God’s appearance: In Genesis, chapter 12, the Lord spoke to Abram. In chapter 15, He came to Abram in a vision. In chapter 17, He appeared and spoke.
God’s instructions: In chapter 12, the Lord told Abram, “Go.” In chapter 15, “Fear not,” and “Look toward heaven and number the stars.” In chapter 17, He gave Abram a new name and told him, “You shall be circumcised.”
God’s promises: In chapter 12, the Lord promised, “I will make of you a great nation,” and “I will bless you and make your name great,” and “I will bless those who bless you,” and “Him who dishonors you I will curse,” and “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” In chapter 15, He promised, “Your reward shall be very great,” and “Your very own son shall be your heir,” and “[As numerous as the stars] shall your offspring be.” In chapter 17, He promised, “I have made you the father of a multitude of nations,” and “I will make you exceedingly fruitful,” and “I will make you into nations,” and “Kings shall come from you.”
Looking at chapter 15, we can ask whom Abram had to fear. The Lord said, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield.” Did God shield Abram from Himself? The description of the Armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6, includes the “shield of faith”. Did Abram’s faith – that which was “reckoned to him as righteousness” – shield him from Him who was Himself Abram’s shield?
I am among many at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church who are not genetic descendants of Abraham. Why, then, are these promises to Abraham important to us? Saint Paul wrote to the church in Galatia: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.” If I am not one of the sons of Abraham, I am something better – a son of God – but only because God was faithful in his promise to Abraham: “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Jesus was the greatest of Abraham’s sons, and through faith in Jesus, people of all nations are – like Abraham – given a great reward and “reckoned as righteous.” Praise be to God!