The background to the call of Abraham is found in the first book of the Bible. This is Genesis which is a Greek word meaning “Beginning”. The relationship between Adam and God was good but after Adam disobeyed GOD, their relationship changed because of sin by Eve and Adam. After sometime, God repaired this relationship by calling Abraham and offering salvation. 


Abraham lived with his father Terah who had three sons: Abraham, Nahor and Haran at a place called Ur of the Chaldeans.Abraham married Sarai, Nahor married Milkah . Haran had a son called Lot. Abraham’s father lived among people who worshiped many gods. One of the god’s whom people of Ur worshipped was the moon. This worship of many gods is referred to as polytheism.

Haran died in Ur and thereafter Terah moved with Abraham alongside his wife Sarai and Lot from Ur to Haran. Terah died in Haran at the age of 205 years. It was after this that God called Abraham at 75 years old. He was told to…..”Leave your country, your relatives and your father’s home and go to a land that I am going to show you”. Abraham obeyed God’s call. He left Haran for a land that was unknown to him. He took his property his wife Sarah and his nephew lot. At the time of the call of Abraham, he was known as Abram and his wife Sarai. God changed their names to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham means Father of many nations while Sarah means mother of nations.

On arrival in Canaan, he travelled and came to a place called Shechem. God appeared to him once more. Abraham built an altar for the lord at this place. Altars are places of worship. They were regarded as holy and were manifestations of God’s presence. An altar was made of stones.

After sometime, he separated with his nephew Lot due to their servants having strife over water for their livestock. Abraham left Canaan due to feminine. He went to Egypt.

  1. Read GENESIS, chapter 11 (24 – 32) and chapter 12 (1 – 9)



  2. Faith is a strong belief, a complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
  3. It is also a firm belief, which is not based on any scientific or logical proof.
  • Faith in God is an attitude of complete trust in God.
  1. It is not based on concrete or tangible objects.
  2. Faith is manifested in the ways of life of a believer.

Abraham is an example of someone who had faith in God. He showed his faith in action in several ways.

  2. Although Abraham was old, he left Haran to go to a strange unknown land of Canaan.
  3. After he settled in Canaan, Abraham was assured by God of his protection and was given other promises such as he will get a son, and Abraham believed God. Sarah gave birth to a son when she was
  • 90 years old and Abraham was around 120 years old. This was as the lord had promised Abraham.
  1. The son was named Isaac that means “laughter” – because Sarah had laughed when she was told that she would have a child in her old age. The child Isaac was circumcised when he was eight (8) days old.
  2. Abraham was told by God to circumcise all males in his household including himself. He obeyed.
  3. When Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac to God, he was ready to do so.
  • Abraham believed that God would fulfil all the promises he had given to him
  • Abraham demonstrated his faith by building altars

Explain the relevance of Abraham’s faith in God to Christians today.

  1. With faith, Christians became vessels of God‟s intension just like God renewed his relationship with mankind through Abraham.
  2. Faith enables Christians to withstand challenges just like Abraham did.
  • In faith, Christians refrain from bad practices, just like Abraham abandoned polytheism and became monotheistic in Yahweh.
  1. God expects Christians to have definite faith in him. Abraham obeyed God by leaving Haran for Canaan.
  2. Faith in God leads to success. Abraham‟s wife Sarah bore a son out of faith in God.
  3. By faith, God provides all necessities like he provided a ram for sacrifice instead of his son Isaac.
  • Christians: the descendants of Abraham will automatically receive blessings just like God blessed Abraham as long as they remain obedient and faithful to God.
  • Christians are assured of eternal life, just like Abraham secured Canaan by faith.
  1. By faith, Christians should abide by God‟s directives without question, just as Abraham heeded God‟s command.
  2. GOD’S PROMISES TO ABRAHAM (GENESIS 12:2-3, 15:1-21, 21, 17:1-8,17:15-18)

A promise is giving an assurance of something to someone. The promises God gave to Abraham were that:

  1. God told him he would give him a land. His descendants would be given the land of Canaan to dwell in
  2. His name would be made famous
  • His descendants will be many. Abraham would be made a great nation.
  1. God would protect him
  2. He was promised a son of their own
  3. God would bless him
  • God would bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him
  • Abraham was promised that he would die in peace and in an old age
  1. His descendants would be strangers in a foreign land but afterwards would come out with great possessions
  2. THE RELEVANCE OF THE PROMISES MADE BY GOD TO ABRAHAM TO CHRISTIANS TODAY (Gen. 12: 2 –3, 15: 1 – 21, 21:1 – 7, 17: 15 – 18)

God called Abraham from idol worship in the same way God continues to call people to serve him.

  1. Through Abraham, God had a plan to restore the relationship between man and God
  2. Christians receive the promises of blessings from God through Abraham (Gods promises to Abraham fulfilled through Christians)
  • As Abraham left his own people, Christians should leave their sinful lives and put their whole trust in God.
  1. Abraham is seen as the descendant not only of the Israelites but also of Christians
  2. Christians have faith that God fulfils promises to them as he did to Abraham
  3. Christians are assured of God’s protection
  • Through God’s dealing with Abraham, God shows that he values a personal relationship with human kind.
  • Through Jesus Christ Christians enter into an everlasting covenant with God. Just like Abraham entered into a covenant with God.
  1. The promise to Abraham of Canaan promised land is to Christians the hope for new land – heaven
  2. God continues to make promises to those who believe him
  3. Abraham is the ancestor (Father) of all believers)



A covenant is a solemn agreement between two persons or two groups of people. An agreement is between two separated parties. It’s a pact, a treaty. When it is a covenant, it conveys a union or partnership.

 Characteristics / components of a covenant

There are components or features that must be in a covenant.

  1. A covenant must have a ceremony
  2. sign,
  • witnesses,
  1. promises/vows/oaths,
  2. obligations / consequences,
  3. And participants.

A covenant establishes a sacrificial bond between the parties involved. There are obligations or rules by which the parties must abide by, adhere to and observe in order to keep the covenant. A covenant is an agreement and if it is broken, there are consequences for breaking it. In the Bible, there are many covenants.

Examples of covenants in the bible

  1. Adamic covenant – Agreement between God and Adam
  2. Noahlic Covenant – Gods covenant with Noah where God promised to preserve life of man and not to destroy it with water. The sign of the covenant is the rainbow. In Gen 9 verse 3, GOD told Noah “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you…. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. Verse 4 says “ But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it”
  • Abrahamic covenant – Gods covenant with Abraham. He promised to fulfill promises He gave to Abraham. These promises were (1) Increase numbers of descendant of Abraham. He will be father of many nations, (2) Be GOD of his descendants (3) Abraham will have a son an heir, (4) Given land of Canaan and other lands from the river of Egypt to River Euphrates, and all for heirs of Abraham (Gen. 15: 17 – 18) (5) Circumcision of all males at 8 days after birth even none Israelites living in their land (6) Covenant with Isaac
  1. Mosaic Covenant – is a covenant between the Israelites and GOD. Moses led Israel to Mt. Sinai. God promised to be their God. Israelites were given the law written by GOD in “tablets of stone, with law and commands I have written for…. instruction”. (Read exodus 23).
  2. Davidic Covenant – covenant between David and God – God promised him that his dynasty would rule forever.
  3. Messianic Covenant – new covenant between Christians and God through Jesus Christ.

God’s covenant with Abraham and its importance (Genesis 15:1-19).

The covenant was established after God appeared to Abraham in a vision. During the visitation of God, Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 years. He was promised a son. Abraham wanted assurance from God. God told him to bring him the following items for sacrifice.

Items for sacrifice

  1. Three years old heifer,
  2. Three years old goat,
  • Three years old ram
  1. A year old dove and
  2. A young pigeon.

Abraham then cut these animals into two halves and placed them opposite each other.

The birds were not split.

After it was dark, smoking fire and a flaming torch suddenly appeared and passed between the pieces of animals.

Towards evening, Abraham fell into a deep sleep. While he slept the Lord appeared to him and told him that:

  1. His descendants will be strangers in a foreign land and be slaves for 400 years. But they will come out of this land with a lot of wealth and God will punish the nation that will enslave Israelites.
  2. He, Abraham will live up to a ripe age, and die in peace. Then the Lord made a covenant with Abraham and promised to give him and his descendants the land of Canaan. God himself passed through the sacrifices and bound himself to keep the promises.


Characteristics of the covenant between God and Abraham

  1. It was initiated by God
  2. It was solemn/ permanent
  • It was unconditional/ between unequal
  1. They were promises to be fulfilled
  2. It had a sign- circumcision
  3. It was sealed through the sacrifice
  4. It was voluntarily

Signs of the unconditional covenant between God and Abraham

  1. Circumcision
  2. Change of names
  • Smoking fire pot
  1. Flaming torch
  2. Countless stars
  3. Birds of prey


  1. God bound himself in a personal relationship with a human being
  2. As God passed through the meat, he showed Abraham he would always protect him. This passed on to the descendants of Abraham
  3. This covenant between God and Abraham begins a lasting relationship between God and all the nations of the earth.
  4. Throughout this covenant God was initiating his plan of salvation for human kind
  5. The promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in New Testament blood of the lamb – death of Jesus Christ
  6. It emphasized the importance of faith followed by obedience that Abraham shared.



Modern covenants are

  1. Marriage
  2. Loyalty
  • Baptism
  1. Oaths
  2. Ordination in Church
  3. Employment contract5s
  • Contracts when buying land.
  1. Marriage ceremony.

In marriage, the bride, bridegroom and their families come together. When the two families come together a relationship is developed. They make an agreement and both sides are seriously involved in the ceremony, whether the marriage is civil or religious. During the marriage ceremony the couple makes vows/promises to each other, before a priest/ pastor and the congregation.

Two officials witness these agreements. Rings are exchanged as a sign of a lasting relationship. A certificate is given in some cases as a testimony (sign) of this agreement. There is eating and drinking.

In a Christian baptism, a covenant is entered into between the believer and God. The believer makes vows before God. The priest and the whole congregation witness this agreement. In some churches, a card is issued to the person who has been baptized as a sign of Christian membership. The baptized can now take the Holy Communion, which is a Christian Ceremony. But when an infant is baptized, parents take the vows on behalf of the child.

  • Loyalty / oath.

Leaders in public service for example the president, ministers, Members of Parliament, and chief officers are sworn in before they take over their new responsibilities. They swear (take an oath) and promise to carry out their duties firmly and without fear or favour.

  1. Ordination of the clergy.

Church leaders, nuns and priests take oaths and make vows to God and to the congregation in a ceremony attended by worshippers.

The importance of modern day covenants

  1. They bind different groups
  2. They act as a security
  • They strengthen relationships
  1. They unite people together
  2. They create loyalty
  3. They create peace, harmony and bring a sense of permanence.



God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to go and sacrifice his only son Isaac. This was the son he loved so much. He was to travel to Mount Moriah. On reaching Mt. Moriah, he built an altar, and arranged wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. He lifted a knife to kill him. “But the Angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven. Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy…Do not do anything to him. Now i know you that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son” (v 11-12). Abraham had obedient reverence for God became he did not keep back his only son from God.

God provided a ram for sacrifice. He named the mountain “the Lord provided” God was pleased with

Abraham and promised him blessings, many descendants’ victory, and protection.

Activity. Read Genesis 12:1 – 9, 15:1 – 6, 17:23 – 24, 21:1 – 7, 22:1-19

Lessons Christians learn from the incidence when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac

  1. They should have absolute faith in God
  2. They should remain obedient to God
  • They should be ready to face challenges in worship
  1. They should not despair in God
  2. They should be ready to surrender everything for God
  3. They should be ready to serve God in order to attain blessings
  • They should amalgamate family members in worship
  • Wisdom and bravery should be part and parcel of their dealings in life.


  1. A Christian today is acceptable to God through his faith in God through Jesus Christ. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
  2. A Christian can only serve God if he has faith in him. Faith enables a Christian to serve God
  • Faith enables a Christian to accomplish what appears to be impossible
  1. Through faith, Christians are able to trust God to fulfil his promises to them
  2. Faith is the foundation of the Christians salvation
  3. Faith in God gives a Christian the power to overcome all temptations.
  • Christians should expect to have their faith tested just like Abraham was.
  • Faith enables Christians to patiently wait on God’s promises
  1. Christians through faith in God help the poor, make right decisions and are able to understand and know God better.



The rite of circumcision was started by Abraham and has been practiced by the Jews up to the present times.

In the Old Testament, it was important because,

  • Through circumcision: God assured Abraham that he would fulfil His promises to him.
  • Circumcision was a sign that Abraham and his descendants had entered into a covenant with God. It was an outward sign of inner faith.
  • Circumcision was a mark of identity for the Jews
  • It was a sign of obedience to God
  • It was an acceptance of God as the only true God and their willingness to remain faithful to him In the New Testament,
  • Circumcision doesn’t qualify one to be a child of God. One is accepted as a Christian without circumcision as long as they have faith in God. d and lives according to His will regardless of colour, race or creed.

Circumcision is one of the rites of passage among the African people. It marks the transition from one stage to another. Many ethnic communities in Kenya still practice the rite of circumcision. During circumcision ceremonies, prayers are offered to God for the well being of the initiates (those who are being circumcised) and the prosperity of the whole community. Initiates learn secrets of their community and society. They are taught myths, origin, religious beliefs, and sex education. In some communities, initiates are given new names or ornaments to signify their new status.




In both Jewish and African communities, circumcision:

  1. It is a mark of identity
  2. Provided a sense of belonging
  • Was observed as a religious experience
  1. was compulsory
  2. Was a tradition passed from one generation to another .
  3. It is a time for shedding blood
  • Was a time for offering prayers to God for the well being of the initiates
  • Was a time for giving gifts
  1. Was a ceremony for initiation
  2. Was a time for giving the initiates names
  3. Took place in sacred places.


  1. Circumcision was a rite for boys while in African society it was for both boys and girls. But it was for boys in a few communities.
  2. Boys were circumcised when aged 8 days I Jews while in the African society; it was between 15 to 25 years old.
  • Circumcision was for boy’s organ while in African societies several forms of initiation were done for example, removal of teeth, and body piercing among others.
  1. Circumcision was a command from God while for the African communities it was in obedience to customary law where ancestors were invoked to protect the initiates.
  • Among the African societies Circumcision was a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood while for the Jews it was not.
  1. Among the African societies Circumcision the initiates were given specialized education while the Jews were not.
  • Among the African societies Circumcision the initiates were grouped into age groups, and were secluded from the community while among the Jews it was not so.
  • Among the African societies the rite of circumcision according to seasons while the Jews once a child is born, they are circumcised on the 8th day.
  1. Among the African societies after circumcision, the initiates were allowed to marry, enter a warrior group, own property but for the Jews the initiate was still a child.

Does marriage qualify to be a covenant?

  1. Husband and Wife are parties
  2. It involve witness
  • It has a sign (a ring)
  1. Promises and vows are given
  2. A ceremony is held inform of a wedding
  3. A marriage certificate acts as a seal.

Show how the promises to Abraham were latter fulfilled

  1. Abraham acquired a son Isaac
  2. Abraham and his descendants settled in Canaan
  • The Israelites were rescued from Egyptian bondage
  1. Abraham died in a good ripe age
  2. Jesus Christ descended from Abraham
  3. Present Christians are a great nation promised to Abraham
  • Abraham had many descendants the present Christians


Revision questions

  1. Explain why Abraham is referred to as the father of faith
  2. Give five actions from the life of Abraham that shows his faith to God
  3. List some of the promises God gave to Abraham
  4. Compare and contrast the Jewish and traditional African practice of circumcision
  5. What is the importance of faith to Christians?
  6. State the elements of a covenant
  7. Give examples of covenants in the bible and the modern society
  8. Discuss the circumstances that led God to enter into a covenant relationship with Abraham



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