by Pastor Tim Burt
Every day that I write Fresh Manna, it’s my prayer that I’ve taught you something, encouraged your heart, and inspired you to have faith in God’s love and word so that it works mightily in you. And I pray that it extends to others through you! Today is no exception. Today I want to share with you, one of my favorite Bible stories. It’s one of my favorite because it represents the depth of God’s love and grace toward each one of us, and because it reveals His love and promises, extending all through time into our lives today. The story is when God revealed and established a covenant with Abram (soon to be called Abraham.) God did so in stages, revealing a little of His plan at a time. Why? I believe this is God’s pattern with man. When we know too much, we get ahead of ourselves and God, and we let our imagination lead us rather than God directing our steps, a step at a time.
In Genesis chapter 15 God comes and speaks to Abram about establishing a covenant with him. Abraham had just finished a traumatic experience rescuing his nephew Lot from a king. God had helped him accomplish this but I’m sure this experience had been difficult to calm down from. He was most likely thinking about how he could have lost his life and still had no heir yet–something God had promised him. Now God comes and speaks these words to Abram. Genesis 15:1 (NKJV) “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.” God then continues to tell Abram how He will give him an heir that will lead to countless descendants. (This is why God tells us secrets in small doses. Even God’s smallest promises are mind-blowing.) And then God does something to initiate this covenant that is something we should think about every day or our life! I’ll show you and then explain.
In Genesis 15:8-12 & 17 (NLT2) we read this, 8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?” (The promised land and an heir) 9 The LORD told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 So Abram presented all these to Him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. 11 Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away. 12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. 17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses.
This sacrifice was how God taught them to establish a covenant in those days. Both parties were supposed to walk in between these animal sacrifices. It represented that they were both responsible for keeping their part of the covenant between each other. If you go back and read these verses you’ll see that God put Abram to sleep and then walked through the sacrifice Himself. (He was the smoking firepot and flaming torch.) Why did God walk through the sacrifice without Abram? Because He knew that man was incapable of fulfilling the sacrifice. God knows we all fail, all fall short. He knows we all sin and consequently feel unworthy in the presence of God. God walking through this alone was Him saying that He alone would be responsible for this everlasting covenant. All he wanted of Abram was to sincerely do the best he could.
This represented the depth of God’s love, His mercy, His grace, and the fact that God would do for us what we could not do ourselves. This was the foretaste of Jesus being the sacrifice for our sins. This was the beginning of God restoring us to Himself. This was the beginning of a world of supernatural grace, help, and promise to deliver us from this wicked and evil world. God would create promised blessing to those that love Him and we would do our best to humbly walk in His ways.
As you read through this chapter and then through chapter 17, you’ll see God reveals more and more about this covenant. That’s what God does. He gives you His instruction and promises to create a desire within us to follow Him. And He does this in doses so that you can be encouraged and taught to be washed by His grace and do better in following Him day-by-day.
And then we read in the book of Galatians, this amazing truth and promise. Galatians 3:28-29 (NLT2) “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
This verse is telling us that all those promises God made to Abraham are reaching into our lives today through Jesus Christ. They still deliver, help, lead, heal, and bless us as we learn to put our faith in them! I hope this inspires and encourages you today. It sure does me!
2 Corinthians 1:20 (NLT2) “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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