Gen. 15:1-6 – “After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘O 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.’ Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (emphasis added)
- Sometimes, when God speaks, it’s simply hard to believe what He’s saying. Abram is involved in a common discourse.
- God promises
- Human replies with a “BUT I have a doubt…”
- God answers the doubt (using an object lesson)
- Human makes a decision – low and behold, Abram believes God! Woohoo! And God graciously considers Abram in right-standing with Him.
Gen. 15:7-8 – “He also said to him, ‘I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.’ But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?’” (emphasis added)
- The healthy divine/human dialogue begins again:
- God promises – “I brought you (Ab.) out of Ur…”
- Abram hijacks the promise/doubt/answer/believe dialogue with a “prove it to me” reply.
SO BEGINS GOD’S ARDUOUS PROVE IT PROCESS:
Gen. 15:9 – “So the LORD said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.’”
- When we ask God to prove Himself, the process involves our sacrifice. A heifer would have born calves for Abram, a goat provided milk and a single ram would have bred many sheep in his flock. Each was three years old, prime production age. This was an expensive lesson.
Gen. 15:10-11 – “Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away.”
- In Scripture, birds sometimes represent satanic activity. These “birds of prey” attacking Abram’s attempt to discern God’s promise illustrate Satan’s repeated attempts to interfere with God’s communication to His people. If the father of lies can confuse the lines of divine communication, the resulting chaos can rob confirmation of God’s good promises and intentions for the future.
Gen. 15:12-16 – “As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, ‘Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.’”
- God’s proof sometimes bears ugly truths that we could otherwise have been spared if we’d simply taken Him at His Word and lived life one step at a time.
Gen. 15:17-21 – “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-- the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.’”
- God’s promise was given the physical sign of a smoking pot and the Promised Land was for the first time given physical boundaries. In previous mention, God simply told Abram all the land he could see would be his, but when pressed to qualify His promise, God gave Abram the specifics he required in the fiery darkness of physical proof.
Lord, in those circumstances when my heart, like Abram’s, needs a special revelation of Your proof, have mercy on me. Let me participate in the process humbly and with discernment, realizing that in asking for that proof I may experience dark revelations or limitations I hadn’t expected. Remind me to remain thankful for Your proof – however it comes – and trust in Your grace and goodness to provide the best for me in every circumstance.