Written by Dave Urbanski
Do you need a spiritual tune-up? As we saw this past Sunday in our study of Genesis 15, Abraham sure did.
We already know from Pastor Scott’s previous messages that Abraham has been through quite a lot in his journey with the Lord. Some failures, some triumphs — and many challenges. And just as it often is with us, fear and doubt has creeped into Abraham’s heart amid the pitfalls and potholes of life. But God already knew his child needed something, as verse 1 reads, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.’”
Abraham pulled no punches with the Lord upon hearing this. He didn’t act like he had it all together or that things weren’t so bad. No, Abraham wasn’t afraid to let it all hang out, as he told the Lord in verse 2 and 3, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus? Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
Isn’t this interesting? God in chapter 12 promised Abraham that he would “make of you a great nation” (verse 2) and that “to your offspring I will give this land” (verse 7). In chapter 13, after Abraham settled in Canaan, the Lord told him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted” (vv. 14-16).
Obviously, God clearly communicated to Abraham — despite his age and his wife Sarah being barren — that he would have offspring. A lot of offspring! Did Abraham simply forget? It’s not clear, but as Pastor Scott said, such doubt — even after steadfast promises from the One who never breaks them — is a common human flaw. We see it throughout Scripture. The disciples over and over allowed fear and doubt to overtake them — the storm on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus in the boat with them, for example, despite what they knew about their Savior. Perhaps you find yourself in that same boat, with the troubles of 2020 having worn you down. But as we saw in Genesis 15, the Lord was as patient with Abraham as he is with us.
At that point God brought Abraham outside and reminded him of promises he’s already made. And the Lord gave Abraham yet another “window” illustration in verse 5: “Look toward heaven,” God told him, “and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” (Of course, he couldn’t — there are too many!) “So shall your offspring be.” And then the Scriptures tell us that Abraham believed the Lord, who counted it to Abraham as “righteousness.”
That last phrase, as Pastor Scott emphasized, foreshadows the connection between faith and righteousness that Jesus fulfilled in the New Testament. The Lord was pleased with Abraham not for a specific thing he accomplished, but for Abraham’s simple act of faith. In the same way, Christ paved the way for us to spend eternity with him — not because of good things we do, but through our simple act of faith in Jesus righteousness on our behalf!
The next few verses offer more insight regarding God’s heart for Abraham — and for us. Didn’t Abraham just express faith in the Lord’s promise that he would have heirs? Yes! But what happened next? Abraham questioned God yet again! After the Lord told Abraham he’d possess the land, Abraham actually asked, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Wow!
But the Lord wasn’t giving up on Abraham and went out of his way to prove yet again how trustworthy he is by making the most serious of covenants with his child — the kind that results in death if one party doesn’t keep it. But the thing about this covenant — just as it is with our relationship with God through Jesus — is that it was an unconditional, one-party deal. And that one party was the Lord himself, as he told Abraham in verse 18 “to your offspring I give this land.”
God without a doubt has Abraham’s back through his never-ending love and grace. The Lord wants a relationship with Abraham despite Abraham sometimes doubting and questioning the Lord. Despite Abraham sinning. Despite Abraham forgetting. And the cool thing is that we can substitute our names for Abraham’s name in chapter 15. Because the Lord loves each one of us just as much as he loves Abraham — and has so many amazing things in store for us. So, as 2020 draws to a close, and when the busyness of life starts to mess with our heads, may we all approach the throne of grace and ask the Lord to give us a spiritual tune-up. May we pray, “Lord, I want to live my life serving you. Please show me how to renew my faith in you right now — and each day after!” No matter how 2021 pans out — no matter what circumstances come up, good or bad — let all of us rely on God’s promises as the days and weeks and months go by. For just as the Lord kept his promises to Abraham, so he also will keep the promises he’s made to us.