Summary: Number 27 in our series on Genesis. In this sermon we examine more closely the covenant God made with Abraham.
The Covenant with Abraham (Genesis part 27)
Text: Genesis 15:1 – 21
By: Ken McKinley
Well, for the last few Sunday’s we’ve been talking about Abraham, and we’ve been looking at how he has grown in his faith and in his walk with the Lord. We’ve seen him act in faith and do some pretty… I guess you would say, radical things, like leaving his home without any real idea of where he was going, and we’ve seen him do some pretty bone-headed things like saying his wife was his sister because he was afraid of the Pharaoh of Egypt.
So let’s turn to Genesis chapter 15 this morning and follow along as I read from verse one to the end of the chapter (Read Text).
Now I don’t know about ya’ll but if I had too, I would say that this is one of the most important texts in the Old Testament. The reason I say that is because we see that justification; in-other-words, being made right with God, is and always has been, by faith. We see that in verse 6. And secondly; this chapter records for us the covenant of grace. This covenant is the foundational covenant of the Old Testament, not the covenant with Moses at Mt. Sinai.
So when we break this chapter down and unpack it, what we’re seeing is faith seeking assurance. In verses 1 – 6 Abram is seeking assurance of the promise that God has made to him concerning an heir. God’s promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations. In the second half of the chapter; verses 7 – 21 Abram is seeking assurance of the promise that God would give him a land. Keep in mind; that at this point in time, Abram has been walking with the Lord for quite a few years. He still doesn’t have a son, and he still doesn’t own any land, not even an acre.
Verse 1 begins by saying, “After these things…” and so we know that chapter 15 has to also be understood in the context of chapter 14. Remember; Abram had just defeated the armies of the 4 kings, and he had turned down the rewards of the king of Sodom. Those are the “things” it’s talking about. So it’s after those things took place that the Lord spoke to him and said, “Abram, don’t be afraid, I am your shield…” and look what else, “Your exceedingly great reward!” Basically; what we’re seeing here is God comforting Abram. Abram may have been second guessing himself. He may have been thinking, “Man, what if God’s way of blessing me was by giving me the riches of Sodom? I mean, He gave me the riches of Pharaoh. What if I missed God on this one?” And so God reassures Abram, and comforts him, and the way He does this is by repeating the promise to him. God repeats His promise to Abram; He speaks the word of His promise to him, and it strengthens Abram’s faith. You know… Abram had yet to see the promises come to pass so God gives him a vision.
Now some folks get caught up on the whole vision aspect of this passage, but the vision isn’t what’s important here. The vision is just a tool; the most important thing is the actual message. The vision is just the means to convey the message. People can get so caught up in all the hype and fanfare, and mysticism of Christianity, but every time we see something like this, it’s not the experience that’s the main point. It’s the Word of God that’s the main point and most important thing in these types of experiences. That’s why so many people get side-traced. They get focused on the miraculous and lose sight of the Word – which is God’s clearest revelation of His will to us today!
So Abram responds with a question. He says, “What will you give me, seeing as I have no heir?” Now I don’t believe that’s a question of unbelief. In the Old Testament, when God’s people would manifest unbelief towards Him, especially in the context of His promises, most often His responses were not gentile. So Abram’s not saying, “God what have you done for me lately?” It’s more of a question of “When?” Or, “How long?” Or, “God can you clarify what you’ve promised, because I might not be understanding it correctly, because the way I thought it was going to work out hasn’t worked out yet, so maybe I misunderstood you.” In-fact that’s probably pretty close to what Abram was asking because we see him mention Eliezer of Damascus.
So God clarifies it for him in verse 4. He says, “Your heir is going to be from your own body.” And Abram must’ve been a visual learner, because in verse 5 God takes him outside and shows him the stars in the sky and says, “So shall your descendants be.”