Summary: What God promises He Fulfill
Gen. 15:1-6; 17:17-21; 21:1-3
A. Stop the Bus
A small boy riding a bus home from Sunday school was very proud of the card he had
received, which had a picture and a caption that read: “Have Faith in God.” Then to his
dismay the card slipped from his hand and fluttered out the window. “Stop the bus!” he
cried. “I’ve lost my ‘faith in God!’”
The driver pulled the bus to a stop, and as the lad climbed out and went to retrieve his
card, one of the adult riders smiled and made a comment about the innocence of youth. A
more perceptive adult observed, “All of us would be better off if we were that concerned
about our faith. All too often we plunge ahead on our own when we have lost our faith in
Abraham provides an excellent example of this truth. God promised him that he would
give him a son who would be the heir of all of his promises to Abraham. However, after
many years passed and the promise had not been fulfilled, Abraham attempted to take care
of the matter on his own. He plunged ahead, leaving his faith behind.
B. Lesson Background
Some years passed between the events covered in last week’s lesson and the events
narrated in today’s lesson. During this time Abram had been forced by a famine to move
into Egypt. There Sarai, who was quite attractive, caught the attention of Pharaoh, who
desired to make her his wife. Fearing that Pharaoh would kill him in order to acquire her,
Abram had told Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister, which was a half-truth (Genesis 20:12);
and Pharaoh took Sarai into his house. But God plagued Pharaoh’s house because of it,
and Pharaoh sent Abram and Sarai away (Genesis 12:11-20). We are not told how
Pharaoh knew the plagues were associated with Sarai. In a similar incident later God
spoke in a dream to Abimelech, king of the Philistines (Genesis 20). We assume God made
some specific revelation to Pharaoh in this case as well.
Abram and his company then left Egypt and returned to Canaan (Genesis 13:1). By
this time, Abram and Lot both had become rather wealthy and their flocks quite large —
so large that there was not adequate pasture for the flocks of both of them. To avoid strife
between the herdsmen of the two men, they agreed to go their separate ways. While
Abram remained in the highlands, Lot chose to move to the Jordan Valley, which was well
watered and green.
Before long this area was attacked by a group of marauders, who defeated the rulers
of Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies, carrying off Lot and his family as a part of their
booty. When Abram learned what had happened, he led a rescue party that defeated the
raiders and rescued the captives. As he returned from his victory, Abram was greeted by
Melchizedek, “king of Salem and priest of God Most High” (Hebrews 7:1), who
pronounced a blessing on him. Abram then gave Melchizedek tithes of all he had obtained
(Genesis 14:19, 20). It was “after this” that the events found in the first part of today’s
printed text took place.
I. God Reaffirms His Covenant
A. God’s Reassurance (v. 1)
What Do You Think?
The Lord appeared to Abram and described himself as Abram’s “shield” and his “very
great reward.” Since Abram had just returned from battle, these terms were especially
significant. If God appeared to you in such a way, what terms might he use to describe
B. Abram’s Concern (vv. 2, 3)
What Do You Think?
Abram questioned God about his promise. It had been a long time since God first
appeared to Abram, and still he was childless. Why is waiting on God such a test of faith?
What do you do to keep your faith strong even when it seems nothing is happening to
bring you closer to what you want or expect from God?
(Note: Abram took his concern to the Lord. We, too, can pray and study God’s Word
to be sure what we want or expect is in harmony with his revealed will.)
C. God’s Answer (vv. 4-6)
Can you believe what some people believe these days? Thousands of “hot-line”
subscribers swallow the prognostications of so-called “psychics” every day. And what about
the untold numbers who fall prey to the con man? Promising something “too good to be
true,” he swindles otherwise sensible people out of millions every year. It’s incredible that
intelligent human beings could be so naive and gullible.
Abram seems to have wondered whether he had chosen to believe something that was
“too good to be true.” He was an elderly man and concerned that God’s promise of an heir