Genesis 15 – 28 Dec 2014
Today is the last Sunday of 2014.
I want you to go forth this morning energised by the truth that God is sovereign.
And there are 4 truths concerning God’s sovereignty manifested here in Gen 15.
1) God is sovereign. He knows when His children need His comfort & assurance (v1-3)
2) God is sovereign. He hears & answers the prayers of His children (v4-11)
3) God is sovereign. He clothes His children with His righteousness (v6)
4) God is sovereign. He decreed all things that come to pass (v12-21)
May these truths concerning God’s sovereignty encourage our hearts as 2014 comes to a close.
May the thought that God is sovereign give us strength & confidence for 2015 ahead.
Let’s now meditate on each of these 4 truths concerning God’s sovereignty.
1) God is sovereign. He knows when His children need His comfort & assurance
Gen 15 begins with God speaking to Abraham.
God said to Abraham “..Do not be afraid..”.
“…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
But why was Abraham afraid?
Didn’t he just defeat 4 Jordan kings in Gen 14?
Didn’t he rescue Lot & his family?
Didn’t he overcome the temptation of riches offered by the king of Sodom?
Didn’t he have a wonderful encounter with Melchizedek – a type of Jesus Christ?
He should be feeling great!
Why should he be afraid?
We are not told exactly why he was afraid.
But we know that fear can dawn upon any child of God.
And it often happens after you have experienced a “spiritual high”.
The prophet Elijah just defeated all the prophets of Baal.
Next moment, he was fleeing & asking to die in 1 Kings 19.
The prophet Jonah preached at Nineveh & the whole city was converted.
Next moment, he was in spiritual depression in Jonah 4.
Perhaps it was because Abraham had placed all his hope in God.
And God had promised that he will have a son.
But now, Abraham was already 85 years old.
Yet all that he had was his chief servant Eliezer who was from Damascus.
Was he being naïve in putting all his faith in this God?
What if the kings that he defeated return to seek revenge?
What if the king of Sodom came back to harass him?
And as all these fears clouded Abraham’s mind, God said to him “Do not be afraid, Abram…”
“…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
My friends, what kinds of fears are you having in your life right now?
Perhaps you are an adult but still single.
And you fear having to be single for the rest of your life.
Perhaps your children have grown up but still have not professed faith.
And you worry for their future.
Perhaps you fear that your exam results may not be good.
And you wonder what lies ahead for you.
If you are a child of God today, God says to you “..do not be afraid..”
Do you know that God said these same words >80times to His children throughout the bible?
God told Joshua in Jos 1:9 “..Do not be afraid…”
And that was to assure Joshua that He will go forth with him to conquer Canaan.
God said to Ezekiel in Eze 2:6 “…Do not be afraid….”
And that was to assure him of His presence when he brought His word to Israel.
God told the Apostle Paul in Acts 18:9 “…Do not be afraid…”.
And that was to encourage him to keep preaching in Corinth.
God says to you if you’re his child, ‘do not be afraid’ of what 2015 & beyond will bring.
God is sovereign. He knows when you will need His comfort & assurance.
And when Abraham heard these words, he poured out his heart to God.
And he wrestled with God in prayer.
And that brings us to the second point for today.
2) God is sovereign. He hears & answers the prayers of His children
Abraham prayed in v2 “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing that I go childless, …”
Most of the time, we fear because we worry that our desired outcome may not happen.
In other words, we desire that our will be done for our life.
And that seemed to be Abraham’s problem as well.
Abraham was longing for the son that God had promised him.
He was even prepared to lower his expectation.
And he thought that his servant Eliezer was the best that God could offer to him.
He didn’t realise that God had better plans for him & that he just needed to wait.
And as Abraham wrestled in prayer, God answered him in v4.
“..This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”
God did not stop there.
He brought Abraham to view the stars in the heavens – v5.
And God told Abraham that he will have as many descendants as the stars in the heavens.
Now, that was not all.
God also told Abraham that he will inherit the land of Canaan – v7.
And God guaranteed His promise to Abraham with a covenant.
He asked Abraham to bring a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove & a young pigeon – v9.
Each of these animals were to be cut into 2.
And they were to be placed at 2 opposite sides –v10.
In those days when 2 people made covenants with each other, this is exactly what they would do.
And the 2 parties would walk through the path created by the parts of the cut animals.
And they would say to each other:
Let us be like these cut animals if we broke our covenant.
Abraham did not walk through the path of these cut animals.
Because it was a one-sided covenant.
God made a promise to Abraham.
And God will fulfil what He has promised.
God is sovereign. He heard Abraham’s prayer.
And his answer to Abraham was much more than what Abraham had expected.
Have you been wrestling with God in prayer like Abraham?
I want you to know that Abraham prayed because he had faith in God.
He believed that God is sovereign.
He believed that God hears prayers & controlled the future.
He had a relationship with God through a Saviour revealed through Melchizedek whom he met in Gen 14.
So his wrestling in prayer was a sign of the spiritual life that was in him.
And that brings us to our 3rd point for today.
3) God is sovereign. He clothes His children with His righteousness
Do you believe in the promises of God?
Well, Abraham did.
And because he did, the bible says that God declared him righteous – v6.
Now, what does it mean to be declared righteous?
Zechariah 3 provides an analogy to explain this.
Zechariah had a vision.
He saw the high priest Joshua serving in the temple of God.
And as Joshua served in the temple, Satan was seen standing next to him.
And Satan was lashing all kinds of accusations against him.
You are not fit to be the high priest, Joshua.
Look at your filthy garments.
Look at what a failure you are.
Joshua did not say a word but just kept silent.
Because he knew that what Satan said was true.
The bible says that the LORD rebuked Satan!
And the LORD said “Take away the filthy garments from him.”
And the LORD said “I have removed your iniquity from you…”
“… & I will clothe you with rich robes.”
Abraham was a sinful man.
But because he believed in God’s promises, God declared him righteous.
God removed his sins from him.
And God clothed him with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
So when God looked at Abraham, He does not see his sin any more.
Instead He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ covering him.
I want you to note that Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised.
Abraham was circumcised only in Gen 17.
Therefore, circumcision was not the act that gave salvation to Abraham.
Instead, it was his unwavering faith in God that saved him.
In the same way, a man is not saved by the act of baptism.
Neither is a man saved by partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
It is his faith in Jesus, who takes away his sins, that gives a man salvation.
When you believe in God’s Son Jesus Christ, He declares you righteous.
Perhaps some of you who grew up in this Church are trying to achieve a certain level of holiness.
And you think that God may accept you when you have achieved that level.
And only when that happens, you start telling people you are a Christian & you start seeking baptism.
If that is the case, let me tell you that you are lowering God’s standards.
God’s standards cannot be met by whatever you present to Him.
Only His Son Jesus Christ has attained His requirement of holiness!
God wants you to bring nothing to Him.
God wants to clothe you with His holiness Himself.
He wants you to simply believe in His Son.
The bible says that Abraham believed God.
And by that act of belief or faith, God declared him righteous.
God is sovereign. He alone can clothe His children with His righteousness.
Believe in Him now and He will remove your sins.
And He will clothe you with the righteousness that only He can give.
We come now to our final point for today.
4) God is sovereign. He decreed all things to come to pass.
From v12-21, God gave Abraham a glimpse of the future.
God told Abraham that his descendants will not inherit Canaan immediately.
Instead, they will be in a foreign land for 400 years – v13.
Why is this the case?
V16 – Because “..the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
God decided to let the Amorites continue their wickedness in Canaan.
God is sovereign.
It is His prerogative whether to reveal His reasons for this to us.
But God has also appointed a time when He will bring judgement to these Amorites.
And this appointed time is after 4 generations of Abraham’s descendants.
And we saw history unfolding in exactly the manner that God had decreed.
You can read all these from the books of Genesis to Joshua in the old testament.
Some of you may now be wondering.
If all that God decreed will come to pass, why should we even bother to pray?
Wouldn’t God’s sovereign will come to pass regardless of whether we prayed?
The answer is ‘Yes’.
God is not dependent on our prayers to bring His will to come to pass.
And I thank God that this is the case.
Because I have a poor prayer life.
And if my future is dependent on whether I prayed, I am doomed!
But it is precisely because God is sovereign that we ought to seek Him in prayer.
Because prayer is not about pleading for our will to be done.
Prayer is about learning to ask for things in accordance to God’s will.
1 John 5:14 “…if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
Jesus taught us to pray “…Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Prayer is about seeking God.
And when you have found Him, you will understand His will.
Let me illustrate this.
In 2 Cor 12, the apostle Paul told us that he had a thorn in his flesh.
And he prayed 3 times that this thorn will be removed from him.
Very often, we pray in the same manner don’t we?
We ask & we expect God to do exactly as we dictate in our prayers.
God answered the Apostle Paul’s prayer.
But He did not answer it in the manner that he asked.
God did not remove his “thorn in his flesh”.
Instead, God changed his perspective of this ‘thorn in his flesh’.
God made the Apostle Paul realize that this thorn was placed there by His sovereign will.
And because God placed it there, He had full control of it.
And because God had full control of it, He will be glorified through how He helped Paul handle it.
And the Apostle Paul finally understood this after much wrestling in prayer.
He was then able to say ‘when I am weak, then I am strong’.
‘I will boast of my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’
The Apostle Paul learned to align his desires to the will of God.
And he learnt to pray in accordance to God’s will.
And God’s power was made perfect in his weakness.
As we start 2015, let us remember that God had decreed all that will come to pass.
The future will unfold itself day by day.
But you know what? The bible has already given us a glimpse of what God had decreed to happen.
Jesus will come again to judge the world – Heb 9v28.
He will bring His people to heaven.
He will come when you least expect it – 2 Pet 3v10.
The event will happen like “a thief in the night”.
The world will come to an end.
Many people will regret because they are not ready for the judgment day.
Because they are not clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
And all that God sees of them is their sinfulness.
And they will be thrown into hell where there is gnashing of teeth.
Remember, whatever God revealed to Abraham unfolded exactly as it is was revealed.
Do you believe that what God has revealed about the future will unfold exactly as He has said?
If you do but you have not professed faith in Jesus, cry out to God right now from where you are seated.
And seek His forgiveness of your sins.
Ask that He clothe you with the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Repent of your former ways so that you won’t end up in hell.
Align yourself with how God wants you to live from now on.
Talk to me after worship today so that I can help you & pray for you.
God is sovereign. He decreed all things that come to pass.
Those who believe in Him will find comfort because the bible says that “God works all things for their good” – Rom 8:28.
God says to His people in Jer 31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love”.
And in Eph 1:4 “..He chose us before the foundation of the world..”
If this sovereign God is for you, who can stand against you?
What is there to fear? What is there to worry about?
That should bring you the greatest comfort & assurance you need.
Unless He does not know you & is not on your side.
Then all that you will have is a fearful expectation of the future.
The greatest pleasure you can have on earth is the experience of God’s presence with you.
That was the experience of Enoch when he walked with God in Gen 5.
My wish for you in 2015 is that you are conscious of the presence of God with each step that you take.
Then you will live your life “energized” by the love of Christ.
Then you will be energized by the truth that God is sovereign.
And you will find great joy, strength & purpose in all that you do.
To God be all glory. Have a blessed 2015 ahead!