Genesis 15:12-16 The Covenant

Good morning to you! I don’t mean to keep writing out of Genesis, but I keep seeing these new and wonderful things and feel the need to share. Today my readings took me to Genesis 15, the incredible chapter of the covenant God made with Abram. For our purposes today, we are going to focus on vv12-16, but please read the full chapter if you are not familiar with this passage.

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

The first this I wondered about was this sleep that Abram fell into; it was deep, filled with a thick and dreadful darkness. What does this mean, that a thick and dreadful darkness came over him?! My commentaries say that these words mean awe-inspiring divine activity is happening, but I can’t believe that is the whole story. Obviously divine activity is occurring – God is making a covenant with this man for all eternity! I wonder if even in the deepest sleep, Abram knew what was happening and could feel God’s very real presence? I wonder if, even in sleep, Abram was terrified at the sheer magnitude of having the one and only, sovereign Creator make an everlasting covenant with him. At this point in time, Abram did not know God very well – theirs was a new relationship still in Genesis 15; so I wonder if Abram knew enough about this incredible God to be deeply, dreadfully afraid at his presence, but not enough to have the deep, abiding love that eclipses the fear yet. I think of a tornado that you know is coming your way – that heart-pounding dread, anxiety, and fear of what lays in your future. This God Abram faced, even in sleep, is so much more than that, and Abram was deeply and dreadfully afraid in the darkness.

I think of when I first “met” God and the fear I had of giving my life to Him. I was afraid to face Him in my dirty rags and I was afraid to face myself – because in the face of pure holiness, your own ugliness becomes starkly apparent. Thankfully, God’s grace is so much bigger than all my sin and His love is unfailing! Facing God can be scary. But once those dirty rags are burned away, we are left standing with beautiful, fine garments, holy in His sight, and a future filled with excitement and adventure. And it is so worth it ❤

The next thing that caught my eye, and really the reason I’m writing on this passage today, is v14b: and afterward they will come out with great possessions. God has just promised that Abram’s descendants will be enslaved for 400 years, but then He says this: not only will He punish the offenders, but Abrams descendants will come out with great possessions! As many times as I have studied this passage, I have never noticed this incredible phrase. Praise Him that His Word is indeed alive and active (Heb. 4:12)!

When we go through a period of hardship, we too will leave with great possessions! The Israelites left Egypt with material gifts; but we leave our times of trial with so much more than that! God will never allow us to be put in the fire of trial and not come out purified. Each time we face hardship, praise Him for the work He will do because of it! As hard as that sounds, it is so true. Each time I have ever gone through a struggle – be it of my own doing, through consequences of my sin, or something completely out of my control – I can tell you exactly how I changed and what I learned from that experience. And it has always been for my betterment. God does not cause us pain, but He does allow us to experience pain, because without pain, how can you revel in the peace?! Without the sorrow, how can you revel in the joy? Life is full of pain – that is a fact that no one on this planet gets to escape; the difference is, with Christ, that pain is not for naught. In Christ, all things are worked for the good of those who love him according to his good purpose (Rom. 8:28). Those hard times reveal the faithfulness of our incredible Creator, and they also reveal the strength you have in Him. Every time I go through something hard and come out victorious over it, I am left with a little bit more self-confidence, and a lot more faith. Not only has He never let me down, but He has strengthened me so I have never let my circumstances overcome me.

and afterward, they will leave with great possessions….

Praise Him today. Praise Him that He will never let your circumstances overcome you, nor will He ever let you go through them without giving you great possessions because of them!

Lord, it is my prayer today that we are a people of thankful hearts. That we, like Abram, have faith in you to give us victory over every circumstance and faith to know that you will work it for our good. I pray that you give us strength and courage to face each day like the victors you have made us, and that we may see the joy in each day, no matter what life brings. You bring joy and peace through the storm, and you make life worth it. Thank you, Lord, for you are good! In your precious and holy Name, Amen.

Genesis 12:1-8 Abram and the Call

Good morning to you all. Today I was taken to the beginning of one of my favorite stories of the Bible: Abram. I absolutely love this story. Please read Genesis 12:1-8 ESV with me:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

How I love Abram! I love that this foreign God comes to him and tells him to go, and Abram just goes. I love that he simply believes.

A friend was telling me the other day that in Abram’s day, each country or nation/tribe had their own “god” that they worshiped – religions were not cross-cultural at this point. Therefore, by God calling Abram out of Ur and into Canaan, God was telling Abram that He alone was the sovereign God over the entire world. Boundaries could not contain Him; nationality could not define Him; He alone was God over the world and everything in it and the heavens above and below it. How I love this sentiment ❤ Because, Beloved, God is still sovereign! Nationalities cannot define Him, and borders still cannot contain Him!! Every country that burns the Bibles and outlaws Christianity finds that it simply won’t die; every country that kills and persecutes followers of Christ finds that for every one killed, two spring up. Because He is real; He is all-powerful; He is sovereign. No matter the country, no matter the border. He is God Most High, and His love is worth every sacrifice. Amen!!

I keep wondering, however, were there any men that God called before Abram who turned Him down? I think about this with so many of the faith “heroes” of the Bible. We hear about the success stories, but were there any who didn’t have the faith to leave their family? Did God call Abram because Abram had the faith to say “yes” when asked to leave? How many men did God call to rise up as a hero during the time of the Judges who turned him down out of fear? I wonder about us now. How many of us miss out on our God-given destinies because of fear and faithlessness? Could you be the next person to be hailed a hero of the faith if you simply had the courage and faith to do what God is asking you to do? Will I miss out on my destiny because of my own personal failings? How I pray that we never be the ones to turn God down. How I pray that we grasp at the opportunities He presents us with the spirit of Abram; one full of faith and excitement! One that does not wait, but takes hold the the new adventure with courage. Like Abram, we may get it wrong sometimes. We may stumble or loosen our grasp, but like Abram, we serve a gracious God that will take hold, stand us back up, and set us back on the path so that we are again walking beside Him. My prayer for today is that we would have the courage and faith of Abram to do each things God asks of us today – be it something as small as saying an encouraging word to one in need, or something as big as changing careers or saving a life. God asks something of us each day, will today be the day that you say “yes?”

Thank you, Lord, that you are a God who calls us to big things. Thank you that you provide the courage so that we can say “yes.” I pray that we would be a “yes” people today. In your precious and holy Name, Amen!

Genesis 2 At Last

I work with the high school group in my church, and let me just say what an incredible adventure it has been hanging with these awesome young people. I learn so much from them and are faced with tough questions that force me to constantly examine my faith and why I believe in the marvelous God that I love so dearly. Today, they have also presented me with a new opportunity; we are going to read the Bible in a year together, using the GroupMe app to encourage and hold each other accountable. I am so excited to begin this new journey through the Bible with these incredible teenagers; it also gives me the added bonus of reading passages of the Bible that I normally would gloss over or ignore. I am going to try to write on one of the assigned passages each day – forcing me out of my comfort zone and teaching me to see lessons and applications in each portion of God’s Word.

Today is the first day of our reading, and so we start at the beginning: Genesis 1-2 (among others like Psalms 1, Matthew 1, and Acts 1). But it is Genesis 2:18-25 (ESV) that captures my imagination today:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

How I love that God gave Adam the opportunity to see what he was missing. God created each living creature and had Adam name each and every one before Adam realizes that there is no partner for him. Then God creates woman, and Adam breathes, “at last…”

How I love that God will never force us into anything. He knows long before we do what we need, but He waits until we see that need before He gives. We need to see what we are missing so that when God gives it, we can breathe the words “at last…” and have joy and thankfulness in our hearts. We need to see our own limitations. We need to know that no matter how hard we try, there are simply some things that we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot force another to love us; we cannot force a company to give us a much-needed job; we cannot force our children to walk a righteous path. We have to see our need, our helplessness so that we can see it when God provides. What appreciation would we have for God if we never saw the things He provided?

When we are faced with our own limitations, it humbles us and gives us compassion for those who are in need. When we recognize our helplessness, it drives us to help those in their own moments of helplessness.

How I thank God today that He gives us the opportunity to see our helplessness and uses those moments to grow us as people of compassion and grace, and into a people of thanksgiving. My prayer for today is that we would not be scared of our own limitations, of the things that are completely out of our control; my prayer is that we would welcome these moments as opportunities to see God at work! Ultimately, that is one of the best parts of recognizing those things outside of our control – we get to see God come through again and again and again. Our faith grows exponentially every time we see Him fulfill the needs which we cannot fulfill on our own. Praise Him for these moments, and wait with expectation knowing that soon God will pour the blessing upon you, and you can finally breathe the words “at last…” and praise Him for His continued love and faithfulness. Amen!