5.24.15 | Rev. John Orlando | Genesis 15
Sometimes doubt and discouragement flood your heart. We know God exists and believe the Gospel, yet wonder if we’re really saved. Or, in difficult times we cry out, “God where are you!” Abram is in a similar position. He knew God would fulfill His promises, but as he looked at the circumstances of the reality of death, doubt and discouragement creep in. But God reassures him that all He promised Abram will happen, and He stakes His godhood on it as He seals His covenant promise with a blood oath. The main idea of the text: because God keeps all of His promises, He calls us to trust in Him alone. 3 things to see related to this:
1. God reaffirms His promise of offspring
V. 1 "Fear not, Abram…” Abram had wealth, wife, military hero. Yet, he fears. Why?
The kings Abram defeated may have regrouped attack to him.
Vs. 2-3 - Doubts how God would fulfill his promise. 2 kinds of doubt:
Believing doubt: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Abram had this.
Skeptical doubt: “I won’t believe, you can’t help my unbelief.”
God reassures Abram: “Fear not!” Why? The Lord is his shield: God will protect him. Abram’s reward will be great—these promises, and God Himself will be his/his descendants God
V. 4 God gives sign: Abram will have own son, offspring as numerous as stars. Abram’s response: V. 6 “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
- Essence of the Gospel: In Rom 4 Paul points to Abraham to show justification is by grace alone through faith alone by Christ alone. We receive Christ’s righteousness.
DIG DEEPER: The promise is all of grace. Recognize your insufficiency and inability to achieve the promise, and rest not in your works, but Christ’s works alone.
2. God’s reaffirms his promise of land
- In v. 7-8 - The Lord reminds Abram that it was He who brought him out of his former life of paganism so that he could possess these promises. A reminder that it’s all grace.
- In v. 8 Abram asks the Lord for a sign to know he shall possess it. In vv. 9-17 God tells Abram to chop animals in half and place them opposite each other, shows him the future: his many offspring will possess the land after a time of affliction.
- So, Abram can have confidence. Israel also would gain confidence as they prepared to enter the promised land and looked back on this promise. Dig deeper: we too look back and recognize that God is the promise keeper. God will keep us secure in Christ!
3. God seals His covenant promise with a blood oath
- The servant who walked between the between the slaughtered/cursed animals was taking an oath of self-cursing: “if I break the covenant, let me be slaughtered like these animals.”
- In our text, it is God who goes through the pieces of animals and takes oath of self-cursing! God is saying, “if I don’t keep my promises to you, I am no longer God!”
- But why all the fuss about offspring and land? Why does God promise these things?
- Adam broke covenant of works, he/offspring exiled from Eden (promise land).
- Gen 3:15 - God made a covenant of grace: promises salvation through faith in a Savior who would be the offspring of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head.
- Promise: more substance in covenant w/Abram of land/offspring: 2 stages of fulfillment:
- Israel: as numerous as stars in sky (Deut 1:10); enter promised land.
- Like Adam, they disobeyed God/cast out of promised land. They looked forward to a new covenant to fulfill the promises of Gen 3:15 and Abraham.
- New Covenant in Christ is the second stage of fulfillment of covenant with Abraham.
- Gal 3:16 - promises in Gen 15 were made to Abram’s offspring: Christ!
- Matt 26 – Last Supper: The New Covenant is the fulfillment of the promises of Gen 3:15 and to Abram, and is sealed in Christ’s blood!
DIG DEEPER: On the cross Jesus was slaughtered and bore the curse that our sins deserved and crushed the serpent’s head. He endured the dreadful darkness and walked through the valley of the shadow of death—in the midst of the dead carcasses as it were—and bore the curse not for His covenant unfaithfulness—but for ours to God. All now who trust in Christ alone are the true children of Abraham, and will inherit the ultimate promised land of heaven.
Preach the gospel to your doubts of the certain promises of God in Christ that are based on the irrefutable fact of Jesus’ death and bodily resurrection. All who believe in the Lord are credited with the perfect righteousness of Christ! We can walk into unknown because the Lord always keeps His promises. He is leading us to the ultimate promised land, to an inheritance that can never spoil, all through the work of the ultimate offspring of Abraham—Jesus Christ. Look to and receive the signs and seals of His covenant faithfulness that we find in His Word and the sacraments, where God says “Know that if you are mine, all of the promises are yours through faith in Christ—I guarantee it, and no one can ever take that from you.”