Abram & Promise: Genesis 15

Once again YHWH needs to encourage Abram to trust in the promise. But there is another crucial question underlying this narrative. Can Abram trust YHWH?

15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” This reminder not to fear will become a common greeting through each God-human encounter. But perhaps Abram has good cause, we have jumped over Chapter 14, but it is worth a read as Abram becomes a war leader, but is now trying to carry on his herding life in peace. Is he in fact looking over shoulder at enemies  circling? 

“reward” = ṥkr = can be rendered wage but this usage implies gift and not quid pro quo. Here the reward is not a a prize that is earned but a special recognition given to a faithful servant of the King who has performed a bold or risky service. Abraham and Sarah are called to live their lives against barrenness. The “reward” calls them to live as creatures of hope” (Brueggemann)

cf Matt 5:4615:2-5 “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless,

What is it to be fearful, anxious? How do we respond in such situations.

Revelation, vision, disclosure – faith in the face of uncertainty 

15:6: “He believed!” cf Matt 16:15-17 Romans 4, Galatians 2-4

“the future of God’s goodness is open to those who trust themselves to that future, seeking neither to hold on to the present nor to conjure an alternative future of their own.” 

“The childless Abram will have not only an heir for his estate, but also offspring to numerous to count. Time when we lack what we desire can be discouraging, but only if we have a lost sight of the potential of the Lord to provide” Asshoto/Ngewa Africa Bible Commentary

7-21 Is this an older text? It seems to describe an ancient ritual. Two parties walk between the animals and through the blood. If one breaks the agreement then more blood will be shed.

Binding the commitment – covenant

– the promise will be kept

– the promise will be delayed

– do not fear , it holds from generation to generation

Using fire – it is only God who signs this covenant, gives the land unconditionally

The text of Genesis 15, taken as a unit asks whether Abraham can, in fact, trust. And it asks if Yahweh, can in fact, be trusted. It is faith which permits Abraham to trust and God to be trusted. It is unsure faith that wonders about delay. The issues are set here. The remainder of the Abrahamic narrative explores the question.” (Brueggemann)