The God of Abraham
Hello again and welcome to this series on the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. My name is Mario, and we pick up our story today on that curious encounter between Abram and Melchizedek. If you are just joining the discussion, I invite you to start listening from Episode 1 so that you can get a better understanding of where we are in this amazing story. You should have access to it on your favorite podcast app, or you can visit mariosministries.com, where we’ll have other resources that may enhance your study and understanding of Scripture and living out your faith.
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Well, without further ado, let’s dive into The God of Abraham, Part II.
Abram just had an incredible victory. His beloved nephew Lot and his family were captured in war between Sodom and other neighboring kingdoms, and when Abram heard of the news, he assembled an army of his own and rescued them, along with all their possessions.
On his victorious journey back, he is greeted by the king of Sodom and by “a priest of God Most High,” Melchizedek.
We briefly considered last time Melchizedek’s independent revelation and relationship with God. It is one of those mysteries in Scripture that reminds us of the awesomeness of God. Our Father’s all-encompassing work is difficult for us to comprehend, but we can certainly stand in awe of His majesty.
I think of Psalm 33:5, telling us “the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.” Full! Think of that! Do you look around and see that? Our eyes must be opened.
I think of the resurrected Jesus speaking to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. Luke tells us that, “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27). I long to hear about that conversation when I meet the Master. The details are not recorded in Scripture, but we know it happened.
In the same awe-inspiring way, Jesus will be identified by the writer of Hebrews (in chapter 7) as a priest in the order of Melchizedek. We do not have the time to go into all that this entails, but we get a sense of the importance of this mysterious priest of God that we are getting to know right here in Genesis.
Abram certainly recognized his holy authority, for he gives him “a tenth” of all he had attained. This passage will help shape the Christian practice of tithing to the Lord from all we have, if you ever wonder about where that practice comes from.
The king of Sodom welcomes all the people of Sodom back and wants Abram to keep all the material goods he got during the rescue. But Abram surprisingly refuses, saying, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me…” (Gn. 14:22-24).
We get a glimpse of Abram’s relationship to God here. Note he had “lifted his hand to him,” which implies some sort of oath and a continuing communication between God and Abram, beyond those specifically recorded. Abram seems to be following through on his reliance on God. He does not take ownership of this great victory, instead, he jealously protects the name of the Lord, seeking that no man may take away from His (God’s) glory. In Abram’s estimate, there is only one who can say He is responsible for Abram’s prosperity, God. He will not compromise that. Isn’t that amazing?
Following his encounter with Melchizedek, Abram has a vision. In it, God tells him, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great” (Gn. 15:1). Let us not lose sight of the simple fact then that the God of Abraham speaks through visions. We should not discard those in our lives.
Abram responded to God saying, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir” (Gn. 15:2).
Again, do you see what is happening here? Is this not encouraging to you, to see how Abram is free to speak to God from his heart? Can you not identify? He’s been faithful. He’s waited on the promise, but he doesn’t see how this is supposed to happen. With every passing year Sarai and he get older. There is no offspring. How is God continuing to speak of this great nation and blessing that will come through him?
Now saddle up, because God’s answer is just so like God. This is how we get to know Him—by listening to Him. We need to learn to read Scripture with full hearts and minds. Listen to what God tells Abram, starting in verse 5 of chapter 15. God brings him outside and says, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He says to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Can you believe it? This is not much different than what He’s said before. But God is patient with Abram and takes him as a child to see the stars. This is the Creator of all, who put the stars there in the first place. When we consider that, that he spoke and created out of nothing, you begin to realign your mind to the heavenly perspective. God is all-powerful, and he is for us.
I actually love doing this with my sons and daughters, I tell them we moved to the house we live in right now because I wanted them to see the majesty of God’s glory in the starry host above.
The God of Abraham’s lovingkindness is palpable. He is our Father. He is near us.
And what did Abram do after hearing that lovely, but familiar answer? He believed the Lord, verse 6 tells us, and it was counted to him as righteousness. As we mentioned last time this will be Abram’s enduring legacy. He believed God. Let’s make it ours too.
God said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” Here we get to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a bit more, he constantly reminds us, because of course we tend to forget, of what he has done, where we’ve come from and what he has planned for us.
He’ll continually remind the Israelites’ later on, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt,” in a similar way. And in our lives, we can always look back and see the Lord’s hand as to where he brought us out of. “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Carolina, PR” He tells me…. He, he… Lot’s of stories there, of God’s unwavering, sustaining love and mercy. It is one of my favorite things, to hear Christians tell me their “Exodus” story, so to speak.
If I ever meet you, please, tell me that story, it is just such a blessing to me. But back to the story…
Abram responds, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” This request doesn’t strike as doubting, we just heard Abram believed God. It seems more like an ask for help in seeing it more clearly. He seems to be asking for a sign, and God will respond with a familiar one.
God tells him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
God doesn’t specifically tell him what to do with them, but it seems Abraham knows these are for a sacrifice (it might be that instructions were given and simply not recorded) but it is not hard to imagine that Abraham is well versed on the practice.
He cut them in half, put the over against each other and waited on the Lord. The text actually shows us another sign of Abram’s devotion to the Lord. It tells us in verse 11 that when the birds came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Abram’s worship is similar to Abel’s, who gave the best that he had to the Lord. Here Abram wants to jealously guard his offering to the Lord. There is something for us to learn here. I fear sometimes we lose sight of just Who is it that we are dealing with when we approach the Great I Am. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the Creator of the Universe. And He is Holy!
C.S. Lewis tried to get at this idea on his Chronicles of Narnia. Most of you have read the books or seen the movies. In the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver is telling the children about Aslan (who is a sort of Christ-like figure that is represented by a great Lion in the books) and Susan, the youngest of the children is a bit afraid about meeting a Lion and she says, "Ooh… Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"... To which Mr. Beaver responds "Safe?... Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good.”
Amen! May His name be praised forever. Listener, our God is good. He is patient and loving and kind. He is empathetic, compassionate and meek. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,” says. Psalm 103: 8.
But He is not like you and me. He is holy. He calls us friends, says John 15:15, but it is out of His marvelous grace that he does that, not because we deserve such an honor.
He deserves our thanksgiving and praise. He deserves our reverence.
Do not buy into the dreadful modern idea of a small “g” god, who’s just your buddy hanging out with you, “chillin.” That is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a man-made non-god that will fail you, because it is not real.
The God we are getting to know here, is the sort of God you go out of your give the best to. Abram wouldn’t dare present an unworthy sacrifice to the Lord, so he fights off the birds trying to ruin it. And you will have to fight off your own “birds” so to speak that will try to come and prey on your spiritual sacrifices to the Lord. He is worthy.
The text tells us that Abram fell into a deep sleep and then “a dreadful and great darkness fell upon him” (that’s verse 12). There’s certainly much to think about this, but for now, let us note the magnificence of God’s presence. It is dreadful in the sense of where we stand in relation to it. This is one of the reasons why we need Jesus! Praise God, it is through Him, we are able to stand before the Father.
God speaks to Abram then while he experienced that dreadful darkness. He said to him:
“Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Gn 15:13–16)
So, here is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in full too. This too is part of the promise. It is not all bliss – a great nation and a new land. But hardship will follow. There is no misleading in God. There is only truth.
Life is hard. This we all know. And this the Scriptures reflect that without sugar-coating it. Abram’s seed is a “persecuted seed” said one commentator. And Jesus, to us said, in this world you will have trouble (John 16:33) “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Trouble is a fact for the Christian life. But so is the victory. That’s where our hope comes when we are facing trials. We will persevere. We will endure. The enemy will not have his way.
Abram’s seed is promised an Exodus. They will come out of the hardship.
And, if we have learned anything about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is that his word, his word is sure. As He speaks it will happen. And there is nothing, no-thing that can stand in the way.
That’s Romans 8: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … [those are all troubles, you see, but the love of God, which guarantees the victory will see us through] … Therefore, Paul declares, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen!
To finish up this episode here.
In the darkness, “a flaming torch passed between” the animals Abram had laid out. And with that sign, God sealed a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land…” The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has spoken. And as he says, so it shall be.
See you next time.