Devo 11

“When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and flaming torch passed between these pieces.  On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land.” Genesis 15:7-20

This is our third week in this passage.  Has it dawned on you yet?  Can you see the kind of covenant initiating-making-keeping-fulfilling God we serve?  God chooses a pagan moon worshipper to covenant with.  This guy sleeps through the whole covenant making process.  His descendants repeatedly break the covenant.  Finally they murder the One who came to fulfill it.  And yet.  God loves them.  And every single one of His promises to Abraham are fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  

He’s God and He became man.  He’s the heifer, the goat, the ram the dove, the pigeon, slain and cut in half.  He’s both sides of the animal pieces.  He’s the smoking fire pot and the flaming torch that passes between.  Jesus is the promise and the fulfillment.  Everything else is a shadow.  It’s all about Him.

In Exodus 12:1-28, when Moses prepares to lead Abraham’s offspring out of Egypt to the land God promised, even that was a shadow.  The slaughtered lamb, the blood on the doorposts, the feast of unleavened bread, the curse of death, the passing through, the passing over, the promised land, it was all a shadow of the perfect fulfillment to come.  

Do you know what word Peter uses to describe the hope of that fulfillment?  GRACE.  1 Peter 1:12-25 says “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  And with that grace in mind Peter continues, 

“Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”  

Before the earth was even hung in space, Jesus was the chosen Lamb for the sacrifice, made manifest for our sake, “who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”  And ONLY in God.  Not in our own ability to initiate, make, keep or fulfill any covenant.  Like Abraham, we sleep the sleep of the dead unless He awaken us.  

And how does God choose to awaken us?  “Through the living and abiding word of God… And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”  From the first book to the last, the message is clear and Revelation 5 gives us a beautiful glimpse of its heavenly proclamation: 

“Weep no more; behold, The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.”

“Worthy are You… for You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God.”

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

And just like the angelic beings around the throne of the Lamb, we can do nothing less than what we were made to do.  Let us fall down and worship. 

Devo 10

“As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram.  And behold, a dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.  Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  But I will bring judgement on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”  Genesis 15:12-14

In Exodus 10:21, the Lord says to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.”  As this descendant of Abraham lifted his arm did he know he was summoning through the power of God the fulfillment of those promises bestowed upon his slumbering ancestor?  Did Moses know he was summoning the same dreadful darkness God had caused to fall on Abraham?  Everything God had promised in that lop-sided covenant was now coming to pass.  Abraham’s descendants, enslaved to the Egyptians for 400 years were now innumerable like the stars.  But God was bringing judgement on the nation they served and this dreadful darkness was the ninth plague Moses had called down.  God had heard their cry and was coming to rescue His people.

Later, it was another descendant of Abraham’s who needed rescuing. In Psalm 18:6-19.  King David writes, 

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;  to my God I cried for help.  From His temple He heard my voice.”  And then David says, “He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under His feet… He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him.”  And He rescued David.  “He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me… He rescued me, because He delighted in me.” 

Hundreds of years later, God was on another rescue mission.  This time, not just for a king, or one people, but for every tribe and tongue and nation on earth.  God bowed the heavens and came down.  He came as a man, a descendant of Abraham and heir to David’s throne.  And He came to die.  And when He gave His life as a ransom for many, darkness, once again came over the land.  But this time, the plague was on Himself.  Jesus became the curse for us, right there on the cross.  Luke 23:44 says, “It was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed.”  

Oh, but listen to the prophet’s words in Isaiah 60:1-3!  

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;  but the Lord will arise upon you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.”

Jesus didn’t stay dead.  He rose again!  And by His death and resurrection He rescued us from our own strong enemies, sin and death.  He rescued us from the wrath of God against our sin.  He rescued us because He delighted in us.  Just as light shone for the Israelite slaves in their little corner of Egypt when darkness was over the rest of the land, the Light that brings light to the whole world arose from their own midst.  You need only cry out for rescue and God will hear and save!  Come, friend, to the brightness of His rising.

Devo 9

“Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’  And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”  Genesis 15:5,6

Just how many stars are there?  That thought had to have crossed Abraham’s mind, just as it has your own, I’m sure.  But we don’t have any record in scripture of him ever asking and certainly nothing to give us a quantitative answer.  This childless old man is simply told that as the stars are innumerable so would his offspring be innumerable.  And he believed God.  

Well guess what.  Several thousand years later, the stars are still innumerable and so are Abraham’s descendants.  You’d think with all our advances in technology we’d at least be able to count the stars, right?  But no, we’re actually not much closer to an accurate number than Abraham would have been.  You could try using a service like “Ask an Astronomer” offered by Cornell University.  “How many stars are in the universe?” you ask, and someone like David Kornreich, who founded the program, would be forced to answer back, “I don’t know, because I don’t know if the universe is infinitely large or not.”  Well, that’s not a good start, is it?  So we’re a bit stuck already because we don’t even know the scope of what’s containing the stars.

So what if we started small and worked our way out?  Since stars seem to be clustered in galaxies, what if we started by counting the stars in our own galaxy and then multiplied that number by the number of known galaxies?  Well, there we go getting stuck again.  The fact is, we don’t even know how many stars are in our own galaxy.  Estimates run between 100 billion and 200 billion stars in the Milky Way, but good grief, that leaves a lot of wiggle room!  But we’ll go with what we’ve got.

Now, Mr. Astronomer, “How many galaxies are there?”  “About 10 Trillion,” says Kornreich.  Of course, that is a very rough estimate, because of course we don’t even know how big the universe is, right?  But the Hubble Space Telescope really helped give us a glimpse as to the shocking number of galaxies beyond our field of vision.  Focusing in on tiny dark areas of the sky, images reveal thousands upon thousands of galaxies per area.  So it takes a lot of creative counting to come up with the 1 septillion stars that Kornreich estimates.  That’s a 1 with 24 zeros after it.  It looks like this if you’re wondering: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

But really, we just don’t know.  We would probably do well just to believe God, like Abraham did, since Psalm 147:4 says that not only has God numbered them, He’s named them as well.

Anyway, it’s an awful lot of offspring being promised to a childless old man. Hebrews 11:12, says, “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and  as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”  

That sounds pretty wonderful, but for the man called to lead a good chunk of those descendants out of their enslavement in Egypt, it was a bit overwhelming.  Innumerable descendants is one thing, but innumerable whining, complaining, bickering rebellious descendants is another thing entirely.  In Deuteronomy 1:9-12, Moses complains, that sure, the Lord had multiplied the Israelites, and they were indeed “as numerous as the stars of heaven,” but “how can I bear by myself the weight and burden of you and your strife?”

And what’s God to do with such a mass of rebellious children?  Later in Deuteronomy 28:58-63

He instructs them to be careful to “do all the words of the law that are written in this book that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the Lord your God.”  Otherwise, he warns,

“Whereas you were numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God.  And as the Lord took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you.”

Whoa.  Why would the Lord take delight in destroying His own chosen ones?  That’s a side of His divine nature that makes us rather uncomfortable.  But think of it friend!  If the Lord didn’t delight in His own justice there would be no cross!  Isaiah 53:10 says “it was the will of the Lord,” or “it pleased the Lord” to crush Christ.  Why?  It was for you and me!  Jesus bore OUR sins, He carried OUR sorrows, He was pierced for OUR transgressions, He was crushed for OUR iniquities, the chastisement that brought OUR peace was put on Him, His wounds bought OUR healing, it was on Jesus that the Lord was pleased to lay OUR iniquity.  

We may not like the sound of the Lord delighting to show justice, but the Lord delights in whatever brings Him glory.  It brought Him glory to give a childless old man descendants as numerous as the stars.  And it brought Him glory to crush the One who spoke the stars into existence.  And it brings Him glory when we, like a man as good as dead, believe His promises and trust Him, delight-filled justice and all.