Lord’s Covenant – Genesis 15
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7 Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to 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.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; 14 but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for yourself, you shall go to your ancestors in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
God appears to Abram in a vision and shares a promise that is unthinkable to Abram. Abram was in his old ages when God appeared to him, and when God said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them” (Genesis 15:5 NRSV) Abram believed in him.
For Abram, in reality, this was hard to find true. He was in his old age, and might have tried to have a baby. However, he was childless and saw how his servant from Damascus will be inheriting all God has provided. At this time, with the culture he was surrounded, this must have been a devastating reality for him.
Regardless of his situation, when God said the descendants of Abram will be as many of the stars, he still believed. And God called him righteous. “And he believed the Lord; and the Lord[b]reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 NRSV).
God is pleased with his people believing in his words. Even though the world might say otherwise, we still believe in the everlasting life that is brought into this world through Jesus Christ. And Christmas is when God reveals the plan of God’s salvation through the baby in Bethlehem. So our focus should be in worshiping God’s love shared to us through Jesus.
God commands Abram to set an offering, a time to worship, as God conceals this promise. Abram is asked, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon” (Genesis 15:9 NRSV). Abram cuts open all animals in half, except the birds.
When it became dark, ‘a smoking fire pot and a flame torch’ came down from heaven and passed between the pieces of sacrifice and consumed them. That is what worship does. It conceals and reminds us of God’s promise.
I pray that the worship service we have on Christmas has the same effect on us, as we believe in the promise of eternal life. I pray for the light coming from God will consume us as we offer ourselves to our Lord. And may the promise of God’s Love to the world be shared among the world, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus.
Remember that we have our Christmas Pageant at 5:30 pm and Candlelight service at 11 pm. Hope to see you there, and pray that God will conceal God’s promise, in our heart, through worship. If you are traveling, I pray that you will find a church nearby to join us in Spirit.
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