Summary: Sermon confronts the tendency to fear during a time of economic downturn. God’s words of comfort to Abraham in Gen. 15:1 are examined.
Gen 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’”
Have you ever taken a bold step of faith; then suddenly thought, “What have I done?”
That’s where Abraham is in this verse. The text begins with three words, “After these things....”
A lot has happened in the previous chapter. An army of four powerful kings have attacked and conquered Sodom and her allies. The city was plundered and in the process Abraham’s nephew, Lot was taken captive.
When Abraham heard about it, he went after those 4 kings with only 318 men. It was a courageous act of faith. Abraham caught that army by surprise, defeated it, and rescued Lot.
In the natural, it was a crazy, impossible risk. By faith, Abraham had accomplished the impossible. We read those two words over and over in Hebrews 11: “by faith.” That’s how things get done in the kingdom of God. That’s how 318 men defeat a 4-king army. “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.” The rule of the kingdom is “be it unto you according to your faith.” Israel crossed the Jordon, by faith. David conquered Goliath, by faith. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, by faith. Abraham’s faith was bold and strong when he attacked those four kings.
The King of Sodom tried to give Abraham all the spoils. But again, Abraham acted in faith. He turned down the easy money. He trusted God to take care of his financial future.
Abraham has done all the right things in chapter 14. He has passed every test thrown at him.
What happens next? “After these things” Abraham panics. A sick feeling hits the pit of his stomach. “What have I done? I have alienated four powerful kings. I caught them by surprise, and overcame them. But they’re not going to leave it there. They’re going to be furious. They’re going to be back.
Abraham lays his head on his pillow and starts thinking it over. “I’m in big, big trouble. What am I going to do?” I know that feeling. I know what it’s like to step out and do something beyond myself and trust God with the results. And then start second guessing myself. “What have I done? Did I really hear the Lord or was I just being presumptuous?” How many know what I’m taking about? It’s possible to feel full of faith one moment, and the next be in a state of panic. Circumstances haven’t changed; but my thinking has.
What do you need more than anything else at a time like that? Look at our text closely and see it there. Gen 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram....” Logic and reasoning would not have pulled Abraham out of his despondent state. Human logic would say, “You idiot, why did you make those four kings mad. Don’t you know they’re going to come back and wipe you off the face of the earth? You’re 318 men are no match for that army when they come back on their own terms.”
But God gave Abraham what he needed. “...the word of the LORD came....” Maybe that’s what somebody here needs today, the word of the Lord. A sermon is not enough. You need God to tell you it’s going to be OK.
The word of the Lord can come to us in many ways. In this situation, it came in a vision. I still believe in supernatural dreams and visions; don’t you? I have had a few dreams and visions that we’re powerful events in my life. Joel 2:28,
"And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28). God’s still doing that in these last days.
Sometimes God speaks to us through a sermon or while we’re reading the Bible. I’ve never had God speak to me audibly but I’ve known people who have. Most of the time, God speaks in our spirit. We have a strong inner sense that God is communicating to us Spirit to spirit.
How the word of the Lord comes to us is not so important. What’s important is that it comes. “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Abraham was in desperate need of a word from God—and God gave it to him.
What was God’s word to Abraham?
“Do not be afraid....” I like the old King James version, “Fear not....” Is anyone here in a state of fear? The word of the Lord to you is “Fear not....” Do you feel like nothin’s gonna turn out? “Fear not....”