God Is a Promise Keeper Gen 15 friend of God series part 6
Series: Lessons from Abram
Title: God is a promise keeper
Text: Ch 15
KEYWORDS: shield; promise; offering; God; know; reveal
©Pastor Jerry Branch, 2007
" 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.”" (Genesis 15:1, NIV)
Man, that phrase takes in a lot, doesn’t it?
How many times have you or I heard that one?
like, now that you studied the road laws and practiced parallel parking,
and got it down, and you went to the Driver’s License Office
and passed your test, you got your license and,
after that you could drive a car, legally.
like after going to high school and maybe then on to college,
and completing your degree program,
you got a sheet of paper that said you had met the requirements,
and now you were ready for what lay ahead in your chosen profession.
So, “After this”…is an important phrase.
And here in the passage we’re in this morning,
the “After This” is reminding us that we need
to remember ‘what went before’.
Think back with me about Abram’s life.
Abram had been walking with the Lord now for some years.
He had answered God’s call to leave his home in Ur.
He had traveled about a thousand miles on foot, and settled in a new land.
He was forced by a famine to leave that land and go to Egypt.
There he learned the price of lying, but even in his lie,
he learned that God was protecting him.
He traveled back to the land God had taken him to, and settled once again,
but there he learned about how to be humble
and gave Lot the first choice of the land in order to be a peacemaker.
And then Abram had to go rescue his nephew from
the four kings who sacked Sodom and hauled
Lot and his family and his possessions off.
And you’ll remember that something really big happened after this…
the priest to God, Melchizedek, comes out and blesses Abram,
and Abram, worships God through the giving of his tithe…
it’s important to remember that this is also before the Law was given…
so giving of the tithe was NOT a ‘must do because the law says so,’
but the giving was because the Heart of the Man
who was following God knew it was an appropriate act of worship.
But also, and I think this is a real biggie,
that shows Abram has grown in his relationship with God,
because here Abram tells the king of Sodom, who comes out
and wants to give Abram part of the spoil,
which had he accepted that offer,
would have ‘allied’ or bound Abram to him,
But Abram says, NO, he will NOT accept any part of anything from him, because his allegiance is to God and God alone…
in other words, as we saw, Abram does not want to be
‘beholding’ to anyone but God.
Abram was learning to trust God in even the most difficult situations.
Abram’s faith-works…trusting God outright, point directly to his ‘saving faith’…God doesn’t reward Abram with the Covenant because of the works…in other words, Abram doesn’t ‘earn’ the ‘promise’…He can ONLY rely upon God
To many have tried to treat Abram’s faith, which is seen in verse 6, as an ‘act’ of conforming to God’s not yet given law…but that just isn’t so.
This whole issue of working to ‘demonstrate’ one’s faith rather than
learning to live by faith, out of which works arise,
is clouded by Jewish tradition which teaches that Abram was found faithful in undergoing 10 divine tests that secured the covenant for him (Gen NAC). In the New Testament, Paul argued that Abram instead was among ‘the wicked, and that he was outside the covenant family when he believed the Lord
and was granted righteousness…
this is why in Romans 1:5 and 16:26, Paul spoke of ‘obedience of faith’ where he is saying that ‘loyalty to the service of Jesus Christ
finds its source in faith, not in demonstrating works…
works come out of faith.
This is why it by faith that a person is credited with saving righteousness,
and nothing else.
So, the “After this”, refers to Abram’s faith as in fact demonstrating that
he is coming to know God much better,
and his life shows it, in real ways,
Abram is truly being a real ‘friend’ of God.
Now, with that in mind, let’s move on into verse 1 of chpt 1
and see what holds for Abram and for us.
God comes to Abram….the Word of the Lord came to Abram.
There is a two-fold significance in this phrase.
First, it is the same prophetic designation that is used with
the call and setting apart of God’s prophets.
So in this regard, Abram is now given a ‘prophetic’ office of God
and will proclaim God to others,
which will see occurring throughout Abram’s life.
The second significance, is that this is what is called a ‘theophany’…
an appearance of the Lord to someone in the Old Testament.
This means that God comes and personally to talk with Abram.
The God of heaven and earth comes to speak directly with His friend.
What makes this so unique, is that this was not
an everyday occurrence back in the Old Testament.
Do you realize how blessed we are today that once we know God as
our Personal Lord and Savior He is with us all the time?
He does not have to come to us anymore,
He is within us through His Holy Spirit.
And we have Instant full time contact.
No…it’s even better than that…we have 24-7 contact and nearness of God.
Remember in Matt 28, Jesus says, and Lo, I am with you always?
You don’t have to wait for God to come to you…He’s with us constantly.
So if you aren’t sensing His presence, check to see if
‘you’ve moved’ or you’re just not liking
what He’s saying through the Spirit to you.
Now, I really love this next part, because here we hear God making
a promise to Abram… in fact, we’ll see God
fulfill this promise over and over.
God says to Abram, I am a shield to you, Abram.
The God of creation. The God Who created titanium.
The God who created Iron; the God Who created the elements
that make the strongest, and most impenetrable metals,
comes to Abram and say, Abram,
I am a shield to you.
Can you think of any better shielding?
Even the Captain Kirk’s Starship Enterprise didn’t have
a shielding that was that good.
And on various occasions throughout Abram’s life,
we’ll see God shielding him from his enemies, from attacks by others,
and even from Abram’s own sins and shortcomings.
Jump to our day. What’s this ‘shield thing’ have to do with us?
Well, that same shielding is available to us today,
and we don’t even have to go looking for it. God gives it to us.
That’s what Paul is writing about when he described
the ‘armor of God’ that each one of us has at our disposal.
In Ephesians 6, starting in verse 10, ‘be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.’
The Power of shielding that God provides is not based upon elements,
nor upon physical items…it’s based upon His power and His strength. And He provides that to us.
It’s no wonder then that God said to Abram, Abram, don’t fear, I’m your shield, and on top of all that, I’m going to reward you beyond belief.
First, off, to be told that God is going to reward you has to be pretty awesome.
But don’t get envious of Abram’s rewards…
you and I have rewards just as awesome today.
Like I already said, God is with us, and He gives us
His wonderful Spiritual armor for protection.
But our reward doesn’t stop there.
In fact, the rewards that God give to you and me are so precious
and so awesome that I’m not sure we even fully comprehend them.
God loved Abram. And God loves us.
So much so, that He sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin
and the punishment we deserved…
He sent Jesus so we could have eternal life.
He sent Jesus so we could be with Him forever.
And God is going to give us rewards beyond belief
because we trust Jesus and are following Him.
The Bible tells us that God has promised to give us a NEW home…
Jesus promises two things in " “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (John 14:1-3, NIV)
So first, Jesus says He is going to prepare a place for us in heaven.
Let me tell you, that is going to be the best place any of us could ever want. And because Jesus is the One Who is preparing it,
it won’t be lacking in any little bit.
But there was also another promise…Jesus says that He is coming back for us…
The Marines have a motto…no man left behind…
Well, Jesus has one even better…
No disciple of mine is going to be left behind.
If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as one of His followers,
then you will not be left behind.
He is coming back, and He will take us with Him!
We’re not going to be LEFT BEHIND like the people in the Left Behind series.
Then back to Abram…Abram now gets the surprise of his life.
Abram’s been concerned about how his lineage will continue
because he didn’t have any male sons.
And God now promises Abram that that is about to change.
"Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness." (Genesis 15:4-6, NIV)
Abram’s going to have descendents; Abram’s going to have his own son.
And Abram believed! And the Lord credited it to him as righteousness.
This is why Abraham is in the Hall of Faith in the book of Hebrews.
He believed God. He had faith. He wasn’t trying to ‘earn’ anything.
With God we can’t anyway. It takes faith.
And it was Abram’s faith that God was looking for.
It was faith that brought about God’s continued working in Abram’s life.
And it’s faith today that brings about God’s working in our lives
Abram would not have been the recipient of God’s promises
had he not been a man who demonstrated faith.
Sure, Abram failed on occasion.
But he kept his faith, and God fulfilled all His promises.
A son would be born.
The nation of Israel would come from Abram’s lineage.
This same nation would suffer slavery but would come out it
400 years later, rich, and abundant.
And out of the House of Israel, the Savior, Jesus Christ,
would come, and all mankind would be blessed.
God is a loving, Promise Keeper.
Are you living in His promises? You can, by putting your faith in Jesus Christ.