Having just defeated the army of a five-king confederation, Abram had reason to question his security. His head was probably worth a lot of money. God knew he could use some encouragement, some reinforcement, so to speak.
“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward” (v1).
God wanted Abram to remember the only way any of this could happen. Sure, He had promised blessing after impossible blessing, but that was all just extra compared to the true reward. The True Reward.
Abram wondered, though, about one part of the promise of Genesis 12 that he had yet to see fulfilled. Offspring. He had yet to become a father. Abram owned many slaves born under his roof, which he could legally call his own but had no child from his own body, no fruit of his seed. He had received the promise ten years earlier but still waited for its fulfillment. An 85-year-old man keeping watch for the promise. And wondering.
“You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir” (v3).
It is then that God opens the floodgates of promise and commits to Abram more than human thinking can rightfully wrap its process around.
“Look up at the heavens and count the stars . . . So shall your offspring be” (v5).
An 85-year-old man with no children to call his own looks up at the stars as an example of how many descendants he have one day. He can’t count them. He can’t even see them all.
And yet . . . “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (v6).
Abram believed the Lord. The Lord credited that faith as righteousness. Period. He does the same for you and me (see Romans 4:23-24). When we believe in Jesus Christ as the only way to have a relationship with God and be free from sin and death, the LORD credits that faith as righteousness. Period.
Abram believed the LORD.
And then he doubted.
“O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of (this land You’ve promised)?” (v8).
So here is what God did. Almighty God who called Creation into being and separated light from dark with a word, that same God the Lord cut a covenant with Abram. An oath which required the two parties making the covenant to pass between two halves of certain slaughtered animals, blood shed, bodies broken, in order to show the seriousness of the vow. Only this time, the only One passing through was God. The Lord made a covenant with Abram and then covered Abram’s part of the promise.
The promise that started with God ended with Him too. And there is absolutely no way the covenant cannot be kept. Abram’s security rested sure because of his “very great reward.”