God’s promise

11 gods promise

After Abram’s conquest and victory over the king of Elam, he stirred sleeplessly in the night, fearing retaliation.

“Don’t be frightened, Abram.” God appeared in a vision and spoke as if in the flesh. “I’m your protection, and your reward will be significant.”

Abram remembered the promise God had made when he called Abram out of Ur, so he answered, “But what will you give me? I’m childless, and my heir is my adopted son and servant Eliezer of Damascus.”

God’s voice was clear. “Eliezer won’t be your heir. Your own flesh and blood will pave the way of my promise.”

God led Abram outside of his tent and said, “Count the stars if you can. Your sons and daughters will be as many.”

Abram believed God’s promise, so God declared him righteous.

“I’m God. I took you from Ur to give you everything as far as the eye can see.”

Abram faltered. “How can I be sure it’ll be mine?”

God answered, “We’ll make a pact. Bring me a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all of them three years old. Also bring a turtledove and a pigeon.”

Abram did as he was instructed, bisected them, and stacked each half onto the other. The birds he left whole. Abram guarded the sign of God’s promise against birds of prey, driving them from the pyre until he grew weary.

At sunset, Abram fell asleep and descended into a terrifying nightmare. The vultures circling overhead turned into captors of his future offspring, and he saw them carried off to a strange land for four hundred years. God said, “Your descendants will be slaves, poorly treated and beaten down, but I will punish the nation responsible. In the end, they will be adorned with great riches.” Then he said, “Abram, you’ll die at a ripe old age and will be buried in peace.”

Abram’s night terrors subsided, and he began to breathe easier. God appeared once more and said, “Your offspring will come back here and take the land in the fourth generation. That’s when the Amorites will have come to ruin because of their evil practices.”

The sky was black when a vision of a smoking firepot and a lighted torch passed between the carcass halves. He said, “I give this land to your blood relations, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

The embers smoldered and the presence of God lingered into the next morning.

Inspiration: Genesis 15

Abram’s call

07 abrams call

From Shem’s family line, the Semites, came a man named Abram of Ur in Babylonia. He and his wife, Sarai, lived with his father’s tribe in Haran.

God told Abram to leave his father’s family and to head south. He said, “You’re going to be a great nation. You’ll be blessed, renowned, and you’ll be a blessing. Anyone who blesses you will be blessed, and anyone who curses you will be cursed. Because of you, every family in the world will have reason to celebrate.”

Abram took God at his word. When he was seventy-five years old, he packed his bags and loaded up his household, his nephew Lot, their livestock, and all the servants they had acquired in Haran.

Traveling through Canaan, they stopped at Moreh Grove in Shechem. God appeared to Abram and said, “This will be the land of your children.”

Abram had no children and knew his wife was barren, but he believed the promise and built an altar to God anyway.

Abram moved on a little further south into the hill country and pitched a tent. He built another altar and called on the name of God. From there, he and his small band of travelers continued due south.

Inspiration: Genesis 10-12; I Chronicles 1

Sea sick

05 sea sick

Noah let fly a raven through an access hatch he had installed before the flood, but the waters continued to swell for another five months. The raven, finding no place to land, returned to Noah and the rest of earth’s inhabitants.

Seven months after it all started, the mammoth vessel with its living, breathing cargo lodged itself cleanly in a cleft on Mount Ararat, and for three months the waters continued to drain outward into the seas.

After spending nearly a year on the vessel, Noah released a dove, but it too returned. He released the dove again seven days later, and this time it brought back a green olive leaf in its beak. After another seven days, he released the dove for a third time. It was never seen again.

Noah and his family lived in the floating house for a year and two months. Although the ground was still somewhat sludgy, they’d all had enough, so they exited and led the animals, birds, and other creatures out upon the sun-kissed mountainside.

Noah built an altar and gathered the seven pairs of split-hooved animals, as well as the seven pairs of birds. He slayed them and burned them up on the altar as a sacrifice to God. This gesture so pleased God, that he said, “I’ll never again curse the earth or destroy all creatures because of humankind. The human heart is inclined to do evil from a very young age. May the seasons endure as the earth endures.”

Then God made a new promise between himself and humankind. “Multiply yourselves and populate the whole earth. From this day, the animal kingdom will fear you, for they are now yours for food. I gave Adam and Eve the gardens; I now give you everything. However, do not eat the blood of animals. Blood is life. For this reason also, whoever causes human bloodshed will pay with his own blood. The image of God is encoded in human blood.”

Then God ordained a sign of his promise: “Whenever you see a rainbow, remember I’ll never again destroy the earth because of human evil.”

Inspiration: Genesis 7-9