Chapters 15-17 of Genesis give a snapshot of Abraham’s continued journey of faith with the Lord. In chapter 12 the Lord made a promise to Abram to bless the nations through his offspring. What follows in chapters 15-17 is a series of further affirmations and articulations of this promise (15:1, 15:4-5, 15:7, 15:13-16, 17:1-8, 17:16-21) and a pattern of Abram wrestling with his disbelief that this promise could actually be true. In chapter 15 the Lord creates a covenant with Abram, as He symbolically passes through halved animals as way of saying, “let what was done to these animals be done to Me if I do not uphold this covenant.” Following this, Abram questions (15:2-3, 17:17) and even acts in disbelief (16:1-16), but fundamentally he believes the Lord, and the Lord calls him righteousness for this belief. And in His beautiful grace we see the Lord, despite Abram’s disbelieving actions, reaffirm His covenant, bestow Abraham with a new name, and give him a symbol of the covenant through circumcision.
The beauty in these verses is that even amidst the doubts and questions, Abraham believed God and walked in obedience. Even though He couldn’t fully understand how the promise would be carried out, he fundamentally trusted the character of God. Timothy Keller writes that “it is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that saves you.” The beautiful thing is that regardless of how weak or wavering our faith is, as long as it is firmly placed in the covenant God it will hold fast. We can rest firmly in the fact that the Lord is faithful to keep His people. Because not only has the Lord eternally acted in faithfulness, but He is faithfulness itself. If He stopped being faithful, He would cease to be God. Faithfulness is an essential part of His character.
So. Today, and every day, find comfort in the fact that your faith is secure, not because you feel confident in it, not because you’ve read your Bible today, not because you’ve been serving in church, but because God is faithful to His covenant promise to His people. God accomplished the work of redemption through His Son so that our only work would be this: to believe (John 6:29). Abraham believed and awaited the fulfilment of God’s redemptive promise through his seed, Jesus Christ. In the same way, as we celebrate Advent, we believe and await the fulfilment of Christ’s promise to return for His bride – “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). Brothers and sisters, find hope in the fact that Christ’s promise to return for His people is rooted in His character of covenant-faithfulness. Fight to believe this truth. Find joy in the fact that it is gloriously true that He is coming soon.