“Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them….So shall your offspring be.” Genesis 15:5 (Full context: Genesis 15)
Abram was on a journey. Back in Genesis 12 we read:
The Lord had said to Abram,
“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household
and go to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
Abram had stepped out in faith, but there had been some detours along the way. Abram had yet to see evidence of this great nation developing, as he and Sarai still had no children. Yet he was past the point of no return.
Have you ever wondered if you heard God wrong? Or if you were just making up in your mind that you heard him at all? Maybe you’re just Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch all alone, waiting for the Great Pumpkin, feeling faithful and gullible all at once, but still hanging onto that last shred of hope that you can’t shake. I think Abram had to feel that way. Hope was all he really had, but it was waning. And God met him there.
God re-established his promise to Abram, assuring him that he had indeed heard correctly. It wouldn’t be long before he would give Abram the name Abraham, “father of many”, and Sarai the corresponding name, Sarah. Their wait was not over, but God did ultimately give them Isaac, and eventually their family tree extended to Jesus, who is indeed a blessing to every nation and every person on earth, offering all of us reconciliation with God.
“Abram believed God, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Abram got a lot of things wrong, took a lot of matters into his own hands. The Bible doesn’t make him out to be something he wasn’t, not a superhero or a god. Just a guy who believed, and was honest when he didn’t.
The detours on our journey often cause us to need reconciliation with the faithful God who has never left us along the way, even though it looks like he is nowhere to be found. We don’t have to go to him for reconciliation—even today, just as at the time of Jesus’s birth, he comes to us. He sees us, even when we can’t see him. He’s not waiting for us to be good enough. He’s helping us look up so we can see and trust him.
Ornament credit: Erin Richardson