Wow. Imagine the difference in the life of Abram from the time we began his story until now. He went from being a wandering nomad with his wife and nephew to a man of vast wealth. He had his own private army of highly trained warriors who conquered five kings and saved the people of the Jordan River Valley from captivity. He was now highly respected throughout the land. But there was something far more important happening, something that made all the rest of it possible. As the years went by, Abram’s faith was stretched further and further, and his ability to depend on God’s promises was growing into a mighty power. It was the kind of power that God could bless. As God expanded Abram’s influence and power, Abram kept his eyes fixed on the Lord in trust and received only what was clearly from God’s hand. Through his determined faith, Abram was exhibiting glorious righteousness to a watching world.
Yet there was still a tremendous ache for this wise and aging man. Abram and his beloved wife were still without a child. How would God make Abram’s descendents into a great nation if they had no son? What good was their wealth and reputation if the life of Abram died with him and his wife? Who would they pass it on to? The Lord spoke to him and said,
“‘Do not be afraid, Abram,
I am your shield,
your very great reward.’”
God knew the fears on the heart of his faithful servant and pursued him, promising to be his divine protection. This promise was a bit different from what God had given in the past. Before, there was always a condition. In order to receive the promise, Abram had to show his faith through obedience. Over those many years, Abram had proven his faith, and now the LORD was coming to him with the fullness of His covenantal promises. God would uphold His side to His servant no matter what lay ahead. Through all of history, the blessings of this covenant would be utterly unchangeable.
When Abram heard this, he came to his LORD and asked the questions that so troubled his heart. “‘O Sovereign LORD, what can You give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus…You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir’” (Gen. 15:2-3).
Abram had trusted God with his whole future, but he and his wife were growing old, and the promises of God seemed more and more unlikely. How could Abram’s faith stretch so far as to believe the impossible?
God’s plan for His loyal servant was already set in history. The future was as sure as the past because God had made it so. In fact, He had allowed everything to get to the point where His promises seemed impossible to Abram so that he would have to utterly rely on the LORD in faith. Everyone would know that when God’s blessings came, it could only have come from Him. His blessings on Abram would give the Lord great glory before all the nations of the region. The holiness and power of the Most High God was being declared through the most personal longings of Abram and Sarai’s life.
The LORD knew the discouragement of His beloved servant, and so He began to explain more about the mighty, unbreakable covenant that He had made with Abram in Genesis 12. He said:
“‘This man [Eliezer] 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 could not imagine how wide and great God’s blessings would become, so God had to bring him out into the night sky and show him the universe. And in that sacred moment when God’s Word came to him, Abram believed what God said, and his faith was credited to him as righteousness. Abram was righteous in the eyes of God simply because he believed the LORD. He did what all the other nations and tribes refused to do. He surrendered in trust to the will of the One who made him.
Then God said, “‘I am the LORD.’”
Any time God says that in the Bible, it means that whatever comes next is big. Really big. It means that God is sealing His next words with the integrity of His own character. It bears tremendous power and gravity. It is going to happen because He is permanent and eternal and He doesn’t go back on His word. So the LORD said to Abram:
“‘I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the land of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it’”
Once again, God gave Abram a wonderful promise. All the land of the whole region where the Canaanite cities and nations lived would one day belong to Abram’s family. Abram took God’s word very seriously. Purely by faith, he was staking his whole life on this promise. So once again, he came to his God with an honest question about his doubts and fears. “‘O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?’”