- Jah’s Covenant With Abraham
In making a covenant with Abraham, Jah promised to bless his descendants and make them His own special people — in return, Abraham was to remain faithful to Jah and to serve as a channel through which Jah’s blessings could flow to the rest of the world (Gen. 12:1-3).
Abraham’s story begins with his passage with the rest of his family from Ur of the Chaldeans in ancient southern Babylonia (Gen. 11:31). He and his family moved north along the trade routes of the ancient world and settled in the prosperous trade center of Haran, several hundred miles to the northwest.
While living in Haran, at the age of 75, Abraham received a call from Jah to go to a strange, unknown land that Jah would show him. The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him and his descendants a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3). The promise must have seemed unbelievable to Abraham because his wife Sarah was childless (Gen. 11:30-31; 17:15). Abraham obeyed Jah with no hint of doubt or disbelief.
Abraham took his wife and his nephew, Lot, and went toward the land that Jah would show him. Abraham moved south along the trade routes from Haran, through Shechem and Bethel, to the land of Canaan. Canaan was a populated area at the time, inhabited by the war-like Canaanites; so, Abraham’s belief that Jah would ultimately give this land to him and his descendants was an act of faith.
The circumstances seemed quite difficult, but Abraham’s faith in Jah’s promises allowed him to trust in the Lord. In Genesis 15, the Lord reaffirmed His promise to Abraham. The relationship between Jah and Abraham should be understood as a covenant relationship — the most common form of arrangement between individuals in the ancient world. In this case, Abraham agreed to go to the land that Jah would show him (an act of faith on his part), and Jah agreed to make Abraham a great nation (Gen. 12:1-3).
In Genesis 15 Abraham became anxious about the promise of a nation being found in his descendants because of his advanced age — and the Lord then reaffirmed the earlier covenant. A common practice of that time among heirless families was to adopt a slave who would inherit the master’s goods. Therefore, because Abraham was childless, he proposed to make a slave, Eliezer of Damascus, his heir (Gen. 15:2). But Jah rejected this action and challenged Abraham’s faith: “‘Look now toward Zion, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be'” (Gen. 15:5).
Abraham’s response is the model of believing faith: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). The rest of Genesis 15 consists of a ceremony between Abraham and Jah that was commonly used in the ancient world to formalize a covenant (Gen. 15:7-21). Jah repeated this covenant to Abraham’ son, Isaac (Gen. 17:19). Stephen summarized the story in the book of Acts 7:1-8.