Heir by Abidan Shah, PhD

MAN OF PROMISE – HEIR by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: I remember as a little boy I really wanted a bicycle. All the teenagers in the school and church had one. When we would go to town, I loved going past this bicycle shop that had these beautiful bicycles, some of them even hanging from the ceiling. I don’t remember asking my parents for one, but they knew that I wanted one. It felt like I was the only kid in India who did not have a bicycle. I remember wondering if my parents didn’t love me enough. Then, if I am not wrong, on my birthday, my parents had this bright red push scooter in the living room. I was happy but also confused. Happy that I got this push scooter but confused as to why they didn’t go ahead and get me a bicycle. Later, looking back, I know why. I was only 7 years old. I made the best memories going here and there and everywhere on my little red push scooter. My parents knew what I wanted but they also knew that I wasn’t ready for a bicycle. In our series titled “Man of Promise,” we come to our fourth message subtitled “HEIR.” Main point: Doubt is the Enemy’s choicest weapon against God’s people. He uses unanswered prayers to cause us to doubt God’s promises. God does not abandon us in our doubts. Instead, he reassures us that he will fulfill what he has promised. We are to trust him that he will work all things together for our good but in his timing.

Genesis 15         1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” 2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”

Context: We don’t know for sure how much time had passed between this passage and the end of Genesis 14, between what we just read and the incident when Abram accepted the communion from Melchizedek and rejected the riches from the King of Sodom. Maybe several years had passed or maybe just a few months. Nonetheless, the clock was still ticking. Keep in mind that Abram was 75 when they left Haran, and he was 86 when he had Ishmael through Hagar. So, he’s somewhere about 84-85 years old, and there was still no sign of a child. Abram was struggling in his faith, and God knew that. Quick point: As high as the moment was with Melchizedek and the bread and the wine, no spiritual moment can sustain one forever. You need a daily encounter with God. So, God came to Abram.Genesis 15        1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Listen to Abram’s response – 2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless…” Another quick point: Many of you are probably aware of the birth rate crisis in Europe. Europeans with their focus on intellectualism and the quality of life have been having less and less children over the decades, the pandemic made things worse. What’s very interesting is that the fertility rate by the mother’s age group goes up. So, more women after 40 are trying to have babies than those in their 20s and 30s. It’s later in life that people realize that kids matter, but sometimes its a little too late. It’s how God has designed us.

Abram continues – “…and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” There is some sarcasm here. The English does not reflect it, but the Hebrew does. There is a play on words here: “Ben-Mesek Damesek” = “Possessor Son of Damascus.” It’s like Abram was being a little cynical here.

Couple of things to note here why Abram was not ready for God to send him a child: 

  • God was not going to send a child until it was clear that it was a miracle of God. Remember, this was the way the seed of the woman would come. Abram doesn’t understand this principle yet.
  • Furthermore, Abram was still operating from the understanding that it was only through him that the seed would come, not Sarai.

Application: Do you stop to consider that sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because we are not ready for the answers?

We could list a third reason why God didn’t send him a child. 3 Then Abram said, “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!” Abram had a backup plan through Eliezer. 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” 5 Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” God used 3 different illustrations for the number of descendants Abram will have – “dust of the earth,” “stars in the sky,” and “sand on the seashores.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. This was not a belief unto salvation, which had already happened when he left the Ur of the Chaldeans in Genesis 12. This was belief in the promises of God. 

Now, God makes a covenant with Abram. 7 Then He said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” Abram’s response – 8 And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?” 9 So He said to 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.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. According to the rabbinic traditions, there are all together 11 offerings here (from Arnold Fruchtenbaum, although I don’t agree with his dispensationalist views): Day of Atonement, Sin offering, Trespass offering, Guilt offering, etc., Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” In a sense, God is giving him a glimpse of the purpose of the heir. Later, Paul would explain it in Hebrews 9        11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 

Application: Which gospel are you trusting in? Is it a bloodless gospel?

Did Abram have any part in this? 11 “And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.” Before we go further, we do have a part to play for the future of our children. We have to drive away the vultures. We have to protect the vision. It’s not enough to punt it to God and say “God is in control, and it will be what it will be.”

What is the vision? 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” Bad days are coming even for our kids and grandkids.This week the Senate vote to advance HR 8404, RMA. The First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) will not be enough. As long as we can, we will have to drive away the vultures. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” But God has a bigger purpose in mind. He is also clearing the land of the Amorites. If you want to know what their sins were, read Leviticus 18:24-3020:22-27; and Deuteronomy 18:9-14. There’s nothing new under the sun. This is what’s happening in America today.

Application: Can you see the greater plan of God?

Here comes God’s covenant promise: 17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates— 19 the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” This was a unilateral covenant that God made with Abram. He was asleep and had no signature on the dotted line. God will keep his promise regarding the land to his descendants. 

Application: Are you struggling with doubts? Can you see God’s greater plan? Are you saved? Can you see that there is no forgiveness of sin without the shedding of blood?

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