Abram Believed – Genesis 15

Abram’s story reminds us of a soap opera. In one episode we find him the triumphant man of faith, believing God for the birth of a miracle child, and we say to ourselves, “Abram believed God!” But in the following episode, we see him fathering an illegitimate child, squabbling with his wife, and in a whole heap of trouble. Now it is “Abram believed God?” that we find ourselves proclaiming! Though he was a man of faith, Abram was sometimes as unpredictable as the wind. But the one constant in this story is God. Abram is known to us as a man of faith, not because his trust never wavered, but because God, the object of that trust, never wavered.[1] In this passage we see several things concerning the constancy of God.

The Word of the Lord came (v. 1). The common mode of communication between God and man during the days of the patriarchs was dreams and visions. It is interesting here that the Word of the Lord was not just spoken to Abram, but it appeared to Abram in a vision. Here we have a theophany or a divine appearance. The Bible is clear that Jesus is the Word of God revealed to us in the flesh. Since the Word is making an appearance to Abram, it is most likely that this is Jesus Himself appearing to Abram in a vision. There is much that can be said concerning the Word of the Lord coming to Abram. The Word of the Lord came to us. Jesus, the Word revealed in the flesh, came down to this earth and gave His life for us. Squire Parsons wrote a song that goes like this:

The gulf that separated me from Christ, my Lord, It was so vast the crossing I could never ford; From where I was to His domain, it seemed so far, I cried, “Dear Lord, I cannot come to where you are.” He came to me, O, He came to me. When I could not come to where He was, He came to me. That’s why He died on Calvary, When I could not come to where He was, He came to me. He came to me when I was bound in chains of sin, He came to me when I possessed no hope within, He picked me up and He drew me gently to His side, Where, today, in His sweet love I now abide. He came to me, O, He came to me. When I could not come to where He was, He came to me. That’s why He died on Calvary, When I could not come to where He was, He came to me.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus came to you? Our sin separates us from God. There is a gulf between us and God. But, Jesus came to bridge that gulf. He came to reconcile us to God. He came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Think about that. He came to you.

The promise of God is given (v. 1-5). Abram finds himself in despair. He is wondering if God would ever come through for him. He was concerned for the future. He had no children and did not know what would be in store. Abram felt that God was distant from him. At times even the most dedicated Christian feels “in the dark” and wonders why God seems so far away. During the Boxer Rebellion, the China Inland Mission suffered greatly; and its founder, J. Hudson Taylor, said to a friend, “I cannot read; I cannot think; I cannot even pray; but I can trust.” It was a dark time, but God eventually gave light.[2] The Puritan Thomas Goodwin said, “One who truly fears God, and is obedient to Him, may be in a condition of darkness, and have no light; and he may walk many days and years in that condition.”[3] Have you ever been in that condition? Have you ever felt as if God was silent? Have you ever gone through a season where it seemed that God was distant from you? The story does not end here. God makes a promise to Abram. He promises him that he would have a child and that his descendants would be innumerable. God showed Abram the stars, pointing out that Abram’s offspring would be just as innumerable (cf. 22:17; 26:4). The word by which God created the stars would also guarantee Abram’s seed.[4] If God can hold the stars in place, don’t you think He will fulfill His promise to you? You may not be able to count on other people or even yourself, but you can count on God. He will do what He says He will do. No matter how dark your life may be, no more matter how hard life is, rest assured that God has a plan and He will not leave you. As the old hymn says, “Standing on the promises of Christ my Savior.” When your life is filled with stress: Stand on the promises! When your life is full of despair: Stand on the promises! When you feel hopeless: Stand on the promises! When life is dark and cold: Stand on the promises! When you are sick and in need of healing: Stand on the promises! When someone has wronged you: Stand on the promises! When there is no money in the bank: Stand on the promises! When you have lost a loved one: Stand on the promises! When you see no fruit: Stand on the promises! When you are tired: Stand on the promises! When you don’t know what to do: Stand on the promises! My friend, God will make a way for you. Trust Him, He knows what He is doing.

Righteousness is imputed (v. 6). So often we praise the faith of Abram. We think highly of him. However, Abram was not righteous man. He was a sinner just like you and me. He made some very bad choices along the way. It is not the faithfulness of Abram that we should praise, it is the faithfulness of God that we should praise. Abram believed in the Lord. The Bible does not say that Abram was a good man. However, the Bible does say that Abram believed. Through faith in the Lord, the righteousness of God was imputed upon Abram. He was saved the same way you and I are saved. The ‘Lord’ is none other than Jesus. Abram believed on the Lord Jesus and he was justified. He was declared as righteous even though he was not righteous. God did not hold Abram’s sin against him. He took his sin and replaced it with the righteousness of Jesus.

Preparation is given (v. 7-21). In these verses, God uses a very real and visible illustration in order to prepare Abram for what was to come. God makes a covenant with Abram and in these verses we see a covenant ceremony. God informs Abram that even though He has promised that his descendants will be a great nation, there will be struggles. They will find themselves in bondage and will endure all kinds of pain and suffering. Yet, God assures Abram that He will not forget him and that He will fulfill all that had promised. The lesson we learn here is that God will never forsake us. He never promises an easy road. There will be struggles in life, but this one thing He does promise: “He will never leave us nor forsake us.”

There is only one thing that you can count on and that is the promises of God. Through all the ups and downs of life, God is always there. He is constant. He is sure. He is reliable. He never changes. To see His promises become a reality in your life, you must believe on Him by faith. Abram believed. Do you believe?

 

[1] Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (p. 70). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 41). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1991). Be Obedient (p. 41). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 55). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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