Greetings, everyone! The Lord’s blessings be upon each of you today in the name of Christ; welcome to Wednesday’s edition of EDiBS.Thanks for coming along as we gather for another day in the Scriptures, where right now we find ourselves at the beginning of Genesis 15. If you have your Bible handy, go ahead and turn there as we prepare for our time. Let’s pray:
Heavenly Father, we come to our Bibles today with grateful and expectant hearts, knowing that your hand of mercy is upon us and knowing that your Face is toward us, not against us. Look upon us through the shed blood of your Son this day. Forgive our sins. Restore our hearts. Renew a right spirit within us. We ask as your beloved children that you would teach us through your Word as we gather to learn and grow. Thank you Lord God. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
As we get started today, fresh off the taking of a very bold stance with regard to Bera, king of Sodom, the Lord now comes to Abram in a vision. Our focus: Do not be afraid.
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."
At about the time many of you will be sitting down to watch today’s video or read today’s study here in the EDiBS world, I’ll be sitting in a court room waiting for a trial to begin. I’m a little nervous. I’ve been subpoenaed by my city as a witness in their case against a homeowner whose property has become severely blighted. That property happens to back up to my own, and apparently there’s a long history of problems there that the city has given more than ample time for the owner to correct — which he has ignored. As an example of that person’s scofflaw attitude, this is actually the second time I’ve been summoned in this particular case. When I answered my subpoena the first time and showed up for court last month, he didn’t…and being that it wasn’t the first time it had happened, the judge made the decision to issue a bench warrant for his arrest. Though I’m not the one on trial here, my fear comes from the fact that I’m being called on to testify against a neighbor. I’m the one that will have to navigate that relationship going forward, not the city….and even though I’m not the one who brought suit (in fact, I don’t even know the owner), I imagine there may be some hostility to work through once this is all said and done. Fear can be an uncomfortable feeling indeed!
As we come to God’s Word today here at the beginning of Genesis 15, God speaks to Abram in a vision. The subject matter? Fear…or rather, the call not to fear. “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great (or exceedingly great) reward.”
Why do you suppose God would say this to His servant right now? After all, Abram has just come off of an incredibly successful military campaign to rescue his nephew. He’s just received blessings from On High courtesy of Melchizedek. He’s just conducted himself with great wisdom and integrity in his dealings with Bera king of Sodom. All in all it’s been a great couple of days, and he should be on top of the world. But consider this: while it’s true that Abram has just defeated a much larger army…made up, you’ll remember, of a partnership of four kings… and while it’s true that he has just been uber bold with Bera, king of Sodom in stating his allegiance to God rather than men, those very things are what may come back to bite him. The truth is that he has good reason to be afraid. There may be an attack of retribution on the horizon, or something even worse. In taking his stand for God, Abram has drawn a line in the sand that has set him apart from his fellow men. And sometimes, being set apart sets you up for being singled out.
It’s significant, then, that God says what He says to Abram at this juncture. The promise here is twofold: first, He will be Abram’s shield. Abram needs a shield right now, because he’s set himself up for danger by rejecting the earthly authorities in his midst and aligning himself with the Lord. In addition to that, however, God says that He will be Abram’s very great reward. Though Abram doesn’t need reward per se (he’s already quite wealthy in earthly goods), God isn’t speaking in that context. Rather, He’s assuring Abram of provision on an entirely different level, reminding him of the overarching promise he’s been given with respect to his name and the nation that will come from him. In other words, though Abram has sacrificed for the Lord’s sake, choosing what is holy over what is profane and trusting in what he cannot yet see as opposed to what has been placed, tantalizingly so, before his very eyes, God declares that Abram will not be the loser for it. God will more than make up what Abram has given up.
Because of these divine assurances, so graciously given to Abram by the Lord, we can end our observations today by going back to the issue of fear, and it’s a simple equation: with God giving Abram promises that clearly relate to his future, that’s reason enough to put away his fear and proceed with faith in the now.
As we wrap things up for the day, we’ll be developing this point further as we proceed deeper into this new chapter, because as it was so with Abram, it is certainly so with you and me as God’s dearly loved children: having received the incredibly gracious divine assurances that are ours in Christ, we too are a people who can put away our fear and live in faith instead. Dr. E. Stanley Jones once said it this way:
I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. In anxiety and worry, my being is gasping for breath--these are not my native air. But in faith and confidence, I breathe freely--these are my native air. A Johns Hopkins University doctor says, "We do not know why it is that worriers die sooner than the non-worriers, but that is a fact." But I, who am simple of mind, think I know; We are inwardly constructed in nerve and tissue, brain cell and soul, for faith and not for fear. God made us that way. To live by worry is to live against divine reality.
Profound thoughts, to be sure…and most surely worthy of our meditation as we carry on with the day! Thanks for being with me today, everyone; the joy and pleasure is all mine, and I’ll look forward to continuing the conversation again next time. Until then, have a great day, and God’s rich and abiding peace to you in our living Lord Jesus!