By Kenny Bruce
Pastor emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Cordova
Focal Passage: Genesis 15:1-6, 13-16
I. GOD’S PROMISES PROVIDE A FOUNDATION IN THE FACE OF FEAR (Genesis 15:1-5) In the previous chapter, Lot was captured by four invading armies from distant lands, and Abram led 318 of his men to rescue him. In chapter 15, Abram was likely afraid the kings of those armies would retaliate by launching a raid against him. God said to him, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great” (v. 1). As our shield, God protects us from our enemies. Every Spirit-filled Christian will have enemies, particularly Satan.
Bertha Smith was a missionary to China. She was in a mission compound when machine gun bullets from the communists shot out the windows, and she ducked for cover. She said later in her testimony about the episode, “To get to me, a person has to go through God.” God also promised Abram to reward him greatly. The greatest reward was His presence, which is also our greatest reward.
II. GOD’S PROMISES PROVIDE FAITH IN THE FACE OF DOUBT (vv. 2, 6) Ten years had passed since God promised Abram a son. He began to doubt and asked God if his heir would be his servant Eliezer. God answered his confusion by revealing to him that the heir would be his own son. He not only clarified the promise, but He expanded it by turning Abram’s attention to the stars and saying, “So shall your descendants be” (v. 5).
Abram believed by faith that God would fulfill His promises; therefore, he was justified before God, and God imputed His righteousness to Abram (v. 6). God’s promises, as well as the Gospel God preached to him, gave Abram the faith to believe (Galatians 3:8).
We are saved, just as Abram was, through faith in Jesus (Galatians 3:9). If we ever doubt our salvation, we can simply claim the promises regarding salvation, leaning on those promises, not on our feelings.
III. GOD’S PROMISES PROVIDE A FUTURE IN THE FACE OF UNCERTAINTY (Genesis 15:13-16) Abram asked God for further assurance about his descendants’ possessing the land (vv. 7-8). God replied by telling him that his descendants would be oppressed in a foreign land for 400 years and would come out with great possessions. God then prophesied that He would not remove the evil Amorites from the land of Canaan until they had full opportunity to repent. Trusting God means waiting for His plans to be accomplished in our lives.
Just as Abram had to wait for 25 years before Isaac was born, and just as the Israelites had to wait for 400 years in Egypt before God set them free, we too have to wait for God to fulfill His future plans for our lives. God reassured Abram about the longevity of his life: “… will be buried at a good old age” (v. 15).
God knows the time we will die. We are to number our days and live each day for the glory of God as if it were our last (Psalm 90:12). When facing an uncertain future like Abram was, we receive confidence by trusting in His promises. B&R