23 May 2021 PM – Genesis 15:1-21 – Gen2021 – Scott Childs
Introduction: Concerns! We often have concerns. Your concern may be an upcoming exam at school, a leaking water pipe, an unusual noise in your car, a conflict at work, a wayward child, an unsafe situation, or a disease symptom. How does God want us to deal with concerns?
Genesis 15 reveals that Abram had three major concerns that troubled him. The preacher, Warren Wiersbe, said that Abram had three great concerns: 1) His safety, 2) His heir, and 3) His land.
Transition: I think that is a helpful way to divide this chapter as we learn how to deal with concerns as Abram dealt with his.
1. Abram was Concerned about His Safety, v.1.
a. It appears that he feared the enemy’s return.
1) Abram was fearful. He was grateful that God gave him victory over the enemies that attacked Sodom, but now it seems that his thoughts and emotions began to trouble him.
2) Perhaps he thought, “What if the enemies return and seek revenge?” It is wise to be cautious, but it is wrong to fret about the “what if” possibilities. Do you ever find yourself concerned about things that “may” happen?
3) Our emotions are very real and very powerful. Emotional pain can hurt more than physical pain. It can disable us.
b. Abram let God’s Word calm his fears.
1) The word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision. This is the first time in the Bible that we read this phrase.
2) Another first occurrence in the Bible is God’s words, “Fear not”. God was greater than any of his fears.
3) God’s word comforted his fear. God was his mighty shield of protection as well as his provider of abundant blessing.
4) God sees the beginning and the end of every problem. He is more than strong enough to help us through the toughest conflict. We must say with the Psalmist, (Psalms 56:3) “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.“
5) When we start getting “what if” thoughts, we need to remember the greatness of our God. (Jeremiah 32:27) “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?“
6) Abram heard this in a vision. We have God’s written Word. It reveals God’s greatness, love, protection, and comfort. Perhaps the main reason that we lack God’s comfort in time of concern is that we do not carefully study His Word, trust His ability, and claim His promises.
2. Abram was Concerned that he had no Heir, v.2-6.
a. God had still not given him the promised son.
1) Abram was 75 years old when he entered Canaan. In Gen 16:3, we learn that he has dwelt 10 years in Canaan. At this time, he may have been nearly 85 years old. He was still childless, and he began to think that his servant Eliezer would be his heir, v.2-3.
2) From a human perspective, we can understand Abram’s concerns. He was now an old man and Sarai was nearly 75 herself. Abram was getting impatient.
3) How patient are you when God seems slow?
4) An unknown author penned this poem, “Patience is a virtue. Possess it if you can. Found seldom in a woman, never in a man.”
5) Are you waiting for God to answer a prayer? God’s ways and His timing are often hard for us to understand. When such concerns begin to worry us, we must remember that God’s ways are always perfect and His timing is never late. (Isaiah 55:8) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.“
b. Abram gained insight from God’s Word.
1) God directed Abram by His Word, v.4. Abram’s heir would be his own son.
2) God promised Abram that the descendants of his son would be as countless as the stars, v.5.
3) Abram believed God, v.6. Again, we see that true righteousness comes from God when a man places his faith in God. That was true in Abram’s day. It is also true today. (Romans 3:28) “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.“
4) It appears that God was waiting to give Abram a son in order to show His power. He wanted Abram’s son to be a miracle. If we will wait on the Lord, He will give us what is best for us in the perfect time.
3. Abram was Concerned about His Land, v.7-21
a. Abram could not see how he would inherit the land.
1) God promised Abram several years earlier that he would inherit the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12:7) “And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.“
2) Years had passed and Abram had no more land than when he arrived in Canaan. He still had no title deed to any land (v.8). He may not have been questioning God’s promise, but rather looking for tangible proof.
3) When we cannot see how God is working in our lives, we may become impatient with God. We want God to answer our prayers right now and in our way.
4) That is when we need to do as the Psalmist wrote, (Psalms 27:14) “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.“
b. Abram found assurance in God’s Word.
1) Note God’s word to him. God told Abram to prepare animals for a covenant ceremony (v.9-21) (cf., Jer 34:17-20). This was not a normal sacrifice.
2) Abram fell into a deep sleep while guarding the carcasses. During his deep sleep, God spoke to Abram, v.13.
a) His descendants would be afflicted in a strange land for 400 years, v.13.
b) They would eventually leave that land with great substance, v.14.
c) Abram would die an old man in peace, v.15.
d) In the fourth generation, his heirs would inherit the land of Canaan, v.16. Note also that the reason for the delay was that “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.” God used the term “Amorite” to describe all the inhabitants of Canaan (cf., Amos 2:10).
3) JFB Commentary states, “In explanation of this transaction, it is necessary to observe that, on occasions of great importance, when two or more parties joined in a compact, the ancient custom was to ratify the covenant or treaty by sacrifice, which was offered in the following manner. The carcasses of the animals to be used in the sacrificial rite were divided into halves, which were arranged on two separate altars erected opposite to each other. Then the parties between whom the covenant was made passed in the intermediate space, with the severed parts of the victim lying on either side of them – a symbolical act by which they obliged themselves to the covenant by all their hopes of peace and prosperity, or imprecated the divine vengeance on their own heads in the event of their altering or violating the terms of the treaty. The scene terminated by the consumption of the sacrifice by fire… That fire was a symbol of the divine presence, everyone acquainted with the Language of the Scriptures will admit.”
4) By that visible covenant, God confirmed his promise to Abram, v.18. This covenant or promise was a renewal of the one he already gave Abram (Gen 12:7, 13:15).
Conclusion: Abram was concerned about 1) His safety, 2) His heir, and 3) His land. Abram let God’s Word calm his fears. He gained insight from God’s Word about his desire for a son. He also found assurance regarding his land in God’s Word. Can you see the common ingredient? He spent time with God and used God’s Word to deal with his concerns.
What are your concerns this evening? Make a list of them. Where are you going to find help to deal with your concerns? Go to God’s Word! God has the answers for your fears, for your unfulfilled desires, and for your impatience or lack of faith. Spend extra time in prayer with God. Focus on God’s unlimited abilities.