God Confirms & Man subverts – Genesis 15-16

Confirms - promise


Wednesday 05/03/17 

Message – God Confirms & Man subverts

Series: Thru the Bible – Genesis 15-16

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Genesis 15 Abram becomes discouraged concerning God’s promises of offspring and the land as his inheritance

Vs. 1

From the beginning of God’s covenant with man through Abram – what God was offering was peace springing from union with Him.

Gen. 15:1, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”

What was God a shield for here? To what was He speaking?

Abram’s faith was being challenged by the passage of time and unsettled circumstances. Abram was still looking for natural answers when what God was offering was Himself. God confirms His promise but reveal Himself as Abram’s reward.

I AM your shield (to quench all the fiery darts of the enemy) I am your exceedingly great reward.

Heb. 10:35-39, “(35) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.  (36)  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:  (37)  “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY.  (38)  NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.”  (39)  But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”


Vs. 2-5 – Question #1 – Where is my offspring?

Abram addresses God about His promise.

Lord God, what wilt thou give? — To Abram’s mind the declaration, “I am thy exceeding great reward” [Gen_15:1], had a singular meaning of the fulfillment of the promise, which was most needed since he was almost certainly experiencing the sickness of hope deferred. But Abram felt needed more…

Abram here addresses God as Adoni-Jehovah (Yaud, Hay, Vauve, Hay). Adoni is the plural verb form of Jehovah – a proper name – beth essentially meaning Lord.

Abram has been giving this some thought and exclaims his frustration that Eliezer (His chief servant) who was born in his house is his heir.

But this didn’t settle with Abram, and he even sensed the emptiness of his words once he heard them and followed that statement with the almost accusatory words that smacked of finality… “Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born IN my house is my heir!”

God is gentle and is always looking to restore to good relations, and so confirms His word…

Gen. 15:4-5, “(4) And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”  (5)  Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”


Life lesson:

God rescues faith!

We see this in Jesus who encourages faith once it is challenged. Consider the exchange between Jesus and Jairus in Mark 5:22-24,…

Mark 5:22-24,  “(22) Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet  (23)  and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.”  (24)  And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.”

This was interrupted by the woman with the issue of blood and by the time that exchange was over Jairus’ daughter had died…The dialogue picks back up in verse 35…

Mark 5:35-36, “(35) While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”  (36)  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.

Here Jesus rescues Jairus’ faith…He confirms His intention to saver her even still!

Vs. 6

Gen. 15:6, “(6) And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”


So we see here that God knew how to rescue Abram’s faith by undergirding it with His solemn promise and a visual aid. God confirms His word.

Abram was quick to believe.

Vs. 7 God – knowing Abram’s heart – uncovers the second question He knew was plaguing his heart by reminding him of His promise. Question #2 – What confirmation will you offer to settle me in the knowledge and assurance that I will inherit the land?

God is here provoking Abram to love and good works (like we talked about on Sunday).

V2. 8 – Abram takes the bait and pours out his heart before God

Gen. 15:8, “(8) And he said, “Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?”

This might seem disrespectful, but indeed it was nothing more than an honest cry for help.  We know this based upon God’s response. If Abram had been “tempting God”, it would have evoked a totally different response.

The disciples of Jesus made a similar – if not a more direct request when they cried, “Lord, increase our faith” Lk. 17:1-5

Psa. 46:1,  “(1) God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Psa. 62:8, “(8) Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah”

Abram is not so much questioning or doubting whether God would perform His Word; this was simply a desire for further confirmation for the sake of his own stability in faith.

As Gill says,  “that they might more easily and strongly believe that they should inherit the land given and promised to them”

It is no sin to ask a sign of God when this is the intent. Hezekiah did it in 2 Kings 20:8 and it was even placed before Hezekiah whether the sundial should go forward or backward 10 degrees – so Hezekiah asked and God confirms His word by a sign; This happened with Gideon and the fleece (twice) in Jdg. 6:36-40. Gideon asked and God confirms – he asks again and God confirms again. To go further with this God has even encouraged it in times past and rebuked men for not pursuing it as in the case of Ahaz in Isa. 7:10.

Isa. 7:10-16, “(10) Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying,  (11)  “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”  (12)  But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!”  (13)  Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also?  (14)  Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.  (15)  Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good.  (16)  For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings.”

So God does not chastise Abram for his lack of faith, but instead meets his request in a way which would keep him for some time to come…God confirms His word by cutting a covenant with Abram!

God, represented Himself by the smoking oven and the burning torch.

God alone passed through the animal parts by Himself as Abram watched. By doing this God showed this was a unilateral covenant.

As Guzik says, “Abram never “signed” the covenant, because God “signed” it for both of them.”

It follows then that the guarantee and entire certainty of this covenant is based on Who God is, not on who Abram is or what Abram does. This makes the covenant 100% certain – cannot fail, because God cannot fail.

Guzik says, “By entering into this contract, there is a sense in which God was saying, “If I don’t keep My word, let Me be put asunder.” God was putting His Deity on the line as He confirms His oath to Abram. In fact God Himseld not only confirms but WAS the confirmation.

Maclaren says,  “A Divine covenant is not a mutual agreement on equal terms between two parties, but a Divine promise assured.”

Also, this is not a hazy – non-specific covenant which God could later claim was fulfilled in any number of ways. God places the names of REAL places – specific lands He is guaranteeing  Abram’s descendants will inherit.

For the record, they WILL in fact inherit this land for 1,000 years during the Millenial reign of Christ, but during two short times in history this has already been fulfilled under the reign of  

Solomon (See 1Kings 8:65) and possibly again under Jeroboam II (See 2Kings 14:25).


Genesis 16

While Sarai (like Noah’s wife) was saved through association with her husband, Abram’s faith was NOT Sarai’s faith. They developed their relationship with God as individuals.

We saw in chapter 15 that God had brought Abram to a place of righteousness through trust and like chapter 15, this chapter begins with Sarai accusing God…

Gen. 16:1-2, “(1) Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.  (2)  So Sarai said to Abram, “See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, have intercourse with my maid; perhaps I will obtain children by her.” And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.”

Just about anything could be said of Abram at this point, but even though we are told that this was a few years later… I am pretty certain he was not questioning God anymore. Nevertheless, he seemed perfectly willing to run with Sarai’s plan.


Vs. 3-5

  • He did the deed.
  • Hagar conceived.
  • Hagar got arrogant.
  • Sarai got even!


Gen. 16:5, “(5) And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the LORD judge between you and me!”

Vs. 6

Abram acts like – “Hey, I was just doing what you said…she’s your servant, therefore your problem.”

Vs. 7-14

Gen. 16:7-16, “(7) The Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.  (8)  He said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” She replied, “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai.”  (9)  Then the Angel of the LORD said to her, “You must go back to your mistress and submit to her mistreatment.”  (10)  The Angel of the LORD also said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”  (11)  Then the Angel of the LORD said to her: You have conceived and will have a son. You will name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard your cry of affliction.  (12)  This man will be like a wild ass. His hand will be against everyone, and everyone’s hand will be against him; he will live at odds with all his brothers.  (13)  So she named the LORD who spoke to her: The God Who Sees, for she said, “Have I really seen here the One who sees me?”  (14)  That is why she named the spring, “A Well of the Living One Who Sees Me.” It is located between Kadesh and Bered.  (15)  So Hagar gave birth to Abram’s son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son Hagar had.  (16)  Abram was 86 years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.”


  • God is not selective in His love – it is offered to all!
  • Hagar at this point probably feels used, unprotected and unloved.
  • God speaks to her heart’s wounds – but tells her she must submit herself to the injustice and mistreatment of Sarai her master.
  • Hagar realizes that she is NOT invisible.
  • God makes promise concerning Ishmael.
    • He will be born and named Ishmael because God heard her cry.
    • Ishmael means “God hears”
    • He will be like an undomesticated donkey.
      • The closest thing we have to a wild donkey are feral donkeys and they are regarded as an invasive pest and have a serious impact on the environment. They compete with livestock and native animals for resources, spread weeds and diseases, foul or damage watering holes and cause erosion. In short they are foul, arrogant beasts that treat the world as if it were their personal toilet. This describe Ishmael’s descendants quite well!
    • his hand will be against every man — He will be antagonistic – waging war on everyone and all will wage war in return. JFB say that this is “descriptive of the rude, turbulent, and plundering character of the Arabs.”
    • dwell in the presence of all his brethren — dwell, that is, pitch tents; and the meaning is that they maintain their independence in spite of all attempts to extirpate or subdue them.
  • God still sees this young man as the son of Abram – though NOT the promised son!


Abram was 75 when he came from Haran. He impregnated Hagar 10 years later and 9 additional months later still Abram was 86 when he had his first natural child with a slave girl named Hagar.

Ishmaelites (or Arabs) are a blend of Hebrew and Egyptian bloodlines…meaning a blend of the descendants of Shem and the descendants of Ham…while the true promised offspring of Abram was a true hebrew descended from Eber the grandson of Shem of the Godly bloodline.
There is much more information in the audio/video of the actual message. I hope you listen, learn and enjoy!





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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it right...safety in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!