In Genesis 15, the call to Abram and his dialog with God form a microcosm of the call to all fathers—you and me included. As I conclude this little intro series in the next few verses, things quickly take a strange turn. What’s going on?
“And (God) said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.’ And he said, ‘O Lord GOD, how may I know that I shall possess it?’ So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. And the birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.” (Gen. 15:7-11)
While these sorts of archaic traditions may seem bizarre to modern minds, we see four important truths at work:
1. Faith abandons the norm. Since God brings us out before He brings us in, by faith we must emotionally anticipate what cannot be mentally verified. Abram’s obedience was first a risk before it was ever a reward. He had to leave the comforts of his homeland in order to inherit the great gift of God, Isaac. Similarly, we often want the surety of what only Time and Obedience can grant. Men may be born to fight, but the fact is, nearly all of us have a lazy streak. (Hint: the chair is called a La-Z-Boy, not La-Z-Girl, for a reason!) Men want the easy score, but this is the path to stunted manhood and small influence. As a lifestyle, resist it! Embrace uncomfortableness and uncertainty instead. Abram had the faith to leave what he knew in order to gain what he did not know. Men, let go the tether. Discover something beyond your control.
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Time is both fact and dilemma. It frustrates, disappoints, rewards and thwarts. It blinds us (can’t see the future); lures us (maybe today will be better); haunts us (“memories, like the corners of my mind…”); and intoxicates (I never want this moment to end!). It is perhaps the most inescapable mystery of human existence.
The Greek poet Aeschylus captured the most direct utility of Time, noting that “Time brings all things to pass.” No duh, right? Yet the observation remains useful, if only because 2500 years later, C.S. Lewis said pretty much the same thing: “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” In other words, you can’t escape it, you can only go through it if you wish to discover what lies on the other side. Whether we are talking about the next hour, day or decade, tomorrow is the unfulfilled mission of your life. Which brings us back to a wandering Semite named Abram, for whom God has big, big plans. Outrageous, hard-to-fathom big.
“And (God) took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” (Gen. 15:5-6)
The fact is, if we truly knew what God had in store for us—if all at once, our entire future could be compressed into present revelation—our brains would melt. So Time is a form of mercy, a steady-dripping IV, dosing your destiny so that READ MORE >>>
“Then the word of the Lord came to Abram, saying, ‘This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.’ ” (Gen 15:4)
Let us now pause and give thanks for Woman. Abram will have an heir. He’s going to be a son, not a slave. God makes this clear: “My promise will only be fulfilled from one who truly comes from you, Abram.” Since God intends to extend Abram’s genetics into the earth, Eliezer doesn’t fit the bill. But the promise is about more than just Abram the man. Remember, God is seeding the planet with a new and different kind of kingdom, from whom the one, true King will one day come. With Isaac, the genetic transfer becomes quite literal. To this day, the Jewish nation takes great pride in their physical ancestry. But physical genetics isn’t all God intended. As previously noted in Gen. 18:19, the spiritual and emotional genetics which Abram would pass to his heirs was most important of all. Who in their right mind thinks this could ever happen with man alone? God’s promise not only liberates faith in Abram, it also defines the application of that faith.
So…while God-sized dreams are obviously important (we’ll look at them in more detail in my next blog), I’m more concerned at the moment with how God brings these dreams to pass. We all have dreams. Some of us chase them, but who catches them? More grandly stated, how can an entire nation catch a dream? READ MORE >>>
Humor me. For just a moment, consider the following “thought experiment:” After a chance encounter at your local grocery store, a world-famous talent scout says you have what it takes to be great and famous. Or maybe Warren Buffett calls and says he wants to make you wealthy. Maybe you have a dream in which God promises to make you great throughout the whole earth. OK, let’s go with the last one. What would you think if God promised you a great reward? Most people (like you and me) would go to the obvious: Money, fame, success.
But there was this guy. Named Abram. He thought family. READ MORE >>>
As we’ve seen, God chose Abraham for a reason. His plan for history required very specific foundation materials. As a man, he had to have certain convictions, a certain value system. Abraham carried an emotional and spiritual gene which God found desirable to pass on to future generations. In fact, it was Abraham’s willingness to invest in future generations that God found so desirable. The first few verses in Genesis 15 help us understand this more. I’m going to look at them one at a time, a couple of verses each week.
“After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.’” — Gen. 15:1
One must start by asking, why is Abram afraid? Remember, God does not speak into a vacuum. He isn’t spouting random, semi-poetic phrases. If he says something, there is cause for it. Abram, apparently, is fearful. Why does he need the reassurance that God will be a shield to him? After all, he has just battled five kings and prevailed (see ch. 14). Abram should be doing a victory dance. What’s happening here? READ MORE >>>
What’s the key to the earthly expression of a heavenly Father’s kingdom? Big clue: Look for the man with a father’s heart.
Big Picture: God created Time and Space as a palette for his great story of redemption and love. The story ends (which is really just another beginning) when the infinite heavenly realm is joined to the limited earthly realm, and the two become one. To accomplish this, Christ entered history. A great king, veiled as a lamb, is by far the most clever plot twist ever devised, right up until he tops it by allowing himself to be killed, then coming back from the dead. Then, if possible, the story gets even richer. Because of Christ, God is now able to place his divine essence right smack into the heart of humanity. The Holy Spirit is poured out. God begins to invade the planet to the tune of millions of people. “Just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you” (Lu 22:29). Eventually the entire cosmos will be cleansed from the stain of sin. “Then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the…Father” (1 Cor. 15:24).
In spite of all the grandiosity, in human terms, the real showstopper may be how much the entire process hinged on God finding one man to start the ball rolling. Think about the READ MORE >>>