Genesis 15: 1, 5-6
1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
5 Then He brought him outside and said, "Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be." 6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.
God speaks in promises. His divine language is particularly jaw dropping because it’s true. It is impossible for God to lie. (Heb 6:18, Nm 23:19)
“Behind all God’s promises there is the love-beat of a father’s heart, seeking the highest and best for those he loves.” This is our God, “who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” (Rom 4:17)
The way we enter into the spectacular plans of God for our life is by believing what He says is true and by persisting in that belief, with "full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Heb 6:12) We must have faith and patience.
This is exactly what God is trying to build into Abram (later renamed Abraham) when we meet him in this passage. You might ask, “Why should I be interested in what God promised Abram? What does that have to do with me?” A lot, as it turns out.
Abram’s journey into faith, his struggle to believe what he cannot see, is an extraordinary example recorded for us to gain insight into navigating our own faith journey. We should be interested also because Abram’s promises are ours, too, when we are baptized into Christ.
In Galatians 3:16, Paul tells us the promises made to Abram were made to him and his seed. The seed is singular, and the seed is Christ. “And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:29)
The passage we’re studying is just one of the promises made to Abram. Abram’s wife, Sarai, is barren. God has told Abram twice before this that He will multiply him greatly, so greatly that he won’t be able to number his descendants. (Gn 12:2, 13:16) This audacious assurance by God flies in the face of Abram’s physical reality. God’s promises are always so grand, so fantastical and so unfathomable, they seem too good to be true…unless we know and trust the Promiser.
The nature of God’s promises, their sheer size, scope, and value, are a reflection of God, Himself. Since nothing is too hard for Him, it’s impossible for Him to overreach!
And this is the way into great faith, the kind of faith that doesn’t shy away from the incomprehensible nature of God’s assurances but embraces them: Setting our minds on the Promiser.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’” (Gn 15:1)
Here we go. God is focusing Abram on Himself, His character and nature. Notice He doesn’t say, “I am your Rewarder.” He says, “I am your exceedingly great Reward.” First and foremost, the Promiser is The Promise. The Blesser is The Blessing. There is no other greater, and He encompasses all we need. When we can wrap our minds around how exceedingly great He is, and we can begin to believe in His power to accomplish anything He says, He can do exceedingly great things in our lives.
Now God instructs Abram to look up: “ ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” (Gn 15:5)
The stars are the visual aid of both the expansiveness of the promise to Abram and the magnificence of the Creator who flung them there in the first place. Abram is beginning to conceive the otherwise inconceivable plan of God on His life. His eyes are beginning to focus upward on Almighty God instead of downward on his earthly circumstances, so that He can see as God sees. He is setting his mind above.
“And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” (Gn 15:6)
Here is the very simple definition of righteousness in God’s eyes: believing what He says.
In the New Testament, we are reminded that Abraham’s promises are ours. This is “the hope set before us…an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” God says to us, as Abraham’s seed: “Surely, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” (Heb 6:18-19, 14)
The word “Surely” is the equivalent of an emphatic oath meaning very truly, most assuredly. “Blessing I will bless you” in Greek can be translated: With adoration, I will bless and praise you, I will speak My good Word over and over you. God blesses us by pouring out His divine speech of love and approval.
“Multiplying I will multiply you” in the Greek means to cause to increase, to abound, to super-abound or overflow. It is the equivalent of what Jesus said in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” The word for “abundantly” is perissos (per-is-sos’) meaning, in superabundance or superior quality.
I don’t know about you but I want this kind of life!
It can sometimes be tempting to water down the promises of God so that they don’t appear outrageous or so incongruent with our physical reality. But Scripture tells us we enter the promises by believing what God says, not by surveying our circumstances and determining what is practical to believe. For God to break through and change our circumstances, we must believe Him and be thankful.
In the twenty-five years it took for Abram to become Abraham, the father of nations, he had finally learned to look at the Promiser, not at his circumstances.
“And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.” (Rom 4:19-21)
God’s promises provoke us; they challenge us to the core. Are we going to believe God and enter into His call on our life? Can we visualize this spiritual reality that our lives are meant to be fruitful, and blessed beyond what we can comprehend in the natural? Even if today we’re in jail? Even if right now we’re widowed, wretched, diseased or we’ve been abused, abandoned or labeled? Even if we’ve been waiting for a very long time?
I know what it’s like to be so sick you wish you were dead, to lie in bed for years waiting and listening to the Word of God. And in that time I’ve learned I must look up and trust God, not my circumstances. This has radically changed the landscape of my life. I am being strengthened and resurrected by setting my mind on things above, where Christ is seated, having paid for my release from captivity and catapulted me into fruitfulness.
I suggest we all look up at the expansive starlit sky tonight and say:
“I am Abraham’s seed because I belong to Christ. Blessing, You will bless me Lord. Multiplying, You will multiply me. You are my shield, my exceedingly great reward.”
 Lockyer, Herbert, All the Promises of the Bible: A Unique Compilation of Exposition of Divine Promises in Scripture (Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 1962), 31.
 Strong, James and John R. Kohlenberger, III, The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red Letter Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), H2229.
 Ibid., eulogeo (yoo-log-eh’-o) H2127, se (seh) H4571.
 Ibid., plethuno (play-thoo’-no) H4129, se (seh) H4571.