Covenant with God (Genesis 12:1-3)

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. (Genesis 12:1-3)

The scripture you read today was Genesis 12:1-3. And here we saw the name Abraham. Abraham is a name that a number of religions call on commonly. They regard him as the ancestor of their faith. These religions include Judaism who regards Abraham as the forefather of faith. Muslims also consider Abraham as their forefather of faith. Christians too regard Abraham to be their forefather of faith. Even the Catholics regard Abraham as their forefather of faith. Isn’t that odd? The name Abraham is called on by so many nations and people over the world. And he is looked up to and esteemed as an important figure. The words we have just read were fulfilled. It was said, “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!” Those very words came to fulfilment.​

Through the Bible and through Jesus Christ whom God sent, we came to know about God’s secret. The reason we were able to establish such a close relationship with God was because we received grace through Jesus Christ. In other words, the covenant which God had made with Abraham was also fulfilled upon us. Hence this is not a matter we can take lightly. It is important for us to take a close look at this figure called Abraham. Who is he that so many people around the world esteem him so highly?

But what I want to talk to you about today is not the person himself but about the God who made that covenant (promise) with that person. He is the one we need to pay attention to. There are many gods in this world. Thus, even people who do not believe in Jesus know this. Some people are very close to certain gods. However, the question is which of those gods do I want to be close to? This is a very important issue. We all know that it’s important to make good friends. Your life is significantly influenced by what type of friends you make. To give you an example, there was a person who was migrating to the US. He didn’t know a lot about the US. When he arrived in the US, a friend came to greet him at the airport. What did that friend do for a job? In many cases, the migrating person’s job will be determined by what his friend does because that is what he gets to see first and hear about first. If a friend has a dry-cleaning business, it is likely that the person will also start a dry-cleaning business because he learns from his friend.

Similarly, my life will be determined by which god I become acquainted with. If I become acquainted and stay close to an accursed god, I will also become accursed. If I have a close relationship with a sick god, I will also become sick. If I become close to a god with cancer, I may also get cancer. And if I stick close to a god that failed, I too will become a failure. That is why it is beneficial for you to become closely acquainted with the god that is successful, the god with power, the god that is good and blessed.

And this god that made a covenant with Abraham is the god that we would like to introduce you to. He is the god that we fellowship with in our church and in the Christian churches. The god that appeared to Abraham and revealed Himself is different from the other gods. As you have just been told, the promise that was made to Abraham 4000 years ago is also fulfilled in us today. And we also get to witness even today how the name Abraham has become great. Our god has the power to keep that promise without change over those 4000 years.

Think about whether there is another god like him. Have you heard of a god in this world that says to a person, “I will bless you and your descendants for many generations – for one, two, three thousand years”? But this god that appeared to Abraham made a covenant with him 4000 years ago and that covenant is being fulfilled even to us in this present time. He truly is a god of great power. And we have come to know that this god has dominion over life. The one you are trying to believe in by coming to church is Jesus. But this Jesus died. He died at the hands of men. He shed His blood on the cross and died. But god raised Him to life. We believe that. He is the god that has dominion over life.

And He is able to take from nothing to use as though it was. For example, our senior overseer had an experience a long time ago. He prayed for a dying patient with lung cancer and the patient was completely healed. He was made well again. He was even able to run in a race like a healthy person. So, he believed that his lung was completely healed. But later on, he went to get an x-ray, and do you think his lung came out normal in the x-ray? In the x-ray, his lung appeared the same as before when he had cancer. It was as though his lung wasn’t functioning at all. But this person was breathing at the time. He was healthy for some years after that. God is able to use what is not as if it was. Unfortunately, after seeing his x-ray images, this person started to think, “Oh! I don’t have any lungs! That means I can’t breathe!” and his condition worsened. Thus, our faith is not about looking at the physical circumstances we can see, but to know who our god is. It is about accepting what the god that I fellowship with does for me.

Truly, our god is one that we cannot find in this world. He appeared to Abraham 4000 years ago and said, “I will make you a blessing!” and now, 4,000 years later, we are witnessing that promise. This very god is coming to you to establish a covenant. Our faith life is about establishing a covenant with god. This is why it’s crucial to carefully examine who this god is. When we purchase insurance, we all read the fine print in the contract, don’t we? Otherwise, we may take out the insurance thinking it’s entirely advantageous, only to discover later that there were unfavorable conditions in the fine print. Once you find out, it’s too late to terminate the contract, and you end up losing all the payments you’ve made. That’s why we must carefully read all the terms and conditions and only sign the contract when we are certain it’s in our favor. Isn’t that correct?

In the same way, you cannot continue going to church just with the thought, ‘Okay, I’ll give it a try and go to church”. At first, you may come by following a friend. But you have to now pay attention to this god that wants to have a close relationship with you and build a covenant with you, and understand who He is. Since you are going to establish a covenant with Him, you will have to enjoy what He gives you and at the same time, you have your rightful duties to perform before Him. And this is what you need to examine carefully.

When He made a covenant with Abraham, there were conditions applying to both parties. What the god demanded of Abraham was this: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you”. That was what the god had demanded of Abraham. ‘Your country, family and your father’s house’. “Your country” refers to the land he was living in. The place he is well acquainted with and the land on which he farmed. “Family” means family and relatives that he is closest to, those that protect him, those that will lend a hand when he is without money or food, etc. And “father’s house” means his lineage, his family tradition and culture. In making any decisions, he would follow what his father would have taught him. So, it meant to depart from all those traditions and customs that he was used to and the security he had, to go “to a land that I will show you!” In other words, he was told to follow the instructions of this god. Hence when we come to have faith and build this covenant with God, it means we are no longer going to live according to our desires but follow the god’s guidance.

When you come to church and set your heart to believe in that god, it doesn’t mean that you will still live according to your will and just receive help from that god. It means you will follow and do what the god commands you to do. Then, the god promises to make you happy and blessed, but furthermore, many people will be blessed through you. So, we can see there are obligations for both parties. This god will bless us, make our names great and all peoples on earth will be blessed through us. But for that, we will have to listen to this god’s instructions and no longer rely on the knowledge we have and what we used to put our trust in. It is about doing as this god tells us.

For this reason, Christians live differently than the way that people in the world live generally. There are many differences but, in the end, they bring us peace. For example, let’s say that someone in your family has some problems, like they can’t find a job. Unbelievers in this situation would be very worried. They worry that they may never find a job and therefore can’t get married and even start to worry about their future when they are old. Because they worry about these things ahead of time, they look for some solution and seek their friends or relatives for help. They look for ways that are familiar to them. In doing so, they might start a business that fails badly and face even worse problems.

However, for us Christians, when a problem arises, we do not seek ways to solve it on our own; instead, we follow the god’s guidance. We endeavor to do what the god instructs us to do. So, we pray according to the way the god has revealed to us. We also seek what it is that the god desires through the Bible which we then obey. And when we do that, we experience great miracles, wonders and marvelous things. You will hear a lot about these things from the helpers that are around you and from our church members. There are many incredible experiences whether big or small.

As long as you draw closer to this god and follow Him, He will treat you in this way. Since we need to establish a covenant, we would need to carefully examine who this god is. It mustn’t be that you still don’t know this god even after coming for so many weeks or if you are just coming because you like the atmosphere here. You need to discover and come to know who this god is gradually. You won’t be able to know everything at once. You have to gradually know more about Him. For this, you will need to read the Bible and if you come across anything you don’t understand, you need to ask questions so that you can quickly come to know who this god is.

If we look at only a section of the Bible, it can bring about misunderstandings about god. So, there is a way to look at the Bible and I will be teaching you about the way to read the Bible. You will get to know this god through the Bible and in doing so, you will be able to experience Him personally. Then you will witness miraculous and wonderful experiences, and you will start to feel like your life is worth living again. No matter how difficult things become, that joy in your heart will never disappear. And you will experience truly amazing and miraculous things that unbelievers in the world cannot experience. And this is all thanks to our god.

And this is Him whom we call God. “God, I want to establish a covenant with You! And I will keep that covenant. Thus, please be my God! I will follow You! Fulfil Your promises unto me!” I bless you in Jesus’ name that you will come to have this heart. I’ll pray.

God our Father, though they may not yet know God very well, may they accept God’s invitation to live a life with you God. We pray for all the souls who are here, for You have called them. Help them from now on so that they may know who God is, more deeply and widely. Also help their helpers. And may these souls become God’s people who know God and establish a covenant with Him to forever abide with God. And help them to become God’s children who share in all of God’s glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center