Summary: Nothing exists for you to fear--nothing! God has given you the Son, just as He promised. That changes everything!
Long before he was Abraham, he was called “Abram.” Even before his name was changed, God still chose to bless him. When the Lord told Abram to leave his homeland, this is the promise He gave him:
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you; and in you, all the peoples of the earth will be blessed (Gen. 12:2-3).
Through God’s hand of blessing, Abram “had become wealthy in livestock, silver, and gold” (Gen. 13:2). He became so wealthy, his flocks so large, that he and his nephew, Lot, needed to live apart to have enough fields to feed their flocks (Gen. 13:7).
The Lord also made Abram into a mighty warrior, fierce in battle. The Old Testament tells us of his fighting prowess after four enemies had abducted Lot.
When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken prisoner, he mobilized 318 of his trained men... During the night, Abram and his servants divided his forces, attacked his enemies, and chased them... He recovered all the goods and rescued Lot, his nephew, with his possessions, the women, and the other captives (Gen. 14:14-16).
Yet, despite all of his blessings, success, and comforts, Abram still suffered deep anxieties. He was afraid. Now we don’t exactly know what his fears were. But today’s Old Testament reading clearly tells us that Abram was afraid. He must have suffered some deep-seated fear, because God’s first words to him in today’s reading were, “Do not be afraid” (Gen. 15:1).
This fear that Abram felt--whatever it may have been--was spoken through his wish for a son. He said, “Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless?” (Gen. 15:2) It is almost as if nothing else mattered to Abram if he didn’t have a son! His yearning for a son was festering in his bones!
A son would’ve brought honor to Abram--but his fear was more than lack of paternal pride! For Abram, a son would be a comfort against his fears of an unknown future. Abram also wouldn’t have to worry about someone outside his family inheriting his possessions, in his case, “Eliezer from Damascus” (Gen. 15:2).
Maybe Abram also realized that his formidable military strength was withering before his eyes. As many of us know, as we age, our legs tire, our arms grow weary, our endurance wanes, and our reflexes slow. However, if he had a son, he could face his old age without fear. He would know that someone would care for him and his wife, providing food and shelter, comfort and warmth, and protecting both of them from their enemies.
Maybe Abram’s fear was tethered to an enemy he could not overcome. Maybe he feared the last enemy, the same last enemy that you and I must also face. For who can escape death when it comes to take us? But a son would carry on Abram’s legacy. A son would be the hallmark of Abram’s memory on the earth.
Whatever Abram’s fears were, God spoke His word of comfort and peace: “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I am your shield, your great reward” (Gen. 15:1). It was then that Abram voiced his gut-twisting concerns to God. But pushed also by his fears, Abram’s doubts now rise to be heard: “O Almighty Lord, what can You give me since I am childless and the heir of my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Gen. 15:2).
For Abram doubted God. And doubt is uncertainty, a shaky faith teetering on the edge of unbelief. Long before today’s Old Testament reading, God had already promised Abram a son. God had already promised to make this Abram the father of a great nation (Gen. 12:2). Abram already had God’s promise of a great future. And yet today, we hear his doubts trample on his faith.
That’s why Abram needed continual reassurance. God needed to remind Abram, time and again, of His promises. The Word of God that Abram already had heard--and already knew--is the same Word of God that Abram needed to hear over and again.
And who are we compared with Abram? Are we not also teetering, shaking on the edge of unbelief? Does God not also need to tell us over and again of His promises for us? As Abram lived by faith, so also do we live by faith--faith in a promise not yet fully seen! Like Abram, we are called to live in “the confident assurance of what we hope for and the certainty that what we cannot see exists” (Hebrews 11:1).
Like Abram, God has called both you and me out of our old, pagan land of sin and death. Like Abram, God has called us into a new land, a promised land, a land of Eden, a land laden with the fruit of the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins, and the hope of eternal life.