“And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
For some reason or other, I arose from my slumber with the thought of, “What one thing can I do today…” It first started with my mulling around another person’s problems. You know how it is when you are in that still-dreaming state while trying to wake up. It was there, in that other person’s mess, that I solved the problem – that “thing” that needed to be done. Mind you, it is not my place to share this valuable and necessary information with this person. Such is the way with dreams.
The dream then started to shift. Now the crosshairs started aiming at me! So, I mulled that over, again in the half-dream, half-awake state. You know, I have this to do and that to do today, yadda, yadda. How shall I prioritize my Monday morning? No, that wasn’t the one thing. The one thing is telling someone about Jesus. It really doesn’t matter who it is, it’s just important to share Jesus with someone.
So here it goes!
I once heard R.C. Sproul comment about a question someone posed to him. It went something like this: “If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one thing to read, what would it be?” R.C. responded by saying that it would be the bible. But he went on to drill this further down. What would be the most important book of the bible? What would be the most important chapter of that book, and so on.
You know, I’ve racked my brain trying to remember that particular teaching episode, but I can’t seem to pinpoint it. Suffice it to say that R.C. concluded that the most important book is Genesis, the most important chapter is 15, and the most important verse (if I remember correctly) is 17. Let’s look at that:
Genesis 15:17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.
Well, that sure seems to be a let-down, right? Let’s expand. First, what are “these pieces”? They are a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. All these (except the birds) were cut in half and placed apart from each other so that one could walk between them. Apparently, this was an important ritual used back then to seal a deal between two parties. It was called a “blood covenant.”
We recognize this language from “The New Covenant” in which Jesus gave his life for our sins. No longer were animals required to be killed and their blood shed for sin. Jesus changed all that. But back then, God had another covenant, or promise, that he was making to Abraham. What was that covenant?
Genesis 12:2-3 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
We are taught that Jesus is this blessing for the world. We also are taught by Paul and the writer of Hebrews that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of this promise.
But, here’s the thing that makes this promise so important, according to R.C. – this covenant is a one-sided promise. It is God’s promise to keep, not contingent on Abraham at all. Think about all this. Even the Israelites were bound by a two-party promise. God promised the Promised Land if….they obeyed. They didn’t. Some never made it and others were killed or physically removed because of their unbelief.
But that was another agreement. This agreement was solely on God’s side, his responsibility. That’s why he alone went through the pieces of dead animals. That’s why Abraham didn’t.
All the blessing that God promised to Abraham is his doing. Abraham couldn’t mess it up. Do you see the significance in this? It is the same as Jesus’ covenant.
John 10:28 I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
Do you see this? Left up to our own wicked hearts and desires, we would abandon God just as fast as the Israelites when they built the golden calf and as determined as those who mocked and killed the prophets. God knew this, so he made a one-sided promise of salvation for that he will never back out on. In fact, God can’t. Why? Because he has sworn his name to it by walking through the animal pieces.
Now, this is indeed reason to celebrate, because left to our own devices, we’re smoked. That’s why R.C. says that Genesis 15:17 is the most important verse of the bible. I’m starting to understand this.
Now, if you really want to get yourself started on a journey, start asking these questions: Why did God pick Abraham? What was so special about him that God bestowed such a great honor as this? What about the Israelites? Why are they the “Chosen” people? What about you and me, born-gain believers? Why did God pick us to receive eternal life? What’s so special about us that God would honor us?
Hah! I hope this really messes you up! I hope you remember this day, the day some guy started out with “what one thing can I do….” Folks, you won’t be able to answer these questions without a lot of bible study. You will think you come close to the answer but find you don’t have a clue. Then, it’ll start to make sense again. Don’t look into “normal” church teaching. You won’t find it there. It’ll be in the pages of your bibles and taught by those who search deep into its pages.
Father, what a wonderful journey! Thank you!
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers