Studies have shown that Americans often say “yes” when asked the basic question, “Do you believe in God?” Based on the general attitude of our society, however, those statistics may seem quite high. Why? Could it be that there is a gulf of difference between believing in God and believing God? In today’s passage, Abram makes the switch from believing in the Lord to believing the Lord, and a new journey begins.
- What areas in your life hint that you may believe in God but that you may not truly believe what God says is best for your life?
READ THE WORD: GENESIS 15:1-21 (ESV)
15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, 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, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out 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 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 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 on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “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. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers 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, behold, 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 offspring 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.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- In his earthly calculations, whom did Abram see as his only possible heir? What was God’s response to Abram’s assessment of the situation (vs. 4)?
- What did God use to demonstrate the extent to which he planned to bless Abram with heirs? What does this show about God’s ability to carry out his plans?
- What caused God to count Abram as righteous?
- Were all of Abram’s doubts erased (vs. 8)? How did God respond to Abram’s doubts?
- When was a time that you doubted God’s ability to carry out his plans in your life? Did you respond in faith or in doubt?
RESPOND TO GOD
Abram was not without doubt; but “he believed the LORD,” and the covenant ceremony began. If we are not careful, we can focus on the details that make up the majority of the passage and miss the big picture of the covenant. The thesis of the covenant appears in verse one when God tells Abram not to fear the future because HE is the shield—HE is the reward. God desires for us to see our relationship with him as the goal of the covenant. It’s not about what he will eventually give us. It’s about believing him. It’s our belief that marks our acceptance by God and activates our journey to experience his promises. Do you really believe that God is the reward, or do you see the reward as the earthly benefits of believing in God?
- Ask God to move you past believing in him to believing him… really believing what he says in his Word and applying it to your everyday life.