THIS SERIES: GOD’S COVENANT OF PROVISION
Genesis 14 & 15
After Abraham rescued his nephew, Lot, from an invading enemy alliance, along with other captives and goods, the King of Sodom came to him offering all the booty. Although it had been won fairly in battle, Abraham declined; he did not want there to be any question over the source of blessing in his life, any suggestion that his prosperity had come from his own prowess, or the pagan gods worshipped in the area.
Later Abraham had an encounter with the Lord which confirmed his choice:
‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.’
Abraham’s treasure was God Himself—everything else would flow from that.
And this is true for us as well. What we need is found in God Himself; He doesn’t send us ‘relief parcels’ from afar, He comes Himself. By receiving Him we receive our provision.
Abraham had two big needs: an heir to carry on his name, and land to pass on to future generations. Both were promised to him by the Lord, and we read that because he responded with faith, it was ‘credited to him as righteousness’ [Romans 4:3]. But that believing was rooted in relationship—a totally foreign concept in the pagan world, and in today’s world, for that matter.
We believe, not on the basis of our circumstances or material evidence, but on the basis of what God has said; but we also believe because we know Him; we know that the ‘One who promised is faithful’ [Hebrews 10:23]. The answers to our needs are found in Him; and when He provides for us, He comes Himself.
In that encounter with God, Abraham received two graphic confirmations of provision. The first was in the fresh seeing of an ordinary natural phenomenon. Abraham had learned to hear the voice of the Lord; I’m sure he was not the only person star-gazing that particular night, but he might have been the only one who came away with a significant promise. And from that time onwards, every star-lit night would be a reminder that he had been pledged an enduring family line.
We are also told by Jesus to give attention to His creation [Luke 12:22-31]. He said that even insignificant wayside flowers, and the local bird population are worthy of our notice, because they are visual reminders of God’s grace, how He provides for those who have done nothing to earn it. And like Abraham we can come away from our meditations with an important promise:
I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.
And how much more valuable you are than birds! …
Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labour or spin.
Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you – you of little faith!
And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it.
For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek His kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
The second confirmation for Abraham involved a profound ritual surrounding the cutting of a covenant. A binding contract between two parties, covenants were hugely important in the ancient world. In a ceremony accompanied by sacrifice, God Himself mysteriously passed through the severed animals, and bound Himself to His promises of provision for Abraham.
Our God is a covenant-making God, and the covenant He has made with us is the best of all [Hebrews 7:1-22]. In the ultimate covenantal sacrifice, He has bound himself irrevocably to His people through the death and resurrection of His Son. And we re-enact that covenant every time we share in Holy Communion (more on this, next week...).
The answers to all our needs are found in the person of Christ; let’s take the time to receive Him afresh—and all He has for us.
NEXT WEEK: AN IRREVOCABLE PLEDGE
More on the Covenant Meal...
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[Photo credits: Sharon Mccutcheon ('treasure box'); Klemen Vrankar (night sky); Ashin K Suresh (gold offering)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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