The Promise

[Still working on the Facebook Live streaming problems. Here is the text of the sermon.]

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe promises, especially promises that depend on a son whom you’ve never seen. Abram has such a promise. God promised him that He would make Abram into a great nation, and that in him God would bless all the nations of the world. The problem is that in order for Abram to be a great nation, or a “father of many” as his name says, he has to at least have one child. There aren’t going to be many descendants or a great nation, without at least having one descendant.

God appears to him and says, Don’t be afraid—or, maybe, stop being afraid—I am your shield. Your reward is very great. But Abram is having trouble believing that promise. O Lord Yahweh, what reward? What will You give me? I continue childless. That word is “stripped/empty.” I have nothing. And Eliezer of Damascus is going inherit everything. I have no offspring at all, let alone many offspring, and someone who isn’t even related to me is going to be my heir. God say, No. This man will not be your heir. Your very own son will be your heir. A son from you and Sarai. Come outside. Look at the stars and count them if you can. We can see a lot of stars, more than in a bigger city. But imagine being there with Abram, with no electric light pollution at all. How many stars he could see. Perhaps you’ve been out in the open, in the desert or somewhere, and you’ve seen stars like that. Count them, if you can; thus will your offspring be.

It’s hard to believe a promise that depends on a son you’ve never seen. But Abram believed God, and God counted it to him, reckoned it to him, as righteousness. The word for believe is related to the word for trustworthy, faithful, firm. When Abram says that he doesn’t have a child, what does God do? He doesn’t magically produce a child in front of Abram’s eyes and say, Look, here he is. He simply repeats the promise. So the question is no longer about what evidence Abram has about the promise. Now the question is whether God is faithful. Can God be trusted? Will God do what He said?

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