Reading For Tuesday Genesis 15:1-21
Prone to doubt and unpredictable; these are words that can be used to describe Abram. Abram's response in this episode doesn't seem to line up with the patriarch of the Jewish people that believed God. He has just been victorious in battle, refused any of the spoil, and God comes with a word of encouragement. The God of the universe who initiated a covenant reassures Abram that he is his protection and reward. The constant is God, not Abram. Abram was known as a man of faith, not because he was consistent in his faith, but because God is faithful.
It is not unreasonable to have some questions. The natural question in Abram's mind is, "How is this to take place because I don't have children?" It is impossible to be a great nation when you are not even a father. Abram was looking for an explanation. Abram points to the fact that currently the closest thing to an heir would be one of his servants. God responds to Abram's discouragement by reassuring him that he would not only have a child but that his children would be like the stars in the sky. Having a child at his age is not only unlikely but impossible at least in human terms. Everything in Abram's experience tells him that this will not happen, but here we see the evidence of grace and faith as he believes God and it is counted to him as righteousness. Salvation has always been accomplished in the same way, namely that it comes by grace through faith.
This understanding is essential, because the question, “How can we be made right with God?” must be accompanied by faith in Jesus Christ. Abram took God at his word. Abram was not made righteous by good works; he didn’t have to make any promises. Abram had to trust what God had said, and, as a result, he was reckoned as righteous in God’s sight. How can anyone be considered righteous? The same way Abram was: by believing what God says. What does God say? Jesus became sin on our behalf so that we might become righteous (2 Cor. 5:21).
God reminds Abram of who he is, what he has done and what he has yet to do, give him a child and a land to possess. Abram's next question does not indicate that he does not believe, but that he is asking for a sign. God condescends and grants a ceremony to ratify his covenant. Abram fell into a deep sleep as God walks between the segments. Abram does not pass through because this covenant did not involve any promise on Abram's part. God alone made the covenant and would keep it. The divine declaration that accompanied the Theophany explained to Abram when the promise of land would be fulfilled. The land of Canaan would belong to his descendants after his offspring spent four hundred years sojourning, they became slaves; and the land was judged. The comforting news was that Abram's descendants would leave with great possessions, Abram would die in peace at an old age, and the sin of the Amorites would be complete. The story concludes with the specifics of boundaries and peoples relating to the Promised Land.
Thing To Consider:
- Have you ever had to wait a long time for God to answer a prayer? Did you find it difficult to have faith?
- What does waiting teach us?
- Why was it important for God to be the only one to pass through the sacrifice during the ceremony?
- What does this teach us about grace and God keeping us?