Summary: God can be negotiated with and he will answer prayer, but it is always in His will. Abraham boldly makes a deal with God.
How many of you remember the game show that used to be on TV called “Let’s make a deal”? I believe it was Monty Hall who would tempt people with what was behind different doors, or he would show them a wad of cash and say you can have the cash or choose what’s behind door number 3.
He would always be trying to offer more than you had already won, but there was always risk involved. Many people think that God is not a deal maker, but that’s far from the truth. He was making deals and covenants with people and Satan since the beginning of humanity.
My way, or the fruit; my way or the flood; my way or hell. “Satan, you can do whatever you want to Job just don’t kill him.” God always gives choices but the difference is that his promises are reliable and there is no risk if we choose what he offers versus what Monty Hall or the world offers.
Today I want to give you what may have been Abraham’s experience as God made deals with him through chapters 15, 17, and 18 of Genesis. Let’s see what it might have been like from Abraham’s perspective as if he were alive to tell the story today.
Not long after I had defeated these kings with the Lord’s help, and received the blessing from this Melchizedek fellow, I began feeling a little worried that at some point they were going to gang up and try to get there stuff back and kick me out the country.
Then, right on cue, God came to me in a vision and said “don’t be scared, for I will protect you and your reward will be great.” Well to be honest I was getting a little tired of these promises and I said, “Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? You haven’t given me any kids so I’m going to have to give all I have to my servant Eliezer. One of my servants will be my heir.”
But God said, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own.” I was thinking, yeah right, do you know how old Sarai and me are? But then God took me outside and showed me the stars and said, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
I don’t know why, but as I marveled at the heavens something inside me made me believe him again.
Then he said, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” But I replied, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it and keep it?” I was really trying to keep hope alive in spite of what I was seeing and feeling.
So then he told me, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
So what was I gonna do? Well I went and got all these things and killed them. Then I cut each animal down the middle, and as per our custom, laid the halves side by side; everything except the birds. Then I just waited for hours while these pesky vultures kept swooping down to eat the carcasses, but I managed to chase them away.
I wonder if God was showing me that I must have patience, that the promise might not be fulfilled right away. I bet those vultures represented Satan’s attempts to ruin God’s promise, to make me give up.
The sun started to go down and I thought it was a good time for a nap, and wow did I ever zonk out, but this really terrifying darkness like death, seemed to come over me. Then the Lord said again, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years.”
Little did I know that Moses would be bringing our people out of Egypt about 400 years later.
“But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”
Whoa I thought, that doesn’t sound all great, but I knew that my doubt was going to catch up with me sooner or later. God has little patience with our doubt. Then all of the sudden a flaming torch and smoking firepot passed between the halves of the carcasses I laid out, and the Lord made a covenant with me saying, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River”