13 February 2019

Genesis 15

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

‘Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.’

But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’

Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’

But Abram said, ‘Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I shall gain possession of it?’

So the Lord said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’

10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and ill-treated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterwards they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’

17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking brazier with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates – 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’

‘Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness’. This verse is used often by Paul in his letters. Romans 4, Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23 make reference to Abraham’s faith and his acting on that faith that made him righteous. We can’t earn our salvation; it is found in trusting in God’s work and the promises that God has made. Abram, despite the seeming impossibility that he would have a son of his own and descendants as numerous as the stars, trusted that God would fulfil this promise.

We are privileged today, knowing that God has fulfilled His promises. However we struggle to take God at His Word. We look at our circumstances and either leave God out of our thinking, try and fix things ourselves or think that God can’t help. Abraham’s situation was more unbelievable than most things that we face on a daily basis. Abraham didn’t have the Bible or the knowledge that Jesus, God’s own son lived and died for our salvation; however he put his full trust in God. Abraham had less to go on than we do, but still showed immense faith.

The daily challenge for us as Christians is to trust God in all circumstances, whether difficult or easy. We have the assurance that God has prepared a wonderful eternity with Him because He raised Christ from the dead. We need to rejoice in this glorious hope, and accept that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.

Prayer: Dear Father God, we are like the father who asked Jesus for help in overcoming his unbelief. We ask You to help us with our unbelief. Sometimes the troubles of this world seem overwhelming and we think You can’t possibly be in control. We pray that You will help us to have a clearer vision of who You truly are, that our picture will be big enough to accept Your sovereignty and that there is nothing impossible for You. Help our faith to grow and help us to be an encouragement to others as we grow in knowledge and understanding of who You truly are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.