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Genesis 15:1-21 - THE ULTIMATE COVENANT - Part 1
The Lord said: “I Am Your Very Great Reward.” HE is our reward, our reward is not blessings; a good life; a better life; better finances; a get out of hell card; BUT Our restored relationship back with Him...) Meditate on this!!
Most people focus on the “Faith” aspect of these verses, and though I will touch on that, I mainly wanted to focus on the Covenant which was made here and exactly what that implied.
Abram’s Hope for an Heir - (15:1-6)
God’s words to Abram in verse 1 are far from what we would have expected considering the circumstances: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, you're very great reward.”
Why would Abram possibly be afraid? He had just won a great victory over Chedorlaomer (Chedlodioma) and the three other eastern kings. But when we read on to the next few verses we see why the Lord says these things to him. (Even through all the stuff he just went through and experienced, this one question was primary in his mind)! His victory wasn’t so sweet in the light of the one question which seemed to overshadow all the other stuff he just went through, “What good is success, without a successor?”
And Abram’s response to God confirms this: (Genesis 15:2-3) -“But Abram said, ‘Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless, and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’”
In the Ancient Near East there was a certain practice to ensure an heir, even if no son were born to the man. The childless couple would adopt one of the servants born into the household. This ‘son’ would care for them in their old age and would inherit their possessions and property at the time of their death. At this low point in Abram’s faith, it was the best for which he thought he could hope.
But God had promised Abram far more than that which he could ever provide for himself. Eliezer was not the heir that He had promised. His descendants were to come from his own reproductive cells. He would have a son of his own.
(Genesis 15:4) - “Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” To reassure Abram, the Lord then took him outside and had him look up to the stars in the heavens. This is how numerous the offspring of Abram would be through his son that would surely come.
Verse 6 describes Abram’s response: “Abram believed the Lord; and He credited (reckoned) it to him as righteousness.” Verse 6 is the first time the word ‘believe’ is used. It is also the first time that Abram is said to have been reckoned as righteous.
It would be easy to say that Moses meant that this is the first time Abram had faith in God, and that he is here ‘saved’ (to use the New Testament word).
But, In the book of Hebrews we read: “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Here, the writer to the Hebrews intends us to understand that Abram ‘believed’ God before chapter 15, even as he left Ur to enter the land of Canaan. The grammar here in verse 6 indicates that Abram’s faith did not begin here. Not only did he previously believe, he continued to believe.
But why did Moses wait until this point to tell us that Abram believed, and that he was justified by faith? Martin Luther’s answer, I believe, says it best. Abram’s faith is not mentioned until now in order to emphasize the fact that a saving faith is one that focuses upon the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Here, Abram’s faith is focused upon the promise of a son, through whom blessing will come to the whole world. While we may not fully know how complete Abram’s understanding of all this was, we must not overlook the words of Jesus in John 8:56: - “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad.”
While Abram had believed in God, here his faith is more clearly defined and focused. Here, his faith is in the promise of God to provide the blessing of a son, and blessings through Him.
It is at this point that God chose to announce that Abram’s faith was a saving faith.
So, here we can see three things about this faith of Abram:
(1) First, it was a personal faith. By this I mean that Abram believed in the Lord. He did not merely believe about God, but in Him.
And Here lies the distinction between many professing Christians and those who are possessing Christians—genuinely born again by faith in the person of Christ.
(2) Second, Abram’s faith was a propositional faith. While Abram believed in the person of God, his faith was based upon the promises of God.
Many believe in the god of their own definition. Abram believed in the God of revelation. The covenant God made here with Abram in verses 12-20 gave Abram specific promises (“Know for certain”) on which to base his faith and his practice.
(3) Abram’s faith was also a practical faith. By this I mean that Abram’s belief was one that necessitated action.
Clearly, Abram’s works did not initiate his salvation, but they did demonstrate it.
Also, Abram’s faith was related to a very practical and sensed need—the need for a son. God doesn’t ask us to believe in the abstract, but in the everyday matters of life.
Abram’s faith, like ours today, was not something which he conjured up by mental or spiritual effort. Faith itself is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9).
His faith was in the coming child and in his offspring, one of whom would be the Messiah.
God’s way of saving men is not new. It has not changed from Old Testament times to New. God has ALWAYS saved men by grace, through faith. There is no other way.
While Abram was saved by faith in the One Who would come, we are saved by faith in this One Who has come. That is the only difference.
Join us next week as we continue with talking about just what a covenant is.