Summary: After the Battle and the Offering, The Re-Affirmation
Abraham, a Man of challenge, Faith, Promise
After the Battle and the Offering, The Re-Affirmation
We, from time to time, hear stories about people who are unwilling hero’s. They are for what ever reason, in a particular place at a time when heroic measure are required. Without any particular thought for body and limb, they launch themselves into the thick of the situation and save the day. Afterwards, some simply melt away, not seeking publicity almost embarrassed at the way that they have acted. Others are quite shocked at what they did or were able to do, like the mother who without thought at seeing their child go under a vehicle, lift the car of off their child, then wonder how they did it. Then there are those who are a part of the emergency services who are trained for just such situations, but still they rise to above and beyond the call of duty. We read of the acts of heroism, should they be traced we read of the recognition sometime later. All too often what we do not hear about and is for many, a time of great stress and depression that follows the rising to the occasion.
In our reading it would seem that we have just such a situation occurring in the life of Abram. In chapters13 + 14, Abram and those with him we going through the land, doing what God had told them to do, they had had little if no trouble with those in the land. Problems arise with his nephew Lot, so they part company. Then one-day news arrives that Lot had been taken captive after a battle where he was dwelling. Reading the text it would seem that Abram taking his family ties seriously; just up’s and launches himself into a battle to set Lot free. This he accomplishes with staggering success. On their way back to their homes, Abram has an encounter with Melchizedek when Abram gives his offerings and thanks to the Almighty for what had taken place.
Reading the opening verses of chapter 15, it seems to me that Abram was now having a down time. How many times have we had time of great elation, times when all seems to be going right, times when we even baffle ourselves by doing things that are steps of great faith and exploits in our God. Then suddenly for no apparent reason and if anything contrary to what we have been currently doing and thinking, we hit the doldrums. We seem to have waves of depression and pressing inability to rise above what is pressing in.
Quite possibly Abram had been thinking about the battle just past, quite possibly he had been thinking about the distress that was in the tents of those who had lost loved one’s in the battle. When suddenly it dawns on him, "what about the promise of God that my decedents would inhabit this land." The thought hits him, "I might have been killed in the battle, and I have no son, how could the land have been given to my decedents?" Why do I place this as a plausible hypothesis before you? Because of what God said to him and the questions Abram asks.
First of all God says to him; "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Most if not all the times we find God say this kind of thing to people in the bible, is when He is talking to people who are afraid. This particularly true when He is about to send them out into a situation that in normal circumstances, would generate the greatest fear. Joshua just as he was about to take the reigns of leading Israel was told by God, "Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you.. ." Time and time again we read in the Scripture of God speaking to people before and after times of great exploit with such words.
This is a genuine fear that has got a grip of Abram. I have little doubt that in just the same situation most if not all of us here would go through much the same thing. Abram was possibly thinking, "What have I done! What would have happened if it had all gone wrong!" or possibly, "When I was in Ur, I never had to fight this kind of battle, is it worth all the hassle, problems and heart ache." Then God speaks to him again. "You be strong in Me, you fear Me and me alone, then nothing is impossible, I have an exceedingly great reward for you."
Abram is still troubled though, it was not so much the threat to his own life that was worrying him, as God’s reputation, should Abram die and the promise not find fulfillment. "God as good as Eliezer is, I mean his name means ’God of Help’, but still he is not my blood but a good and faithful steward… Look, you have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir." Now Abram is getting to the root of the problem, it is not that he has any bad feeling toward Eliezer, nor that he wished him any wrong, he was still wanting his own son and to defend God reputation. God is basically saying to him, "What you are saying about Eliezer not being your heir is in accord with My plan and will. In fact Abram you do not need to defend My reputation, for that defense will flow out of your obedience without you even having to say a word. Abram stop worrying, I know that you are old, I know that your wife is beyond child bearing age, But I say to you, you will have an heir of your own flesh and blood, trust and obey Me." Then God takes him outside and points to the night sky and says, "Count the stars if you can, remember this, as you cannot count the stars, so your descendent will be without number. Believe it Abram because it is going to be so."