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Our Very Great Reward

Words by Aimee Walker | Illustrations by Marie Warner Preston

Have you ever grown weary of waiting and wondered if you heard God right? Today on the blog we bear witness to a conversation between God and Abram where Abram expresses his desire for a child of his own, and God tenderly responds to this cry, covenanting with him to provide him with descendants and a land for them to settle and thrive in. The Abrahamic Covenant endures to this day pointing us to the ultimate covenant of grace where we, too, find our place as sons and daughters of the Most High God.

I was a young girl when I first read Genesis 15:1: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” I was so in awe of the idea that I wrote it down in a little notebook. The idea stayed with me, but as I grew older, I also grew jaded, and sometimes this promise didn't seem quite enough. I wanted answers to my specific problems—to my longed-for breakthroughs—more than I wanted Him.

Abram wrestles with this, too.

He’s just returned from a war in which he not only recovered his nephew, Lot, who had been kidnapped by enemy kings (Genesis 14:12), but also acquired a great many spoils—riches that originally belonged to the King of Sodom but were now rightfully his. Abram tithed of those spoils to the mysterious King Melchizedek (v.20), but he also did something else: He swore an oath to God that he would not keep anything, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, lest the King of Sodom take credit for making Abram rich (vv.22-23). Credit that Abram knew belonged to God alone. It is in the context of this faith-filled act that God appears to Abram, revealing Himself as his shield and true reward.

What a promise—the gift, the reward, of God Himself! And yet, Abram's response to this message is tinged by disappointment, perhaps even cynicism. While God has greatly prospered him, he is still waiting for the descendants and the land God previously promised, and so he says, "Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” (Genesis 15:2). Abram doesn’t want a servant to inherit his possessions and position. He wants a son, a child of his own body who will bear his name and likeness, who will carry on the promise.

And God’s father heart has the same cry. He doesn’t want slaves but sons and daughters. He wants to build a family to inherit all that He has promised and prepared for them.

In response to Abram’s questions, God takes him outside and shows him the stars, telling him that if he can count them all he can count how numerous his offspring will one day be. He also assures him that his descendants will one day possess the land He has said they will. Abram believes God’s promise of a son, but of the land he asks, “How can I be sure?” (v.8).

So with a covenantal sacrifice, God seals his promises to Abram. He has Abram prepare the sacrificial animals, and as night falls and Abram sleeps, the symbols of God's presence pass between the divided animals (v.17). Usually, both parties to the covenant would walk through them, but that night, only God does, taking full responsibility for the execution of this covenant. Like the Noahic Covenant, this, too, is a covenant of grace. All God requires of Abram is that by faith he receives what God has done on his behalf.

It’s all He asks of us, as well, because the Cross, too, is a covenant of grace. On that day, Jesus took full responsibility for our sins—for the cost of the old covenant being broken—and gave us the right through faith to become children of God. When we choose to receive what Jesus has done, we are no longer slaves to sin trying to earn our place, but sons and daughters destined to inherit what God has promised.

When life seems to oppose this truth and we find ourselves wrestling with disappointment, just like He did for Abram, God comes alongside us and demonstrates His grace in the midst of our weakness, declaring: “Don’t be afraid. I am your shield and your very great reward."

Where do you need to allow God to be your reward in this season? As you process where He is inviting you to trust Him to be enough for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your disappointments—your Father wants to hear His child’s heart. Listen carefully for His response.

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