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.

Acts 10:15 “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

So I’ve been absent the last few days or so because it’s finals crunch and I have some big papers to write before Friday. However, I was writing one of my papers due last week on Peter’s speech in Acts 10, when this one word grabbed me. I have tried to wait to write this post until after final’s are over (because truly I should be writing my 5000 word paper… but I’m not :-P) but this word is just on repeat in my brain. This beautiful word from Acts 10:15 and its implications have had me praising God day and night for his incredible glory. Go read Acts 10. All of it. I know, it’s a lot, but Oh, what an incredible story!!!!!! This chapter is so full of supernatural intervention that it boggles my mind; it shows how important God thought this message way to the early church. Go read it!!

Isn’t it beautiful? This is the “Gentile Pentecost.” This is not necessarily the first Gentile conversion (see Acts 8), but it is definitely the first time that Peter understands God’s will for Christianity and that it be opened to the rest of the world. God tried to do this in chapter 8, but the apostles were resistant to the idea that even the Gentiles should be welcome into the family of Christ; so He sent angels, visions, and words from the Spirit to make sure that they got the message this time.

In 10:9 Peter goes up to the rooftop to pray but then he gets hungry. While he is sitting there hungry, waiting for his food, God sends him this vision of all sorts of animals, birds, and reptiles and tells him to pick some and eat. But Peter, like the good Law-abiding Jew that he was, is shocked and tells God “NO!” I can just hear the shock and offense in his voice. Like, “God! What?! I’m not eating that! It’s dirty!!” (It kind of sounds like my children when I cook something they find abhorrent :-P) But God tells him – “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

Eventually Peter understands that this vision isn’t just about food – the first and most important meaning is symbolic. It’s about mankind. The Jewish people believed that the Gentiles, or the non-Jewish people, were unclean because of the food they ate and the gods they worshiped. God was telling Peter that He shows no partiality among mankind; God loves all people of every nation, every tongue, every background. He shows no preference, no partiality, but loves all equally and desires an intimate relationship with all.

As incredible as that is all by itself, that is not my message today. I want to talk about God’s message to Peter: What God has made clean, do not call common.

These words in Greek are so heavy! The Jews believed the Gentiles were “common.” This word is κοινόϛ (koinos) and means common in a sense that it is set apart from the consecrated or holy; in secular Greek it referred to something that had little value. God had told the Jews that they were set apart for Him, so they believed that the Gentiles were common. As for the Greeks, they associated “common” with “having little value.” Don’t we do the same? We look at ourselves or others and judge. We judge ourselves for our past and see ourselves as having little value; of not being worthy to be in the presence of the Holy One. We judge others and think, “they couldn’t possibly be Christian.” But. God says, What God has made clean, do not call common.

See, this word, this beautiful word, “clean,” in Greek is καθαριζω (katharizo). The definition for this word is, “a physical, religious, and moral cleanness or purity in such senses as clean, free from stains or shame, and free from adulteration (TDNT, 381).” What God has made clean, do not call common. God has cleansed us; He has cleansed us from all amorality, all shame, all adulteration. He has cleansed us from all our bad choices, all our impure thoughts, all our judgments. I keep seeing a vision of myself in front of a mirror, standing there cloaked in mud – it is dripping from my clothes, my hair, my dirty face; this is me before God. After I made Him the Lord over my life, there is a completely different me standing in front of that mirror. Now I see myself in pure white, glowing with radiance that only the indwelling of the Spirit can give. Each of us that follow Christ have the same reflection; we are each clothed in pure white, having been bathed with the blood of Christ, glowing with God’s radiance.

I took so long to see that God is bigger than all my past sins (and my present and future ones too). In my head, I believed, but in my heart I could not understand. My sins seemed so big, so ugly, so deep that I could not grasp that God was bigger. But Praise Him, He is! And He is far bigger than your sin, too. He has made you katharizo, so that you have been physically, religiously, morally cleansed so that you are now consecrated, pure, and holy in the eyes of your Savior, your Creator.

Have faith, Beloved, God shows no partiality, but lavishes us in His love. He has already cleansed us so that we can be with Him; He loves YOU so incredibly much that He wants to be in your presence day and night, through the good and the bad. He made you holy so that you could live with Him for eternity. Has there ever been or ever will be a love like His? Run to Him today, for He has set you apart and made you clean.

Lord God, you see. You know our fears, our feelings of inadequacy and you understand our hearts. I pray that you give each of us eyes to see ourselves as you see us; radiant in purity, beautiful in holiness. Pour your love into our hearts, so that we feel the depth of love you have for us and wrap us in your peace and joy today. Give us eyes to see others as you see them and love them as you do. Thank you for your grace and mercy, Lord. You astound us. You bewilder us. Thank you. In your Precious and Holy Name, Amen.