A Bait and Switch?

Genesis 15:1-6

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram.

I am your shield,

your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the Lord, and [God] credited it to him as righteousness. (NIV)

After this,” our passage begins. OK, that means we have to go back and see what just happened!

What just happened is that Abram’s nephew Lot, who had come with him out of the land of Ur, way back in Genesis 12 was now living in Sodom. (There is a whole big back story that tells how and why this came to be. You can read it in Genesis 13.) In the mean time, Sodom’s king goes to war, is badly routed and Lot is taken prisoner along with all the other non-combatants that are taken as spoils of war, along with the “goods” and food left in the city. Abram puts together a small force of his own to go rescue Lot from the invaders. They are successful. He not only sees that Lot is rescued, but all the people and “goods” that were taken. Sodom’s king is forever grateful and offers Abram a large reward but he refuses. He had what he wanted, Lot’s safety.

It is interesting to me that it is AFTER this that God comes to Abram and says, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” It might have been nice to know that BEFORE he went to take on the successful, battle tested warriors of the raiding king! But Abram’s not impressed. He’s not concerned about that now. He still has Sarai’s ticking biological clock on his mind. In fact, it seems he realizes that Sarai’s biological clock has actually stopped ticking. He actually confronts God, blaming God for getting his hopes up. Abram has it figured out. His slave, Eliezer of Damascus will be his heir, the vessel through which the promise will finally be realized. Abram is just a little bitter about the bait and switch and he lets God hear about it.

But God reassures him there is no change in the original promise. It will be his own son who is to be the heir. It will be his own son who will be the link between Abram and this great nation. Abram will never see it, of course. The great nation is generations away, but Abram believes God

I am thankful to Abram for confronting God. It shows us we can take anything to God in prayer. We can confront God. We can whine at God. We can rail that we don’t understand and that we don’t like it. We can reject what God gives us because we are looking for something else, and NONE OF IT WILL DRIVE GOD AWAY OR CHANGE GOD’S LOVE. 

Have you ever felt like God pulled a bait and switch with you? Have you ever been mad at God for what was happening in your life? Don’t be afraid. God is your shield. You haven’t reached the end of the story yet. God is faithful to the promise, so take heart. God is consistently merciful. God is endlessly patient and gives us grace after grace. Thanks be to God. Even when it takes a long time and we cannot see yet how it will be.

Blessings to you,

Pastor Karla

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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