“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1)
Abram (who would become Abraham) had just passed up great riches that was retrieved and won through the war that Abram and his allies were successful in. I am assuming that God is assuring Abram that his time will come for wealth, possessions, and family. But Abram is not convinced that he will have anyone to pass his possessions and legacy onto.
“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, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” (Verses 2 – 7)
Again the Lord assured Abram that the Lord had plans for him, and that the Lord who called him out from his home land is the same Lord who is promising these things. But still Abram was unsure.
“But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 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.” He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.” (Verses 8 – 12)
The missing verses are a foretelling to Abram that though he would be a father of many, would live a good life and die in peace, his descendent would not have an easy time of it. But the Lord would be faithful and in good time fulfill all the promises that had been made and would be made.
“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, 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 descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates . . .” (Verses 17-18)
For a time the children of Abraham did possess all that had been foretold. But each generation and nation is an inheritor in their own right. What was given to the previous generation is not always kept by the current generation. Those of us who have lived long enough remember the way things “used to be” and it seems that the way things are now is not an improvement. That something intangible but precious has been lost. Maybe it is nothing more than our rose-colored memories of time past. Maybe it is a generational phenomenon. We feel like God has promised us something, but we are not sure how it will come to pass. So we worry, and we question. And when we think upon these things, it is like a darkness comes over us; and our worst fears for ourselves and our descendents is played out before us. God does not always promise us easy lives, but God never deserts us. And what God promises will come to pass – for good or for bad.
God has promised us, beloved reader, that forgiveness is our if we but confess our sins and make amends. And if this world is hard and harsh, and what is precious in this life seems to drift out of or be snatched from our hands – we have God’s promise that in the life to come we will live in peace and abundance. Let us hold on to these promises as we journey further into the season of Lent.