I Will - September 29, 2019

I will …

Week 3: Genesis 15

God has called us to live a life of faith. This means we take God at his word and live in the certainty that he will do what he has said. When there is delay, or trouble, or seemingly impossible odds, our confidence to keep moving forward in faith will come as a result of being anchored securely in God’s promises and trusting in his character. Ten years had passed between the time God first gave his promises to Abram and the time of the story we will explore today in Genesis 15. Sarai was barren. Abram had no children. And the land was occupied by a host of violent people who did not acknowledge Yahweh as their god. Abram had many reasons to be concerned and he was not afraid to bring these concerns to the LORD. God’s responses to Abram demonstrate his patience, his kindness, and his desire for relationship. God invites Abram to continue to trust that he will do what he has promised. And this time God demonstrates his commitment by making a formal covenant in a manner that would have been familiar to Abram. Let’s watch carefully to see how God reveals more of his character in his interactions with Abram and how he foreshadows the way he will one day bless everyone who exhibits a faith like Abram’s.

Discussion Starter:

Describe a time when you wanted to be open and honest with a superior but you were not sure how they would respond?

Getting into the Text:

1.  (Genesis 15:1-5) How would you describe the relationship between God and Abram? Do you interpret Abram’s questions as signs of doubt or something else? How did God respond to Abram’s questions? Did he tell Abram how all of the apparent obstacles would be overcome? What does the nature of God’s response reveal about the character of God? What should we expect when we bring our own honest concerns to him?

2.  (Genesis 15:6) Why is Abram’s response here an amazing example of faith? What does it mean that God counted it to him as righteousness? Romans 4:18-22 compares Abram’s justification by faith in God to our justification by faith in Christ. How is the kind of faith that God asks us to have in Christ similar to the kind of faith Abram had in God?

3.  (Genesis 15:7-8) God’s promises to Abram had several parts to them. Which part is the subject of verses 1-6 and which part is the focus in verses 7-8? Do you interpret Abram’s question in verse 8 as doubt or something else, especially in light of verse 6?

4.  (Genesis 15:9-20) Historical note: God’s response to Abram’s second round of questions is to affirm his commitment by taking part in an ancient covenant ceremony. In Abram’s time, contracts signed with pen and paper were not common. Instead, the parties to a covenant agreement would participate in some other public ceremony like walking together between halves of animals while reciting the terms of the covenant. This ceremony was a binding statement of commitment with the implication that if either one violated the terms, they might become like the animals.

The smoking fire pot and flaming torch in verse 17 represent the LORD. What is the significance of the LORD passing between the animal pieces alone, without Abram? If you were Abram, how would the words of the LORD in verses 13-16 make you feel? Genesis was originally written to the Israelites, just after the Exodus from Egypt and prior to their entry into the promised land. How would this prophecy have been an encouragement to them?

Application:

1.  Even when we know and believe God’s promises for us, there may be times when it seems impossible to imagine how God could accomplish his plan given our circumstances. In these moments, we need to remember that God desires a relationship with us more than he desires for us to know all the answers. Honest communication and exchange are just as important in our relationship with God as they are in any other relationship. In what ways do you need to be honest and open with God right now? Are you prepared to listen for his response?

2.  Abram took God at his word and lived in light of that belief. This kind of faith is what God is looking for from us. In what way do you need to take God at his word right now? What actions on your part would demonstrate that belief? (See last week’s study for some specific promises for us today.)