Lent 2, February 28, 2021

Your Spiritual Family Tree

Text: Genesis 17:1–7, 15–16

  • Today, we consider God’s promises to Abraham and Sarah, and in so doing, you will clearly see “Your Spiritual Family Tree.”


  • Perhaps you’ve joined the millions of Americans who in recent decades have traced their family origins back for several generations. Some folks are just curious to discover who their ancestors were. Others want to see if they have any famous relatives in their past. One Web site, RoyalAncestors.com, allows visitors to investigate whether or not they’re related to kings and queens of previous generations. In fact, visitors to the site can purchase the three-volume Royal Ancestry Bible to aid them in their search. This work attempts to include all colonists who have at least 20,000 living American descendants and who descend from English or French kings or the Emperor Charlemagne.
  • In today’s Old Testament Reading, God allows Abram and Sarai to look forward, not backward. 
  • He gives them information about their descendants, not their ancestors. He informs them that they will have royal descendants, kings, and that they will be the parents of whole nations of people. In so doing, God helps 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.
  • V 1: Abram is now ninety-nine years old and received the promise twenty-four years earlier that God would make of him a great nation (Gen 12:2). 
  • In our text, God is making promises to Abram. Not only does God change his name from Abram to Abraham, but Sarai’s name to Sarah. 


  • Abram - exulted father - now God's name
  • Abraham, father of many, the receiver of the great fathers gifts by grace. 
  •  Sarai - becomes Sarah which means "princess" - a tool in the hand of God!
  • Isaac - he laughs - Sarah firsts laughs at God at the promise of God giving "he laughs" God has the last laugh again!
  • Their lifestyle and popularity probably almost made her name a joke to the "world View" of others - she did not "look" lie a princess and if that is what being a Princess of God looks like - then most would not want to be a Princess of God!
  • Of critical importance is what we read in 17:17–19. Here Abram questions whether a one-hundred-year-old man and a ninety-year-old woman can have a child. Then he states, “Oh that Ishmael might live before you!” To that God says, “No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son.” 
  • Throughout the verses of our text, Abram is having a real problem believing the promises of God that he will have a son (vv 5, 7–8). In fact, he laughs at God’s promises (v 17). 
  • God calls on Abram to walk before him tamim. We translate this “blameless,” but the implication is that Abram walks before God according to God’s ways and not his own. In other words, believing in God’s promise that Abram and Sarai will have a son of their own. Ishmael will not be the heir.
  • Abram is looking for his own answers. Abram’s own answers led him to have a son by Hagar (also Sarai’s idea). Abram’s answer to his old age would allow God to keep his promise in Ishmael. 
  • This not only reveals a lack of faith on Abram’s part, but a sentimental feeling toward his son Ishmael. 
  • Abraham the sinner was trying to get God's will done his way by getting a surrogate mother, "Give God a hand" to which he is told "STOP IT"  I am God and I will make the things I promise come true in my way, you just receive!
  • God’s plan is for Abraham and Sarah to have a son, and he will be the heir. The heir will come based on the gracious actions of God, not as a result of Abram and Sarai’s human plans and weak faith. This context is critical to understanding our text.
  • Abraham did not earn or deserve the stupendous honor of becoming the father of nations.
  • V 2: Nine times throughout these verses God speaks of “my covenant” (bǝrithi), emphasizing God as the one who establishes the covenant, sets its conditions, and brings blessings that are his alone to bestow. 
  • V 22: This verse is important (although not a part of the text) because it tells us that Abram was not having a vision, but this was a face-to-face meeting with Yahweh.
  • By faith through the word of God we are given a special in to hear the council of God as he plans the salvation of mankind, what a privilege!
  • Yet there is a more significant fulfillment in the most notable descendant, the Christ (Matthew 1). Through his life, death, and resurrection, everlasting life in the presence of God is purchased for all. The promise to have nations as descendants is reflected in Christ’s command to go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19–20) and is ultimately fulfilled in people from all nations being grafted (ek pisteōs Abraam) into the seed of Abraham (Rom 4:11–18; 15:8–12; Gal 3:29; Rev 7:9; 21:24).
  • We don’t deserve to be part of God’s plan and to be declared holy because of the work of Jesus Christ. But we are made holy, nonetheless. Paul tells us this in Ephesians.
  • Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Eph 1:3–4)


  • 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 the Web site RoyalAncestors.com 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 in this incredible spiritual family tree will reign forever! Amen.