Tuesday, April 27, 2010

God's Covenant with Abraham

In Genesis chapter fifteen, Abram (Abraham) is in conversation with the LORD. Initially, in the holy presence of God, it seems that old Abe is fearful, shaking in his sandals—since the word from the LORD is one of reassurance: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” So, in the face of old Abe’s fear, the LORD promises protection and a “very great reward.” How often do we fill ourselves with fear in the face of God’s presence at work in our lives? How often have we missed the LORD’s words of comfort and reassurance that he is with us and wants to give us a generous blessing?

As the conversation continues, Abram wants to know what God will give him, since he is not getting any younger, and he and Sarai are still childless—more and more from old Abe’s perspective, it seems that Eliezer his slave is destined to be his heir. However, that is not God’s plan. Abram is told that “no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” I wonder why the phrase “very own issue” is employed here; this phrase does not remind me of a human heir—rather, it reminds me of something like a newspaper or magazine, “Extra, Extra, read all about it in Old Abe’s Times, Vol. 3, No. 5, Issue 7.” So why the phrase “very own issue”? Why not “your very own son”? Or is this a subtle way of God telling old Abe that the gift of life vis-à-vis Abram and Sarai really comes from God alone, by changing Sarai’s barren womb into a fertile one?

At any rate, old Abe is given another reassurance that the LORD would make good on his promise to him by employing an example from his creation. It’s a beautiful clear night and God takes Abram outside and says: “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them. So shall your descendants be.” WOW! What a promise! Old Abe and Sarai on their way out of this world and wondering if the promise of a child is pure fiction; then God’s voice speaks the word of promise and true to his word; the word of promise becomes reality because if God can employ words to create the universe, then surely the LORD can speak a word of promise to these two old seniors combine his creative word with their ability to procreate and give them a child. Moreover, that child, says the LORD, shall be the first-fruit of as many children as there are stars in the heavens.

Do we see the promises of God at work in our lives? What about the generosity of the LORD, are we aware of the countless blessings as we journey through life? At times, like old Abe and Sarai, God delays his promises and gifts and makes us wait. Is that because we are not capable of receiving them at a time when we deem it appropriate; or is it a matter of God having to work behind the scenes and between the lines to orchestrate everything before it comes into reality? With God all things are possible. May we believe as old Abram did, and may the LORD reckon it to us as righteousness.

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