Summary: The Patriarchs The Struggle of Faith Genesis 15 David Taylor April 10, 2016
The Struggle of Faith
April 10, 2016
All of us, if we are honest, struggle with our faith at times. In the midst of life, we wonder where God is and how he is going to work in our circumstances. King David felt this way when he wrote, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Today we look at a similar situation in the life of Abraham. It has been ten years since God had made him promises that have not come to fruition and he is struggling with when will this happen and how will this happen? If you have ever felt that way, then you are in good company with many biblical characters, including Abraham. Let’s look at this situation in Genesis fifteen.
“After these things” is after Abraham’s battle with the kings and his encounter with Melchizedek, God reassures Abraham of his promises to him, the promise of offspring and the promise of land. In verse one we are told the “word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision: Fear not, Abram, for I am your shield, your reward shall be great.” That phrase, “the word of the Lord came” is used in the Old Testament when Gods speaks to a prophet. Being Abrahams’ shield is a metaphor for God promising to protect him against retaliation from the kings he battled or others who pose a threat. And because he rejected the spoils of war God promises to reward or provide for him. Then we see Abraham’s struggle, “but, I am childless; my only option for a heir is my servant Eliezer of Damascus.” I know you promised me a son but it has been almost ten years and Sarah is past child bearing age; I don’t see any other way. Abraham is struggling with trusting God and so looking for a way to help God out. The apostle Paul tells us that the life of faith is a fight to trust God promises. The only way you will win this fight in your heart is by finding your strength in God. It is much easier to believe in God than to trust him. In our culture many people believe in God but do not trust him. Maybe you are in that group. In some sense, all of us are in that group in some area of our lives. Are you fighting the fight of faith? To not fight is to give up, to become passive and be pummeled. God comes right back to graciously address Abraham’s struggle in verse four, “Behold the word of the Lord came to him, “this man will not be your heir; your very own son will be your heir.” Trust my word Abraham, I said I would give you a son and I will but you must be patient. God can say something will happen because God makes it happen. God is asking Abraham to trust his future in God’s hands. The issue for Abraham and many of us is patience; it’s a waiting game. Then God, ever gracious and patient, takes Abraham outside and tells him to look to the heavens. “Count the stars if you can, so shall your offspring be.” If you have ever been out in the middle of nowhere, when there are no clouds, no lights, and it is pitch black, the stars light up the sky. God is saying, I created all those stars wherever the eye can see and the same power that created those stars will create life in Sarah’s womb. Trust my word and stop trying to make it happen. Maybe that is your struggle right now. Maybe you don’t trust God has the power to deal with some issue or problem in your life so you think you are going to have to take matter into your own hands.
With that promise, Moses gives us this commentary, “He believed the Lord, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” This is one of the most pivotal statements in the bible, quoted in the New Testament three times to prove that salvation is by faith not works or human effort. Abraham trusted his future in God’s hand and therefore was considered righteous based upon the future work of Christ and so he was accepted and forgiven by God. That is the gospel, I trust my future in God’s hands. You are a Christian or a follower of Christ by trusting God and not by what you do; doing grows out of trusting. Trusting is the root; what you do is the fruit. Let’s look at two New Testament texts that quotes this verse, Romans 4:1-8 and Galatians 3:1-9 to flesh this out.