Summary: How the LORD strengthened Abram’s faith when he was weak, and how he strengthens ours through the promise of the stars.
August 22, 2004 Genesis 15:1-6
After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
It sure wasn’t easy to go to sleep after watching the men and women race to a gold medal in swimming and gymnastics. I would imagine that many children - after watching the Olympics - have been motivated and said to themselves, - “I want to be like Michael Phelps, Paul Hamm, Amanda Beard,” - etc. God knows that we need people to emulate and look up to. Like it or not, kids need heros - and so do adults. This is also true spiritually. God gives a whole list of them to feed our appetite in Hebrews 11. In that chapter the Holy Spirit mentions Abel, Noah, Enoch and many others. However, the one who seems to stand over and above the rest is Abraham, who is referred to as the father of faith. Romans mentions him, Galatians mentions him, and even James refers back to the FAITH of Abraham. He is the big daddy of faith.
However, in today’s text I don’t see the “father of faith” - not yet. I only see Abram - an undeveloped man - maybe a strong teenager - if you would. He needed encouragement - strength - to be the father of faith. Today we are going to look at the Father of the father - the One who made Abraham what he was - who gave Abram his new name and new reputation - I’m talking about the LORD. As we look at this fifteenth chapter of Genesis we’ll see that -
The LORD is the Father of Our Father of Faith
I. Abram was not the father of his faith
Up to this point in the history of Abram he had left Ur of the Chaldeans to live among people he had never met and on a land that was not his. This was a tremendous leap of faith. Once he arrived at the Promised Land, Lot had chosen the best part of the land. Not too long afterward, Abram had to fight to rescue his nephew Lot from several kings who had taken him and the people of Sodom captive.
Although Abram showed great faith up to this point, the father of faith still needed his faith strengthened. You can see from the words that God gives Abram after He approaches him. God starts out with a promise. He says to Abram, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” Why does he tell Abram, “don’t be afraid”? Obviously, Abram must have had his doubts and fears. He had just been through a war and a rescue mission. He realized that this was not going to be an easy journey - inheriting this “promised land” that was already occupied. So God said to him, “there’s no reason to be afraid here, Abram. Remember who I AM. I am your shield.” That word for shield was referring to a smaller and mobile type of round shield carried by light infantry and officers. It would easily be carried into all sorts of situations. That was what God was saying to Abram. “I’m here for you, and I will reward you much more handsomely than any foreign kings.” What God was trying to do was to encourage Abram to stick to the mission - to give him courage in this strange land and among this strange people.
Yet notice the RESPONSE of Abram. But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Abram was more concerned about the promise of his OFFSPRING than he was of his LAND. He looked at his wrinkles and his grey hair and realized that at 75 he wasn’t the young stud he used to be, and his wife was no spring chicken either - being at least 65 at this point. His body and his mind told him, “there’s no way you can have children. Neither can Sarah. Therefore, God must have been speaking FIGURATIVELY. He didn’t really mean that YOUR OFFSPRING would inherit the land and bear the Savior - but that your LEGAL offspring - ELIEZER - would inherit it.” Abram wanted to believe God’s promise, yet he feared that because it wasn’t PHYSICALLY possible - that God may have been speaking figuratively. His faith was being LIMITED by his PHYSICAL limitations - which meant that at this point he wasn’t quite the father of faith - more like the father of reason - or a child of faith. He was doubtful that God really meant what He said - and he sounds doubtfully despondent in his response to God.