Summary: Abram comes to find that God works out the impossible in the midst of personal pain
When the Impossible Becomes Possible
Series: Essential 100
January 13, 2008
Pain was not part of God’s original plan for creation but when sin entered, pain became a part of human life. Pain seems to be a recurring theme throughout the scriptures. We especially see it throughout the book of Genesis. Here are just a few examples:
Adam and Eve experienced the pain of loss when Cain murdered Abel and then was exiled
God experienced the pain of grief when humanity had become so sinful that the world needed to be destroyed by flood
Noah experienced the pain of rejection when the people refused to listen to him before the flood.
Isaac would experience the pain of deception when Jacob deceives Esau out of his blessing.
Jacob experiences the pain of sorrow when he believes that Joseph had been killed.
Joseph experiences the pain of rejection when his brothers sell him into slavery.
Over and over again, we see the effects of sin and the pain that is created when sin creates havoc in the lives of God’s people. Pain is one of the harsh realities of our sinful world. Everyone in this sanctuary has experienced pain of some kind at one point or another in their lives.
This morning I want to look at another painful situation that was revealed in the life of Abram.
1 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. " 2 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?" 3 And Abram said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir." 4 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." 5 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." 6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:1-6
As we look into this point in the life of Abram, we need to remember a few important facts. The first is that he is till Abram and not Abraham. What is the difference? God has not yet changed his name. The name Abram means exalted father. This is a bit ironic because he has no children. Each time Abram hears his name it is a reminder he is childless. God will later change his name to Abraham which; means father of a multitude or father of many.
The second fact we need to remember is that Abram left everything to follow God. God promised Abram in Genesis 12 that He would make Abraham into a great nation. Not only did Abram believe; he acted on that very belief. Abram left his home, left his family and everything that was familiar, just to follow God. Remember, Abram is 75 at that time.
The third fact is that time has passed and nothing has happened. Abram has a new address, new surroundings that are none too friendly and what has it gotten Him? It seems like nothing but headaches, heartaches and heaping troubles. In the flash forward, Abram has obeyed with nothing to really show for his obedience. It is at this moment that God steps in with a vision for Abram. Is God’s timing awesome or what?
God works in an unbearable pain
Abram has been faithful to God and now he feels afraid, alone and abandoned. God speaks into this situation in verse 1: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. We need to understand that God is speaking to what Abram is feeling. When we are led by our feelings it interrupts our ability to live by faith. Feelings are fickle and they change like shifting sands and will often lead us astray.
God understands that Abram feels afraid
God tells Abram: Do not be afraid. The question on Abram’s mind here is this: Will I ever be secure?
God looks into the heart of Abram and sees his fear. Abram has been
Abram’s fears were real. There was the fear of attack. The people who were in the Canaan area were not necessarily the friendliest. There was fear of failure. Abram had been following God for many years and seemed no closer to the promise of becoming a nation. Abram may well have feared he followed God in vain.
God understands that Abram feels alone
The question that is here is this: will I ever be safe? Abram left his personal support system. There was nothing in the land where God had brought him. In many ways, Abram was alone. The only family he had was Sarai and Lot. Sometimes Lot was more trouble than help. Abram feels alone. Notice what God say here to Abram: I am your shield. It is a promise of protection over Abram. The factions that surround Abram will not harm him.