I realized something recently – a connection I’ve never made before. For every hard thing; for every difficult season, God has given me a song. A song to sing…to him. A song to remind me of his sovereignty. His power. To help keep me focused. I was stunned at the realization. Right off I thought of four difficult seasons and was amazed to realize I had a song for each one. This time however God’s not just given me a song, but an album (He knew I needed more than one.) to remind me who he is.
Devotional: Genesis 15:7-21
Key Verse: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” Proverbs 19:21
Just as he reminded Abram, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess” (Gen. 15:7). Yes indeed! HE is the LORD and there is no other!
Yet we struggle with doubts and questions and fears just as Abram did, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” (Gen. 15:8) I believe you. I really do but how am I to know for certain you won’t forsake me or forget me or change your mind? How am I to know because it obviously hasn’t happened yet?
“Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon” (Gen. 15:9). Seems a strange command to us but not to Abram. “You see in Abram’s day, when two people entered in to a legal agreement, they did so by splitting an animal in two, standing in the midst of the carcass, and clasping each other’s wrist to show that they were deadly serious about keeping up their end of the bargain.”
So Abram killed the animals. All five of them – splitting three of them open. And waited. Maybe for hours; fighting off birds of prey that threatened his efforts. A very real scene I think deep down we can all connect with. We sense God’s leading. We get excited. We follow through. Expecting great things but instead we face adversity. Spending much of our time fighting off the enemy. Disappointed because things didn’t go as planned – we question.
But it couldn’t happen the way Abram likely anticipated. Because there could be no meeting God in the middle. This was a covenant, a promise, dependent only on God. Abram could have no part in it. No part! So God put him to sleep, passing the entire length of the carcasses alone as “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch.” When Abram awoke only the charred remains were left, along with the imprint of God’s word on his heart.
Such grace that God would promise the land for nothing in return. Indeed the land would belong to his offspring. Indeed the “contract” had been made! But the land would not be theirs until after four hundred years of terrible affliction. Four hundred years of suffering! Does it really have to be that way Lord? Do they really have to suffer? I’m sure that’s the question I would have asked. But it did…it did have to be that way. So God could redeem them, just as he redeems us. So God could make himself known to Egypt, to Israel, and to the surrounding nations. So God could display his awesome power. So God could make Israel his own. God had a plan and was sovereignly working his plan.
But God also gave Abram another reason for the delay. The land could not yet be his “because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete” (Gen. 15:16). Consider this my friends. No doubt the Israelites prayed for deliverance during the time of their affliction. The Scriptures tell us they cried out to God. And God heard their prayers. But for countless years it surely seemed to them that God cared little for their suffering. Certainly they wondered – does he not hear our cries for help? Why does he do nothing? Why does he remain silent to our injustice?
But God wasn’t ignoring them. He cared deeply it just wasn’t time. In his perfect sovereignty it just wasn’t time. The iniquity of the Amorites was not yet complete. In his abundant mercy he was waiting. Giving the peoples of Canaan time – to repent. To seek him. Though he knew they wouldn’t he still gave them time. My friends, could it be what we perceive as God not listening, not caring, not hearing – is really his abundant mercy at work? In the lives of those who desperately need it? Who have yet to receive it? For it’s his kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).
So fret not o my soul. Fret not. Remember God is sovereign. “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand” (Prov. 19:21). Firmly. Fixed. Forever. He hears your prayers. He cares…deeply. He will never forsake you. Even when it doesn’t seem like it…God is sovereignly working his plan. For the good of those who love him (Rom. 8:28). For his glory. For the sake of righteousness and truth.
I don’t know what today holds for you. I can barely grasp what it holds for me. But rest assured weary soul, your faithful God is sovereign. Over your yesterday, your today, and your tomorrow.
He’s working my friend…he’s working.