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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

September 9, 2015

Genesis 15

  1. Verse 1. Recapping from last week's lesson, Abraham's wayward nephew Lot, living in Sodom, was taken captive by four kings from the east. In a bold move of faith, Abram led his trained men against these kings and staged a surprise attack by night, routing the army and recovering all the people and spoil. When he returned, he offered a tenth of the spoils to Melchizedek, the king of Salem, but refused to take his rightful share from the king of Sodom, so that worldly man could not boast that he had made Abram rich. Abram had given up fabulous wealth on the principle that God, who had promised to bless him, would meet his needs. Then fear came knocking. One night as Abram lay awake in his tent, he was thinking about the fact that those kings from the east weren't the sort of guys to take a humiliating defeat passively. Surely, they'd come looking for this shepherd who had taken them by surprise, and when they found him, they'd wipe him out. He shouldn't have rescued Lot. Now he couldn't shake his fear. Have you ever risked something for someone else only to have fear come over you about whether you did the right thing? The text says that the word of the Lord came to Abram. Just when you need it, a word will arrive to your soul. That is such good news that God can send a word just when we need it. The Word of God that comes to assure Abram that he is protected and will be rewarded. That is often what we are most afraid of, our safety and our provision. God assures Abram that he will be protected and provided for. There is no need to worry or lose heart. God would be faithful.

  2. Verses 2-3. It seems like Abram is good with the protection part, but the providing of many descendants still seems like it is impossible. Abram questions how God could make the promise true about his descendants if he doesn't even have a child at this point in his life. Abram assumes that he has no one left to inherit anything except a servant. At this point in Abram’s life he is not thinking about his present, but the future of his family. He had left his family because of the promise God made. It was this promise that had kept him all these years, but it seemed like that promise would not materialize.

  3. Verses 4-5. The scriptures say the Word came to Abram again. This is so awesome to me. God is not afraid of your questions. God is not afraid of your concerns. He tells Abram that his fears about not having an heir are not to be heeded. God takes Abram outside at night and shows him the stars and tells him that his offspring would be more numerous than the stars. How could this be? How could this happen? God was talking about something physical and spiritual. In the physical, it would be small, in the spirit it would be great. Abram would have many descendants biologically, but his spiritual descendants would be far greater that no man could count. (Galatians 3:6-8, John 8:31-44).

  4. Verse 6. This verse is the foundation for most of our faith. Abram believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Justification by faith. In Romans 4 Paul uses Abraham as his object lesson for the justification by faith outside of the law. The Jews regarded Abraham as the father of their faith. Paul queries his audience about how Abraham was consider righteous. Was Abraham considered righteous because he did something? Paul uses the term works to denote Abraham's efforts. If Abraham did some work that caused God to consider him righteous, then he could boast about his efforts, but that was not the case. Paul asks this question knowing that his audience knows the scripture in Genesis 15:6 where it says that Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. Abraham was credited as being righteous by his faith and not his efforts. Since it has already been established that Abraham was considered righteous by faith and that he is the father of the faith, what was the condition at the time of that credit of righteousness? Paul reminds his audience that Abraham was not circumcised at that point. Abraham, in Genesis 15:6, was declared righteous on the basis of faith fourteen years before he was circumcised which is recorded in Genesis 17:24. Technically, then, Abraham was saved as a Gentile, and not as a Jew, for he did not enter Judaism by circumcision, nor did he have the Law to keep. He was granted access to the family of God by faith. Paul makes it plain that Abraham wasn’t promised the blessings of God based on law-keeping or circumcision, but on faith. Abraham had a faith that realized he could do nothing, but consider God as one who was able to do anything. The object of Abraham's faith was God and not the obstacles that he faced. Abraham's faith believed God at his word. Paul uses the example of Abraham and Sarah’s difficulty to have children. They were both "as good as dead" when God gave them a child. But in-spite of the fact that they were old and way beyond child-bearing years, Abraham believed God's promise that they would have a child. The text says that Abraham was fully persuaded that the promises of God were always good. God responded to Abraham's faith with a credit of righteousness. Faith is what God has always desired then and what God desires now. The promise to Abraham was good for him and his descendants. His descendants would be those who believe in the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Since Jesus is the Word of God and the Word has always been, and the Word of God is what Abraham believed, Paul declares that all men must believe in Jesus the Word of God. To believe Jesus is to believe what God has spoken. Jesus is the manifestation of the Word of God in the flesh (John 1). He was and is the living message of a God who loves us.

  5. Verses 7-20. God continued to speak to Abram about the land that he would possess. Abram again questioned how he could know that God would give him the land. The Lord spoke again and told Abram to bring some animals and make a sacrifice. When nighttime came Abram fell asleep and the Lord spoke to him in vision. The Lord showed him that after 400 years his descendants would come back to this land after they had been enslaved in a foreign land, but he would die at a good old age way before this would happen. The Lord graciously adapted Himself to Abram’s culture by ”cutting a covenant" with him. In that day, there were no written contracts. When two men wanted to make a contract, or covenant, they would take some sacrificial animals, split them in two, and the parties of the covenant would ratify it by walking between the split halves of the animals. There are different guesses as to what this symbolized. Some say that it meant to invoke that the same thing that happened to the animals might happen to the party who broke the covenant. Others say it pointed to the essential unity of the two parties, and that there is life and strength in unity, death in separation. Thus the two parties were solemnly signifying their commitment to the covenant. God took that cultural convention and used it to assure Abram concerning God’s promise about the land. Abram prepared the animals, but then fell into a deep sleep. In this condition, he heard the Lord prophesy concerning the future of his descendants and he saw a smoking oven and flaming torch, symbolizing the Lord, pass between the animal pieces, thus ratifying the covenant. Abram himself did not pass between the animal pieces, because this was a unilateral covenant, dependent only on the Lord. The Lord went on to restate the promise concerning the land (15:18-21) and even to expand it to include all the land from the Nile to the Euphrates River, boundaries which were approximated under the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 4:21).

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