Thursday, June 28, 2018

Our Trustworthy God

"When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces" (Genesis 15:17).

As we saw yesterday, Luke presents faith as the proper response to Jesus’ announcement of the kingdom of God. Because of this, it will be useful for us to spend a few days looking at what it means to live by faith before we return to Luke’s narrative.

The first point we have to bear in mind is that it is not our own faith that guarantees the covenant between God and us. Rather, it is His faithfulness that is the foundation of our walk of faith. We can trust Him because He is entirely trustworthy.

When God made His promises to Abram, Abram asked God to assure him that He would keep those promises: “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (v. 8). God’s affirmation came in a dream during which Abram was instructed to cut certain animals in half. After he had done this, God repeated His promises.

Then God, in the form of a smoking fire pot and blazing torch, passed between the pieces of the animals. What did this mean? It meant that God was making a covenant with Abram. Among the ancient Hebrews, when a covenant was made, it was not done the way we do it today. Covenants were not written; they were cut.

To ratify a covenant, it was necessary to cut something and shed blood. Both circumcision and the entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament are examples of this. These cutting actions were dramatized oaths. What they meant was this: May I be severed like these animals if I fail to keep this covenant.

That is what God was saying to Abram: “If I fail to keep any of the promises I have made to you, may I, God Almighty, become as these animals. May My divine being be cut in half. May the indivisible God be divided. May the infinite God be fragmented.” How likely was this to happen? That’s how likely it is for God’s promises to fail!

When we go through hard times, we begin to wonder if God is really trustworthy. Does He really mean His promises? There is only one other event in the Bible that more dramatically assures us of God’s intention to carry out His promises. What is it? Take a few minutes to compare Genesis 15 with Matthew 27:45 and 51