But Abram replied, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I be sure …?” Genesis 15:8 (NLT)
In Genesis chapter 15, God reiterates His covenant with Abram, and in this verse, Abram asks for some reassurance about his inheritance. In the context, he had just led an armed band on very successful mission to rescue Lot from a local warlord. Possessing the land seemed like a pipe dream when just keeping his family safe was such a task.
I love the tension in the question because it reflects where we spend most of our faith journey. Sovereign Lord shows Abram’s confidence that God was in control of all things. How can I be sure shows Abram’s reaction to the very real circumstances in which he lived. Isn’t that where we are? We know God is Lord and King but sometimes the evidence is obscured by the upheavals our daily lives.
God answers Abram’s question but not overtly. In the verses that follow, He instructs Abram to set up an ancient covenant-making ritual and through it, Abram gets his answer, and by extension, so do we. How can I be sure?
Because of the character of God
In the ritual, both parties to the covenant were supposed to walk between the animal part with the idea being that’s what should happen to them if they break the covenant. It was serious business. God alone passes through the pieces. Keeping the covenant rests solely on Him. He made the promise, and He swears to keep it. No matter what Abram did, the covenant was unbreakable and would never be annulled. God’s promises to us are just as sure.
Because of the faithfulness of God
He spells out to Abram the coming events and assures him that no matter what happens, the covenant will stand. Like Abram, we get focused on our current situation and struggles. God has a long-range vision of our lives and events, and He will always accomplish His plan.
Because of the power of God
An inherent reassurance built into every promise God makes is the fact that He has the power to see His promises through. If I promise to pick up my kids at 5:00, it’s contingent on my car functioning, on traffic, on my health, and a host of other things I don’t know about, much less have control over. God is not that way. Egyptian slavery will not stand in the way of His promise. Hostile tribes will not stand in the way. The disobedience of Israel will not. Not even my own wavering faith.
O Sovereign Lord, I can be sure.