GENESIS 15:1-21



1. a)  What was God's word to Abram in a vision?

Verse 1, "Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your very great reward."

b)  Why might he have been afraid?

He had just won a great victory over Kedorlaomer.  His allies might now be seeking revenge on Abram

c)  Why might he have needed assurance about a reward?

He was exhausted in order to get back Lot.  In addition, Lot had once again left him to go his own way.  And because Abram believed God, he gave all he had plundered to the king of Sodom.  He didn't receive anything tangible for all his hard work.  Moreover, certainly some of his men had been wounded.

In this time, the word of God came to him.  God did not give him anything tangible to hold onto.  But he gave his word of promise.  God's word of promise is more valuable than anything because God keeps his promise to us. 

God says, "I am your shield, and your great reward."  Let's think of this word in detail.

1)  I am your shield. - God assures Abram of his protection.

2)  I am your great reward.  What does this mean that God himself is a reward?  God wants to give himself to us.  It means that God wants to restore his image in us and change us who are selfish, narrow-minded, jealous, and lustful into wholesome, noble children of God, who act, talk like God.  The purpose of God's calling upon one man Abram was to recover God's image in him fully.  

God wants to change our character, our desire, our hope, our behaviors, our habits, our way of thinking and talking and acting completely into God's character, God's desires, God's hope, God's way of thinking and acting and talking.  God wants to engrave his image into us once more.  We will be changed into holy children of God.  This is the greatest reward we can ever imagine.  

Abram wanted some tangible reward in his hands such as money or son, which were perishable.  But what God wanted to give him was far beyond.

2. a)  What was the real problem in Abram's heart?

His no son problem.  He didn't have an heir.

b)  To whom and how did he complain?

He complained to God and said, "O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezar of Damascus?"  And Abram also said, "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."

c)  What does this reveal about him?

He was impatient.  God had not forgotten his promise, but Abram did.  Abram was narrow minded.  All he wanted to have was one son.  God had promised to make him into a great nation.  Abram had fear and self-pity.  It revealed his life problem of a 'no-son', nor heir.  He couldn't believe and accept God's word.  

But his prayer to God was good.  This is because we should learn to complain to God instead of always complaining to people.  When we look at ourselves and our lives of faith without faith in God, everything looks hopeless and meaningless.  This is what Abram was doing.  God had promised to make him into a great nation.  Abram must believe this despite his human condition.

3. a)  What was God's specific word of promise regarding Abram's "no-son" problem?

Verse 4, "This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir."  Then he said in verse 5, "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."  God gave Abram a specific answer to his complaint.  

God always answers all our questions with his words of promise.  Once again as in verse 1, "the word of the Lord came to Abram."  We must always learn to find hope and encouragement in and through the word of God in the Bible.

b)  Why did he take Abram outside and show him the stars?

He wanted for him to see the great power of God; give him an audio-visual lesson.  The Lord God who put up all the stars in their place could certainly give him one son, and even more, more numerous than the stars in th esky.  

When we despair because of our human condition or circumstances, we must look up at God and his might and power.  The Lord is the Creator of the heavens and the earth.  He can do anything.  There is nothing he cannot do.

4. a)  How did Abram respond to this word of promise?

Abram believed the Lord.  See verse 6.

b)  What do the words, "God credited it to him as righteousness" mean?

When Abram believed what God said, God accepted his belief as a credit of righteousness.  Abram had a credit to God as righteous man.  Because of his credit, now Abram had right to claim to God to be called as a righteous man.  By faith in God's word, we obtain righteousness.

c)  Why did Abram need to be made righteous?

He was in sin and unbelief regarding the original promise of God.  He must have God's vision - descendants like the stars.  His faith must grow.

d)  What change occurred in Abram's life as a result of his belief?

His inner fears disappeared.  His worries about the future heir disappeared.  In reality, his human condition had changed, it not at all.  But now he had faith in his heart.  This made all the difference.  When a person believes the promises of God, God cleanses him from sins and takes hold of his life.  He comes to dwell in the believing heart of one who accepts his words and he establishes a right relationship with him.  See Romans 4:2-5 and 4:18-25.


5. a)  What question regarding God's promises was still in Abram's mind?

About the land.  Verse 8, "O Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?"

6. a)  How did Abram prepare for the covenant ceremony?

Verse 9-10, Abram brought to God a heifer, a goat, a ram each 3 years old.  He also brought a dove and a young pigeon.  God told him to cut them in two, arrange the halves opposite each other.  The birds he did not cut in half.

b)  What do you think might be the purpose of this?

It was a custom or covenant ceremony common between kings of the day.  Abram wanted a sign to confirm God's will.  He began to broaden his heart and remember the other promises of God.  So God wanted to assure Abram that this would truly happen.  Later God would pass through the pieces.  See verse 17.  This was God's presence.  Abram demanded a sign, God gave it to him.

7. a)  What prophecy about the future of Abram and his descendants did God give him when he fell into a deep, trance-like sleep as the sun was setting?

About the exodus.  The people of Israel would be enslaved for 430 years in the land of Egypt.

b)  What does this teach us about the mysterious way of God?

God works in ways that are contrary to human thinking.  Why would God put his people through slavery?  This was God's training.  

If Abram and his descendants remained in Canaan, it would be impossible for them to grow into a multitude such as this.  They would leave like Lot, and be assimilated and melt into Canaanite culture.  

In Egypt, they'd share a common history of suffering and oppression and a common history of deliverance.  They would be molded into a nation that would never lose its identity.  Later they could see God's great grace.  

God trained his people, delivering them from the yoke of Pharaoh so that they could be a priestly nation.  See Exodus 19:4-6.

8.  a)  After sunset, when darkness had fallen, what happened?

A smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

b)  What further promise did God give Abram concerning the land?

Read verses 18b-21.

c)  What did this mean to him?  

All the land will be for him and his descendants.  Literally, the whole world.  See also Mark 16:15.



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