Waiting on God’s Promises

2019-03-17 – Year C – Lent 2 – The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas

Genesis 15:1-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35

  • Watching a cooking show last week. One of the women on the show had a number of scars on her arms and neck.
  • We couldn’t immediately guess what had caused those scars. Was it an accident? An injury? Some kind of abuse?
  • The woman seemed happy, but the scars pointed to some kind of difficulty in her life.
  • We all walk around with wounds and pains. For some, they are very apparent through external indications, but others have silent wounds that no one can see.

The Story of Abram

  • The LORD is the first one to speak in this passage. Genesis 15:1. His first words are “fear not.” (God later renames Abram and calls him “Abraham”).
  • How did the Lord know to say “fear not”? In the passage chapter just before this, Abram wins the victory in a great battle.
    • Matthew 6:7-8 – the Father knows our needs before we ask.
  • When the Lord says “fear not” Abram is quick to share his point of pain. He still has no child. v. 2-3
    • God had promised that he would give the land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants. In fact, by chapter 15 he had made this promise 3 times.
    • Abram was 75 years old when he first heard this call from God.
    • You can hear the cry of Abram’s heart in these words. He must have deeply desired a child. And yet, time had passed since God had first promised offspring, and he certainly wasn’t getting any younger. Could he trust God’s promise?
  • God assures Abram that he meant exactly what he had said previously. Abram’s heir shall be his own offspring from his own body. And not only that, his descendants shall be as numerous as the stars!
  • Genesis 15:6 “he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
    • ““Righteousness” is the fundamental OT virtue characterized by a godly life lived in conformity with the law. It is the righteous who enjoy God’s favor. Here the narrator underlines the significance of faith, in that before Abram has proved himself righteous by his deeds, he is counted (that is, regarded) as righteous because of his faith.”

How am I to know?

  • God then repeats of land. Abram responds, “How am I to know?” (v. 8).
  • The past faithfulness of God
    • “I am the LORD who…” (v. 7).
    • God had allowed Abram to become very rich.
    • God had led Abram to a good and pleasant land when he and Lot parted ways.
    • God had allowed Abram to be victorious in battle when he went to rescue Lot from Captivity. (Genesis 14:19-20)
    • Abram knows, by now, that when the Lord says something, he always keeps his promises.
    • The same is true for us today. The Longer you are a Christian, the more experiences you have of God’s past faithfulness, and the more you can recall those experiences when God calls you into something new and uncertain.
  • Covenant
    • God’s immediate response to Abram’s question of “How am I to know” is to make a covenant.
    • God tells Abram to gather some specific animals. v. 9.
    • Abram seems to know exactly what to do with these animals, even though God doesn’t specify any further, Abram cuts some animals in half and leaves others whole. This shows that this was a common practice in Abram’s day. v. 10.
    • What was this common practice? A covenant.
      • Jeremiah 34:18 – An example of the consequences of breaking a covenant.
    • In this case, God causes Abram to fall into a deep sleep and only God, represented by the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch, passes between the animals. This is a one-sided covenant. The promise of God.
    • We have the promises of God’s covenants with his people recorded in the Scriptures to remind us that these covenants are still valid for us today.
    • God gives us tangible and visible signs and symbols of these covenants in the Sacraments, particularly Baptism and Holy Communion.

We wait for it with Patience

  • Abram’s pain point was his lack of offspring. What is your pain point? In what ways are you waiting for God to come through for you?
  • Sometimes we need to wait a long time to see the fulfillment of a promise.
    • Sometimes we never get to see the fulfillment.
    • God promises suffering for Abram’s family, but he also promises deliverance. (Genesis 15:13-14).
  • What do we do in the meantime? We believe God and we wait patiently.
    • We don’t always understand God’s timing, but we can trust that he is in control.
      • V. 16 – “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
    • But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:25, ESV)
    • When we doubt, when we suffer, we can cry out to the Lord. “I believe, help my unbelief.”
    • Romans 8:26-27
  • The Lord is our help and our deliverer. We can trust him because he has proven himself trustworthy.
  • Psalm 27:16-17

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