Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Genesis 15 Revisited

Sunday Morning’s sermon was from Genesis 15. You can find outline and audio link here for that.

Today, let’s look back at Genesis 15. The Abram/Abraham narratives of Genesis carry three repetitions of the covenant promise. It’s stated in 12, restated in 15, and restated again in 17.

The purpose of stating the covenant in 12 is obvious: without the introduction of the covenant, why tell Abraham’s story?

Genesis 17 restates the covenant in light of Abram and Sarai’s attempt to shortcut the plan of God in Genesis 16. It’s a reminder.

Where does Genesis 15 come from?

I think the first verse is a good clue. Genesis 15:1 states that “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying…”

“These things” refers to the battle with King Chedarlaomer (if I write an Old Testament book, he’ll be King Cheesy) and Abram’s subsequent defeat of that king. It also refers to the snub Abram gives the king of Sodom.

So, at the outset of Genesis 15, Abram has alienated the earthly kings around him. The higher king (King Cheesy) and the lower ones around Sodom. He’s got no earthly friends left outside of his household. Lot’s basically abandoned him, Abram had left Ur and Haran, and the Egyptians don’t want him back.

What does God do at this point?

He sends Abram the Word of the Lord. He doesn’t give him a new promise. He doesn’t show him signs and wonders. He reminds Abram of what has already been promised. Then, the Lord develops some visual reminders for Abram.

I think that’s important. If I were camping out in Genesis on Sundays, this would have likely gotten its own complete sermon about what we need when we’re scared.

What we need:

Isn’t more material possessions or wealth: Abram did not receive from God one square foot of ground in Canaan to reassure him. He didn’t have Melchizedek show up and return a portion of the tithe.

Isn’t an acceleration of the plan: whether by our hand or for God to change it for us. God is at work in the world around us and His providence holds together things on this earth. We need not jump ahead.

Isn’t a trip back to the beginning. While this is true if working for Vizzini, that when the job goes wrong, you go back to the beginning, it’s not true of the walk of faith. We do, sometimes, need comfort that comes from home and familiarity. But it’s not the solution: we don’t retreat from where God has placed us. When I have tired days as a pastor, husband, father, the solution is not to move back in with Mom and Dad and go back to high school.

What we need:

Is a reminder of the prior faithfulness: Genesis 15:7, God reminds Abram of how Abram got this far. A reminder in our lives of God’s prior faithfulness is immeasurably valuable.

Sometimes, we can’t see that, though, so God’s faithfulness is commended to our minds by:

1. Others who saw it in our lives. My wife is great for this in my life. There are others, but she’s pretty constant at it.

2. Stories of God’s faithfulness to others. Every third book you read should be a biography of a follower of Christ. Really. Comment if you need a list to get you started.

Is a reminder of God’s present presence: This is the God “I am.” Whether in the NT or the OT, God is eternally in the present. Many of us remember what God has done and hope for heaven, what He will do---

But we forget He’s here, right now. Remember “lo, I am with you always”? (Matthew 28:19-20). God reminds Abram that “I am a shield to you” in verse 1. God is with Abram, even if no man is.

Is a reminder our futures are in God’s designs: Your reward shall be….You will… and so forth. Abram is pointed forward. To walk forward in obedience and faith.

Where does all this come together for us?

In your Bible. In the Word of God, revealed through inspired writing, and bound conveniently together for you to read. God’s past actions? All the way to darkness and void and forward to the Word going forth, though Paul is chained---and then some: Revelation is the history of the end of the world. It’s just already written.

In the Word of God: God’s present presence: Christ in you, the hope of glory (it’s about Him being glorified). Immanuel, God with us. I am….the way, truth, life; the resurrection; the bread of life; the living water. You get the point: throughout Scripture we see people that understood the presence of God and we are reminded by His own words that He is present.

In the Word of God: God’s designs for your future: to be used by Him to reach the nations (Acts 1:8), to be a vessel for His glory. To be transformed by the renewing of your minds. To serve Him in loving repentance.

It’s all right there.

Just as His Word returned to strengthen Abram, so His Word is there for us.

And fortunately, we don’t need visions or dreams to know His Word. If you’ve got the Internet, you’ve got it. You’ve probably got one or two kicking around the house.

So read it. And pray for those without it, some by ignorance of their need and others by where they live and the language they speak. Do something about those: pray, live, give, and go. Let your life point people to the Word.

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