A Credit – Genesis 15:4-6 10/17/21

A Credit – Genesis 15:4-6 Date: 10/17/21


In our text today Abram is faced with a dilemma. As time continues to move on the possibility of a natural heir becomes increasingly remote.[1] Then… Abram has another visitation from the Lord, and in the presence of God he expresses his frustration; Genesis 15:1-3. Abram was experiencing a crisis of faith. After all the adventures he’d had, there was still the elephant in the room. There was still the very unlikely prospect of God’s promise being realized.[2] In short, there were still no heirs. In response, the “word of the Lord” came to Abram with comforting assurances.[3]


The text says , “the word of the Lord,” so we expect something audible, but… the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision. This expression is used to tell us that God was speaking to Abram directly; He was not speaking through a prophet.[4] Here “the word of the Lord” (דְבַר־יְהוָה֙)[5] [ḏeḇăr-yeh wāhʹ] emphasizes God’s self-revelation through what He says,[6] it’s a concrete expression of His personality,[7] since God does not lie.


It is through His “word” (יְהוָה֙)[8] [ḏeḇăr] that He makes Himself known to His creatures.[9] In that sense, we find that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to man; Hebrews 1:1-3. So, we’re not specifically told that this was Jesus who appeared to Abram in a vision, but whatever the vision revealed, it served to reassure Abram that God was with him.


Abram seems to miss the point. God is with Him. Beyond anything else, God is Abram’s reward, but Abram doesn’t seem to tumble to that. So God meets Abram where he is. Abram’s frustration at God’s apparent failure to keep His promises is answered, and God emphatically reaffirms that Abram will have a true son, his own flesh and blood, who will inherit from him. The son will be the product of Abram’s own body, in the Hebrew it is literally from his own “loins” (מעה), which references internal organs, bowels, intestines, digestive organs, or organs of procreation.[10] But God goes beyond this. Not only will Abram father a son, God reiterates the promise that he will be the founder of multitudes, descendants as numerous as the stars.[11] .


Now we are at the pivotal statement: in the middle of the chapter there’s embedded one of the most important sentences in the Old Testament;[12] Genesis 15:6 ~


6 And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.[13]


Note what it says, Abram believed in the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness; it wasn’t just believing the promise, it was believing the Source of the promise. The remark stands out as if to call attention to that fact that Abram didn’t simply trust, he trusted the trustworthiness of his Covenant-God.[14] God promised something that was entirely impossible.[15] And yet, the text describes Abram’s response to God as belief, or trust, in the Lord.[16] Abram’s belief in God is held up in the New Testament as an example of saving faith.[17]


The construct used for the word translated “believed” (וְהֶאֱמִ֖ן)[18] [wehĕ ’ĕminʹ] means to place trust in someone with confidence.[19] It conveys the picture of one who leans their entire weight upon a support.[20] This faith was, and is, unconditional trust in the Lord, and therefore in His word.[21] Given a clear promise, Abram believed God.[22] The verbal form (והאמין) (waw + perfect) “and he believed” indicates a repeated or continuous action on Abram’s part.[23] This was not a one-time decision.[24] Faith was simply Abram’s normal response to the Lord’s words.[25]


As a consequence of Abram’s belief, the Lord “credited” ( חשׁב)[26] [yăḥ šeḇĕʹ] Abram’s faith as “righteousness” (צְדָקָה)[27] [ṣĕdāqâ]. [28] The only factor that mattered in Abram’s relationship with God was his faith in God.[29] That faith was expressed through trust and reliance, even when it didn’t make sense to continue to trust and rely. The expression, “credited” means “to assign … value”[30]


Now, to be righteous is to be pure of heart, it is to be and to do what is right.[31] Normally “righteousness” (צְדָקָֽה)[32] [ṣeḏā qā(h)ʹ] is defined in terms of moral conduct. But Genesis 15:6 doesn’t describe Abram as a man who is doing what’s righteousness. In fact, we’ve already noted that the Scriptures give us a picture of a man who made mistakes, who sometimes failed to do the right thing. Abram was righteous, not in the sense that he was perfectly doing God’s will, but in the sense that he was accepted and forgiven by God.[33] He was, even though it’s doubtful that he understood what the basis of his acceptance was, experiencing what’s described in Romans 8:1.


I want to circle back to something that I only touched on earlier. God himself is His people’s best reward.[34] When we’re accepted by the Father we discover that He is our exceedingly great reward. In the Old Testament God received people by faith… in light of the future sacrifice of Christ.[35] What about us? Are we seeking anything other than the Lord? Are we more interested in what God can give us than in God? Nothing that God promises comes apart from a relationship with the Promiser. How could it be any different? He is the Creator, the Author of life, the Sustainer, the Saver. Are you believing God? And if you are, what are you believing Him for? All of His promises are fulfilled in Himself and our relationship with Him.


Are you cultivating that relationship?

[1] H.C. Leupold, Genesis in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book, Volume I, consulting ed., Carl Henry, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1960), 67. [2] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 135. [3] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 135. [4] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, gen. ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [5]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:1. [6] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, gen. ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [7] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, gen. ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [8]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:1. [9] H.D. McDonald, Word, Word of God, Word of the Lord, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, gen. ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Reference Library, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 1292. [10] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [11] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 166. [12] Kurt Strassner, Opening up Genesis, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2009), 71. [13] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Ge 15:6. [14] Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1975), 89. [15] Kurt Strassner, Opening up Genesis, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2009), 71. [16] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 166. [17] Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 35. [18]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:6. [19] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 166. [20] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 48. [21] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 136. [22] H.C. Leupold, Genesis in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book, Volume I, consulting ed., Carl Henry, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1960), 67. [23] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 329. [24] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 166. [25] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1–15, vol. 1, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1987), 329. [26]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:6. [27]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:6. [28] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 167. [29] H.C. Leupold, Genesis in The Biblical Expositor: The Living Theme of the Great Book, Volume I, consulting ed., Carl Henry, (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.: 1960), 67. [30] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 167. [31] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Charles Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 937. [32]Christo van der Merwe, The Lexham Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2004), Ge 15:6. [33] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 217. [34] H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Genesis, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 218. [35] Clyde T. Francisco, “Genesis,” in The Teacher’s Bible Commentary, ed. H. Franklin Paschall and Herschel H. Hobbs (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1972), 27.

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