never look at the conditions we are facing and draw a conclusion that it is over.
(c) For every circumstance you may be going through, there is a promise: Receive the promise by faith, be conscious that it is guaranteed and confirmed by the blood of Jesus.
(d) Hold on to the promise by faith irrespective of what may be going on around you.
(e) Focus on the promise and not your circumstances.
(f) Nothing is supposed stop you from embracing the promise.
(g) Embrace the promise by faith, not by self-effort.
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