I have had some weird dreams in my time. I’ve imagined falling from great heights and awoke with a start. I’ve been dreamt myself into any number of historical scenes. I once dreamt I was lost amidst a crowd of 10,000 beagles. (That particular dream was delightful!) But I have never had a dream or vision like the one Abraham received in Genesis 15.
Abraham and Sarah had been waiting for many years for the child promised to them by God when God appears to Abraham in a vision to reaffirm this promise. Abraham, however, exhausted by the waiting, does not humbly nod in quiet obedience. “Yeah about that God…there’s no kid. It’s looking like a servant will be my heir.”
God does not apologize for the delay. Rather, he reaffirms his promise of abundant descendants, using the innumerable stars in the sky as an object lesson. Abraham's response?
“Abraham believed the Lord, and the Lord credited it to him as righteousness.”
Notice Abram did not “believe a child would finally come.” Abraham believed the Lord,the promise-maker. As Walter Brueggeman says, “Abraham believes that God can cause a break point between the exhausted present and the buoyant future.”
What does it take to have that kind of faith? No amount of logic can churn it out. There is not enough evidence in the world to construct it. We cannot work ourselves into a state of faithful belief. Faith is gift. A gift of revelation. God in God’s graciousness reveals God’s character as the good promise-maker, the good future-builder to us. And we receive, with hearts and hands open.
Abraham dream then takes as weird turn and ends up standing between two rows of slaughtered animals, the stage of an ancient covenant-making ritual. Out of the darkness, a strange smoking fire-pot appears and passes through the sacrifices. In some mysterious way, God is present in the act, confirming God’s covenant with Abraham once again.
God is the promise-maker, the promise-initiator, the promise-fulfiller. Abraham is the recipient of both the promise and the faith to trust in this promise-making God.
Click here for today's additional Scripture readings.
Grace and Peace.