Fear Exposed. Day twenty-three...
I am married to a woman who keeps her word. And I so appreciate that about Sherrel. If she says she's going to do something, she will do it—even to her own detriment. I'm never fearful about any commitment she makes, because I have no reason to be. If she were to ever break her word, it would only be because she came up against something that was bigger than her—so big it overpowered her.
I serve a God who keeps His Word. If He says He's going to do something, he will do it. He cannot break His Word, because no force in existence can stop Him from keeping His Word. And if I'm never fearful about any commitment Sherrel makes, then I certainly should never be fearful about any commitment God makes, because nothing can stop Him from fulfilling His commitment.
But there's something strange in the middle of all this. What I say about Sherrel, I act like I believe about Sherrel. But what I say about God, I don't always act like I believe about God. If I'm being honest with myself, I demonstrate more fear of God's promises not coming to pass than I do of my wife's promises not coming to pass.
It's as if I act like I have more confidence in my wife's word than I do in God's Word.
Now this sounds really bad (and it is). But I'm not just speaking for myself. People all over the world, on a daily basis, put more confidence in man than they put in God. Otherwise the Bible wouldn't say:
- It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:8–9 ESV)
- Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5 ESV)
- God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through? (Numbers 23:19 NLT)
- That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:5 KJV)
- Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. (Psalm 146:3 NIV)
So what's going on?
Why do we act like we have more confidence in man than in God?
Sherrel makes promises that are realistic to keep by human means; so I can see how it's humanly possibly for her to keep her promises. But God makes promises that are impossible to keep by human means; and I can't see, from my human perspective, how He can possibly keep His promises. No matter how much I believe in God, if I don't look past man's abilities and toward God's infinite power, I will be fearful that God can't pull it off.
When Abram asked God, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it (Genesis 15:8b NKJV)?” He wasn't asking because he didn't believe in God. He asked because he couldn't see any possible way this could happen by human means.
And God responded by making a covenant with Abram.
Although the word “covenant” is not mentioned in God's instructions, we know it was definitely a covenant by what took place .
The LORD told him, “Bring me a three‐year‐old heifer, a three‐year‐old female goat, a three‐year‐old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. (Genesis 15:9–10 NLT)
According to Keil and Delitzsch, there was a custom, prevalent in many ancient nations, of slaughtering animals when concluding a covenant, and after dividing them into pieces, of laying the pieces opposite to one another, that the persons making the covenant might pass between them.
This is the first mention of any of these animals in the Bible. And it is significant that each of them would later be used in the sacrifices God required of the Israelites as a covering for their sin.
And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:11 ESV)
Abram surely understood the practice of covenant, because he divided the heifer, the goat, and the ram. And then he made a path between the halves and the two birds without any obvious instruction from God. I believe Abram knew a covenant was about to be made, so he did all he knew to do. And while Abram was protecting the carcasses of the animals from the fowls and waiting on God to make the next move, God put Abram to sleep.
As we leave off today, please set aside your own experience with contracts, and consider the contracts made in ancient times. The covenant God was about to make with Abram was a blood covenant of sorts. And blood covenants were serious business. In other words, in a blood covenant if one party did not live up to his or her part of the deal the other party had the right to kill the party who broke the covenant.
Have a good weekend,