When God changed Abram’s name to Abraham: that is from “a high father” to the “father of many nations”; he did far more than alter the way this man of faith should be called. He made it clear that he was giving Abraham a new identity and a new role in history. And he ratified that role by entering into a covenant with him.
This wasn’t the first time God made a covenant. Rather, this was a deepening of two previous covenants he had made with his chosen people. The very first covenant stretches back to the beginning of the world, when God blessed Adam and invited him to join in his creative work by being fruitful, by ruling over the earth, and by resting on the seventh day.
Later, when he made a covenant with Noah, God deepened his relationship with us in two important ways. First, he made provision for our sin by saying that we would bear responsibility for our wrongdoing. Second, he promised never to exact the complete punishment our sins deserved by destroying the world.
Now, in his covenant with Abraham, God deepened his relationship with his people yet again. This time, he focused his covenant on the formation of a specific people who would live exclusively for the purposes of God. This special people—the children of Abraham—would be given the privilege of knowing him, praising him, and serving him with their lives.
Today, we are heirs of the covenants God made with Adam, Noah, and Abraham. Like them, we too are called to be set apart and made holy for God’s purposes. And even better, our covenant was deepened immeasurably when it was signed in the blood of Christ. Just as he said to our ancestors in faith, God wants to tell us that he is with us and wants to pour out his grace upon us. In response to so great a promise we give God our thanks and our worship.