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[Abraham 4] - Genesis 15

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Introduction

Have you ever made a covenant with someone? Definition =”solemn, binding agreement, pledge” Marriages are covenants, buying a house is a kind of covenant you make with a lending institution, becoming a church member is a covenant we make with a local church. In Genesis 15 God uses the customs of the day and “cuts a covenant” with Abram, makes a solemn, binding pledge to him. God repeats and clarifies His promises to Abram and in response, Abram believes God, believes what God has said to him and God then declares that Abram is “righteous”, “in right standing with God”, in God’s eyes he is righteous.

Outline:

I. Covenant Heir will be Abram’s son Gen 15:1-6

A. Promise

B. Predicament

C. Pledge

D. Position

II. Covenant confirmed by sacrifice Gen 15:7-11

A. Reminder

B. Request

C. Requirement

D. Response

III. Covenant reveals prophecy and land boundaries Gen 15:12-21

A. Prophecy

B. Presence

C. Promised land

Covenant Heir will be Abram’s son Gen 15:1-6

A. God’s promise to be shield and reward READ Gen 15:1.

1. “After this” After the battle, after the four kings from the north came to squash rebellion, victorious and took POWs including Lot, after Abram, his men and allies stages successful rescue, brought home people and goods, after he met Melchizedek, was blessed by him, gave him a tenth of everything, after he refused King Sodom’s offer of gain. NOW Abram is back home pondering what has just happened. Lot has left, Kings have left, friends (allies) have left and gone home with their rich profits- Abram is alone. Perhaps he’s thinking, would the armies come back? Was the King of Sodom offended? Would we be able to protect ourselves if they come? Maybe he was thinking about seeing Lot again, his wife, his children, his family- he questioned would he ever have a family of his own?

2. “The Word of the Lord” (first time in the bible the phrase is used) came to Abram in a vision with special words of reassurance, calls him by his name “Abram, don’t be afraid” first time in bible but there are 180 more times God says “Fear not”= all those things you’re worrying about, retaliation, being childless, lonely, don’t be afraid.

a. shield “broad piece of defensive armor that protects or defends us” ie Star wars ship Enterprise, protective shield. God’s shield doesn’t mean that we won’t have troubles in our lives it just means that when we do we can be assured that God is right there, He is with us in the battles of life, He will not let anything ultimately destroy us, eternally secure.

b. great reward = “given in return for a deed done”. Abram would learn If God is your reward it will more than compensate for any loss or loneliness you are feeling. God as his reward is really the core of all the promises to Abram- a relationship with God was so much more than descendants and land and blessings-

Don’t be afraid, I’m your God.

Where in your life do you need God to say this to you? Can you name the thing that causes you to be afraid? Do you think about it all the time? Relationship-child or husband, fear that your marriage won’t last through this year. Finances, job that is turning south for you or your spouse. Illness-that fear has captured you. Give God that fear. You can’t carry it alone without it paralyzing you. Over and over scripture tells us “don’t be afraid” handout

B. Abram’s Predicament READ Gen 15:2,3

Abram was a godly man but completely human. Been in the land about 10 yrs, 85 yrs old, promised that God would make thru him a great nation, all the families of the world be blessed thru his descendants, but he didn’t have any children. Did God mean for him to adopt one of his servants? Lot had left, no longer part of his household, common practice to adopt an heir if you were childless (part of adoption contract required the child to take care of the parent in their old age). Was adoption God’s plan?

Lesson here in the nature of Abram’s faith: he trusts God but he has elements of fear, doubt, uncertainty so he asks God what’s on his heart. Seems from God’s response that He welcomed Abram’s question, God saw his sincere desire to understand and to do God’s will and he responds with a gracious answer. The application to us is that We too can bring our questions and doubts to God in prayer. He looks at our heart’s condition when we ask. We don’t always get immediate answers like Abram, in fact, sometimes they are never clearly answered at all but we can bring our honest questions to God. I often say “God, I don’t understand what’s happening here, am I off track? Praying wrong about this? Show me your will.

C. God’s pledge Gen 15:4,5

a. this heir will be your own biological child b. your descendants would be as numerous as the stars (new imagery, dust=13:16 if you could count them) God is talking, right here, Moses takes a break and says “Abram has faith and that makes him right w/God” Pay attention reader, this is IMPORTANT.. READ v6

D. Abram’s position Gen 15:6 Abram’s a believer, believed God counts him righteous= Abram has saving faith, justifying faith

What did he believe? 1. God’s promise to be a shield and a reward. 2. Heir would be his biological child. 3. Numerous descendants. 4. Gen 12 blessings of land, great name, great nation- he believed God’s words to him. Verse quoted 3 times in NT (Romans 4:3;Gal 3:6; James 2:23). In Romans & Galatians Paul presenting a fact, Abram was saved, righteous not for his good works, not merited, before he was circumcised so it wasn’t because he kept any rituals-solely because he believed God, he had faith in God. That is the gospel=good news= saved by faith, not works, but belief. James tells us that true faith will result in good works of obedience because we love God and want to please him, not that we are earning his favor. Our righteousness before God today is the same-one difference=we believe God has given us His Son, the Messiah, the one prophesied, the Savior he has come. When we put our faith in his death on the cross for our sins, the power of the resurrection =we are made right with God. The Promises of eternal life are ours by faith.

Clarify word belief=sure when we share with others they understand, it’s more than an intellectual that there is one God James 2:19 demons also believe, shudder. Righteousness comes from a personal, heart belief. Not only did Jesus come for the sins of the world, he came for my sins- some point in your life, you say “Jesus, I am a sinner, I do believe you are the promised savior, I want/need your forgiveness, I have faith that your death on the cross covered my sins. I know I can never be good enough, but just like Abram I believe in your Word, by faith I’m trusting that is enough. Faith in the Word of God, the Word became flesh dwelt among us, beheld his glory, glory of the only begotten, full of grace and truth.

Truth= God counts us righteous solely on the basis of our faith in Him.

This can be hard for us to really accept, because in this world=nothing is free, you have to earn it, or work for it, achieve it, be good enough for it, we think we have to do something to earn favor with God, that’s not what verse 6 says, it says he believed, had faith. Jesus would say the same thing. READ John 6:28,29. We think we have to do something so God will love us, he says just believe me, trust me, listen to me.

Application= on your spiritual journey chart, when did you say you trusted God? What date did you say was the time when Jesus became your personal lord and savior? If you didn’t have a date, did you have a season when you can look back and say, that’s when I started trusting Christ? If not, why not? What do you think keeps you from a commitment of faith?

Many if not most of you have put your faith in Christ, settled for you, but could you explain to someone else how to be like Abram, right with God? If you had the chance would you be willing to talk about why Abram was credited as righteous? Could you put your faith into words? At work? With a neighbor?

God continues to talk to Abram, reminds him READ Gen 15:7

Covenant confirmed with Sacrifice Gen 15:7-11

A. Reminder Gen 15:7

I’ve done this, I’ve brought you here, not to wander aimlessly, but to settle, stay, possess this land, your land,

B. Request Gen 15:8

Abram says ok, but how can I know for sure? He questions God.It’s true that our faith is often mixed with doubt. Lord I believe, help my unbelief. God replies I’m going to make a covenant with you.

C. Requirement Gen 15:9

Today in our courts, when we want to take an oath, we raise our right hand, swear to tell the truth. President takes oath of office, puts his hand on the bible, raising his right hand, swears to uphold the Constitution and his office. That’s our culture. Islamic nations men swear to an oath by the beard of Mohammed. In ancient days when written agreements were rare, men would bind their contracts with solemn religious ceremonies. Two parties would take animals, slay them, divide in two, then walk between symbolizing that they themselves would rather be torn in two like the animals rather than break their agreement. God uses this human ritual to confirm to Abram that His word is true, binding. He swears by Himself these promises are real. God cuts a covenant with Abram. Unconditional, nothing is required of Abram for this covenant to be valid. Tells Abram go get the animals, heifer, goat, ram, dove pigeon, interesting these are very same animals that would later be required in the law for sacrifices , that would be given to Moses 500 later.

D. Response of Abram Gen 15:10,11

Abram is obedient, prepares the animals, sat down to wait and watch, birds above smelled dead animals, Abram had to drive them away, eventually he got sleepy and “fell into a deep sleep”

Covenant reveals prophecy and promised Land Gen 15:12-21

A. Dream Gen 15:12

Worn out from a long day of talking to God preparing the sacrifices, keeping birds away, “darkness fell upon him”- nightmare in his heart. God unfolds the future to him, clear picture of Exodus.

B. Prophecy Gen 15:13-16

Descendants are strangers, foreigners in another land not this land. Slaves, afflicted 400 years, nation they served will be judged, your offspring will come out of that slavery with great possessions. Abram you will be spared, die in peace, fourth generation will return to Canaan when the sin of the Amorites (collective term for all the people groups in Canaan) reaches full measure.

I wonder in this dream, this “dreadful darkness” did Abram see a vision of his people in bondage? Did he imagine how terrible it would be for them? Did he see the whips and slavemasters, mothers trying to hide newborn babies? It said it was a “dark dream” yet after this darkness there would be light, they would return to this land, it would be their land.

Abram sees manifestation of God’s presence READ Gen 15:17,18a a smoking firepot, blazing torch. I read this week that this imagery was “like God’s signature signed to the contract” his presence passed between the pieces and he said

C. Promised land READ Gen 15:18b-21

Land boundaries are disputed, even among Jewish scholars. Does the river of Egypt mean the Nile or the Wadi–el-Arish (between the Negev and Sinai)? All agree that these boundaries have not yet been completely fulfilled, closest was during King Solomon but even then much of the territories were not under his central command although they may have paid tribute to him. Maybe the Time is ahead, perhaps it will be when Messiah Jesus returns.

Genesis 15: God’s covenant with Abram. What do you think this meant to him, this sealing of the covenantal promises? Surely it calmed his fears, grew his faith, gave him hope, courage for the future. The very same is true for us as daughters of Abraham as we too believe in the Lord of the Promise. I want to assure you that God’s covenant with us today, the new covenant through Jesus Christ is his promise to us of His presence, his peace, confidence that our righteousness is also based on faith, our promised land in eternity with him is our inheritance, and that as heirs of the covenant, God is our shield and our very great reward.

Prayer:

God, our Sovereign Lord,

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