God’s Word for One Weary in the Wait – Genesis 15

God’s Word for One Weary in the Wait
HCBC 2/3/19
Have you ever sensed that things in your life just aren’t going the way you hoped they would?
You have expectations, desires, longings.
You pray for those time and time again. And you are left waiting. Waiting and wondering. How long God, will you ever fulfill the desires of my heart?
Then disappointment leads to discouragement. And you find yourself in need of hearing from God as you are weary in the wait.
Yes, at times in the Christian life, we can begin to feel “in the dark,” things don’t seem to be making sense, and we are left wondering what God wants to teach us.
That describes Abram’s situation in Genesis 15. So, let’s look together at how God meets Abram at his point of need with words of fresh encouragement.
That’s what awaits us in Genesis 15- “God’s Word for One Weary in the Wait.”
The outline we follow as we walk through this text I have adapted from James E. Smith’s O.T. Survey Series. It reflects the text as it toggles back and forth between God and Abram.
1. God’s consolation 1
2. Abram’s supplication 2-3
3. God’s confirmation 4-5,7
4. Abram’s justification 6
5. God’s demonstration 8-21
The chapter begins on a high note. The opening words, “After these things” follow on the heels of Abram’s defeating the powerful coalition of 4 Eastern kings.
But God who sees all knows that while Abram may look victorious on the outside, he’s scared on the inside.
What if those enemy kings retaliated and took revenge on Abram? What if they returned with reinforcements and killed him and his relatives?
This is the very first time in the Bible where that key phrase, “The word of the Lord came” appears. And it’s used more than 100 x in the O.T. The only other time in Genesis we will see is in verse 4.
That statement, “The word of the Lord came” is significant because it signals God is
communicating with man. In fact, it introduces divine revelation made to a prophet of God.
Was Abram a prophet? There’s one verse that tells us he was. Speaking of Abram in Genesis 20:7, God tells Abimelech who had taken Sarah: “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live.”
O.T. prophets spoke to people on God’s behalf. Yet here Abram the prophet desperately needs to hear God’s message for himself!
So, God spoke this word to Abram in a vision. That tells us it was a supernatural appearance in which God communicated what Abram desperately needed to hear.
Lots of people claim to have visions of God. A young man told me he had a vision in which God came down and sat on his chest. Of course it was all bogus. For God has once and for all spoken to us in His Word and Son. (Heb. 1:2).
Now here’s what the heart of this biblical vision- it’s not so much about what is seen but heard. It’s all about what God says!
There are 2 wonderful things God communicates with Abram in this vision- His protection and His provision.
First, God says, “Do not fear, Abram.” Church, God wants His people to win the battle over fear! That includes any fear of people and any fear of circumstances.
If you tally up the “do not fear,” “fear not,” and “do not be afraid” in the Bible, your list will be more than 100.
You see, God doesn’t want us as His children to be weighed down by fear.
Well, what is the antidote to fear? God tells Abram, “Do not fear… I am a shield to you.”
A shield- that ties to the battle motif and speaks of protection.
In fact, there’s a clear allusion in the word shield (magen) and the word “delivered” migen in Gen. 14:20.
Here’s the connection. God had delivered Abram’s enemies into his hand. And now He will continue to protect him from them!
Friends, here’s the point. You don’t need to fear anyone or anything, not even unnerving threats, when God is your shield.
There’s a powerful illustration of this in Deut. 33.
It’s right before Moses dies when he gives his last words to Israel. These are the final words recorded from the mouth of Moses.
As the Israelites prepare to enter Canaan and face their enemies, guess what Abram wants them never to forget? That God is their great shield! That’s what we read in:
Deuteronomy 33:29 “Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, who is the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will tread upon their high places.”
Proverbs 30:5 affirms the protection God gives His own: “Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
And in Psalm 7:10, David sings to the Lord in praise, “My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.”
Christian, God is your shield. That means there’s no need to get stressed out over whatever you come up against. People, circumstances, the unknown future, … God protects your soul from all that would threaten and keeps you safe in His care.
God’s protection goes hand-in-hand with his provision.
He tells Abram, “Your reward shall be very great.”
Remember, in the previous chapter, Abram had wisely turned down the King of Sodom’s offer of the battle spoils.
And now God compensates Abram with a far greater reward.
What was it? Abrams great reward was ultimately found in one reality- having the all-sufficient God as his God!
And all other earthly treasures are worthless trinkets in comparison with having our eternal friendship with God.
But friends, having God as your greatest reward doesn’t mean that it’s only for the future. It’s not as some view the Christian life as a “great pie in the sky in the great by and by.” Not at all!
For the consolation of God being giving protection and provision was to make a difference in Abram’s current situation.
And that’s the way Abram takes it.
For in response to God’s consolation we see 2. Abram’s supplication 2-3
Now here’s what you have to love about Abram. He’s got such a wonderfully open friendship with God that he says what he’s thinking. He talks to the Lord about His concern.
He says in verse 2, “O Lord (Adonai- the sovereign one) and GOD (that’s YHWH), what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”
God has already told Abram three times he would give him a multitude of descendants (12:2, 7; 13:16).
Yet some 10 years have gone by since Abram first heard the promise in Ur, and still he doesn’t even have 1 child to show for. Don’t forget Sarai was barren- she couldn’t have children (11:30). And getting older certainly didn’t make the situation look any better for her or Abram!
So you can only imagine the great disappointment, the nagging concern- no child. Al that anticipation of wanting to have a baby yet nothing. Just wondering and waiting.
It appears to Abram like God’s plan wasn’t moving forward. That’s why he suggests that Eliezer, who was part of his household, perhaps a servant, become his adopted son.
We know it was an accepted custom of the Mesopotamia region that a master could adopt a servant to be his son. That adopted would then inherit the master’s entire estate.
So Abram tells God in verse 3 “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.”
Abram and Sarai his wife had likely talked about this. And now Abram is saying, “it’s time for us to consider adoption.”
At this point, some condemn Abram for having a lack of faith.
But God does not. For Abram actually shows his faith in the promise even though he doesn’t yet understand how God would accomplish it.
He pours out his heart concern before the Lord, and in so doing he honors the Lord.
You see, different religions in the world have prescribed times and forms of prayer
Five times a day some face Mecca and go through a ritualistic prayer.
Others rub rosary beads in their hands and mindlessly say the same thing over and over again.
All that is repulsive to God. In fact, our Lord cautions His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount about that very thing:
“And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” Mat. 6:7
Child of God, your heavenly Father calls you to pray with genuine honesty before him, to lay before Him the concerns on your heart.
Psalm 62:8 calls us to that kind of sharing of what weighs on us with the Lord: “Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.”
Think about it. God fully knows what you are going through. Nothing you tell him in prayer will be new information for Him. But He loves to hear you share those concerns. For when you do, it’s an expression of your dependent trust in Him.
3. God’s confirmation 4-5 In response to Abram’s suggestion of taking Eliezer to be his heir, we learn in verse 4 of God’s intentions: “Then behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.”
Now this is news to Abram. The heir God would give would not be adopted but from his own flesh and blood. He would be his biological son, share his own DNA.
Now here’s where God puts on a great show and tell demonstration for his servant Abram.
Verse 5- He takes him outside and says, “‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’”
“Look” suggests a long gaze with contemplation.
So that’s what he does. In the star-studded darkness of night, Abram peers up into space. And he just takes it all in. Kazillions of flashing luminaries.
And you can be certain he knows better than to try to count those stars. For he knows that’s impossible!
And so he is blown away by point of the dramatic illustration: “that’s how your descendants will be – innumerable!”
And Abram’s jaw must have dropped, he must have gasped with amazement over God’s breathtaking confirmation.
By the way, God reminds Abram of this comparison with the stars in Gen. 22:17 and reaffirms it to his son Isaac in Gen. 26:4.
Church, it does us well to look up and see the greatness of God.
Someone has quipped, “When the outlook is bad, try the uplook! Yes, don’t just look around. Look up.
Take in the stars that speak of God’s handiwork and His power to bless and keep His promises.
I want to show you the fulfillment of that promise God made Abram that night.
Listen to Moses’ amazing testimony on what took place. He says this of the nation of Israel before entering Canaan.
Deut. 1:10 “The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number.”
Deut. 10:22 “Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons in all, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
Do you see? God did the impossible just like He said He would!
By the time the descendants of Abram prepared to enter the Promised Land, there were already millions of them- far too many to count.
Friends, God loves to make a way when it seems there is no way.
He loves show forth His glory in our weakness and waiting. That’s what He did for Abram.
After Abram peers into the star filled space and hears God compare his descendants to that, how does he respond to it all?
At this point we hear another one of those great drum roll moments of expectation in redemptive history. For it’s here we see
4. Abram’s justification 6 We read this powerful, powerful statement, v. 6: “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
Here we come face to face with one of the clearest and most profound statements about justification. In other words, how one can come to be in a right standing before God.
There are 3 key aspects of justification placed before us.
From these we know whether or not we or anyone else belongs to God or not. In fact, some have called this the John 3:16 of the O.T. that encapsulates the essence of salvation.
First, the believing (aman). It means to trust, to rely on someone.
The Hebrew word believe has the idea of leaning your whole weight upon something or someone.
Abram leaned on two things. The promise of God and the God of the promise.
So important. We are not saved by making promises to God. We are saved by trusting the promises of God.
By the way, the verb form used of Abram’s believing in the Lord is ongoing. The idea is that he kept relying on the Lord, continued to trust in His Word.
Now here’s where most of the world misunderstands believing. It’s not about believing all about God in your mind and then offering Him your human effort and good deeds.
Friends, what God is after is faith that trusts Him and Him alone.
For faith in God’s promises acknowledges our inability and His capability to save us.
Ephesians 2:8–9 insists, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Titus 3:5-6 further clarifies that: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”
Following the believing, there’s the reckoning.
It’s an accounting term where something from one column would be credited to another.
It’s the Good Samaritan who told the innkeeper whatever it costs to care for the injured man, I will cover it. Transfer it to my account.
And it’s God saying in the day of judgement, “that person has my full pardon because of their trust in Me.” I pronounce him NOT GUILTY! But how can God every say that?
Isaiah 53:6 explains that “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”
So, there’s a great transaction that takes place. For Abram, don’t forget for a second, it wasn’t what he did but what he believed- that’s what God honored.
And remember, it wasn’t the size of Abram’s faith but the object of his faith that mattered.
Abram’s faith was anchored in the Lord, the coming Messiah Jesus Christ.
And that lead to righteousness. God reckoned it to Abram as righteousness. What is righteousness?
It’s what Abram didn’t have but desperately needed.
To be redeemed from his sin by God alone.
The reality Romans 3:10 puts before mankind is: “There is none righteous, not even one.”
When we think of righteousness, we think in terms of good moral conduct.
But what’s amazing. Abram is not described here as doing righteousness. Instead, his faith is being counted as righteousness.
And with that, he became the model who shows us how one becomes righteous in God’s eyes.
Now if you go with me to Romans 4, we will see how this works.
Because Paul showcases Abram’s belief as an example of saving faith. Romans 4:3–8
“For what does the Scripture say? ‘ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as
righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. 8 “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.’”
There it is. Abram believed, he trusted God’s promise. And based on that rather than on his works, God saved him!
So you see, righteousness from God is not earned but received. It’s received from God by trusting God alone!
Why is this so important for us to get right? Because if you are off on what it takes to be right with God, then you aren’t saved from your sin.
That means you are under the wrath of God. And it means you have been trusting yourself and your efforts which are an insult to God’s grace.
The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 2:16 sounds the alarm against all self trust for salvation: “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.”
And further in Gal. 3:6, we once again see Abram, the exemplar of faith: “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
Friends, this is the gospel message. You’re hopelessly lost and dead in your sins. Yet, God has given Christ as a substitute for sinners.
Peter says, “He bore our sins in His body on the cross.” It’s only if you will stop trusting yourself and surrender in faith to Christ alone that you can be saved.
It’s like when you board an airplane. You walk down the ramp with the rest of the passengers. And you have a choice. You either step in the plane and trust the pilot or not.
But imagine some young guy boarding the plane walks up to the pilot and says, “I want to help you fly this thing. You really need my contribution.”
Why that’s absurd! For either you get in the plane and submit to the pilot flying it or you get off.
So too with the gospel. You either come to God His way, the narrow way- trust in the Lord and receive His righteousness or you don’t come at all.
5. Demonstration 7-21
God vividly confirmed Abram would have a son through which there would come countless descendants. That’s the people part of the promise. But there’s a complementary part. The land. God has promised His people a land.
It’s there in verse 7: “And He (God) said to him (Abram), “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”
Remember, God told Abram in Gen. 13:17- “Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”
But there’s a big obstacle- at that time, the land was presently filled with enemies- the Canaanites. Before you possess the land, the enemies must be dispossessed.
So Abram, with an honest heart seeks assurance from the Lord. Verse 8: He said, “O Lord GOD, how may I know that I will possess it?”
What’s Abram doing? He’s asking for a sign from God. This, however, not show lack of faith but a growing faith.
Remember, Gideon asked for a sign that He would have victory over the Mideonites.
Judges 6:17 “So Gideon said to Him, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who speak with me.”
And God gave him the sign of a fleece of wool that became wet and then the next day stayed dry.
And Mary after hearing from God’s messenger she would bear a son, asked God, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Luke 1:34
It’s the heart expressed by the man whose son was demon possessed and answers Jesus, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Mark 9:24
For the Lord loves to strengthen the faith of those who cry out to Him.
Let’s walk through the amazing way God does fortifies Abram’s faith. Continuing in verse 9: “So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer (female cow that hasn’t had a calf), and a three year old female goat, and a three year
old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
God will show Abram profound object lesson with these animals.
Abram follows God’s instructions (verse 10). “Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds (the turtledove and pigeon).”
Now we don’t find out yet, but these represent God’s people Israel.
Then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, something catches Abram off guard. Right there in the 11 verse: “The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.”
The birds of prey include hawks, vultures, and falcons that feed on animal carcasses.
In the summer months we see them along highways eating roadkill.
Some see the birds of prey swooping down on the dead animals as a bad omen.
Yet in the Bible, God’s people and superstition are to have nothing in common.
What do these attacking birds represent?
They best stand for the enemies of Abram’s coming descendants.
In fact, in Jeremiah 12:9, God speaks of the enemies of His people Israel and calls them “birds of prey against her on every side.”
The Egyptians who will oppose God’s people and try to keep them from their land- they fit best as this bird of prey.
It’s fascinating that in Egypt, the falcon was the symbol of the god Horus with whom the Pharaoh closely identified.
Well, the encounter with God become even more shocking.
Verse 12 “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.”
That pictures the awe-inspiring activity of God. Listen, God had Abram’s complete attention.
Now I want you to see 5 conditions that God shows Abram which must be met before they would possess the land of Promise.
First, bondage. Verse 13: “‘God said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.’ ”
This connect the dots for us of the opposition, attacking of the birds of prey against Israel.
Opposition was coming from Egypt. 400 years of bondage. The Israelites are held hostage in a foreign land.
But that is not a setback but stepping stone in God’s plan. For He uses that to prepare them and give them a longing for the land He has promised them.
Yes, God’s plan wouldn’t end in Egypt. Their waiting would not be in vain.
2nd condition- God will judge those who oppress them.
Look at what God will do: Verse 14 “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve.…”
And God’s severe judgment came in the form of 10 plagues.
Stephen in his speech before the bloodthirsty Jews that were about to murder him included this as testimony of God’s faithfulness.
Acts 7:6–7 “But God spoke to this effect, that his DESCENDANTS WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND, AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. 7 “‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY WILL BE IN BONDAGE I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’”
And the 3rd condition (end of v. 14), “and afterward they will come out with many possessions.”
God would tangibly compensate His people with reward.
That’s actually a prophecy fulfilled in Exodus 12:35–36 “Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”
Those Egyptians were at their wits end over the awful plagues. The water in their land turned to blood, frogs then insects everywhere, their cattle die, boils, killer hailstones, locusts, darkness, and death of their firstborn.
Their reaction was- just take what you want and leave!
The 4th prerequisite to Israel getting their land, v. 15. God tells Abram: “As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.”
And Genesis 25:7 vouches for that telling us Abram lived to be 175 years old- a long and full life from God.
The fifth condition, verse 16: “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
A generation at this time stood for 100 years.
And the term “Amorite” referred to all the people of Canaan. Why is God waiting? To show that when the Israelites invade the land, it is not an act of His cruelty but justice.
For He had delayed His judgement and given them 400 years to repent. Yet they had become given over to their abominations and immorality against God.
So too, the Lord in His grace has delayed His judgment on the unsaved in our world.
II Peter 3:9–10 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Now watch how the Lord seals the covenant with Abram: V. 17- “It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces.”
The smoke and the flaming torch- they perfectly parallel how the Lord revealed Himself at Sinai.
They manifest God’s glorious and holy presence which passes between the pieces of those animals.
It points to how God walks in the midst of His chosen people.
But here’s the huge lesson God impressed on Abram’s heart. It was God who initiated and sealed that covenant with Abram.
It was a unilateral, unconditional, and unending promise that God made and would perfectly fulfill.
It was dependent not on Abram’s performance but God’s promise.
It’s not general, it’s not figurative, we dare not spiritualize it away. For God through Abram would bring about real descendants who would inherit a real land.
There in verse 18: “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.’”
Friends, this is God’s glorious guarantee to Abram and his descendants.
And every one of those 10 nations as Joshua lead the Israelites into Canaan, every one of them was conquered.
And He kept His word.
He gave Abram the promised son. And He gave Abram’s descendants the promised land.
That tells us God has an impeccable track record of keeping His promises. His promise to His people are irrevocable, unchangeable, and unending.
Because of that, Christian, you can fully trust God.
He is fully worthy to be trusted especially in your time of waiting and when you are weary.
In the midst of a time of great difficulty and waiting on the Lord, the prophet Isaiah calls out to God’s people with a such powerful encouragement.
And I pray the Spirit of God brings this home to your heart: Isaiah 50:10 “Who is among you that fears the LORD, That obeys the voice of His servant, That walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”
Let’s pray.
God’s Word for One Weary in the Wait
HCBC 2/3/19
1. God’s consolation 1
Gen. 20:7
Deut. 33:29
Prov. 30:5
Psalm 7:10
2. Abram’s supplication 2-3
Mat. 6:7
Psalm 62:8
3. God’s confirmation 4-5
Deut. 1:10
Deut. 10:22
6. Abram’s justification 6
Eph. 2:8–9
Titus 3:5-6
Isa. 53:6
Rom. 3:10
Rom. 4:3–8
Gal. 2:16
Gal. 3:6
5. God’s demonstration 7-21
Judges 6:17
Luke 1:34 Mark 9:24
Jer. 12:9
Acts 7:6–7
Ex. 12:35–36
II Peter 3:9–10
Being a doer of the Word who trusts in God: Isa. 50:10