Promise (Genesis 15)
Reflections on Genesis 15
The King’s Currency
Promises are the currency of God’s relationship with us. Unlike traditional economies, however, the Lord’s transactions are an imbalanced exchange. The generous King freely gives his promises to the beggars in his court. We, those mendicant scroungers, meet God through faith. This virtue simply means that our outstretched hands receive the Lord’s gifts. What, then, are the good promises he gives us?
Sorrows Will End
When God spoke to Abraham, he promised generations of sons and daughters to the barren patriarch. He also, however, foretold that the offspring would cower under Pharaoh’s whip for a time. “Know for certain,” God declares to Abraham, “that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there” (Genesis 15:13).
This assurance of sorrow is true for us as well. The mire of pain and sadness will rise on our lives. Jesus teaches that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Our grief may sit with us a while, but it will not be our end. One day the wells of our tears will dry up and joy will fill those reservoirs. “But take heart!” Christ continues, “I have overcome the world.” Our God will raise a towering standard against our onrushing suffering (Isaiah 59:19).
The Ram in the Thicket
Not only will this life bring us pain, but it will also tempt us to sin. Though we may compromise with the devil, God promised to blaze a trail to forgiveness. Abraham, the father of the Hebrew nation, testified to this truth as he walked up the mountain to sacrifice his only son:
Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together (Genesis 22:7-8).
God eventually provided a ram caught in a thicket for Abraham to use for the sacrifice. The picture of the patriarch and his son hiking up the mountain, however, foreshadows the Father leading Christ to Calvary. As God propelled his Son to Golgotha’s peak, we see the offering provided on our behalf. When the thorny crown was laid upon Jesus’ head, we witness the providential lamb caught in the thicket of our evil. Christ was offered so that we may be free from our sins and delivered from our sorrows. This is God’s promise to you.
Footsteps—putting feet on your faith
1. How do we receive God’s promises?
2. What are God’s promises to you?
3. Why are they difficult to grasp at times?
Dear God, your promises are our guide through this life. When sorrow overwhelms me, I remember that you will wipe every tear away. In the moments I forsake you for my sin, I remember that you will never walk away from me. My darkest secret cannot blot out your light, nor can my most hideous evil veil your beauty. Your holy eyes still look firmly upon me in my sin, and love me just as fiercely. Keep me rooted today and every day after in you. By Christ in whom we live and move and have our being, amen.