Abram and God’s Response to His Fear

In Genesis 14 Abram won a spectacular victory over pagan kings and rescued his nephew Lot and Lot’s family.  Abram pursued the enemies as far as Damascus, then went back to his own home in Canaan, secure in his belief that he had taken care of the problem, for now.  Notice, however, God’s words in Genesis 15:1.  He begins talking to Abram with the words “fear not”.  This is the first “fear not” in the Bible.  Why was Abram afraid?

He had been in battle.  I have never had to fight in a life or death physical struggle with an enemy (thank God) but I know people who have.  Today we call it PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  After the battle and the adrenalin rush, Abram is shaking.  After the trauma, he is afraid.  So God came to Him to quiet his fears with three revelations:

First he reminded Abram who He is.  He tells him that He is Abram’s shield and great reward.  God is a shield.  A shield is an instrument of war to protect.  We are daily in a war.  And daily God does indeed shield us.  The problem with us is that we often make our own flimsy shields.  And God is our reward.  What He has in store for us is what should be our daily focus.  We all too often get caught up in our own rewards or treasure.  We pursue things that won’t last and we lose sight of God’s eternal treasures right in front of us.  God tells us that HE is our reward; He is our satisfaction (or should be).

Abram questions God.  It’s OK to ask God questions.  He invites us to do so; He also invites honest skeptics to ask away.  So Abram asks God when he will have a successor!  Is he going to have a kid or not?  Should he be looking at Eliezar his servant?  God responds in vv 4-5 with yet another reaffirmation of His covenant.  God knows just how much we can take.  Abram is almost at the breaking point–and the Lord reminds him to stop looking at his infirmities or limitations and look up to the inexhaustible supply from Heaven.  Your day WILL come, and some day you will be looking back at how the Lord came through for you and answered your call above and beyond your greatest expectations.

The next verse, verse 6, is the single most important verse in the entire Old Testament.  Just like John 3:6 is the most important verse in the New Testament, this verse is IT in the OT.  The syntax of verse 6 tells us that this verse is not “new news”.  It is not saying that all of a sudden Abram gets saved here, after journeying from Ur by faith and battling the four kings by faith…he FINALLY gets his act together and gets saved.  No, it’s not saying that at all.  He’s already been a saved, redeemed man since he by faith answered God’s call and left Ur of the Chaldees (according to Hebrews 11:8-10).  Verse 6 is the background–the “set up” verse that tells us that we are dealing with a man “who believed the Lord”.  His life didn’t make sense to the mass of humanity.  But God is going to do something spectacular with this shepherd/prophet who simply believed what God had revealed to him.  Verse 6 tells us “And he believed (trusted/rested in) the LORD”.  He believed what God told him.  “And He (i.e. God) counted it to him as righteousness.  What does this mean?  Just this:  Abram was justified (declared righteous) by believing what God said.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how God has saved anyone and everyone down through the ages.  God is holy; we are not.  He is almighty; we are helpless.  He tells us His truth, and the moment we believe His message, His revelation to us–that moment He saves us and declares us righteous.

How do I know this?  Go to Romans 4:1-5.  What does Paul say about how Abraham (before the Law of Moses) and David (living during the time of the Law of Moses) got saved before a holy God?  They were saved/justified/declared righteous the same way.  They believed what God said to them.  The greatest fear mankind should ever have is being separated from God forever.  The only way you can have that fear eliminated is by abandoning all hope in yourself/your ability–and put all your trust in God’s latest revelation–the death and resurrection of Jesus for your sins.  God’s latest revelation today is this “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31).  If you do, at that moment all your sin is credited/reckoned/accounted to Christ’s death on the cross where He paid for it entirely.  And the moment you believe ALL of His perfect righteousness is credited to your account, so that you stand as righteous and as guiltless before God as Jesus does.  That is our permanent standing; that is our permanent life before God forever.

Now THAT ought to cancel some fears.

We’ll talk more about Genesis 15 in the next blog.  Stay tuned!


Posted by Jeff Sanders