Thoughts on Prayer: Questions, Doubt and Stars
Have you ever had the opportunity to be far away from all city lights and looked up to see the stars? It is breath-taking and wonderful to behold, isn’t it? Have you ever tried counting them? No, seriously. How far did you get? I envy Abram. There were no city lights obscuring his view of the promise of God: “And He (God) took him (Abram) outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be’.” (Genesis 15:5-6) Abram’s response: he believed God. His faith in God placed him in right standing with the God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.
After defeating the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, re-taking his land, rescuing his POW nephew, turning down the king of Sodom’s generous offer of great riches and being blessed by Melchizedek king of Salem… (Take a breath. It’s been a long few days.) God speaks to Abram in a dream. He encourages Abram not to fear. (Fear not is a running theme in the Bible) He promises to be his shield. His reward is to be very great.
Abram must have been a very logical, rational person. For he had a very logical and rational question: How? He doesn’t have a natural-born heir to whom he can pass on his reward. God doesn’t think like a logical rational human being…ever noticed that? God, being confident in Himself and His abilities, assures Abram he will bear an heir through his own old and aged body. Then He takes Abram outside. He is about to expand Abram’s vision of just how great his reward will be. He encourages Abram to look heavenward and start counting stars…. With that question settled, another arose. God reminded Abram:”I am the LORD who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess it.”(Genesis 15:7-8) Logical, rational, steady, consistent, faithful and questioning Abram responded: How? Did you notice God was not upset or put off by Abram’s questions. He wasn’t asking in rebellion. He was just being honest with himself and his LORD.
What God does next has never been mentioned before in scripture. So it must be a big deal. God instructed Abram to bring Him a 3-year-old heifer, a 3-year-old female goat, a 3-year-old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon. Faithful Abram did as God instructed. He cut all the animals in two, but the birds. Abram, awaiting further instructions, made sure the carcasses weren’t eaten by birds of prey. As the sun was setting, Abram was going into a very deep sleep. Then God speaks to him: “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a strange land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. And as for you (Abram), you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” How’s that for a promise right before God is about to make a solemn binding agreement by passing through pieces of flesh?!
The sun has set. It is now very dark. Abram is in a fitful sleep wrestling with the promise of progeny as numerous as the stars to fill and occupy the land given him, and those same descendants facing 400 years of oppressive captivity at some point in time. Then God shows up. He makes covenant with himself by passing through the pieces of flesh in a figure eight. God has made a solemn binding agreement with Himself. His passing through the halved carcasses of the animals is a visual way of stating: what was done to these animals be done to me if I do not keep this agreement. (Read that again.) What does this mean for Abram? God has bound Himself to His own word to ensure all the promises of land and descendants will be fulfilled. This particular covenant is unconditional, in that, all the responsibility to see it through rests squarely on the shoulders of the God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. In making covenant with Himself, God states the boundary lines of the land He is giving to Abram’s descendants. (Genesis 15:18-21)
Covenant is a very old ancient practice. Jonathan and David made covenant with each other. Jonathan promised to protect David with his life, if necessary, from his father, Saul. David promised to take care of any of Jonathan’s offspring. In their example, they swapped robes and exchanged armor. In essence they took on each others identity (robes) and enemies (armor). They each fulfilled their promise to the other. (1 Samuel 18).
The promises for you and me in the land of Father’s love are innumerable. Some won’t be seen right away for they are for a future time and place. We will have to be trained, strengthened, equipped, resourced and supplied to obtain a few others. During these times we might even feel as though we’re being held captive. There are treasures to be had on each leg of this journey. Even in the dark, troublesome spots. No. Especially in the dark troublesome spots. We are to remain faithful to where God has us in the journey and seek Him through prayer and His word. Fellowship helps. So write down where you are in possessing your promise, share it with a friend and pray about it with them. As you continue to possess the land of Father’s love for you, may you know He is your shield. Your protector. Your defender. Your safe place. Your defense. As you dig in and hold on to the promises He has given you may you know your reward will be great. May you come to know Him more and more as your covenant keeping God: the one who would lay down His life for you by shedding His own blood for you. Defend you till death. Exchange His identity for yours and declare you in right standing with Him as a result. And in the end will prepare a feast for you. For in covenant there is always a meal shared by the parties involved. Be blessed in the name of the God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; your covenant keeping God. ~DPH~