Eternity Daily Bible Study
The Life Of Abraham
Verses: Genesis 15:1-6
Topic: Believing The Impossible
Date: 12th December 2005
Genesis 15:1-6 MKJV After these things the Word of Jehovah came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward. (2) And Abram said, Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (3) And Abram said, Behold, You have given no seed to me. And behold, one born in my house is my heir. (4) And behold, the Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be your heir. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir. (5) And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be. (6) And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness.
Jesus, as the “Word of Jehovah” appears to Abram in a vision. This may sound weird and even shamanistic but visions are fairly common in Scripture. They are part of the language of the spirit world that Abram was so sensitive to. In this vision the Word of Jehovah says: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward.” Which makes one ask – why did He need to communicate this to Abram who had just vanquished an army some ancient Jewish writers have put at 700,000 troops - with just 318 men?
1. Abram had just conducted a long expensive military campaign against the super-power of the day, and then refused to take any reward for himself. He was unrewarded in material terms for all his effort.
superpower just might come back – and he still only had 318 men!
So Abram might have been feeling something like: “I just go and do this huge good deed and liberate a sizable chunk of the Ancient Middle East from tyranny and now I'm sitting here broke and scared! So much for being the nice guy!” This is what we call “the cost of ministry” and Abram has this life pattern of big sacrifice followed by even bigger reward which we see with leaving Haran, giving land to Lot, fighting the battle, and of course the offering of Isaac on the altar. So Abram is feeling unrewarded and vulnerable and God turns up with a statement that he can take either way. To someone in Abram's position “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward” could be very annoying and get a “so what?” kind of response, or it could get a response of faith (which it did). It is easy to under-rate the promises of God. But Abram believed it!
Knowing that God was speaking to him in the vision and was favoring him Abram lays out his central dilemma: And Abram said, Lord God, what will You give me, since I am going childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? (3) And Abram said, Behold, You have given no seed to me. And behold, one born in my house is my heir.
“Lord God, what will you give me?” is a very good question! It respectfully acknowledges the goodness, kindness and generosity of God, while leaving the answer in His hands. Now Abram had been given many things by God – silver, gold, cattle, wealth, victory, a huge estate and even a private army – but Abram still felt the need of one essential thing – an heir to all that God had given him. This need put everything else in the shade. There are times when the entire goodness of God in our life seems to depend on just one request. If “it” is fulfilled, then all is well, if “it” is not answered then nothing can compensate. God understood this need of Abram's and answered it!
(4) And behold, the Word of Jehovah came to him saying, This one shall not be your heir. But he that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir. (5) And He brought him outside and said, Look now toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall your seed be.
Here Abram is faced with a tough choice between a) believing something that seemed utterly impossible or b) calling God a liar. God had said it – now would Abram believe the Voice in the Vision? Or would he shake his head in disappointment and disbelief? Abram decided that while it was highly improbable that he would have descendants, it was totally and utterly impossible for God to lie. God was truthful, and that was that, so Abram would believe the “impossible”.
God is light and in Him there is no darkness. God is truth and in Him is no deceit. God is faithful and in Him is no unreliability. In Jesus all the promises of God are “Yea and Amen”! (1 John 1:5, Numbers 23:19, 2 Timothy 2:13, 2 Corinthians 1:20). God's absolute truthfulness means we can believe His words to us, and that we can commit our life to them.
This does not mean that we can invent promises about fame, success, or other matters and then say that God is unfaithful if He does not bring them about. We have to believe His words that come to us, not our own wishful desires. God is completely faithful to you, even though you may doubt it and even not realize it. God may call you to patiently believe some incredibly impossible thing. Noah had to believe in, and preach regarding, a world-wide Flood for one hundred and twenty long years. That is a long time to wait for God's Word to come true!
We are sometimes called to choose between, on one hand, “walking by sight” and believing the spreadsheets and the number-crunchers and the Gantt charts (which have their place) or on the other hand “walking by faith” and believing a Word from the Lord. Do we call God a liar, or do we call our own best human judgment a liar? It is a tough call but when push comes to shove, I am fallible and fallen and God is holy and truthful and I must believe His Word. Early on in my Christian life I was doing some post-graduate research in Chemistry and wondering about evolution as I walked across the central court of Queensland University. Just then God said: “Are you going to believe My Word, or will you believe the scientists?” I then replied “I know scientists are fallible because I am one of them, and so are my friends, but You are infallible” and that settled the question for me - forever. I simply chose to believe in Creation because I was convinced that God was completely truthful.
And he believed in Jehovah. And He counted it to him for righteousness. When we believe in God, over and above our own best judgment and knowledge, then God knows that we really, truly trust Him, and He accounts it to us as righteousness. When we truly believe that God can do the impossible in our life we are “hallowing God's name” and honoring God's truthfulness, faithfulness and goodness. We are saying that it is impossible for God to lie, or to be unfaithful, so we will trust Him and believe in Him despite the facts before us. This is the action of a righteous and selfless person, a person more concerned with God's honor, than with anything else.
God responds to trust. His power will be unleashed in your life when you trust Him. On the other hand, His power will diminish as you doubt, distrust or test Him.
James 1:6-8 MKJV But let him ask in faith, doubting nothing. For he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. (7) For do not let that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, not dependable in all his ways.
Abram believed God, and God's power started working in Abram's life through his unwavering faith. The trust opened the gate to Heaven's goodness appearing in his life:
Romans 4:18-22 MKJV For he who beyond hope believed on hope for him to become the father of many nations (according to that which was spoken, "So your seed shall be"). (19) And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body already dead (being about a hundred years old) or the deadening of Sarah's womb. (20) He did not stagger at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, (21) and being fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform. (22) And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
True Abrahamic Christian faith is not just cognitive adherence to a set of doctrines. It is believing that God will so act in reality, in true accordance with those doctrines, and do so in your life, and especially at your point of deepest need.
John Edmiston (email@example.com)
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