June 7, 2018
9 So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10 Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11 Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
17 When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19 the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Yesterday, I put it like this: “The way of faith revealed in Scripture puts all the emphasis not on the subject or even the verbiage of faith but on faith’s object. It’s why Jesus would later say faith as small as a mustard seed will do—because it’s not the size of one’s faith that matters but the nature of one’s God.”
Today’s text reveals the extraordinary nature of the God of Abram, who is our God. In response to Abram’s questions and concerns God does something truly incredible. He “cuts” a covenant with Abram. The all powerful Creator God entered into an agreement with the finite, fallen man, Abram, and bound himself to keep his promise.
I love the way my dear friend, Sandra Richter, puts it in her game changing study of the Old Testament, The Epic of Eden,
“In other words, the Creator of the Cosmos, the Lord of the stars has descended to Abram’s desert location to speak words of faith. He says to Abram, I swear to you on my life that I am going to bring this promise to pass. May what has happened to these animals happen to me if I break covenant with you.”
This is the God with whom we walk, the one to whom we pray. Creation and covenant. Trust and obedience. Prayer and faith. These are the ways of walking with God.
Look again at the shape of God’s Word. Yes, God will fulfill his promise.
“To your descendants I give this land,“
It will take time, though. And there will be hardship and suffering all along the way.
“Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.“
There will be reprieve and restoration as well.
“But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.”
Creation is God’s intention. Covenant is God’s direction. We navigate this walk with God by trust and obedience, prayer and faith, intention and attention, and yes, through many dangers toils and snares and over a long stretch of time.
This is a multi-generational project. We have harvested where we have not sown, and we must now sow where we will not harvest. We must take care not to get sidetracked with the distractions of false gospels which would domesticate our faith.
Consider now the New Covenant made with us by Jesus Christ. His very body took the place of the slain sacrifices in the Covenant with Abram. Consider the implications of praying as he instructed us, in his name.
Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. Thank you for calling me to be your disciple and for opening my eyes to this way of walking with you. I need more understanding and yet I Sense you nudging me toward more faith. Shake me from my complacency. Awaken me to full participation in your Kingdom. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.
1. What observations do you make about the nature of the God of Abram from the Covenant God made with him?
2. So if God knows about the 400 years of slavery in Egypt, why not stop it? How do you deal with this?
3. How does this help your understanding of faith being more about the nature of God than the strength or quality of your faith?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.