#6 “Journey of Faith” Series
TEXT: Gen 15:1-21
INTRO: Several years ago this article appeared in an east coast paper:
A woman was driving home when she noticed a huge truck behind her driving a bit too close for comfort. She stepped on the gas to put some distance between her and this big truck, but when she stepped on the gas so did the truck driver! The faster she drove, the faster he drove!
Now scared ... she exited the freeway in the hopes of losing him, but to her pounding heart so did the truck driver! She began making turns all over the cities streets trying to get away from the truck driver ... but like before he kept right up with her, now reaching the point of panic she quickly drove into a gas station, jumped out of her car screaming for help ... only to be amazed at the sight of this truck driver following her right into the gas station ... suddenly the truck driver screeched to a halt and ran out of his truck to the back door of her car ...
To her amazement, the truck driver pulled out of her car’s back seat a man who had been lying on the floor waiting to rape her once she had driven to an isolated place ... the truck driver being in such a high place in his cab behind her had noticed the man at the first stop light ... he had been chasing her to save her from this man’s evil desires...
SHE had been running from the wrong person! Instead of the truck driver being her terror, he had turned out to be her savior ... even at the cost of endangering his own life from driving such a big rig so wildly following her crazy driving!
How like so many people today ... they are running away from the wrong source! The more they run from God the more God chases them ... while they fear what God might do to them should He catch them, they are unaware of the enemy hiding in the dark place of their existence ... God is not chasing you to hurt you ... but to save you! LET HIM CATCH YOU!!
PROP. SENT: The way to God is OPEN ... God longs for us to have fellowship with Him. He has paid the price, done the work, and signed the deal ... He only waits for us to accept the GOOD NEWS! The name of the door in is “FAITH” ... God is waiting for you ... let Him in!
I. OPERATION: DESERT SHIELD! Gen. 15:1-6
A. Securities! 15:1
1. "After this" ... after all the desert tests Abram still wasn't perfect!
2. So far, many of the tests of Abram have been tests of securities ... some he did better at than others.
3. But this did not mean all these tests were finished!
4. The desert was hardly DISNEY WORLD!
a. Abram might have wondered: “This is God's best for me?!”
b. He had all that money ... but no place to really spend it!
c. The desert hardly offers many securities! (That’s why it is called a desert!)
5. What’s the point? To teach this rich young man who had everything to forget trusting in those things ... and to trust in one who created all things: God!
ILLUS: Some see
stability in wealth – It is their anchor. They may have an experience similar to
that of the ship Marine Electric, which sank off the coast of
6. It is significant that the substance of this vision was the foundation of the WORD OF GOD!
7. God offers 3 things for Abram’s security:
a. "Don't be afraid!" Fear is the #1 killer of faith!
b. God says, "I am your SHIELD!" What is the ultimate protection for our sense of well-being and security?
(1. The desert is a place of many enemies ... they can come against you from any direction ... the most versatile defensive item was a shield because it can be used from any direction!
(2. It is interesting that in EPH. 6 listed in the "armor of God" is the "SHIELD OF FAITH!"
c. "Your very great reward!" God is telling Abram that HE is actually the real wealth of Abram ... God is our ultimate reward!
8. These are still the 3 areas of concern today; the past, the present, and the future. ("Fear, protection, future.")
B. Success? 15:2-6
1. It was the future issue that pushed the lights on for Abram ... the one about reward ... or his future!
2. Abram's response: "What can you give me, a man without a future, who has no kids?"
3. Abram wasn't complaining as much as he was confused ... his response was, "look God, I've done what I can about my future ... Eliezer my servant has already been granted my estate as my ‘legal’ heir!"
4. Abram's "success" however in taking care of his future wasn't God's plan!
5. God would take care of the problem in a far greater way than Abram was capable of ... God now clarifies the plan!
a. "your heir will come from your own body!"
b. "Since you can't do it without me Abram ... I'll make it possible!"
ILLUS: Nothing that is God's is obtainable by money. -- Tertullian, "Money in Christian History," Christian History, no. 14.
c. "While God doesn't always do the miracles we want ... all things are still possible with Him!"
6. While God makes this promise ... Abram simply responds, "I believe!"
a. It is a good thing that God doesn't explain the time frame of this promise to him however!
b. It would be from this point yet another 25 years before this promise of God's becomes reality!
c. This would prove to be the biggest test of Abram's faith ... the time factor! (It usually is for us too!)
d. Success would come at the strangest point in time for Abram ... when failure was the strongest possibility success would overtake it!
II. OFFICIAL DOCUMENT SIGNED! 15:7-11, 17-21
A. Substance 15:7
1. The starting point of the contract would be, "I AM THE LORD" … the emphasis being of course, "YOU'RE NOT THE LORD, ABE!"
2. Any good deal with God must include this first provisional clause!
3. The substance was really on GOD'S STRENGTH AND POWER, not on Abram's!
4. The elements of the two promises were:
a. "You will have a future Abram ... by descendants from your own body!"
b. "Your descendants will have this piece of property!"
5. The emphasis indicates that these 2 things will be brought about by God’s own promise and power!
ILLUS: Pastor Rittenhouse and his family were on vacation traveling down the highway when they saw a suitcase fly off the top of a car going the opposite direction. They stopped to pick it up, but the driver of the other car never stopped. The only clue to the driver's identity was a twenty dollar gold piece inscribed: "Given to Otis Sampson at his retirement by Portland Cement Company." After extensive correspondence, Otis Sampson was located and contacted. He wrote a letter telling them to discard the suitcase and all its contents, and send only the gold piece. Mr. Sampson used the phrase "my most precious possession," several times to describe the gold piece. Pastor Rittenhouse sent the gold piece, and wrote a cover letter telling Otis Sampson about his most prized possession, Jesus Christ. A year later, the pastor received a Christmas package. In it was the twenty dollar gold piece. Mr. Sampson wrote, "You will be happy to know we have become active members of a church. We want you to have this gold piece. I am seventy-four; my wife is seventy-two. You were the first one to tell us about Jesus. Now He is our most prized possession." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 262.
B. Struggle! 15:8
1. The question here by Abram is not so much one of doubt about a son ... he would know that when THAT happened ... the question was more how would he know that his descendants would get the land?
2. The reason: It was unlikely he would live long enough to know if this part became a reality or not – he would live to see the reality of a son, but not the many descendants getting the land!
ILLUS: The promises of God are certain, but they do not all mature in ninety days. -- Adoniram J. Gordon -- Vern McLellan, The Complete Book of Practical Proverbs and Wacky Wit (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1996).
3. It is so much like us, to believe God in some areas ... but then struggle in other areas!
4. Abram's request was not critical for the times ... when promises were made in that day they were usually ratified in some practical way to ensure confidence in the pledge made – he was not being critical or doubtful when requesting some measure of contract here!
C. Specific 15:9-11, 17-21
1. Contracts then were made in 3 ways: (in order to be legal!)
a. Blood contracts: This involved cutting in half some animal while both parties joined hands and walked together through the bloody halves! ... The meaning of this was simple: Whichever party broke the contract they were stating by walking between the bloody pieces that the same thing that happened to the animals would be done unto them should they break the deal!
b. Shoe contracts: As seen in Ruth 4:7-8, the “kinsman-redeemer” deal, a shoe or sandal would be given to the other party to seal a contract for property, to transfer property. (“No strings attached!” – sorry, couldn’t resist the pun!)
c. Salt contracts: “Covenant of salt” – created friendships and alliances between enemies, etc. Many times such a contract would be shared at a meal together. This was a binding contract that ended feuds between enemies.
2. This was to be a blood covenant ... which was the strongest and most binding of the 3 types of legal contracts!
3. There would be one difference however ... ONLY God would pass between the animal halves ... indicating the contract was guaranteed by Him alone, no matter what!!!
4. The specific guarantee was concerning the land ... and by implication the descendants who would live there!
a. Think of what this says about the land of Israel today and the Jewish people’s right to live there today!
b. God keeps His word forever!
5. God however reveals even more to Abram than the deal called for...
a. Interestingly enough; the first and second covenants of God were made in the midst of dreadful darkness!
b. His descendants would be in
c. However, God will use this to make them multiply and become rich!
d. It will also allow another 400 to 500 years for the Canaanites to repent; God does not pour judgment out without opportunity for repentance, even generous time for it!
6. The details here about the Amorites gives us an important look into the God of the Old Testament ... not a vengeful, murdering, God ... but a God who is long suffering and patient ... giving ample time for a change of heart!
7. It also though reveals a God who clearly cannot ignore sin forever. Unless one accepts the blood covenant they have no hope!
ILLUS: Lee Atwater, former Republican Party chairman, said this before he died: "The eighties were about acquiring: wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth and power and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty." -- Frank Pollard, "Do You Like Where You Live?," Preaching Today, Tape No. 104.
8. The idea of "full measure" meant "beyond hope or change!"
9. While Abram sleeps, God does the work of sealing Himself into this deal!
10. Abram's only responsibility was to "KEEP THE BIRDS OF PREY OFF..."
a. We are to keep our sacrifices unpolluted ... not to keep the covenant intact, but to keep it honorable!
b. Abraham was a busy man chasing away the birds of prey!
11. Finally it was legal ... thanks to God!
12. The point is obvious in this passage: God sacrificed His own son Jesus to make good a deal that would save us ... while we were engulfed in dreaded darkness, a covenant of blood was sealed by God Himself to redeem us ... to those who simply accept the contract by faith!
III. OBSERVATION: DIVINE SCHEDULE! 15:12-16
A. Salvation! 15:12-16a
1. Only God makes the deal good ... only God could keep the terms of the contract without death overtaking us!
2. Abram's efforts would have failed in the not too distant future had he also passed between the pieces ... death would have been his due!
ILLUS: In the day of horse and buggies, a father went to the school house to pick up his three children ages 9, 11, and 17. As soon as he had them in the buggy -- just before he stepped in--probably out of fear of the storm, the horses bolted and took off in the blizzard. Hours and miles later, when he found his children, the 17-year-old girl stood over the dead and frozen bodies of her brother and sister ages 9 and 11. Sobbing uncontrollably, she collapsed into his arms. When she had regained her composure, she explained to her dad that she tried to take her big, heavy coat and wrap it around them all. But she said, "The coat wasn't big enough."
The blood that Christ shed on the cross was big enough to cover all of your sins and mine -- all your lusting, all your lying, all your cheating, all your hatred, all your own faults. -- R. Larry Moyer, "Right Smack in the Middle of Sin," Preaching Today, Tape No. 148.
3. In God's love He prevents Abram from participating in guaranteeing the deal ... God would seal the document alone, so Abram could rest from his efforts!
4. However, Abram would have to accept the deal ... or it could not cover his life; how does this happen?
a. By simple acceptance: "ABRAM BELIEVED!"
b. It was this "faith" that was credited to Abram as righteousness!
5. God promises "PEACE" and security to Abram!
6. Abram could rest in the future ... it was official, God signed the document guaranteeing salvation!
7. And in the picture given to Abram He also showed His grace and plans!
a. His descendants would multiply ... but in captivity!
b. His descendants would be unfairly mistreated!
c. But they would conquer in time ... and be freed in time ... the process would make them rich ... but still they would be dependant upon God!
d. His descendants would be given the land ... but not at the expense of those who lived there already ... at least not until it was sure that they were at a point of no return!
e. God would not be indifferent towards the Canaanites ... from this vision to Abram to the time God actually destroys the Canaanites would be almost 500 years! ... Plenty of time for them to change and repent … but they don’t!
B. Sorrow! 15:16b
1. The sad reality is that the Canaanites didn't repent ... even though given an additional 500 years compared to their 400 or so to this point in time!
2. The greatest sorrow is that of the lost!
3. “God is not willing that any should perish” ... but history tells us that some have refused the deal of a lifetime ... forfeiting therefore the terms of the benefits allowed them!
ILLUS: Lloyd H.
Steffen wrote in The Christian Century how when King Frederick II, an
eighteenth-century king of Prussia, was visiting a prison in
That one sat quietly in a corner,
while all the rest protested their innocence. Seeing him sitting there oblivious to
the commotion, the king asked him what he was there for. "Armed robbery, Your Honor." The king asked, "Were you guilty?" "Yes, Sir," he answered. "I entirely deserve my punishment." The king then gave an order to the
guard: "Release this guilty man. I
don't want him corrupting all these innocent people." -- Donal W. Brenneman
4. God takes no pleasure in those who refuse the blood covenant He has made to promise life ... but He also cannot forever ignore the unrepentant sin ... there is a time when the “cup of wrath” is full and sin must have its own reward ... death! (Spiritual death!)
5. This passage reveals a God in the Old Testament that is not quick to destroy the wicked ... He gives every opportunity in time!
6. Those who accept the contract experience the promises made therein ... why run away from the "Driver" who is chasing you to protect you ... don't get away from God while carrying the enemy with you!
CONCLUSION: When God promised "better savings" He wasn't afraid to put it in writing! It was ultimately signed, sealed, and delivered in Jesus Christ -- how do you get in on this deal of a lifetime? The same way Abraham did ... by Faith!