Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 15 and we are going to read Genesis 15:1-3:
After these things the word of JEHOVAH came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord JEHOVAH, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
I will stop reading there. To begin with, God tells us that what is happening in Genesis 15 is “after these things,” and this would refer to the previous chapter and the battle that took place between Abram and the four kings, the deliverance of the captives and Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek.
Then God came to Abram in a vision, which was a typical way for God to speak with His people in the Old Testament. God spoke through dreams and visions and He even spoke through a “burning bush.” These were legitimate methods of divine communication at that time because the Bible had not begun to be compiled; that would not take place until the time of Moses when God would cause Moses to write the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch, so this would include what we have been reading in the book of Genesis.
Abram was born in 2167BC and he died in 1992BC at the age of 175 and what we are looking at now probably took place when Abram was in his 80s, so it is still hundreds of years before Moses would be born and the exodus would take place. God gave divine revelation to Moses during the wilderness sojourn, including these accounts in Genesis, and Moses wrote it down.
In our verse, God indicates that He spoke to Abram in a vision. He said to Abram, in Genesis 15:1:
…Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
It is interesting that God’s first words to Abram after this battle were, “Fear not, Abram.” Was Abram fearing? And, if so, what was he fearing? Since Abram was human like us, he would have had fears, worries and concerns. He would have been anxious at times. Apparently, what was causing him anxiety at this point seems to be revealed by his response to God, in Genesis 15:2-3:
And Abram said, Lord JEHOVAH, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
You see, God knows each of us very personally and intimately. He knows everything about us. He knows our troubles. He knows our worries, our fears and the thing that gnaws at us deep in our being. God knows it all, so He comforts us. This is one of the wonderful things about the Word of God, the Bible. It is a source of comfort. It is able to penetrate in to our minds and our being. Yes, we know God’s Word is able to “quicken” or bring us to “life,” but it also soothes like a medicine – it is the “balm of Gilead.” It is able to bring peace to the worried soul. It is able to bring peace of mind to the one that is anxious and troubled. It brings comfort to the afflicted.
So, through His Word, God sought to address Abram’s concern that he was without an heir and God did so by telling him, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Basically, God is letting Abram know that he has everything if he has God. He is not to fear for what he lacks and what he sees in his weakness, as if he was less than others. God is saying, “Put that out of your mind. I am your shield and I am your exceeding great reward.”
Of course, being a man, Abram gives a human response. The Bible tells us all the wonderful things God has in store for us and the abundance of blessings He has bestowed upon us – His grace, His mercy, eternal life, a new born-again soul, the hope of the new resurrected body, the new heaven and new earth and the promise that we will dwell with Him for evermore to experience unspeakable gifts for all eternity future. We hear all these things coming from the mouth of God just as Abram did here, but we tend to respond, “Yes, Lord, we are thankful for these things, but I have this problem, Lord.” Then we focus on the fact that we do not have this or we do not have that and we tend to dismiss the great ocean of spiritual wealth and blessings and we turn our minds to one or two temporal things that we lack. That is our nature and it is a nature that ought to be put down and not to be encouraged. There ought to be a training of our minds to turn away from worries and fears and concentrating on those things we do not have. Instead, by the grace of God, we should turn our attention to those things God has given us, like His grace and salvation and eternal life, and so forth. We could go on and on. We should be praising and thanking God for the things He has done for us.
But, here, knowing the nature of mankind (even in those He has saved), the first thing He said to His servant Abram was, “Fear not.” God has repeated this admonishment often in the Bible. For instance, we find it several times in the Book of Isaiah. One example is in Isaiah 41:10:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
It also says in Isaiah 41:13-14:
For I JEHOVAH thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith JEHOVAH, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
“Fear not. Fear not. Fear not,” God says. “I will strengthen thee. I will help thee.” God goes right to the heart of our problem, which is that we fear bad things will happen and that we will not receive those things for which we hope. There is an array of fears and God comforts us by reminding us who He is – He is God; He is our Redeemer; He is our Saviour; He is our Helper; He is our friend. He is for us and the Bible says, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” He will fight against the enemy on our behalf. He will strengthen us in our weakness. He will not leave us nor forsake us, as it says in Hebrews 13:5-6:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
You see, often our fear is because of man. There is fear in the world and the world has this fear: they fear what their fellowman thinks about them. You had better believe they do, even the ones that act like they do not care what anyone thinks of them, especially if that is ever put to the test. Man cares what their fellowman thinks. If there is a poll taken and the majority support a position, then the minority begins to fear, in a way. “Am I holding to the right thing?” Man does not stand for something because they do not have a grasp on what is right or wrong or what is good or evil, but he will waver and take a stand based on whether it is an acceptable position in the eyes of his fellowman. That is why when the polls “shift” and the majority begin to accept gay marriage, for example, and we find more and more people following along because no one wants to be in the minority; they want to be counted with the majority of man because they fear going against the views and positions of their fellowman. That is really the position of the world. Man fears to be seen as a “fool” in the eyes of the world. Or, man fears to be labeled as someone that is unkind or whatever language the world wants to apply to him. Or, if we are talking about the churches and congregations, there is a fear of dissenting from a doctrinal position of the denomination. If someone sees that this doctrinal position is not Biblical and they begin to speak to the pastor and elders, then suddenly the peer pressure of the congregation is placed upon them: “This is the position of our large denomination. This is the position of the Reformers of old. This is the position of our pastor and elders and the congregation, so why are you dissenting? Why are you standing alone?” Basically, it is the same pressure that was applied to Micaiah the prophet: “I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good.” They tried to coerce Micaiah the prophet in to holding the same position. There is definite power behind it. It is a power the world senses and understands. It is a power found also in the churches and congregations. It is the power of man. If you go against it, you can be cast out. You can be labeled a heretic, if you are in a church. You can be viewed as one not accepted and, basically, cast out of the kingdom of God because they act as if they possess the keys to the kingdom and they have the power of salvation or damnation. They do not hesitate, if pushed, to use that power that they “claim” or, at least, imply that they possess. In all this, they attempt to make the man “fear” them.
This is what is in view in John, chapter 9. Remember the blind man that Christ healed and gave sight to, but the Pharisees did not like it at all and they brought the man before a council and it is very clear they sought to disprove the miracle. In disproving it, they sought to label Jesus as a fake miracle worker. They called the parents of the blind man before them. It says in John 9:19-22:
And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.
You see, they had something they could threaten people with and make them fear and they used it to effect, to the point that the parents of this man left their son to “fend for himself.” They would not get involved. They gave only the barest of testimony. They dared not say anything to support the miracle the Lord Jesus Christ had performed in opening their son’s eyes and granting him sight, because of the fear of man.
This is where the Scriptures, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob,” or the Scripture where God said to Abram, “Fear not,” come into play. Basically, God is saying, “Fear not man.” It is what God said in Isaiah 51:7-8:
Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.
This kind of thing has been happening throughout the history of the world when God has delivered a sinner out of the kingdom of the darkness of this world and in to the kingdom of His dear Son. God has given that person a new heart and a new spirit and that person begins to learn about God and His kingdom and His Word and he begins to change the things he once did and he begins to turn away from the things of the world. What are the things of the world? It is sin and the pleasure of sins – drinking, smoking, drugs, lying cursing, conniving, and so forth. But when that person begins to go the right way and to serve and obey Him and do things His way, does the world celebrate this? Do the people of the world rejoice? Do they encourage him and say, “You are finally doing what is right! You are doing a good thing. We are all for you. Keep it up!” They may say those things, to begin with, especially if someone has been a problem drunk and ruining his life. But, eventually, those words will turn in to reviling: “Oh, he is such a holy roller! He is a Jesus freak. He is a Bible thumper.” It goes on, and on and on. It is the reviling of men. It is the reproach of Christ because that man is now identified with Christ through the Word of God. It is the hatred exhibited by the world because they want to get as far away from God and His Word as possible and they do not even want to look upon this man any longer because he identifies so closely with God. When they look at him, they see the one they have fled away from and they see the “light” that has caused them to scurry in to darkness, so they speak evil of him, put him down and revile him in all kinds of ways. It accomplishes the purpose of applying pressure to this man and since it is possible that he was not truly saved but that the Word of God had called the individual and, yet, there has been no change of heart and he was not one of God’s elect, the world applies this pressure and reproach upon him. From time to time, they do see a person that turn back to the world: “Welcome back! Let us have a drink. Now you are one of us again.”
Or, there are people that turn away from the narrow path of truth to some other path that is more acceptable, like another religion or another gospel. The world does see that and to them it appears that their process is working when they cause them to fear and they “respond.” You see, it is that same fear of man and fear of being labeled by man, whether it be in the workplace, among our neighbors or within the church or even our own families. There is this terrific fear of man among people of the world. Since God’s elect started out in the world, we are very familiar with it and it may affect us or impact us to some degree. But God comes to us and one of the first things He teaches us is to fear not: “Fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.” Why? God says, “For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever.” He is contrasting the glorious power He possesses that is eternal with the temporal, tiny power that man possesses. And He says, “Do not fear the lesser.” No – the child of God has a fear of God; we fear the greater. The more we fear God, the less we fear man and the less we are afraid of man’s reviling and reproach.