“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? I think it’s fair to say that dreams that line up with God’s values and methods have the best chance. Just as fathers are the crucial beginning, and family the crucial means, in Genesis 15, covenant is revealed as the prime value system. This is consequential in three respects:
- Covenant is the native language of the kingdom of God. Everything God does is covenantal.
- The Covenant of Marriage is the bedrock of society.
- Woman, Wife and Mother are deserving of extreme and irrevocable dignity, worth and love.
It truly takes two to tango. The great equalizing, read-between-the-lines action of God in Genesis 15 is to introduce the solemn, joyous, sovereign seal of His approval upon Woman as the life-birthing counterpart to the life-giving Man.
Do you see it? Question: How can an heir come from man’s body? Answer: it can’t. It can only come from his wife. Later, in a desperate and ultimately self-defeating attempt to make the dream come true, Abram will try to force God’s hand by taking up relations with his concubine. No surprise, a child is, indeed, produced. And if all that is required is intercourse between a man and a woman, then Ishmael should do just fine. But God not only says no to Eliezer the slave, he says no to Ishmael the illegitimate son. The founder of our faith is getting schooled. God wants to establish a truly different genetic code, therefore, any woman won’t do, Abe. Only your covenant woman: Your wife. Class dismissed. What God will bless—the promise He (God) and he (Abram) will fully endorse and bring to pass, the nation He/he will create and the value system He/he will pass on—can only come out of husband and wife as father and mother. Please understand, it wasn’t that God didn’t like Ishmael. He rejected Ishmael as Abram’s heir because Ishmael was man’s strength, man’s will, man’s desire, operating outside the bounds of covenant with man’s wife. Sarai is the only one authorized to bring forth an heir. Only the covenant bride can bring forth the covenant son.
And don’t be fooled. Covenant doesn’t make a woman a “baby mama.” It makes her the pearl of your soul. It’s the way you pronounce her worth to the world, and secure her love against the ravages of time. In covenant, the woman knows, “I am my beloved’s and he is mine.” Forever, but always in the present tense.
Here’s the takeaway: Whatever social revolution the church hopes to bring to the earth, you can’t fulfill a God-sized dream apart from God-ordained covenant. Marriage isn’t merely a useful social construct. Nor is it the malleable tradition of men. It is literally the power of God at work in the nations, embodied in the bond between a man and a woman. Don’t mess with it. Or in the immortal words of REO Speedwagon, “It’s time to bring this ship back to the shore. And throw away the oars…forever.” (Feel free to groan).
No turning back. There is a dream inside your wife. There is a dream inside your family. Fathers and husbands…find it…nourish it…protect it…release it!