In “No Fear This Year 1,” we noted our fears as borne out of our anxiety. Now, we will look into:
Fear in Uncertainty
But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir” (Genesis 15:2-3, ESV).
“After ten years of waiting, Abram must have thought to himself, ‘What good is it that You are my shield and reward if I have no one to pass it on to?’ What good is success, without a successor?” (Krell) Abram was saying, “ The heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus. He is not my son. He did not come from my body. He will inherit my house and all my possessions. But how about me? What will you give me? Who will carry my name? What about Your promise of a son and many descendants?” In Abram’s mind, having no child means there’s no way to make God’s promise to him happen in the future. He was already 75 yrs. old and his wife, over 65. He’s too old and his wife is barren.
Sometimes, when God’s promises take too long to happen, we get discouraged and begin to doubt Him. We begin to be anxious. We begin to be anxious because we focus on our position or situation, and not on the promises of God.
And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be (Genesis 15:4-6, ESV).
At first, God said, “Look north, south, east, and west” (See Genesis 13:14). Now God said, “Look up to the heavens.” Abram’s vision is expanding. When you walk by faith, God will expand your vision. (Warren Wiersbe, “How to Walk by Faith”) God will expand your blessings!
Yet Abram still felt uncertain. But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it (Genesis 15:8, ESV)? Abram is not doubting nor questioning. He is saying, “How do I know for sure?” He asks for a Guarantee of the Promise! It’s as if he is asking, “Lord, I believe. But how do I know for sure? Can you please give me a gurantee?” So God answered him.
He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half (Genesis 15:9-10, ESV).
How do you seal a contract? Nowadays, we take a pen out, then sign the contract. But in Bible times, it’s called a covenant. “Covenant” is taken from the Heb. beriyth, from the root, bara, “to cut.” (Strong; Keil Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament in Bible Speak CD) In a covenant among the Chaldeans, of which Abram was a Chaldee himself, you take a sacrifice, such as a goat. You kill that goat. Then you separate the 2 pieces of the goat. You make a path between them. Then you walked between the pieces. That signed the covenant. You seal a covenant by cutting an animal into 2 pieces and then passing through it.
How did God seal His covenant with Abram? When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces (Genesis 15:17, ESV). The “smoking fire pot” (Heb. ‘ashan tannuwr) is actually a cylindrical stove, in the houses of the East. “Flaming torch” (Heb. ‘esh lappiyd) means, “a brilliant flame” (Keil and Delitzsch). This torch or flame came out of the fire pot. Fire symbolizes the presence of God. The smoking fire pot and flaming torch symbolized the presence of God. The fire pot and flaming torch “passed” between the pieces. In the Hebrew, the verb, “passed” (Heb. ‘abar), signifies completed action (Qal Perfect). Jehovah passed between the pieces once for all.
Note that it was not Abram who sealed the covenant. It was God who started and sealed the covenant once for all! “Abram never did go between the 2 pieces of sacrifice because the covenant did not depend on him. The covenant depended on God. God Himself will fulfill the covenant.” (Wiersbe)
When you say, “Lord, I am not sure about your promise.” God comes along and tells you, “Now here’s my covenant.” You and I are under the covenant of grace in Christ. God chose to include you in that covenant of grace in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). You experienced that grace since the day you received Christ as your personal Savior by faith. Therefore, what God has started in your life, He will finish it. Because Jehovah, the Covenant God of Israel, will be faithful to fulfill His covenant for you in Christ.
On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land (Genesis 15:18, NKJV).
The verbs, “made,” and “have given,” are all completed actions (Qal Perfect). Even though Abram does not yet have a son, Jehovah had already given his descendants the land! This is what is called the “Prophetic Perfect” of the Hebrew Perfect form of the verb. It is yet future, but it is as good as done.
Are you afraid today? God’s Presence tells you today, “I am.” Are you anxious today? God’s Provision tells you today, “I shall.” Do you need to be sure? God’s Promise tells you today, “I have.”
Do you know why you read your Bible? You don’t read your Bible to find out what God will still do for you. Rather, you read your Bible to find out what God has already done for you and given you in Christ! (Wiersbe) The Christian life is not a life of accumulation—“Lord, I want this. I want that.” The Christian life is a life of appropriation—“Lord, You have already given me. I will now take it. I will now claim it.”
And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6, ESV). The verb, “believe,” here is from ‘aman, “to stand firm, to trust, to be certain” (Hiphil stem). (BDB) Faith here is not merely agreeing with what God has said. Faith is both agreeing and trusting God and His Word unconditionally, totally, and absolutely!
Ask yourself today, “Do I believe God and His Word unconditionally? Do I stand firm on what He has promised in His Word absolutely?”
Let us face our fears for 2009 by claiming God’s Presence, God’s Provision, and God’s Promise in Christ by faith!
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