God’s Second Chance – Genesis 15

In calling and reaching out to Abraham, God was also reaching out to us, to humanity, for a second time.  The first time, before the judgement of Noah’s flood, man chose to ignore the call and existence of God and to disregard Him and His words.  The result of this choice was global misbehavior, including murder, violence, theft and bloodshed.  Few on the earth walked with a consciousness of God in their daily lives and most lived only for themselves.  This self-centered nature of mankind can be seen throughout much of history.  Virtually all of us have experienced the downside of human behavior at one time or another in our lives.

The result of God’s first outreach to man was failure and a flood.  There did not seem to be a capacity in man at that time to return God’s love and to enjoy His blessings with gratefulness and thanksgiving.  There was no attempt to walk in holiness with God in a faithful relationship.  The result was an evil and corrupt society that was full of selfishness and violence.  All people do wrong at one time or another, but at that time, God was waiting for even one person to step forward to seek to restore their broken relationship.  In the end, only Noah sought the Lord, and he was blessed with companionship, forgiveness and divine fellowship.

Noah sought to encourage others to turn to and acknowledge the Lord, but his actions were in vain. This spiraling scenario ultimately brought a flood of gigantic proportions.  Civilizations were wiped out by the catastrophic event, and God began again to build a community from faithful Noah and his seed. 

There are many aspects of this event that can raise difficult questions for us.  God’s word often presents things without fully explaining them to us.  Faith can be challenging when we do not have all the whys, how’s and wherefores in front of us, but God expects us to have the faith to trust in Him and to be willing to wait for answers.  We trust that the core events of our lives, even the most painful ones, are undergirded by His deep love for us, and that one day, answers will come.

After his calling, Noah’s descendant Abraham and his son Isaac would live mostly in the promised land of Israel.   Eventually, grandson Jacob’s family would be compelled to move down to Egypt due to a severe famine, and this exile would end up lasting several centuries.  Abraham had been warned in advance by God about this:

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram (Abraham). And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Genesis 15:12-14 ESV

God disclosed that Abraham’s descendants would go from living a life of prosperity, blessing and growth to living an oppressed life as slaves in Egypt, all over the course of several hundred years.  After this, when God’s timing was right, eighty-year old Moses would be sent to free those descendants from the bondage of Egypt, and they would be led by divine grace towards the Promised Land of Israel.

Abraham was chosen and called by God.  It was an extreme privilege, but it was not a life of ease and leisure.  Though he was blessed with many riches, Abraham also lived a life of many challenges and demands on his faith. 

Faith challenges continued throughout Abraham’s lineage.  In the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, religious leaders who were Abraham’s blood descendants did not believe that God the Father had sent Jesus Christ as their Messiah.  This was a sin of ignorance and blindness.  They would ultimately have Jesus put to death on a cross because he claimed to be God, the son of the Father, and they just would not believe it, and considered Him blasphemous.  During their discussions with Jesus, he told them that, though they were descendants of Abraham by blood, they were not true sons of Abraham because they did not exhibit his faith.  The apostle Paul explores this further in Galatians chapter 3 where he says that the true sons of Abraham are not necessarily blood descendants, but those who believe like Abraham, the “man of faith.”

Abraham did have tremendous faith, but he was not perfect.  Consider the case of his promised son.  It had been decades since God promised seventy-five-year-old Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation.  And many years since God said his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the heavens.  Yet, so far, no child had come along.  After ten years of waiting, Abraham and Sarah came up with their own plan in place of God’s. Using Sarah’s maid as a surrogate mother (Genesis 16), Ishmael was born.  But this did not change God’s mind in the matter of divine lineage, and He did not alter it.  God is sovereign over our lives.  We can pray to Him and ask Him to make changes, but when God’s plan is better for us, He will lovingly and gently say “No”.

The kingly line of Christ recorded in the genealogy of Jesus comes through Isaac, who was be born to Sarah on God’s timeline.  No matter how old she was or how unlikely or impossible it appeared to Abraham and Sarah at the time, God fulfilled His word and established the line of Christ through Isaac, Sarah’s son.

Reflection

What in your life are you are waiting for God to make happen?  Is there something missing that you believed He had promised you?  Something you had earnestly asked for and did not receive?  Is there a bitterness or disappointment about it in your innermost self?  Is there something you have lost that has produced tremendous grief and has formed a barrier between you and God?  Why not take a moment and share these with the Lord, who loves you?

The Lord has said, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5 ESV.  What does this say about God’s love for you right now?

Sometimes we need to ask God to help us accept some large obstacle or hole in our life.  Something lost or missing, a regret or a failure we have experienced. Barriers like these can be like a large boulder in a field that we try to move, but cannot.  We can ask God for the grace to help us to accept the situation. While the problems are often still there, God allows us to walk around them and to move forward with our life in peace.

The Serenity Prayer can be a great tool to help with this, throughout the day:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: