Members of God's Familiy

Lent Week 2. Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16.


Rev. David Domanski

2/25/20243 min read

Perhaps you’re one of the millions of Americans who in recent decades have traced their family origins back for several generations or have opted to submit your DNA to testing to discover more about your family’s past. Some folks are just curious to discover who their ancestors were. Others want to see if they have any famous relatives in their past.

But in today’s Old Testament Reading, God encourages Abram and Sarai to look forward, not backward. He gives them information about their descendants, not their ancestors. God informs them that they will have royal descendants, kings, and that they will be the parents of nations of people. In so doing, God invites each of us see that we have been grafted into a royal family tree, spiritually speaking, that dates all the way back to Abraham and Sarah. As a result of God’s work in Jesus, we are all members of God’s royal spiritual family tree.

Today, we consider God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah, and in remembering those promises, you will clearly see how you are descendants of Abram as Sarai in the Spirit of God. In our lesson, God promises a rich and royal family tree to Abram and Sarai (vv 1–6). He tells them that their descendants would be “many nations,” and some would be kings. As a sign and reminder of God’s promise to them, God changes their names, and He changes ours too to identify us as those redeemed by Christ. God promises that our covenant blessings, like theirs, are “everlasting.”

And God fulfilled His promises to Abraham and Sarai, and to us, by the work of the King of kings from Abraham’s royal family. God fulfilled His promise despite Abram and Sarai’s advanced ages, and God fulfills His promises to us despite our countless sins. And in addition to God fulfilling His promises to Abram and Sarai by blessing them with spiritual descendants by faith, God also blesses them with physical descendants. Two nations of people came from Abraham: the descendants of Ishmael (through Hagar, 17:20) and the descendants of Isaac, the nation of Israel (through Sarah, vv 15–16). So kings were indeed descended from Abraham and Sarah: all the kings of Israel, the greatest of them being David and Solomon (Mt 1:6–11). And the final and truly greatest King descended from Abraham and Sarah is Jesus Christ (Mt 1:16–17; Lk 1:32). As much as we might wish that our physical descendants—children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren would be our spiritual heirs and inherit our faith in Jesus, we cannot guarantee this. Each person receives Christ as Savior and Lord on his own. But we find peace and hope in the fact that Abraham’s greatest heir, Jesus the King, has made it possible for everyone to everyone to be welcomed into God’s family of faith.

For all who receive Him, Jesus is a King who came to serve our greatest and most pressing needs. As He teaches them in our Gospel lesson for today, Jesus is a King who came to die (Mk 8:31) even though the disciples (especially Peter) don’t want to accept this. To save us from our sins and make us part of His heavenly family, Jesus offered Himself—the righteous for the unrighteous (Rom 5:6–8) so that we might have peace.

It is ONLY through Jesus’ serving and dying that the new covenant of God is fulfilled and through which Jesus’ death has reconciled us to God (Rom 5:10–11). Through Christ, the curse that was once upon the whole human race has been forever removed and we are no longer trapped in the “lineage of death” (Rom 5:12). Now all who share the faith of Abraham are his true descendants (Rom 4:13–18; Gal 3:14–16; 28–29). God “grafts” souls into this new line of Abraham via Baptism and faith in Abraham’s great King of kings.

God has established His covenant with you—“to be God to you and to your offspring after you” (v 7, emphasis added). That is, Jesus’ death on the cross has reconciled God to you by taking away every sin that separated you from God. As heirs of the promise (Gal 3:29; Rom 8:17; Eph 3:14–17). We, too, are royal, reigning with Christ. God’s work of “grafting” into the family tree will continue to future generations until our King returns (Ps 22:30–31). And because of God’s great goodness, we look forward to an eternal family reunion that awaits us—with Abraham and Sarah, with Isaac, with David, and with our own loved ones—all in the arms of Jesus (v 7; Rev 7:9; 21:24).

Today, God has helped you trace your spiritual family tree back more than four thousand years, all the way back to Abraham and Sarah. And you don’t need a website or a DNA test to know that your spiritual family tree contains royalty, not only David and Solomon, but the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who reigns eternally as King of kings and Lord of lords. With him, you and all who have been grafted into this incredible spiritual family tree by God’s grace in Jesus Christ will reign forever! Amen.