“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.” And Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” and Abram said, “Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” And He took him outside and 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.” Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
In my last blog entry, I wrote about the new promise in Genesis 12:7 – the promise of the unconditional covenant that was made with Abram, the covenant of blessing, which included the land, was now to be passed down to Abram’s descendants.
This promise required a great deal of faith for Abram to accept because at that point, he had no children…and he was already quite advanced in age. In Genesis 15:1-7, we see this promise repeated; however, this part of Scripture shows us something amazing about Abram’s relationship with God.
Verse 1 begins with the words “After these things…” When one sees these words, one needs to read what took place before, in order to fully understand what was going on. As a quick summary, Abram went down to Egypt with his wife Sara (Gen 12:10-20). Out of his fear of man, he lied about Sara being his wife and instead said she was his sister. So not only does he sin, but also causes Sara to sin by lying. This experience reveals that he was fully human just like any of us; yes, Abram was a man of great faith…but he was also human and had to choose to trust God just like the rest of us!
Later on, we see that he learned from the experience in Egypt, and how he had learned to trust God. In Gen 13:1-18, we read about the famous account of Abram and his relative Lot; here we find a key verse that shows that Abram learned from the account which took place in Egypt, when Abram allows Lot to have first pick of the land after realizing that the land cannot sustain them both. Abram, the son of the promise, who knew everything which God promised him, told Lot: “Then Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me: if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left.” Gen 13:7-8
Abram didn’t have to manipulate Lot to make sure he ended up with the better deal; instead, he trusted God that whatever Lot would choose, it would also go well with him. The result of Abram’s act of faith was that God not only affirmed His promise, but also made it more specific:
“ And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”” Gen 13:14-17
The new discovery here, that there will be no end to this covenant, but also that Abram’s descendants would be more numerous to count, is significant. God honors Abram’s faith and “reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
In part 3 of my mini-series on the “New Promise”, we will continue to explore the things that happened prior to our study of Gen 15, and what we can learn from them.
Let’s take the time to reflect upon our relationship with our Lord, and really consider how good He is. Do you have faith that He is worthy of all your trust?
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