Summary: When God makes a covenant with us He makes good the guarantee.
A Covenant of Promise
Text: Gen. 15:1-21
1. Illustration: In modern times we define a host of relations by contracts. These are usually for goods or services and for hard cash. The contract, formal or informal, helps to specify failure in these relationships. The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant. There is a difference. Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the house and inquire, "Where were you? Why didn’t you show up for your appointment?" He simply goes on to his next patient and has his appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the doctor. He broke an informal contract. According to the Bible, however, the Lord asks: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15) The Bible indicates the covenant is more like the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment. If a child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he’s cared for. One member’s failure does not destroy the relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the unconditional commitment to love and serve.
2. In this study we will examine...
a. A vision of promise
b. A commitment of faith
c. A deal you can't refuse
3. Read Genesis 15:1-21
Proposition: When God makes a covenant with us He makes good the guarantee.
Transition: In Abram's life we see that God always takes the first step. We see this in...
I. A Vision of Verification (1-5).
A. In A Vision
1. This chapter is actually a continuation of what happened in chapters 13 and 14.
2. It begins with, "Some time later, the LORD spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
a. The events of chapters 13 and 14 lead to the dramatic climax of chp. 15.
b. In this verse God communicates to Abram by means of a vision, a word that occurs only three more time in the OT.
c. What God communicates is not so much a visual image, but rather a word from God. This is what distinguishes it from a dream (Hamilton, 418).
d. Abram was thinking about the victory he had won over the five kings and wondering what would happen if they came back for revenge.
e. However, God told him not to be afraid. He says literally "I am your shield."
f. Genesis 15:1 (NASB)
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."
g. God promised to be with him and God's power would be sufficient to protect him.
h. He was also thinking about all the stuff he had given up, and so the Lord told him literally, "I am your great reward."
i. The Lord was saying to Abram, "forget about all that stuff and be concerned with me. When we have the Lord we have enough (Horton, 123).
3. However, Abram is a lot like us; he needed some clarification. He said, “O Sovereign LORD, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir."
a. This vision got Abram to thinking about God's great promise he had made to him.
b. Abram was not doubting God's promise, but ancient documents show that if a man had no children, he could adopt a male servant to be his heir.
c. Abram thought that God could fulfill His promise through Eliezer since legal inheritance was as important as natural inheritance.
d. But this left Abram without personal satisfaction and it brought a thought to his mind. What would God give him since He had not given him a child (Horton, 123)?
e. It is clear that Abram interpreted God's reward being a child.
f. Psalm 127:3 (NLT)
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.
4. God's response to Abram tells him to expect bigger and better things because He is a big God. He says, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”