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 for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 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 ancestors 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 with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
Are you blessed? Have you received abundant blessings from God? In case you’re interested in learning how to receive God’s best, before us we have a case study in Abram on how to do just that. First we’ll look at the five blessings Abram received from God on this day and then we’ll look at four keys to Abram’s life that resulted in his receiving God’s best.
1) From Abram’s descendants a great nation:
Referring to Israel’s 400 years of captivity in Egypt, in verses 13 and 14 God tells Abram, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.” (v. 13)
Slavery doesn’t sound like a blessing but if you think about it, Abram and Sarai haven’t even produced one child yet, and God is already providing information about the future of their descendants the nation of Israel. That’s big.
2) God’s protection:
In verse 14 God continues, “But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.” God promised Abram that his descendants would become a great nation of people and that He would protect them in the end. Though they would endure a season of difficulty, in the end God promises to rescue them and to bring justice upon the nation that enslaved Israel.
3) Peace and long life:
God promises Abram peace and a long life when He tells Abram that he will go to his ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. (v. 15)
4) Tangible material blessing:
God blesses Abram’s descendants, the nation of Israel, with a very large territory, a vast tract of land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (v. 18-21) A territory that’s somewhere around 300,000 square miles in size.
The red line that’s overlaid onto a current map of the Middle East, indicates what the size of the territory that God gave to Abram might look like.
5) A glimpse into the future:
Finally, all of these blessings are given as promises. They’re given to Abram in the form of the prophetic word coming directly from God Himself. Abram receives the rare blessing of an intimate encounter with God Himself, a glimpse into his own future, and the future of his descendants.
Can you imagine!? What must that have been like? Say you’ve purposed in your heart to spend some time alone with God. You find a quiet place. You read a verse from scripture, you pray, you read. After awhile the sun sets and you drift off to sleep. But it’s not a normal sleep. You can tell that something’s different. You feel it. You sense it. And then, you find yourself in God’s presence. He’s sharing with you. He’s talking directly to you. He’s giving you the scoop on the future of your descendants. You’re given a promise by God himself that you’re going to live a long and peaceful life. And finally, God promises you a family ranch that’s larger than the state of Texas.
So how did Abram come to experience these tremendous blessings from above. Was he just lucky?
What can you do to experience God’s blessings in the way that Abram did? Below you’ll find five keys to Abram’s life that resulted in his receiving God’s best.
1) Abram went where God was.
Abram was told by God where to go and Abram went.
In Genesis 12 God said, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you…” (Genesis 12:1) Abram was told by God where to go and Abram went there and there, not too surprisingly, he found God.
And that’s how it is for you and for me. When you’re where God wants you to be your chances of encountering God increase dramatically.
So if God is telling you, “Go from the couch, your TV, and your bag of chips to My word and to prayer.” Then go there.
Or if He’s saying, “Go from your Facebook page to your car and head for church.” Then go.
Go where God is and you’ll receive promises, you’ll be blessed. If you’re not where God wants you to be you’re missing out on God’s best for your life.
Go into His word. Go to prayer. Hang out with other Christ followers. Sing praises to Him.
Go to church.
If blessings are being poured out from God’s spout, if you’re not under the spout, you won’t be showered with His blessings.
Go where God is. That’s where the blessings are.
2) Abram sacrificed things of value.
When Abram set up for the covenant he brought a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon. (Genesis 15:9) In Abram’s day these were all things of great value. Heifers provided meat. Goats produced milk. Rams gave wool. Doves and pigeons were food. When Abram brought these to the Lord it cost him something.
When you come to the Lord it costs you something. It costs you your time. It costs you energy. If you invest in His kingdom by tithing and/or giving to your church it costs you money. Sometimes your commitment to Him and His ways may cost you a promotion at work. Sometimes your passion for Him may cost you friends.
Be quick to sacrifice temporal things of value in your life to engage with God. Sacrifice some of your time. Sacrifice some of your money. Sacrifice some of your hobby. Sacrifice some of your time in front of the TV.
The God who created the universe is worth it.
3) Abram waited.
Abram set the stage for the covenant — then he waited. He’s one in a long list of Godly men and women who practiced waiting on God’s timing. The Bible is full of God’s people who have waited. Sarah waited for a son. Moses waited for his people to be delivered. David waited to become king of Israel. Joseph waited in prison for the king’s servant to remember him. Ruth waited for a husband. Noah waited for the flood waters to recede. The list goes on and on.
Wait on God. Be faithful in your waiting. Trust in His timing.
God usually takes longer than I’d like Him to but in the end His timing always turns out to be perfect.
4) Abram drove away the birds of prey.
We looked at this in the last post. Abram drove away the birds of prey that descended on the sacrifices laid before the Lord for the making of the covenant. (Genesis 15:11) In your life these birds of prey look like distractions, negative thoughts or feelings, or even family or friends who might begin to feel uncomfortable around you as God grows you into who He wants you to become. See Your very great reward for more on driving away the birds of prey.
I’m not saying that if you practice what Abram did, you’ll inherit a ranch larger than Texas. God blesses each of his children uniquely. What He had in mind for Abram is different from what He has in mind for you. And what He has in mind for you is different than what He has in mind for me.
Intimacy with God results in different blessings for different people.
But to receive God’s best we have to live our lives according to Abram’s pattern.
Do what Abram did — go deep in your relationship with God.
Get radical: fast and pray for a day, read a little bit of God’s word every day for three weeks, write a blog about the Lord, volunteer at your church, help out at the Gospel mission, teach a Bible study.
God’s worth it.
You’ll never regret it.
Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament Vol. 1, by Jon Courson, Thomas Nelson 2005