Prepare to listen. Be still to cultivate the attitude suggested in these words from Isaiah: Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. (Isaiah 55:3)
Read Genesis 15: 7-12 and 17-18
7Then he said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.’ 8But he said, ‘O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ 9He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.’ 10He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him…. 17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.
Once again Abram doubts God, this time the promise of land. God neither argues nor rebukes Abram, instead, gives him a task—cut up a variety of animals and lay them out. This was a common ritual to ratify an agreement (covenant) between two or more parties. Its drama symbolized the seriousness of the oath and hinted that the one who broke it would become like those cut-up animals. Both parties walked through the animals, the equivalent of signing a contract. The unusual aspect of this story is that only one party, the LORD, signs the covenant. ‘A deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him.’ He was no longer party to ratifying this oath. While he slept ‘a smoking fire-pot and a flaming torch [symbols for Yahweh] passed between these pieces,’ that is, only Yahweh ratified the covenant. It means only the LORD was responsible for keeping it.
The redemptive covenant with the Church and each of us is no different. We’re not responsible for it. God is, and will keep the promise, through the faithfulness of Jesus, to bring us to full salvation. God understands our struggles with belief and doubt and will listen and accept us, doubt and all. God will bring us safely to the end. It’s God’s responsibility.
If God is responsible for your salvation, what do you think your part is?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord God, indeed you are great and awe-inspiring. Thank you for signing the covenant of salvation and giving me hope that you will keep and complete your covenant to the end. Help me live today in trust of the faithfulness of Jesus to save me and your world. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world where God in Christ takes full responsibility for the covenant of salvation.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.