The Bible is full of promises from God, estimated to be in the thousands. God’s promises are absolutely essential to living a life for God.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness … by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature,
To paraphrase these verses, God has given you everything you need for every area of life through his great promises. What is a promise from God? A promise from God is a statement from God that He will or will not do something. Many of the promises in the Bible are conditional. You must do something in order to gain the benefit of the promise. Some promises are unconditional. But with all the promises of God, you must believe what God said is true and that He will fulfill His promise. John 3:16 is a conditional promise.
John 3:16 (ESV) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The condition of the promise is that you must believe in Jesus. The promise is that those who believe in Jesus will not perish in hell but have eternal life. How do you gain the benefit of a promise from God?
Hebrews 6:12 (ESV) so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The book of Hebrews gives us examples of men and women of faith who through faith and patience inherited the promises. We are to follow their example with regard to promises, to be imitators of them. One of the heroes of faith in Hebrews and other books in the New Testament is Abram, whom we are studying about in this message series. Abraham – Hearing God’s Voice. God spoke to Abram and made promises to Him, promises of offspring and the land of Canaan to live in.
Hebrews 6:15 (ESV) And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
Spoiler alert here. Abram is going to believe and wait patiently and so receive the blessing of God’s promises. You see, the promises of God allow you as a believer to live above stress and worry. You can believe the promises of God and He will fulfill those promises in your life. Today, our lesson is from Genesis 15 and is entitled “Covenant Promise.” You’re going to learn from the example of Abram, how to believe God’s promises for your own life. Through them God desires to give you everything you need for life and godliness.
Genesis 15:1 (ESV) 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.”
You’ll remember from last Sunday, that Abram with a small contingent of men, had defeated a large confederation of four kings. Perhaps Abram was fearful of a return attack of these kings. Clearly, Abram was fearful, for the Lord’s first words were “Fear not.” The Lord then promised that He would protect Abram as his shield. And the Lord concluded by saying that Abram would have a great reward. Abram then talked to the Lord and …
Genesis 15:2-3 (ESV) 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?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
Abram knew that the reward that God had for him was through children, as God had previously told him. Yet, some time had passed since God first spoke to Abram. Now, Abram says that he continues childless and his heir will be another men, as he had no children. So, Abram does not understand how God’s promise of great reward can be fulfilled.
Genesis 15:4-5 (ESV) 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.” 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.”
So, God addresses Abram’s doubt. First of all, the Lord clearly promises that Abram will have his very own son. Then God takes Abram outside to look at the nighttime stars. God promises Abram that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars of the heavens. So, God’s promise was much greater than Abram even having a son. Abram’s offspring would be uncountable, they would be so many. So, how did Abram respond? He chose to …
Genesis 15:6 (ESV) And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
This is a very important verse, both in our study of Abram and in the New Testament as well, especially in Romans 4. What did Abram do? Abram believed the promise of God. He believed that what God said was true and would come to pass. He didn’t know how it would happen, but he believed that the promise would be fulfilled. What did God do? God saw Abram’s faith and counted or credited it to him as righteousness. In other words, God brought Abram into a righteous relationship with Himself because of Abram’s faith.
What can we learn from Abram’s example for our own lives? As I mentioned at the start of the message, God’s Word, the Bible is full of promises. The first promise that every person should claim is the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ. We read God’s promise of eternal life for everyone who believes in Jesus from John 3:16. Perhaps you are struggling to understand your need of eternal life or how God can forgive you. Talk to God and tell Him your doubts. Then listen to what He wants to say to you. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Just as He spoke to Abram thousands of years ago, He desires to speak to you as well. When you hear the whisper of God’s voice in your heart, believe Him, believe His Word and you will be saved and become a child of God.
These principles apply to every promise that God has written in His Word. Just as God desired Abram to have many spiritual children, so He wants you to have many spiritual children. A spiritual child is someone that you have spoken the truth of Jesus to and they have become a believer. God wants all of you to have many more spiritual children. Believe His Word.
Genesis 15:7 (ESV) 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.”
Next God moves to the second part of His promise to Abram. God states that He brought Abram all the way from Ur to the land of Canaan. Although the land of Canaan was not occupied by many nations of people, God’s promise was that He would give the land to Abram and his descendants.
Genesis 15:8 (ESV) But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
Abram had just battled 4 kings who had defeated 5 kings in the area. There were kings and armies all around him. Abram had a question of how he could know that God’s promise of the land would come to pass. He was not afraid to ask God questions and God answered.
Genesis 15:9-11 (ESV) 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.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half … And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
God instructed Abram to prepare a sacrifice of animals to the Lord. He did so and birds of prey began to swoop down to carry away the sacrifice. Abram protected his sacrifice and drove them away.
The land that God promised to Abram was the resource that Abram needed to provide for the offspring that were coming, the nation of Israel. The land of Canaan provided a place for them to live, water for them to drink, land for their flocks to pasture and so on. Your purpose on earth is to produce spiritual children. Now, as a church family, we work together to see people saved and become part of God’s kingdom. Of course, if God blesses your family with physical children, you must make sure that each one is saved and becomes a spiritual child as well. The land then is for us, the resources that we need to reach and care for our spiritual children. God promises to give you enough resources to meet your own needs and to provide for spiritual children through your tithes and offerings. In order to receive the promise, we must give sacrificially and believe that God will provide all that we need.
Genesis 15:12 (ESV) As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.
It seems that God revealed Himself again to Abram is another awe-inspiring vision. Acts 2 tells us that until Jesus returns, God will continue to reveal Himself to believers in dreams and visions, as well as through the Spirit. God was going to help Abram, but he needed to …
Genesis 15:13-14 (ESV) 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. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.
The Lord then shows Abram what will happen hundreds of years in the future. In about 200 years, the Israelites, Abram’s offspring will become slaves in Egypt. They will suffer under slavery in Egypt for 400 years. Then God will judge Egypt with many plagues and the Israelites will escape from Egypt with great plunder. Then God speaks to Abram about what will happen to him.
Genesis 15:15-16 (ESV) As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
Abram would not experience slavery in Egypt, he would die and be buried at the good old age of 175. The Israelites would come back to the land of Canaan after the exodus from Egypt. Why the long time before the Israelites took possession of Canaan? God gave the Amorites who inhabited Canaan 400 years to repent of their wickedness. Their evil consisted of idolatry combined with sexual orgies, homosexuality, bestiality, sorcery and burning infants as sacrifices. After 400 years, God’s judgement fell through the invasion of Joshua.
Genesis 15:17-18 (ESV) When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 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,
The smoking fire pot and the flaming torch were a manifestation of the Lord passing between the pieces of Abram’s sacrifice and accepting it. In accepting the sacrifice, God made a solemn promise or covenant with Abram to give his offspring the land of Canaan, 600 years in the future. Abram would live the rest of his life believing God’s promise, both for a son and for the inheritance of the land of Canaan for his offspring 600 years in the future.
We learn from Abram’s example that God wants to reveal Himself and His promises to us. God is in charge of the timetable for the fulfillment of His promises to us. Our responsibility is to believe God’s promises and fulfill His conditions. Then we can life as people of faith in light of God’s promise. How can you find God’s promises that apply to your life? The most fruitful way is to simply read your Bible every day, a chapter or more. Don’t just read to understand the text, although you should do that. Read to discover God’s promises to you. As you read, God will highlight a promise that applies to a specific situation in your life. Write that promise out somewhere and begin to pray, believe and fulfill any conditions of the promise. As we go on in the story of Abram, we will learn how to patiently believe until the promise comes to pass. Sometimes, if you have a specific need, God can help you search the Bible to find a promise that applies to that specific need.
God speaks to us His promises in His Word and specifically applies them to our lives by His Spirit. If we have doubts or questions about God’s promises, talk to Him, that’s what prayer is all about. Speaking to God and listening to His answer. We learn from Abram’s example, both God’s faithfulness and our responsibility to believe God’s Word, even though the promise may seem impossible. God has a timetable to fulfill His promises and we must be patient and keep believing until the answer comes. May each of us learn to live everyday in the promises of God. God wants you to believe Him for more spiritual children and the resources to help them grow in the Lord. Let’s believe together for God to do greater things in our lives and church family.