DAY 5 of our Most Excellent Adventure Through The Bible.
Dear FCC Family!
We’re in Day 5 of our most excellent Bible Journey.
God comes to Abram in a vision and says
“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you’
Your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15.1 NASB)
However, if you recall, the central drama of Abram’s life is that he is childless. I think perhaps that’s where the “Do not fear” part comes in. Many times we have a central tragedy in our lives, perhaps it is the one everybody can guess, sometimes it is a burden you bear alone. This pain can be all consuming, as it was for Abram. Abram could not fathom any good in this life if he did not have an heir (v.2-3).
God, our loving Father sees Abram in his deep pain and takes him outside to look at the stars. We can almost imagine the chill, and the clarity of the night sky, all those years ago. And God said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15.5 NASB)
Abram believed God.
As is so often the case in the Christian faith God is the everlasting mover and shaker. The gift of His goodness is not based upon the strength of our faith, nor our will power. God is always on the job. God is always working. Our job is to believe Him. Our part is to take Him at His Word.
St. Paul will later expand upon this historical account to prove the center of our “Soteriology” that is to say our theology of Salvation: that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ rather than our own good deeds.
v. 6 “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” That is all we’ve ever had. It’s more than enough.
The God who is faithful in His promises, promises Abram a son, and then tells Abram what would become of his progeny.
God tells Abram of Israel’s slavery in Egypt and of the Exodus. v.13-16. God tells Abram that his children would be strangers in a strange land and that they would be oppressed for 400 years, but deliverance would come, as it always does.
God also gives Abram the biblical borders of Israel (from a river in Egypt to the Euphrates) v.18.
A Covenant has been made!
We call this one the Abrahamic Covenant. It stipulates that Abraham’s seed shall grow into a nation. God has given the land of Canaan to Israel, but it shall be many years before they take possession of their birth right. Sort of like how your citizenship is in Heaven, even though you’re not there at the moment. Homecoming is always drawing nigh.
Ah, yes, wasn’t Genesis 15 a mountain top experience? Did you feel the warm fuzzy’s, or was that just me? How do we respond to God’s loving promises? Do we comfort our weary soul with them when we are tested and tried by doubt?
Or do we decide God is shuffling His feet, and probably needs a bit of help in coming through?
Abram and Sarai decided God needed help giving them a son. They wreck other people’s lives in the process.
The idea of personal sin that does not affect anybody else is a joke. Sin always affects other people because we’re all connected. Abram and Sarai mess up Hagar and Ishmael’s lives.
Singles, do you think God needs help in brining you a spouse? Did God even promise you such a thing? Maybe some missionary dating is the way to go? Not so much. Do you think God needs help in providing for you and your family? Maybe some short cuts, or shady deals are the way to go? We’re all tempted to fall into what Abram & Sarai fell into, lets learn from them.
This family would always bear the scars of Abram, Sarai’s, and Hagar’s sin. By the way: Husbands, adultery is still sin, even if your wife is okay with it. Wives, you shouldn’t be okay with it. Ethics are often depicted as a world of shades of grey in our day and age. God gives us the Scriptures as a light unto our path. One of the issues we face when reading certain passages in the Old Testament is that people confuse descriptive passages as prescriptive. This passage give us the historical account of what Sarai and Abram chose to do. The Bible is not endorsing these actions. We will come across many such passages as we journey through the Bible.
In which we learn that Love Hurts. In the worse possible way.
God reaffirms His covenant with Abram & Sarai, changing their names to the more recognizable Abraham & Sarah. This is God’s way of telling them that their sinful attempt to fulfill the covenant through adultery and Ishmael was a no go. Despite Abraham and Sarah’s sin, God remains faithful.
We’ve all been there.
God decides that the men of Israel would bear the covenant in their flesh. In the worse possible way. Circumcision is awkward to talk about but it’s all over the Bible. This marking became synonymous with Israel and her culture. The debate over circumcision would become… sharply… divisive in the N.T. Church. Yet for thousands of years it was the mark of the people of God. Now you know where it came from.
Ishmael would not be the child of promise, but God would bless him in other ways.
God tells Abraham that he would bless him through another child: Isaac.
Despite their sin, despite their age, despite all odds, God would bring it about.
And God shall bring about your redemption too, through His Son of Promise, the Lord Jesus.
Thanks for reading with me! Tomorrow we read Genesis 18-21!
After Darkness Light
~ Pastor Evan