How Can You Know God will do what he said he would do? But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, How Can I Know that I will gain possession of it?’ So, How Can You Know? How did Abram know? How did Abram stop doubting and know? Let’s see.
Offering and Sacrifice
By Pastor Delbert Young
How Can I Know?
How Can I Know?
Scriptures: Leviticus 9:24-10:2, Leviticus 10:3, Revelation 1:5-6, Hebrews 4:16, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Romans 12:1, Leviticus 10:5, Exodus 28:40, Leviticus 10:1, Psalms 66:13-20
We may not think about it, but Father God makes personal covenants with and gives personal promises to his children. We know the Lord gives us all the wonderful overall promise of covenant, but there are also personal promises God gives each of us individually. When we study the scriptures, we find the Lord gave wonderful personal promises to people. He promised Noah he would save his family and him from the flood. He promised Hagar he would make a nation from her son Ishmael. He promised Jacob he would protect Jacob, bless Jacob, and bring him back to his homeland. He promised Joseph through a dream he would be great and even his own family would bow to him. He promised Joshua the walls of Jericho would fall down flat. He promised David he would be king. He promised Solomon he would be wise and wealthy. Jesus promised his disciples hundredfold blessing in this life. There are personal promises the Lord gives us individually. WHAT DO YOU FEEL GOD HAS PERSONALLY PROMISED YOU – success, happiness, health, or promises concerning your children or your spouse? He has promised me a church affecting this region and impacting the world. WHAT HAS GOD PROMISED YOU? You should have a personal promise.
Today, I want to talk about HOW CAN WE KNOW the promise God made to us individually will happen. HOW CAN YOU KNOW God will do what he said he would do? Abram had personal promises and asked…
(NIV) Genesis 15:8 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, HOW CAN I KNOW that I will gain possession of it?”
(NLT) Genesis 15:8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT YOU WILL GIVE IT TO ME?“
So, HOW CAN YOU KNOW? How did Abram know? How did Abram stop doubting and know? Before I show us, let me refresh everyone about what was going on. About eight or nine years prior to Abram/Abraham asking Father God HOW CAN I KNOW, the Lord told Abram to leave his homeland. The bait/reward to get Abram to leave was a promise. Abram was married to Sarai. For many years, they tried but had no children. The Lord promised Abram, if he would leave his homeland, he would give him a child and give him enough descendants to become a great nation (Gen 12:2). The promise was one Abram could not refuse. He loaded up his wife, servants, and his nephew Lot, and left. Once in the land, the Lord AGAIN promised Abram, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gen 12:7). Then, a few years later, for the THIRD time the Lord made the same promise to Abram.
Genesis 13:14-16 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.
The promise, though repeated over and over, had not materialized. Where was the promise? Have you ever had someone do this to you? They promised you, promised you, and promised you, but what they promised never happened. As Genesis 15 begins (where Abram asked HOW CAN I KNOW), I believe Abram was frustrated, discouraged, aging, and having a “moment.”
Genesis 15:1 After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be AFRAID, Abram. I AM YOUR SHIELD, YOUR VERY GREAT REWARD.”
Abram had recently rescued Lot and Lot’s family from the army of five kings, so he was not afraid of a man. He was wealthy, so he was not afraid for his finances. He was healthy, so he was not afraid for his health. Of what was Abram afraid? From what could only the Lord shield Abram? For what could only the Lord very greatly reward Abram? It seemed Abram had everything. Do not miss the sarcasm and disappointment in Abram’s response.
Genesis 15:2-3 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, WHAT CAN YOU GIVE ME since I REMAIN CHILDLESS and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “YOU HAVE GIVEN ME NO CHILDREN; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
WHAT CAN YOU GIVE ME…? I REMAIN CHILDLESS…!” In other words, Abram was saying, “You promised me this over and over for 8+ years and nothing happened.” Abram was saying, “Lord, you want to know of what I am afraid? I am AFRAID you can’t do it, or if you can do it, I am AFRAID you will not do it. I’m AFRAID I will mess up and give you a reason not to do it.” Have you ever felt this way? Abram was venting. The way only God could be Abram’s very great reward was to reward Abram with a child. This was God’s part of the deal.
Abram’s fear overrode everything else with which God blessed Abram. Abram asked WHAT CAN YOU GIVE ME SINCE I REMAIN CHILDLESS? To Abram, life meant little without an heir. He had a beautiful wife who would do anything for him. He had wealth, victory, honor, and authority – seemingly, everything a man would want. However, one thing was lacking, so much so to think it would not come to pass caused fear.
WHAT IS YOUR FEAR? For what do you wait in life? What in life means more to you than anything – more than anything you have acquired, more than anything you have accomplished thus far, more than anything you have experienced, and more than anything given you? WHAT DO YOU FEAR WILL NOT HAPPEN? What is it that unless God rewards you with it, you will never have it? To what does everything else fall second place? How about the promise he made concerning your success or your prosperity, or the promise about your spouse, or about your home, etc.? How about the promise he made to you concerning your health? How about the promise he made concerning your wayward child or grandchild? WHERE IS IT? This is what Abram wanted to know. HOW DO I KNOW?
Genesis 15:4-7 Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.”
There was the promise again. It was the fourth time God promised it – THE FOURTH TIME! God keeps promising, but nothing happens. Let’s see what Abram had to say as he heard the same promise for the fourth time.
Genesis 15:8-11 But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, HOW CAN I KNOW THAT I WILL GAIN POSSESSION OF IT?” So the LORD said to him, “BRING ME a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half.”
Get this now. Abram asked HOW CAN I KNOW… The Lord said BRING ME an OFFERING AND SACRIFICE. I have been lost in thought about this passage for weeks. I have rewritten this lesson 3 times. I felt I was supposed to share on it for our series and I would think I grasped it, but then I would see something else. My question is “Why?” Why did Abram have to BRING OFFERING AND SACRIFICE?
Matthew Henry said, “Those that would receive the assurances of God’s favour, and would have their faith confirmed, must attend instituted ordinances, and expect to meet with God in them.” Matthew Henry said, “…meet with God in them.” Think about this. It is in OFFERING AND SACRIFICE we “meet with God,” or if you will, make covenant with God concerning the promise. Something happens in good healthyOFFERING AND SACRIFICE happening in nothing else.OFFERING AND SACRIFICE makes a way for God to pass through the area we are afraid will not happen and the area only he can bring the great reward. Let me show you what I mean.
Abram cut the OFFERING AND SACRIFICE in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. This is huge. I grew up on a farm where we raised and processed our meat. I hunted and “cleaned” many deer. I have a mental idea of what happened here. Abram split the heifer, goat, and ram down the middle. Attempt to imagine the coagulated blood and entrails from three fully-grown animals on the ground and all over Abram. The animal halves laid a few feet apart with a squashy blood-saturated trail between the pieces. It’s an amazing and horrific sight. What is it about?
Jeremiah 34:18-19 The men who have violated my covenant and have not fulfilled the terms of the covenant they made before me, I will treat like THE CALF THEY CUT IN TWO AND THEN WALKED BETWEEN ITS PIECES. The leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the court officials, the priests and all the people of the land WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE PIECES OF THE CALF
In Abram’s day, they made contracts called covenants. Those making the contract/covenant split the OFFERING AND SACRIFICE, joined hands, and passed barefoot between the pieces. Imagine passing through the halves. Imagine the entrails, the animal heads, the eyes glassed over staring, and squashy coagulated blood. There was blood and horrific death all around. Yet, this is walking in covenant. Each person stated their promise and then said something along the lines of, “So be to me as it was to this/these animal(s) if I do not fulfill my promise.” This is what the Lord meant in the Jeremiah 34:18-19 when he said concerning those breaking his covenant, “I will treat like the calf they cut in two and then walked between the pieces.”
Genesis 15:12-17 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. THEN the LORD said to him, “KNOW FOR CERTAIN that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, A SMOKING FIREPOT [KJV – smoking furnace] WITH A BLAZING TORCH APPEARED AND PASSED BETWEEN THE PIECES.
It was not Abram who passed between the pieces. Let me show you who and what Abram saw. It was none other than the Son of Man, Jesus himself.
Revelation 1:13-16 and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like BLAZING FIRE. His feet were like bronze glowing in a FURNACE, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. [Christophany]
Abram provided the OFFERING AND SACRIFICE. Then, the Son of Man himself moved through the OFFERING AND SACRIFICE. It created a covenant way for God to move for Abram. In fact, the Lord was saying he put his very existence on the line. So be to the Lord himself as it was to those animals and birds if the Lord did not fulfill the promise he made to Abram. Abram was in a deep sleep off to the side, out of the picture. The Lord was saying the covenant was totally up to the Lord. Don’t be afraid, Abram, you will mess up and I won’t fulfill my promise. Don’t be afraid I won’t do it or I can’t do it. My very existence depends on this promise. Your OFFERING AND SACRIFICE moves you out of the picture and allows God himself to move for you in covenant.
Genesis 15:18-21 ON THAT DAY THE LORD MADE A COVENANT WITH ABRAM and said, To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…
The Lord promised Abram four different times, but it was not until THAT DAY THE LORD MADE A COVENANT WITH ABRAM. What was different about THAT DAY? OFFERING AND SACRIFICE! Are OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES important? They make a difference.
I want us to know it was still several years before the promise actually happened. However, Abram could KNOW FOR CERTAIN it would happen. This day Abram believed and it “was counted” to him as righteousness. It was THAT DAY the covenant happened, with God swearing on his own existence the promise would become reality.
I want to close with two thoughts. Verse 12 said a deep sleep came upon Abram, much like the sleep that came upon Adam at the creation of Eve. All Abram’s senses locked down so God and God alone had total access to Abram’s soul. Everything except God was thick darkness. The only thing Abram could see and focus on was the smoking furnace and blazing torch – the Son of Man. There are times we must allow the Lord to shut out everything but him. It was at this moment the Lord spoke to Abram “KNOW FOR CERTAIN that…”
One more thought…
(KJV) Genesis 15:11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, ABRAM DROVE THEM AWAY.
Fowl things will always try to mess up your OFFERING AND SACRIFICE. Things fly through your mind, like thoughts of unfaithfulness, un-forgiveness, sin, etc. Unexpected bills fly in. Bad weather blows in and keeps us out of church. We get lazy and don’t serve or give the OFFERING AND SACRIFICE, etc. You must drive those things away if you want covenant with God. Don’t be cheap with your OFFERING AND SACRIFICE. Don’t be cheap with your sacrifice of praise, prayer, doing good, getting to church, reading his word, or with your money. Drive away those things defiling your OFFERING AND SACRIFICE.
HOW CAN YOU KNOW? You can know by your OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES. They provide the way for God to move in covenant with you. It is through OFFERING AND SACRIFICE you will “KNOW FOR CERTAIN” he will fulfill his promise to you. HOW ARE YOU CONCERNING OFFERING AND SACRIFICE? WHAT IS THE LORD TELLING YOU TO BRING HIM? Let’s pray.
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