Friday, September 12, 2014
September 11 – Godly complaints
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” (Genesis 15:1 NKJV)
This is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible, and one that has great significance for us all. In fact, there is good reason to believe that these words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself, since He is known as “the Word.” Most, or all Bible scholars believe that Jesus made several appearances in the Old Testament, what they call “pre-incarnate” appearances, meaning that they happened before Jesus came to earth in the flesh. And so, this promise is significant because Jesus Himself came and spoke to Abram, and because He used a powerful phrase that would later become the personal name of God, the name that God gave Moses on Mount Sinai… I am who I am. When Jesus said “I AM” your shield, your exceedingly great reward, He was making a powerful statement of His intrinsic nature, something that would never change. He was declaring that He would always protect and provide for Abram, but instead of eliciting a series of Praise Gods and Hallelujahs, He got a complaint. Confusing for some, but a great lesson for us all.
Abram complained because God had promised on several occasions to make his descendants great, as numerous as the dust of the earth. But up to that point he remained childless, and so Jesus’ promise of protection and wealth was not enough for him, and he reminded God of that.
Instead of a rebuke, Abram was blessed in an extraordinary way for his complaint. It pleased God to such degree that He reiterated His promise to him, and made a covenant with him that very night. He told Abram to sacrifice five animals: a three year-old heifer, and three year-old female goat, and three year-old ram, a turtledove and a pigeon. They were cut in half and the pieces were placed opposite each other, and then in the middle of the night God appeared as a smoking firepot and a flaming torch and passed between the pieces. This was an ancient tradition of making a solemn vow: whoever walked between the halves of the dead animals was declaring that the same should be done to him if he failed to keep the agreement that the two parties had made. And so, God made this solemn vow to keep His word to Abram in response to his complaint.
The moral of this story is that God wants His children to fight for what has been promised. We cannot expect God’s promises to automatically come true simply because He made them to us. God expects us to believe in them even in the darkest moments of our lives, to wrestle with Him like Jacob, to complain like Abram, insisting that they come true for us. We can’t just speak about our faith, we have to act it our in a concrete, bold manner. If we don’t, our faith is dead, because genuine faith refuses to stop until it has received what was promised.