God’s Promises to Abram

Read Genesis 15 NKJV

Have you ever noticed how hope appears only after there’s been a period of doubt, trials, despair and self-pity? I know for me, I had to get to the very end of my self-sufficiency in much misery and pain before hope shined his light on me.

In reading Genesis 15, I noticed the same pattern: doubt, worry, despair all came before hope. As I’ve come to learn of God’s generosity, He doesn’t just provide hope. He also follows up the hope with a personal promise, something that speaks to the person specifically and intimately.

Let’s take a look at two examples from Genesis 15 in the NKJV translation. The first example lies within verses 3 through 6:

3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!”
4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”

5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.

Notice in verse 3 Abram is whining about having no children to be his heir. He’s actually blaming God for not giving him children. That to me speaks of self-pity, doubt and despair. At this point Abram was unable to see what God was capable of doing.

Look at verse 4 and 5. God spoke to Abram saying “Don’t worry. You will have an heir from your own body. In fact, you will have so many descendants you won’t be able to call them, just as you can’t count the stars.” If that is not a picture of hope, I don’t know what is.

Finally, we see the personal and intimate promise in verse 6. Abram believed God and God accounted it to him for righteousness. Abram was considered righteous in God’s eyes because he finally believed God.

The second example of this repeating pattern is found in Genesis 15 verses 13 through 15 in the NKJV translation:

13Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.

In verse 13 we see God telling Abram what will become of his descendants and the picture isn’t so bright. God says they will be strangers in a land that’s not theirs, they will serve those who own the land and they will be afflicted four hundreds years. That sounds a lot like despair to me.

Moving on to verse 14 we find the hope. God says “Don’t worry, I will judge the nation whom they serve and afterwards they will leave with great substance.” This is a reminder that when things don’t look like their going well, God is still in control and He will take vengeance on those who persecute His people.

Again we see the personal promise towards Abram in verse 15. God tells him, he will live a long life and die peacefully. Isn’t that nice of God to tell Abram how long he’ll live? I would think that would provide such a boost in productivity and remove a lot of fear. Just think about it. Abram could do anything God wanted him to without worrying about dying in the process, for God gave His word he would live a long life.

What about in your life, do you see the same pattern? I know I did when my marriage was in crisis mode and I thought it would never be good again (despair). God sent an angel to direct me to (hope). Through the pain I found Jesus Christ and believed on Him as my Lord and Savior, who forgave me (personal promise). If you haven’t noticed this pattern yet, keep your eyes open. It’s just a matter of time before you do. When you do recognize the pattern, know that God is teaching you something new either about yourself or about His character or both.

©Elizabeth Marks has led small group Bible studies for almost a decade. Author of ThinkOnItBibleDevotions.com and BeingWomenOfInfluence.com websites she has a heart for encouraging others with God’s Word.

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