Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)
God asked Abram to make a journey from his homeland. Abram listened to God’s voice, and faithfully followed God’s voice. God did bless Abram, who was faithful to God. The greatest blessing to Abram was to make him into a great nation. Abram completely believed the blessing, and he did everything that he could. Abram was also generous. He did not quarrel with his nephew who split the Abram’s possession and leave Abram. Abram was a good man to his nephew and especially a man of faith to God.
Abram walked with God quite a long time. However, there was no evidence in his life about God’s promise. Although God blessed him to be a great nation, in fact, he did not have his own son. How could a great nation be created out of his son who did not exist? This really bothered him again and again whenever he thought about the God’s blessing. Finally, Abram decided to help God by creating his own solution – a logical and rational approach to create a great nation out of Abram. That is, making his servant as his heir, and letting him and his descendants to form a great nation because his wife could not have a baby. Then he suggested to God. What was the God’s answer?
“No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4) God’s answer was “No.” God repeated His promise.
Let’s put us in Abram’s shoe. For a long time, Abram struggled about God’s promise. For Abram’s eyes, it would have never been materialized because it was a simply non-starter. No son means no descendants. Then how possibly his descendants who do not exist would form a great nation? All known evidences – no son and his barren wife, told the other story: the promise would not happen. As a good follower of God, rather than walking away from God’s promise, he decided to introduce a workable solution that would make the God’s promise come true. Then with a great courage, Abram present to God while expecting God would give him an approval because his approach was logical. As soon as he presented his solution, God said “No.”
Abram was really discouraged. Did God not know Abram’s disappointment? No, God knew exactly how Abram felt, what Abram’s motivation was, how hard Abram worked to get to the solution, and how much courage he had to take to tell about his solution that could make God’s promise come true rather than just a spoken promise. After saying “no,” God re-enforced His promise: “you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then God immediately took him outside by His loving hand, and said to him “Look up into the sky and count he stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:5b)
God told to Abram as a loving parent to Abram. Let’s think about a situation. Our children are about to commit a dangerous act. Then what will we do as a parent. He immediately stop our children by saying “no” to preventing them from damaging themselves by continuing a harmful thing to our children. Yes, what they try to do must look good to their own eyes. Abruptly blocking our children tends to be dry and even too cold to our children. Then what we do next as a loving parent? With love, (yes, with love) we pamper them with our good words to make them cheer up again rather than focusing on what is wrong. We know love is stronger than correcting on a wrong behavior.
Please see what God did. He took Abram who was really discouraged, and showed the night sky full of stars. Then God explained his promise using the stars completely filled up the night sky. (Have you seen a clear night that was completely filled with stars from horizon to the top of the sky? In the era of Abram, there was no light pollution and the sky was clear. Abram could see numerous stars including the milky way rising from the horizon cutting through the sky into half, and reaching the other side of the horizon. It must have been a breath-taking scene, which is very rare to us who live in and around cities now a days. For those who are city dwellers, please visit a remote place where there is no light-pollution. Then in a clear night, look up the stars in the sky, which city-dwellers almost completely forgot while living under the light-polluted dull night sky.) Then Abram could connect God’s promise with the countless stars in the vast span of the night sky. Finallyl, Abram could visualize the God’s blessing. Abram was comforted, and his heart was filled with awe and joy in God’s promise. God restored Abram’s faith.
The Bible continues: “Then Abram believed the Lord.” (Genesis 15:6a) Yes, Abram could believe again, which was not by his own effort, but was made by God, who was merciful and full of love. God always lavishly blesses His people, as He did to Abram. God added, “I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” (Genesis 15:7) God specifically named about his blessing and made a promise with Abram. Abram felt that the land before him was too good for him. He could not imagine himself who occupied the vastly blessed land that lay before his eyes, because owning the land was beyond his ability. It might have been possible on in his dream.
What was the response of Abram? “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” (Genesis 15:8) Abram was not much different from us. He could not believe what was told by God. Additionally, Abram was hurt so much. He believed God’s promise and did everything that he could do. The result was empty. If it was empty, it would be better. He could forget. No. All things happening his life pointed to the opposite story – God’s promise would never been materialized. Additionally, his logical approach was flat denied by God. Then Abram was comforted when God displayed the star in the night sky, and reinforced His promise by connecting the numerous stars to His promise. Abram, although comforted, wanted not to be hurt once more.
Abram gave a thought about the land before him. First, he did not have any knowledge about the land — who occupied the land, how many, how strong, etc. Were they friendly or hostile to Abram? They might be much stronger than Abram. Finally, he questioned to himself: who would give his/her own land to a total stranger – Abram unless Abram invaded them and forcefully subdued them. Was Abram capable of doing this? No. It was not. Abram could not stop asking directly for this time.
Again God exactly saw Abram’s heart and knew his struggle in his heart. God asked him offer a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. Abram did. As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep. God showed up in his dream and secretly revealed His promise and the future of Abram’s descendent. God made a covenant with Abram with details — “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypta to the great Euphrates River— the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:18b-20)
God was tenaciously faithful to Abram. Why? God dearly loved Abram. Yes, God dearly loves His children. He is also tenaciously faithful to His children. Praise God! We are His children. He will tenaciously love 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. (Romans 8:38-39)