The Object of Abraham’s Faith
Genesis 15 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
God spoke to Abraham, and gave Him a word in a vision. It must be remembered that when God first spoke to Abraham, there was no nation of people that served Him. Abraham was born and raised in a home of pagans who worshiped false gods, just like many of us who thought we had been told the truth but we were actually brought in under deception. The context of the word has the thought of answers. In other words, it’s as though God is giving Abraham answers to questions. Undoubtedly, Abraham had questions. God had called him to be a mighty nation and to this point nothing had happened as he would have expected.
God tells Abraham to fear not. In this sense, the word doesn't appear to be speaking of reverence; rather, it speaks of unhealthy fear, probably related to what God has asked of Abraham. The emotion of fear often accompanies the words God gives His people. There is a natural tendency to internalize and take upon self the burden of accomplishment. Instead of looking to the God who gave the word of instruction as the source of accomplishment also, we often attempt to take the reins and accomplish it ourselves. This type of approach will always lead to fears and anxiety because we will realize, that in our own abilities, we are faced with an insurmountable task, wondering, how I will ever accomplish what God wants from me.
The reason that Abraham doesn't need to be fearful is that God is his shield. The shield in this case is known as a buckler. In other words, God is Abraham’s protection in the battle. You and I are in a war also Christian. We have already discussed this concept in detail, but true Christianity understands that there is an enemy of God, and God’s plan, he (Satan) is the accuser, the opposer, and his desire is to exalt himself above all that is God. This is what we are in war against.
But just as in Abraham’s case, God is our shield and our reward. Typically, this type of shield was a small one, in some cases, made out of crocodile hide. These shields were small because they were utilized in the midst of hand to hand combat.
God wants Abraham to know that there's no need for fear because God is his protection in the midst of battle. Furthermore, God is also his reward. This is descriptive of payment. With this said, God is the protection, sustenance (provision), and ultimately the reward, when we endeavor to accomplish, in God’s strength, what He has asked us to do.
What an honor! Abraham your reward is me (God), your payment for your work is me (God). The idea is a wage or payment. You want me in your life; concern yourself with what I'm concerned with. You want me in your life be about my business.
And Abraham's business was directly related to the birthing of Messiah, directly related to the plan of salvation. Stay faithful child of God. Stay faithful to God and His plan, and concern yourself with His business-- the adding of souls to the eternal family. If you do this, there will be a reward. The reward will be Him.
And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?
It's as though Abraham is saying, "I know you showed up in my life out of nowhere. When I was lost like everyone else, walking in darkness, and worshiping false gods, you-- a God that was alive, a God that wasn't made of clay or wood, formed or fashioned by the hands of men, but a God who's alive; You, revealed yourself to me. I heard your voice, and I know what you've asked of me, and now you're coming to me you're my protection and my reward, but the very thing I need from you, I haven't received. Your promise to me requires offspring, and I have none.
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed:and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
And so Abraham, like so many believers, attempts to strategize or accomplish in his own strength the plan of God for his life.
His plan is to use his servant Eliezer as his heir. To be truthful, nearly all Christians face these types of trials in their everyday walks with God. We are so prone to get ahead of and out of God's will. Many times, in our personal lives, we make decisions about relationships without regards for God's will. We act like we are in God’s will. We say things like, "God wants me happy. He wants me to have a relationship that will make me happy."
No! God wants you to focus on Him. He wants you to want Him to be your fulfillment. Get that right Christian. Get that right and maybe you'll see your desires come to pass, but stop living a lie and acting like you’re in God's will when everything you're running after is moving you further away from God.
Abraham was trying to help God with his plan, but Abraham's job wasn't to bring the plan to pass through manipulation, logic, and maneuvering. No! Abraham's job was supposed to be believing God's word for the promise to come to pass.
Many times, this is where we go wrong. We are so consumed with what we call the promises of God that are directed towards our "felt needs," we put what God wants on the back burner. You go on and live your life that way. You go on and live a self- seeking life on this side, in this physical world, but don't be surprised when you get to eternity and your eternal reward is based on what you went after here don't be surprised, because that's what you wanted.
God said, "I'm your reward Abraham." Is that the reward you're looking for Christian-- that in the end you've gained God, you've gained His eternal presence?
And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
God's promise was that the seed would come forth from Abraham. Already, in this process, Abraham is trying to compromise God’s word and figure out a way to make things happen another way. Ultimately, Abraham will go his own way, and in his flesh, produce offspring in his own strength. Abraham's choices produced a child of the flesh named Ishmael. The Ishmaelites were a wandering people who ultimately fell prey to the lying religion of Islam. We are still dealing with Abraham's decisions today. With this in mind, the current Christian should be made aware that fleshly attempts to produce God’s will, result in repercussions. You can try to cover them up all you want to, but God and you know the strife and chaos produced by those decisions. There is only one way to stop the fruit of those decisions: repent (turn) and seek God moving forward.
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them:and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
You see the Lord's promises to Abraham were greater than his flesh could ever produce that's why God needed Abraham to believe Him at His word.
The stars of the skies speak of a multitude much greater than just the nation of Israel. Instead, God's promise to Abraham was that through him a nation would be brought forth, and that through that nation, Messiah would be brought forth, and through the followers of God, both offspring through Abraham's Israel and Messiah's church, the seed would be more numerous than the stars in the sky, the eternal family of God would be more numerous than the natural mind could perceive.
Even though Abraham would struggle moving forward, he believed God regarding the plan of salvation to the extent that he understood it. The result of Abraham's faith was that God called him righteous.
God wants to call you righteous. He wants to call me righteous. The question that must be asked is will we believe God regarding His plan for salvation? Or will we attempt, in our own strength and logic, to make it through?
Moving forward from this point I would like to show you how much of God's plan Abraham understood.
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee (seed) shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
The word scripture is graphe, where we get our word graphic, meaning writings. This passage is speaking of the writings of God, so what is being said is that the writings of God are preaching the gospel. To be truthful, before the words of God were written, they were spoken, with God's intent that they would be written, even engraved, within this physical world for man to behold with his eyes.
The scripture of God is His communication to a lost and dying world. As we move closer to the end, there will be more movement away from believing the word of God as inspired, and more movement towards trusting science and the logic of man to fix the ills of humanity, but God says His writings preach the gospel.
The word gospel means "good news." We have already established the bad news in recent, prior classes. We discussed the fall of man and his separation from the presence of God.
But the scriptures contain within them the word of hope from God, the hope that God has a plan, a plan which contains good news. The good news is that while man is separated because of his sin, God's plan will bring restoration again. God spoke the scriptures in advance, showing that the way to salvation would come through Abraham; the specific thought being justification, that legal declaration given by God, which speaks a verdict of righteousness over a man’s life because of faith exhibited in the promised one.
The justification spoken of specifically in this passage is for the heathen. Who is Paul talking about when he says heathen? The word is ethnos. Ethnos is where we get our word ethnicity, which categorizes people according to cultural groups. Interestingly, the two people groups being juxtaposed are the Jews, God’s people created in Abraham, a nation whose borders were delineated by God’s promises and their circumcision, long before those borders were ever delineated by geographical boundaries such as rivers, ridges, or ravines. With this in mind, God is delineating the heathen as that ethnos or people group who are not His, essentially, speaking of those pagan nations who neither believed in Him nor worshiped Him.
Abraham was called out of the world, and through him a nation called Israel was created. From that nation, the world was given Jesus, and through the name of Jesus, men are saved, made righteous-- justified: Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
God's promise to Abraham and the essence of the gospel is that through what God would bring forth from Abraham, the world would be blessed. When God spoke this word to Abraham, regarding His eternal plan, Abraham believed God (the action required for faith), his faith resulted in righteousness being placed into his (Abraham’s) account. Now, thousands of years later, when heathen or Jews for that matter, place their faith in the eternal plan of God, they are blessed along with faithful Abraham, because they also, receive the pronouncement of justified over their lives.
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
So the promise given to Abraham regarding the blessing of the nations through his (Abraham's seed) was not the nation of Israel itself; rather, it was the seed brought forth from that nation, and that seed was Christ.
But how do we propose that 2000 years before Jesus was ever born Abraham would have been able to know about Jesus, in order to place his faith in Him for righteousness, resulting in justification?
Undoubtedly, we will have to look, but be assured, this is what God preached in advance to Abraham-- Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day:and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him:but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
There is so much in these verses to unpack, but we need to stay focused, so I will only briefly mention a sideline thought. Jesus tells the Pharisees two incredible concepts (1) Abraham saw the day of Jesus, and his vision resulted in jumping joy (2) Jesus says that He was before Abraham. More specifically, He says before Abraham was "I Am." Now, where have you heard that wording before? Jesus was referring to Himself as God here, specifically, as the voice from the burning bush. For anyone, specifically, a Jehovah's Witness who wouldn't believe that's what's being said, look at how the people He was talking to responded, they picked up stones to kill Him.
But our focus must remain centered upon Abraham's visualization of the day of Jesus, which is undoubtedly connected to God's promises to him and his son Isaac, which produced Israel and gave Messiah to a lost and dying world.
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
How beautiful is the plan of God? We see in God's command to Abraham thousands of years before Jesus the same terminology God would say about His own Son, "Take your son, your only son."
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And here we see a picture of the cross because the wood was laid upon the back of the son, just as the cross was laid upon the back of God’s only Son.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father:and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood:but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:so they went both of them together. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham:and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him:for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram (a substitute sacrifice offered instead of Isaac) caught in a thicket by his horns:and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah Jireh:(the Lord our provider) as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.