My life alongside God's word, volume 3. 'Everybody living happily together' section.
– by Joseph Noel Sati
Please read Genesis 15:1-21.
What is your biggest worry? Do you know that you’re not the first to worry and you will not be the last. The good news is that God understands our struggles and patiently helps us to overcome all of these and hold on to the hope we have in Him. For He is Yahweh (I am who I am) the Great and the
Almighty, Exodus 3:13-14. In this reflection we will see how Abram, who is called righteous by God, went through a tough experience similar to any you might experience or you may
have gone through already. This Scripture record is to encourage us all not to fear but rather to believe and to trust in Yahweh (God).
God is our shield, we should not focus on our problems – Genesis 15:1-3
God is our shield in all times. From the previous chapter we know Abram has just came out of war where he went to rescue his relative Lot, his brother’s son. He had a great
victory over the people of that land. But being a stranger among them he had two fears:
- He had the fear of the people. Being a stranger in a foreign land he thought people
might attack or harm him
- He also feared the real world that was full of evil around him as well as good.
That is why God talked to him in vision, one of the ways God talks to His people. Abram had a heavenly visit. “After these things the word of God came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward”. God Himself promised that He was and would always be Abram’s shield or, in another word, protector.
Reflecting on our context in South Sudan, where we have been through and are still going through many civil wars and armed conflicts bringing insecurity in many places, we need to hold on to God’s promises of Him being our shield. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 91:1-2, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the
Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’”. He realised what we all need to understand, that God promised by Himself and nothing else, to be our Defender, Shelter, Protector and Guard, in every one of our daily circumstances.
In Old Testament Hebrew God is Yahweh (I am who I am), “… Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield (or sovereign), your very great reward”, Genesis 15:1.
Do not focus on your problem: rather trust Him
Abram, although being given the promises, had not yet received any tangible things to assure him these promises would be true. He acted honestly and confessed his biggest
worry, which was that he did not have a child of his own and so Eliezer of Damascus would become his heir. This is what had been taking Abram‘s mind even after God had promised to be his shield. Still he needed to be sure that his own offspring (whom he did not yet have!) would be his heir. God had patiently helped Abram understand and be sure of his promise that his heir will be his own offspring. God gave him a clear example by bringing him outside to count all of the stars in heaven, if he could! His offspring who will come from him will be such a great number. No-one else’s child will be his heir. Abram believed God and that was counted as righteousness to him, vs. 5-6.
Many of us, with all the available promises of God in the Scripture, continue to live with fears and worries of who will hear us, or, in the situation that we may be going through we
think that God has forgotten us and so we look for tangible things to hold on to instead of God. However, God wants us to believe in Him and His mighty power, for since He can
create the stars in heaven by just His word, then nothing at all will be too difficult for Him. Therefore we need to hold on to his promises because there is great reward for those who wait upon the Lord and His promises. He is never too late as the apostle Paul wrote in Roman 8:25, “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience”, and Isaiah 40: 31 in the Old Testament says, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”.
God who keeps His promises – Genesis 15:4-6
As a practical example to Abram that his offspring will be many like the number of stars, which is a figurative speech simply meaning they will be so many as cannot be counted.
Abram believes and that is counted as righteousness to him, for to believe is to trust God for things that we have not seen or touched, just as we believe God for His nature, Who and how great He is, and that is counted as righteousness . Abram did not get into an argument with God by asking “how?”, or “why is it taking so long?”, or even, “when will it happen?”. He just simply believed that it would happen since God had
We are called to learn this lesson of faith and believe in God’s words for He is not a man to lie. It is our struggle many times over, especially when we want something and it takes
a much longer time then we expect. We can be tempted to look for short cuts, which will never work (Abram later did try one but disastrously failed in it). Believing can sound so
simple. It is only required from us to trust God and count on His words being true and reliable, but this is where the hard part comes in. We always want to do something for
ourselves so that we can feel good and satisfy our own desires. But you are called today just to believe, Hebrews 6:11, and to wait patiently for God to fulfil His promises in our lives. This should also be our belief and trust in God for the situation of South Sudan, our country.
God knows and controls the future – Genesis 15:7-16
Abram asked for a sign to understand how he would possess the land. God gave him a solemn and certain promise it would happen and God asked him to offer a sacrifice for that purpose. The incident that happened during the sacrifice tells the future of Abram’s offspring. It reveals to us God’s nature of knowing what kind of future the offspring of
Abram are going to face. They are going to be sojourners in a strange land for four hundred years (four generations) and then God will bring them out to the promise land. Abram did not complain about it. He just submitted to God’s sovereign plan recognising His Lordship over all. He received the
promise that he will live longer and go to his Father in peace, both rewards for his belief and his faithfulness to God.
God’s covenant and promises are for our good – Genesis 15:17-21
God made that covenant with Abram and gave him the details of the territory, which later the children of Abram would inherit. This confirmed to Abram about the land that he would one day possess. God answered all his questions, and not only that went on to make a solemn covenant with him. Looking through these Scriptures helps us to understand that God is the God who keeps His covenant and, once again, it requires us to just believe. Yet sometimes, or actually many times, we think we can do something to help God out!
This is where we miss, and often prolong, the fulfilment of His promises to us. Therefore allow me to urge you (here including myself) to believe and not to try to do something
“to help God out”. Always seek to quietly obey God and rely on Him to act despite the context or the situation you are living in. Let us believe that God has heard our prayers for
South Sudan and Sudan, and He will deliver us from all evil and one day we will celebrate His goodness in both of our lands. The story of Abram’s faith and belief in God is narrated
to us in the Scripture, to teach us and remind us that:
God is there to protect us as He has promised by Himself for He is Yahweh (I am who I am). He is the One who appeared to Moses in the burning bush later in the Scripture and the One who came in flesh as Jesus to redeem us from sin and the power of darkness, to bring us into the freedom of His salvation by grace.
He keeps His promises no matter what has happened. He knows the future for He is omniscient, and His plans are always for our good.
When He makes a covenant with us He does not break it at any time or in any case. We have seen this with Abram and all those who believe in Him.
Let us shelter in Him and focus on Him, because our God alone is our strong Deliverer.