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Summary: The Lord promises great things to Abraham. Abraham believes and lives in hope.

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Introduction

Not all Bible passages are created equal. Some Bible verses are inconsequential, others are confusing. There are some verses in the Bible that are ignored and others that have transformed lives and changed the world.

The New Revised Standard Version The Divine Shepherd

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want

The New Revised Standard Version Nicodemus Visits Jesus

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

The New Revised Standard Version The Power of the Gospel

The one who is righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:17 is a reference to Genesis 15:6. This is the verse that caught Martin Luther's attention as he struggled to find peace with God. This is one of the verses that started the Reformation and consequently changed the Christian world.

Called and Promised

God called Abraham when he was living in the city of Haran. God's call to Abraham was to follow God to a land that God promised to give to Abraham. If Abraham would follow God, God promised to give him 1). Wealth, 2). Land and 3). Descendants.

God's call and God's promises to Abraham were both gifts. Abraham did not need to attain some level of moral perfection in order to receive them. Abraham lived over 600 years before Moses received the Ten Commandments from God, so there was no moral code for Abraham to follow.

Abraham and his wife, Sarah, followed God into the Promised Land. There Abraham became very wealthy. Abraham never lacked for land on which to feed and keep his livestock. He did not own the land, though. Abraham was a nomad. Possession of the land took place after the Exodus when the Israelites invaded and conquered the land of Canaan. It wasn't until the birth of Isaac, when both Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of childbearing that the third promise was fulfilled.

When we read the story of God and Abraham, we realize that one of the central tenets of the story is that God is a God who keeps promises--even if we have to wait for them.

The Wait of Faith

Abraham was seventy-five years old when God called him to travel from Haran to the Promise land. Our story takes place many years after Abraham and Sarah had arrived in the Promised Land. They were waiting for descendants and had not yet seen the fulfillment of God's promise to them.

God comes to Abraham in a vision. God tells Abraham does not need to be afraid, God is his shield and Abraham shall be greatly rewarded.

The New Revised Standard Version God’s Covenant with Abram

After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”

Abraham isn't very impressed and thankful that the Lord is his shield or that he will be greatly rewarded. Instead of praising God, Abraham complains. "I still don't have descendant," he points out.When we look at the problem instead of the solution to the problem, we become afraid. Things appear to be out of control and hopeless.

When we look at the problem instead of the solution to the problem we are robbed of thanksgiving and praise. There is no attitude of gratitude.

The Gift of Righteousness

In answer to Abraham's complaints God renews God's promise that Abraham and Sarah will have descendants. God takes Abraham outside and has him look at the starlit sky. "Look all of those stars," God says. "That's how many your descendants will be."

Abraham responds to God's vision. The storyteller writes:

The New Revised Standard Version God’s Covenant with Abram

And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Abraham didn't place his faith in the immanent fulfillment of a promise. Instead Abraham place his faith in the God who created all the stars and the God who care for Abraham so much that God came to him in a vision.

Abraham rested in the embrace of God and God gifted him with righteousness. In other words God declared Abraham a saint.

Abraham still struggled with the promise of an heir. Immediately following this story is the Hagar incident when Abraham tried to have an heir with Sarah's handmaid. Ishmael was the product of their liaison, but that was not how God was going to provide descendants of Abraham. Even though he struggled, God still gifted Abraham with righteousness.

Conclusion

We frequently hold God accountable for promises God didn't make such as a stress free life, no financial or health hardships and relationships that don't need any upkeep.

God has promised that we are God's children. God assures us that we are loved and nothing can change that. God's presence in our lives is guaranteed.

Because of this, we can rest in God's embrace and enjoy God's gift of righteousness. We are in God's hands. What more can we ask for?

Amen

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