banner
bar
medal January 18 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Genesis 11:27- 15:21 (Note: we are finished with the book of Job and are returning to Genesis, during the time of Abraham)

God, Our Shield and Reward

Are you facing a difficult confrontation at home, school, or work? Are you moving to a new area and/or taking on a new job? In these situations and others we want God to be our guide, to shield us from troubles, and to reward us for our faithfulness. From today's reading we can see that Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham, the patriarch) needed God to be his shield and reward.

Abram was from a country whose culture was evil. According to Genesis 12:1, God told Abram to “Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you,” (NIV). His father Terah first began a journey from Ur to Canaan (perhaps by direction from God, Genesis 15:7), but he stopped in Haran and settled with his family and later died there (Genesis 15:31). Ancient ruins of Haran are located in present day Turkey. God's directive was probably a difficult thing for Abram to do. Ur, in the country of Sumer (modern day Iraq), was the city of his birth. It was where he was reared, went to school, worked, and married. Now he was settled in Haran and prospered. Move again? We might have questioned God's call, but in faith Abram leaves with his family for a place God would show him (he was not given any specific location). That specific call was to Abram, not us; but like Abram, God may want some of us to leave an evil culture or even a prosperous life to raise up a godly heritage. Whether he is calling any of us to do that or not, we know God calls those who are his children to be in the world and not of it (John 17:14-18). How do we act in faith so that God will be our shield and reward?

First, we must be willing to follow God's leadership. Did you ever think you were too old to go on a missions trip or to otherwise serve God? Abram starts his journey at the age of seventy-five. Perhaps the effects of aging had not yet reached him, because God does not ask us to do what we are physically incapable of doing. God does, however, call each of us to some aspect of Christian service and gives us the spiritual gifts or abilities to complete it. What is it God would have you do? Pray about this earnestly, write it down, and then tell God you are willing to do it.

Second, we must believe in God's promises. “My word is my bond” - have you ever heard that saying? It is another way to say you can count on me to keep my promises. God makes promises to Abram, and Abram believes him. God promises land to Abram's descendants, a large family, which will be evermore increasing, and he promises to bless his family and the entire world through him (Genesis 12:2-6). God's Word is his bond. We can believe him even if circumstances don't look favorable.

Unfortunately, like most of us, Abram fails in his faith. When there is a famine in the land, he forgets God and seeks his own salvation by going down to Egypt. There he lies about his beautiful wife, Sarai, calling her his sister so that he will be well treated in the land. When Pharaoh discovers the lie, he is angered and sends Abram out of the country. What does Abram do? If we trace his journey back to Canaan, we discover that he goes back to Bethel where he previously met with God. If we have strayed from God, this is exactly what we need to do - get back to God (more...).

Genesis 14 records a test of Abram's faith in difficult circumstances. At that time there was a war of many kings fighting against each other, and among the captives were Abram's nephew, Lot, and his possessions. Abram takes courage and believes God will help him rescue his relatives. With only 318 trained men of his own household (Abram apparently is prepared for trouble), Abram rescues Lot and his possessions and routes the four kings and their armies who attacked them (this story reminds us of Gideon, which we will look at later). Abram's faith is rewarded. After the battle he is met by Melchizedek, the king of Salem (the future location of Jerusalem) and a priest of the Most High God. He is a person of otherwise unknown origins and suddenly appears to bless Abram. Many theologians think he is a theophany, a preincarnate appearance of Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews implies that Melchizedek is like Jesus Christ in these ways, (Hebrews 5:5-10; Hebrews 7:1-3).

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything, (Genesis 14:18-20, NIV).

Immediately, following Abram's test of faith and the blessing of Melchizedek, “the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward,'” (Genesis 15:1, NIV). God is the source of all lasting blessings. When we have him we have the ultimate reward of life, peace, and blessings (more...).

The battle was won, but how is Abram to receive the blessings of the LORD, since he and his wife Sarah are old and still childless? This is what Abram asks God. God tells him he will indeed have a son, not by Eliezer his household servant, but through his own body. Then

He [God] took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars-- if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be."

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it."

But Abram said, "O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?" (Genesis 15:2-8, NIV)

Then God makes an oath to Abram by using an ancient tradition called “Passing Between the Pieces.” According to the custom of the times, when two parties made a covenant, they sacrificed animals and birds and laid the pieces in two parallel lines. Then, beginning at opposite points, they would walk between the pieces and meet each other in the middle of the path, thereby pledging to fulfill the obligations of the contract. Because the covenant involved cutting apart animals and birds, the ceremony was referred to as cutting a covenant. (From Eden to Egypt, Leader's Guide, Regular Baptist Press, ©2004, p.53)

So, at the Lord's bidding Abram prepares the sacrifices and lays the pieces “one against another” (Genesis 15:10). That night a great and dreadful darkness comes upon Abram, and he sleeps. In a dream God tells him about the dreadful treatment of his descendants when they will be enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. Afterwards, God promises he will deliver them from their bondage and bring them to Canaan to possess it as their own. Then Abram sees a smoking firepot and flaming torch that passes between the pieces of the sacrifices, symbolizing God's presence. Instead of both Abram and the Lord passing between the pieces to cut a covenant, however, only the LORD passes through them. The promises in this covenant, issued from the Lord of Glory, symbolizes his unconditional promise that he alone makes to Abram and his descendants.

Do we have an unconditional covenant because of our belief in God? Yes, we do. Most of us are not Israelites, but like Israel we, too, needed to be delivered from slavery. We, too, were in a dreadful and great darkness of sin. We were in bondage and the devil was our master. Jesus was laid out and sacrificed on a cross of crucifixion for us; and in the horror of that night, God's presence witnessed the sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus Christ. He accepted his perfect sacrifice for us, and an unconditional covenant was begun. He that believes God accepted Christ's sacrifice for him, in his place, has everlasting life. This is a glorious unconditional covenant for the believer. Have you believed in God's promise that gives you eternal life? Christ's sacrifice is sufficient to save you from your sins. (more...)

Do we want God to be our shield and reward? Then we must believe God and act in faith.

Lessons to Live by: God is our shield and reward if we …

• have a personal relationship with him (more...).  

• are willing to follow his leadership.

•  believe God will keep his promises.

•  act on our faith in Him.

Today's Bible Memory Verse:

Genesis 15:1 “The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward,'” (NIV).

https://www.google.com/search=where is biblical haran located today

praying girl Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

Please send your comments to mtbiblestudies@gmail.com

Previous Lesson  |  Next Lesson

Back to top of page
Return to Chronological Bible Studies main page
Go to Scriptures main page
Go to Topics main page
Go to Home page

Scripture
Contact Us
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

COPYRIGHT @ 2016, MASTER'S TOUCH BIBLE STUDIES