Today as I prepared to take my son out for an afternoon of fun and relaxation (unheard of in my vocabulary), I took up the Bible and Genesis 15 was already marked. I read where God told Abram (before the name change) not to fear; he was promised a “reward (that would) be very great(verse 1).”
What I noticed was Abram’s quick response to God’s promise. I am guessing it was a foregone conclusion in Abram’s mind that his great reward would include heirs (who knows, maybe the entire conversation was not recorded), as he said in verse 2: “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Eliezer was a slave who was born within Abram’s household. The practice in those days was that sons of slaves would become surrogate sons to their barren owners; an inheritance would be willed to them as adoptive sons. God responded immediately: “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir (verse 3).”
Because I know this story so well, I stopped reading to reflect on Abram’s life journey from that moment forward. God decreed blessings, a “very great” reward. Abram looked at his life based on what he was accustomed to seeing – the inheritance is usually passed down to a slave of a barren family. God blew his mind with His response since his wife Sarai was very old and past her childbearing years. He was also quite old himself.
What happened afterward made me really think: God did not offer the solution to the “puzzle” that He presented to Abram originally until many years later. So what do you think he did in the meantime? He and his wife tried to figure out a solution on their own!!! Logically speaking, men can sire children all their lives, but women normally past childbearing age do NOT have children. So, Sarah offered her slave to bear a son to her husband so an heir for this great reward would be available. After all, God had said his great reward included a son from Abraham’s own loins, correct? But didn’t He (God) already say that another slave (Eliezer) would not inherit this reward??? So why did they insist on creating a “legitimate” child with another slave??
God observed what they did to create a solution by having Ishmael, and because of the binding covenant He had made with Abram earlier (God changed his name to Abraham), he still blessed Ishmael. Later, after Ishmael’s birth, God spoke to Abraham again, saying that he would have another son. Abraham was amazed at God’s words, so he presented Ishmael to God (see chapter 17 verse 18) by saying “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” God responded immediately with these IMPOSSIBLE words: “No, but Sarah (God changed her name as well) your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him (verse 19).” NOW HE TELLS ME, Abraham was probably thinking to himself.
I want you to reflect on this: The covenant that God made between Himself and Abraham was binding, but it was only fully effective with people who were already in covenant with HIM!!! So Eliezer didn’t get in on it, and Ishmael received only a part – but Isaac, the son of Abraham’s legitimate, COVENANT wife, would be the only one who would benefit from this very great reward that God had promised!!!!
So if you are not in covenant with God, do not fool yourself into believing that you will receive God’s full benefits and His very great rewards! For example, if two people are living together outside of the covenant of marriage, the bed they sleep in is considered defiled by God. Even if they live their entire lives together, raise their children well and teach them to become responsible citizens in society, God still honors covenants, including the marriage covenant. It does not mean people who choose to live outside of God’s covenants won’t live good lives nor receive blessings, but covenant people are the only ones who can FULLY benefit from God!
This floored me today. I had to do a self-check. Am I in covenant with God? Is my life up to par? Is my Christian walk worthy of Him looking my way and saying “Michelle, you will receive a very great reward from Me”?
When I arrived at the picnic, my mentor and friend said something to me that caused me to think on this topic again: “Focus just on your relationship with God; do not allow anybody else or anything else to get in the way of that as you will have to answer directly to Him about everything. Place Him as your main focus (and not on things you can get from Him – like a genie) and watch what He does! He will take care of all your desires and needs.”
Isn’t that what Abraham did in the beginning? He worshipped God, and left his family and friends behind to pursue God’s promises to him. But notice that even he got weary of the long wait (between the Word and its manifestation) and took matters into his own hands. His “proactive” behavior reaped significant results, as both brothers are the patriarchs of today’s Jews and Palestinians.
My point: Let us stay focused, keep our eyes on God and review His precious promises to us regularly. If we stay the course and not try to find our own solutions for the blessings He promised, we will reap our great rewards with a heart filled with peace and joy. This is all just a test; God leaves out the details of the promises to see how much we are willing to trust Him completely. He is the One Who decided to extend a covenant unto us; surely He knows exactly what He needs to fulfill that covenant! RELAX!!!! It’s under His control.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. (Isaiah 55:8)
All Scriptural references were taken from the New American Standard Version.
ADDENDUM: After I came home from church today (the day after the picnic), I received this other revelation on this topic: God desires that we have the heart of the virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Gabriel the angel visited her and told her she would conceive and give birth to a child, she questioned him more out of natural curiosity vs. her wish to control the process. When God gives us blessings, we really are not in a place to attempt to control HOW or WHEN we receive what HE promised. HE is the one giving/offering us the gift, so let us wait until the Giver is ready to release it!