The LORD also told him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess."
I. FAITH'S SOURCE OF STRENGTH.
1. Looking up to the Divine character - "I am the Lord."
2. Looking back to the Divine grace - "that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees."
3. Looking oat to the Divine promise - "to give thee this land to inherit it."
II. FAITH'S OCCASION OF WEAKNESS.
1. Looking forward - the fulfillment of the promise seeming far away.
2. Looking in - discovering nothing either in or about itself to guarantee its ultimate realization. - W.
I. WATCHING BY THE SACRIFICE.
Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?I. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD'S PAST DEALINGS.
1. We should call to mind what God is.
2. We should consider the steps by which we have arrived at what we are already.
3. We should keep that purpose of God before us, in reference to which we first exercised our faith.
II. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY COVENANT.
1. It was a token and pledge of God's promises, not a concession to unbelief.
2. It was a covenant made by sacrifice.
3. It was a covenant which was so ordered as to give a further exercise to faith.
III. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY A FURTHER DISCOVERY OF THE DIVINE WILL.
1. This discovery was preceded by a revelation of the awful majesty of God.
2. The future was unfolded.
(1) (2) IV. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE GLORY. 1. The Divine glory in the overthrow of evil. 2. The Divine glory in salvation. V. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE PROSPECT OF A PEACEFUL DEATH AND OF REUNION WITH THE SPIRITS OF THE JUST. 1. This prospect renders the life of the believer independent of the earthly fortunes of the Church. 2. This prospect deprives the grave of its terrors. (T. H. Leale.)
(2) IV. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE GLORY. 1. The Divine glory in the overthrow of evil. 2. The Divine glory in salvation. V. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE PROSPECT OF A PEACEFUL DEATH AND OF REUNION WITH THE SPIRITS OF THE JUST. 1. This prospect renders the life of the believer independent of the earthly fortunes of the Church. 2. This prospect deprives the grave of its terrors. (T. H. Leale.)
IV. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE DISPLAY OF THE DIVINE GLORY.
1. The Divine glory in the overthrow of evil.
2. The Divine glory in salvation.
V. FAITH IS CONFIRMED BY THE PROSPECT OF A PEACEFUL DEATH AND OF REUNION WITH THE SPIRITS OF THE JUST.
1. This prospect renders the life of the believer independent of the earthly fortunes of the Church.
2. This prospect deprives the grave of its terrors.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. THE HORROR OF A GREAT DARKNESS.
III. THE RATIFICATION OF THE COVENANT.
(T. H. Leale.)
The Congregational Pulpit.I. HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF SPIRITUAL CONFLICT AND GLOOM.
1. We feel our littleness and ignorance, in contrast with the greatness and glory of Almighty God.
2. We are deeply sensible of our guiltiness and impurity. See the cases of Job (42) and Isaiah (6).
3. We are full of fear about the future. This may refer both to this life, and to the next. It may wax into a most vehement dread and horror.
4. Sometimes there is an abnormal state of the physical system. The senses are benumbed, surrounding things are indistinct and hazy; we find it hard to realize our own existence, we are dreamy and beclouded in our sensations; but spiritual and eternal things are appallingly near. The soul's sensibilities are in a state of high and extreme tension.
II. WE ARE TAUGHT THE MANNER OF GOD'S HOLDING INTERCOURSE WITH US.
1. He is sovereign in its manner: fixing His own seasons, and the objects of His gracious visitations.
2. He comes by promise: all free on His part.
3. He comes by sacrifice. This He has provided Himself.
4. He comes with mingled majesty and mercy. There is the light of His holiness softened by the gentle covering, and screen, and cloud of His clemency and condescending grace.
5. He comes with an oath. What marvellous condescension!
III. A LESSON OF PATIENCE AND WATCHFULNESS ON OUR PART. We are not to hurry our great transactions with God: but wait His times in patient reverence and awe.
IV. THE GRANDEUR OF GOD'S PROMISES. What an inheritance is promised to us: spiritual, heavenly, Divine.
(The Congregational Pulpit.)
II. CHASTENED HOPES. God has to close the avenues of nature to reveal the purposes of grace. And the hopes are chastened — a "horror of great darkness" and servitude for four hundred years: here is the dark background, and it is in every picture of earthly hopes. But the end is victory — judgment on every foe and great substance. We are in the tunnel now, but we are fast emerging into the glorious sunny landscape.
III. THE CROSS OF CHRIST AND ITS BLESSINGS. We look now at the nature of that sacrifice Abram had been told to prepare, and his connection with it. In it we behold the Cross of Christ, and the believer's connection with it. First of all we see it is a covenant, and made by God with Abram — "In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram." And the promise passes over into a fact. The Lord does not now say "I will give," but "I have given" (ver. 18). The "same day" — thus are the Cross, the covenant, and the believer all bound up together. And mark the three things — the "pieces," the "smoking furnace," and the "burning lamp." The "pieces" represent the suffering Jesus. The "smoking furnace" — our portion in Him, the sufferings and trials of the Cross. The "burning lamp" — God's light and promises and blessings in the midst of it all. Every believer is between those "pieces," hid in the wounded side of Jesus. Every believer there knows it is a "smoking furnace," a place of suffering and trial. Every believer too has his "burning lamp" there — the light of God's presence and His joys. And observe, it "passed between those pieces." This mingling of the joy and the sorrow is not abiding; it is "passing." The "smoking furnace" will soon be over, and issue in everlasting joy. The "burning lamp" is quickly passing, and we shall soon enter into the glorious sunshine. Are you between those pieces — bearing Christ's Cross — looking to that which is the spring and source of all your mercies?
(F. Whitefield, M. A.)
1. The reason of the covenant (ver. 8). It was made in response to a request on Abram's part for some visible sign or token which might prove helpful to his faith.
2. The signs of the covenant. These were such as to appeal to Abram's outward vision.(1) The laid-out sacrifice (vers. 9-11). Human covenants were wont to be ratified by sacrifice. In these victims we discern a type of Christ crucified — the sacrifice which forms the basis of the covenant of grace.(2) The moving Shechinah (ver. 17). Abram had prepared the sacrifice in the morning" on God's behalf" (ver. 9); and all that he had to do now was to wait for the completion of the ceremonial. At last, however, came the mystic and awe-striking confirmation. "The glory of the Lord" appeared in the form of a smoking furnace and a fiery torch, and glided slowly down the narrow passage between the divided carcases. It was the same "glory" which Adam had seen at the gate of Paradise, Moses was to behold in the bush, and Israel upon the summit of Sinai, and which was to lead the march from Egypt to the promised land.
3. The blessings of the covenant. These were(1) The friend. ship of God. Jehovah pledged Himself to be the God of Abraham — his shield, his reward, the almighty ally, And He became such not by reason of any personal merit on the part of the patriarch, but on the ground of the great sacrifice which He was pleased to appoint and accept as a propitiation for sin (Romans 4; Galatians 3:1; James 2:23).(2) The seed. Abram's posterity is to be multitudinous as the dust of the earth and countless as the stars of the sky; the reference here being not to his bodily posterity alone, but chiefly to his spiritual children; that is, to all who shall share his faith in God.(3) The land. The ideal and ample boundaries of the land of promise are now, for the first time, defined in the hearing of Abram (vers. 18-21), and all is typical of "a better country, that is, an heavenly," which is the destined inheritance of the patriarch's spiritual "seed."
III. A REVELATION REGARDING ABRAM'S POSTERITY (vers. 12-16). LESSONS:
2. God is better than His gifts. The best portion any soul can win is to know and love and possess in the indestructible communion of love, Him who is the possessor of earth and heaven.
3. Verse 6 is one of the most important texts of the Old Testament Scriptures, inasmuch as it is a clear testimony to the exclusive efficacy of faith without works as the instrument of the sinner's justification.
4. Although the privileges and blessings of the gospel covenant all come from God, and are to be traced to His good pleasure alone, it belongs to man to fulfil the conditions and perform the obligations which the reception of covenant benefits involves.
5. The faith which was imputed to Abram for righteousness formed that impressive personal character which made him "the friend of God," and which at length enabled him even to offer up his only son Isaac in obedience to the Divine command (James 2:21-23).
(C. Jordan, M. A.)
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