Saturday, September 7, 2013

clarification of a promise

A few weeks go, I shared that I had begun a new Bible study with a program called "Thru the Bible," taught by J. Vernon McGee.  The study takes you through the entire Bible, chapter by chapter in 5 years. Every 25 minute 'episode' is available here for (legal) listening or free download.
I literally look forward to it each day. And when that day's teaching is done, I am so torn between listening to another or pausing to let what I just heard soak in.

I am learning SO much.
Exhibit A - the page in my Bible with Genesis 4.

Side note on writing in your Bible: I used to take notes from sermons primarily in notebooks and only write down the occasional key phrase. I also underlined a lot. Then I had a Bible that was basically ALL underlined and I'd come across a verse & think, I wonder why I underlined that.  More recently, I got a wide margin Bible & mostly take my notes in there. I figure, it's easier to look back and remember what I've learned if it's right there. Also, there is less underlining. I don't have a totally systematic Bible marking system yet but, baby steps.

End side note.

Ok, what I really got on here to write about was what POPPED out to me from Genesis 15 today. Here's how Genesis 15 starts:

    After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceedingly great reward." 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." 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 Abram believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 

Here it is in The Message translation (which, in my opinion, is helpful at times for clarification but not great for in depth study).

After all these things, this word of God came to Abram in a vision: "Don't be afraid, Abram. I'm your shield. Your reward will be grand!" Abram said, "God, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I'm childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?" Abram continued, "See, you've given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all." Then God's message came: "Don't worry, he won't be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir." ... And Abram believed! Believed God! God declared him "Set-right-with-God." 

There is so much we could learn from this passage, but I really just want to point out one thing today. Okay, maybe two, or three... 

1.) Abram (his name before God changed it to "Abraham") was honest with God. God said "I'm your reward Abram!" And Abram says, essentially, "Look God, you've already promised me a lot - a great nation with tons of offspring, and I don't have a kid. In fact, my wife is unable to have babies. So, while your gifts and rewards might be nice, won't they be kind of useless if you don't make good on your promise and my servant Eliezar gets everything?"  [fair point.]  
Do you ever feel like that? Not so sure about what God has promised you? I got to wondering... what do I do in that situation? 
Call a best friend.
Tweet about it. 
Find a verse about faith. 
Suck it up and force myself to 'just believe it.' 
Call my mom.
Complain to my husband. 
Pretend it's God's will for me to be miserable in the waiting period.

What did Abram do? He responded to God with honesty & poured out his heart. He asked God what the heck is going on?!

2.) God answered him with clarification that demanded faith. I love that God didn't say, "You know what, Abram. I'm God. Just suck it up, try harder, & believe me already." He heard Abram's plea & questioning. Perhaps He knew that Abram wanted to believe God. I don't know why, but for whatever reason, God clarified the promise. Keep in mind, he's already appeared to Abram 3 times and given him the promise of a great nation and many offspring. So you'd think Abram wouldn't be doubting it, or maybe that God would be frustrated with Abram for asking. 

I wonder if Abram had started to wonder what God meant when he said, "I shall make of you a great nation... to your offspring I will give this land." (Gen. 12:2,7) Putting myself in Abram's shoes, as the years go by and I don't have even 1 son, let alone a whole nation, I would start to wonder this... maybe God meant a figurative nation? If my servant inherits everything and his kids become great, then technically, they are my heirs and my nation. 

But God says to Abram, "This man shall not be your heir. Your very own son shall be your heir." My Bible has a footnote that the Hebrew here literally translates into, "what will come out of your own loins shall be your heir." (Wouldn't it be awesome if we still said this? This is my daughter, Adelyn who came out of my loins.") So, the kid that comes out of your own loins will be your heir.

How's that for clarity?

3.) It was good enough for Abram. He 'believed God and God declared him set-right-with-God.' Now that is a good place to be. And there is a LOT more to that last statement that I'm not going to explore right now.

Do you need clarification on a promise from God in your life?
Have you tried asking?