Firepots and Torches

Genesis 15:8 “But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?’” (NIV).

Observation: Abram and God were in the midst of a conversation that would be astonishing were it not so commonplace with them. God had just promised him “great reward,” and Abram’s reasonable yet bold response was to ask how such reward could be received, as he had no heirs to enjoy it. God then promised “a son coming from your own body” (Gen. 15:4), and Abram believed God. Yet still he asked “How can I know?”

Application: How can I know? I mean, really God, I have all these wonderful promises from You about offspring more numerous than the stars, but I can’t even see you! I’m childless and my wife is far beyond childbearing years; how can I know this promise is something You’ll actually deliver? 

Abram, whose faith God counted as righteous, nonetheless needed the same sort of reassurance I need in the midst of pain and loss. As we are faced with intrusive illness that grows daily more debilitating, as loved ones choose values and lifestyles opposite the ones we have worked to instill, when money runs out and the people and systems we have trusted in leave us empty and desperate, how can we know that God is good for His promises?

Abram was about to find out. At God’s direction, he brought a heifer, a goat, and a ram. Cutting each of them in two, he arranged the carcass halves opposite one another. After dark, as Abram watched in no doubt wide-eyed amazement, a smoking firepot and a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. The firepot and torch manifested the presence of God drifting down the aisle of carcasses in fulfillment of a traditional Middle Eastern oath that said, “May it be so done to me if I do not keep my oath and pledge.” 

Well, OK then. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I question God as Abram did, I haven’t seen the presence of God drifting among slaughtered carcasses on my front lawn. Or have I? Hasn’t God shown me the broken body of His Son and told me if I would go “into” Him, that is, identify with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection, I would find in Him all the answers I need? In fact, I have today something Abram lacked: a vast body of saints who testify that impossible promises have been kept.  The Spirit of God moves among every tribe, tongue, and nation, manifesting His covenant-keeping power. So how can I know? Because He has done it before, and He has promised.

Prayer: O Lord, when my heart cries out in fear or questioning, thank You that You comfort and encourage me by Your Holy Spirit. When I need reassurance, You remind me that You never change; Your mercies are new every morning. I pray, Father, that You could count my faith as righteousness, as You did Abram’s. I love You, Lord.

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