As we might expect, after the flood man went exactly the same way again. In the story of Babel we read how (a freshly unified) mankind reaches yet another crescendo of open rebellion against their Maker. Had God not made the covenant of common grace with Noah, thereby committing himself to preserve humanity, he would have destroyed the human race all over again. Instead however, God intended through the Noahic covenant, that a foundation of humanity be preserved. And this so, as a foundation from which to bring forth the promised Saviour.
We come then to the next important figure in the biblical story: Abraham.
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 covenant that God made with Abraham is significant because it served to elaborate on the promise that he had already made with Adam and Eve (Gen. 12:1-3; 18:18). The Abrahamic covenant comprised of 3 main parts:
- God would make Abraham into a great nation.
- God would give that nation their own land of blessing.
- God would extend that blessing to all nations.
When God had made a covenant with Noah, He was preserving the entire human race in order that the promised Saviour could be born. Now, in the Abrahamic covenant, God was setting about to narrow the lineage from that of ‘all mankind’ to a particular race; namely, the seed of Abraham.
Despite seemingly impossible obstacles, God showed himself to be true in this covenant. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob. And Jacob had 12 sons, who were all very significant in the future life of Israel.
As the story continues many dangers beset Abraham and his family. In certain moments, it might even have seemed that God’s covenant promise would fail. However, through it all, time and time again God showed Himself to be ‘God Almighty’: the One who has the power to carry out his purposes.
These purposes eventually led to Jacob moving his whole family to Egypt in order to escape a great famine. However, before Jacob himself died, he prophesied something very important, which once again reminded all the sons of Abraham of God’s great plan; and a promise that yet awaited its fulfillment.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
By considering this prophecy as they ought, they would once again be given a fresh reminder, and further clarity, of all that they (as a people called by God) should be looking forward to in hope.