And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them…
I. WHAT WAS THE COVENANT, AND TO WHOM WAS IT REALLY MADE?
1. As we commonly use the term it means an agreement between two equal parties who bind themselves to do, or not to do, certain things. In the realm of Redemption it cannot be so, because God and man are not equals and cannot make mutual agreements. God's covenant begins and ends with Himself. It comes to us only through His mercy and grace. The power to fulfil its conditions, on man's part, comes through the same grace received into the heart by faith.
2. To whom was this promise made? "To Abraham and his seed, which is Christ."
II. WHAT WAS, AND IS, ACCEPTABLE FAITH? We see at a glance that the covenant asked almost nothing of its recipient as he left his home and entered Canaan. He had done nothing, that we can see, which would in the least entitle him to hear so "large a promise, so divine." To be sure, we read that he would bring up his children well, but this hardly constitutes a valid reason why he should be selected to become heir of the world and the father of the faithful. We have the exact announcement here: "He believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." It. need not have been counted, if it had been real and intrinsic righteousness. It would have stood out in its own merits. In a word, it was the obedience of faith — the obedience springing out of, and kept alive by, faith. So far as sight went, there was nothing to justify his acceptance of the amazing promise that his seed should be as the dust and the stars for number, and that he should be the father of a nation which should fill and bless the earth. And although Christ is fully revealed to us, the steps from the life of nature into that of grace are essentially steps into an uncertainty. Only by faith do we know what we shall find when we accept salvation. We make a venture. We put the foot out for a step, and the only confidence we have that we shall not fall is the confidence of faith. Like Abraham we are called to go out into a country that shall be showed us after we have started for it. And how often must we leave kindred and friends behind us, like Christian in the dream of John Bunyan, and set our faces away from all that charms us, and cry aloud: "Life! life!" nor tarry in all the plain?
(E. N. Packard.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.