Our God is a promise maker and a promise keeper. We are told time and again that God is trustworthy. This should be comforting and assuring to all of us since the Bible is also filled with many promises by God to His people. Among all the promises of the God our hope in salvation is based on promises made by Him. The prophet Joel writes in regards to the last days that, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus tells us in John, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We know these promises are true because God is faithful to keep them and we are also told in Numbers “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” I take great comfort in these particular verses. Today we will look at the promise of God or the Abrahamic Covenant. We will look at the first part of this promise that God makes with Abram (it is in fact a reiterating of the promise made in chapter 12) but is covenanted by God to Abram to show that it will come to pass.
God’s Covenant with Abram
Verse 1: “After these things…” Some time after Abram defeats the eastern Kings he has a vision from God. He tells Abram “fear not” which is a common phrase used by God when He visits his people. He says He is going to be Abram’s shield. Abram had just come back from a successful battle with the eastern kings, rescued his nephew and was just blessed by the priest Melchizedek. It is at this point possible that he is having a valley experience which is also not uncommon after a having an amazing encounter with God. He may have been a little concerned that his enemies may attack again and he wouldn’t be as successful but God assures him that he is Abram’s protection. The shield is a metaphor indicating that God’s protection of Abram and his people. He also assures Abram that he will greatly reward him… Again God is doing this not because of anything Abram has done but because of God’s plan and purposes. He has obviously chosen Abram and as he now repeats that He is going to bless him and his descendants.
Verses 2 - 3: You can almost hear Abram’s seemingly ridiculous frustration in his complaint to God… but not without first acknowledging God’s sovereignty. The ESV says, “O Lord God…” A more accurate translation of Abram’s response is “O sovereign Lord…” In this he acknowledges and declares God to be sovereign and he has made promise to Abram, yet he still has no children and he has no land to speak of. He was essentially a childless wanderer. It should be noted that in the ancient world childlessness was an absolute tragedy because there was no heir to the family, there was no one to look after the parents in old age and no way to preserve and continue the lineage of the name. It almost seems as though Abram is ungrateful for all God has done for him because God has given him victories, possessions and the promise of blessing and still complains to God because he doesn’t have any children.
In his complaint Abram basically says as things stand currently the only one who can rightfully claim his inheritance is one named Eliezer of Damascus. It is believed Eliezer was a servant from Damascus. What Abram is essentially saying is that if he has no children then he would eventually have to adopt Eliezer as his son so he may be the rightful heir.
Verse 4 - 6: God tells Abram that Eliezer is not the intended heir and that Abram will indeed father a son from his own loins, he will be a son that is his own flesh and blood. God restates the promise he made to Abram (later to be known as Abraham); this promise was God giving Abraham a son through his wife Sara (naturally) and one day he (Abraham) would be known by all as the Father of a great nation (Israel). God proclaims that his ancestors would be as many as the stars in the sky. Abraham had no idea how God was going to accomplish his promise because at the time He made the promise Abraham was in his mid eighties and he had no natural son with his wife Sara. He then tells Abram to go outside and shows him his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. This is a symbolic way of saying that his descendants will be many and countless.
Abram response was belief. God made a promise and Abram trusted that God was going to make it come to pass. His response and attitude was a model for the future generations of Israel and for us today. When God promises… Rest assured it will come to pass.
Abraham believed and God counted it to him as righteousness. According to Gordon Wenham, “righteousness might well be paraphrased as God-like, or at least God-pleasing, action.” The righteous were not condemned but acquitted (this thankfully applies to us today… However Jesus is our righteousness). Abram’s faith saved him. He believed God was trustworthy and his faith was a God pleasing action.
 Wenham, G. J. (1998). Vol. 1: Genesis 1–15. Word Biblical Commentary (330). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.