Summary: Third in a six-part series on the life of faith as seen in the person of Abraham
We have questions. God has answers. It is what we do with the answers God gives that makes the difference in our lives.
Genesis 15 is effectively one extended, spirited conversation between God and Abram, punctuated by one crucial conclusion that forms one of the lynchpins of Bible theology when it comes to our salvation.
Movement 1: God Speaks in a Vision - :1
We rightfully get a bit suspicious when people suggest that they’ve had a vision from God, but this was a means God used to reveal Himself. Sometimes these visions took place in dreams, though there is a difference; often these visions were visual, though sometimes auditory; the settings were sometimes natural, and at other times supernatural; sometimes the one receiving the vision was a participant in the goings-on, but sometimes the person was merely a spectator. Wouldn’t it be great to get a vision from God? But stop for a moment and think: Abram is recorded as receiving a direct word from God eight times in about 100 years. We, on the other hand, have a Book at our fingertips for our entire lives that is the very Word of God given to us. Seems to me that maybe Abram would have much preferred what we have—but all too often ignore!
God’s initial words are three-fold:
• “Don’t be afraid” - Particularly poignant words to Abram who, as we saw last week, acted in fear rather than faith in passing his wife off as his sister when in Pharaoh’s court. But beyond this, we can think of some other reasons why Abram might have been fearful.
• Chapters 13 and 14 record his dealings with his nephew Lot, one of which involved Abram and his contingent conducting a military raid to rescue Lot from some marauding kings who’d gone out looking for trouble. Was payback imminent?
• Further, might he have feared that his sojourn away from his home was merely a waste of time, a wild goose chase, since God had yet to deliver on some of the promises that He’d made years previously.
• Finally, simply hearing the voice of God in a vision would be a thing of fear.
God assures Abram that he has nothing to fear, but further, He reveals Himself in two ways:
• “I am your shield” - God would be Abram’s protector against all enemies. God hadn’t brought Abram out here all this way to abandon him to his fate now.
• “Your reward will be great” - God hadn’t brought Abram all the way out here to leave him high and dry now, but rather to do something incredible in and through Abram’s life. And by the way, God doesn’t bring any of us to a point in our lives where He suddenly pulls the rug out from under us, or pushes us into the deep end and says, “fend for yourself; I’m outta here.”
At this point, though, all Abram had were words, the promises of God. He had God on His side, making him promises, but as far as much of anything to show for it, well, there wasn’t anything. God was all he had. Question: if God were all you had, would He be all you’d need? Don’t run past that question too quickly. The Sunday School answer is, “sure, all I really need in life is God”, but we live in rich, materialistic America, and I’m not so sure that that’s nearly as true for many of us as it ought be.
What a poverty it is to need anything more than God and His provision for us.
Movement 2: Abram Asks a Question - :2-3
One of the blessings and curses of modern communication is the Internet. On the one hand, we can with ease communicate with people around the world, at our convenience and theirs. People that I’ve had no communication with in years are now back in my life thanks to the Internet. On the other hand, sometimes it’s difficult to know what a person is driving at, because we often can’t really get a grip on the emotions and inflections attending speech. This is why someone invented “emoticons”, the “smilies” and “frownies” and the like that are formed by colons and semi-colons and parentheses and dashes, symbols that are supposed to communicate attitudes attending the emails. I hated emoticons for a long time, but I’ve been worn down to the point that I now use them myself. But the point is that communication can be a tricky thing, and sometimes, that’s the case with the Bible, the printed text, and it is in this case: we aren’t really sure what Abram’s attitude toward God is in this exchange.
• Is Abram challenging God?
• Is Abram doubting God?
• Is Abram merely confused and impatient?