Shortly after Abram had defeated the army of four great kings of the East, he had fears and doubts. Surprising, isn’t it! According to chapter 15 of Genesis of the Torah, God spoke to Abram in a vision and said three things: “Fear not”; “I am your shield”; and “your reward shall be very great”. Of course, God had been his shield before the kings, but like everyone else, Abram had a hard time taking these words at face value. He had doubts. The rest of the chapter explains how God very patiently led Abram through a process of assurance.
Abram’s gut reaction was to say, “but I don’t have any children”. God could have replied, “you will have a child,” but that’s not the way he handled it. Abram must have been inside the tent, because the text says that God took him outside and had him look up to the stars. While Abram was gazing up at this magnificent sky, God told him that his children would be as numerous as the stars. What an emotional experience! From then on, all Abram had to do was to look up at the night sky to remember God’s promise. God gave Abraham something tangible with which to associate his faith. And Abram believed.
It didn’t stop there. The process continued. God promised Abram the land, and Abram answered “how am I to know”. Is that strange? Moses asked for a sign. Gideon asked for a sign. Personally, I think that God sees faith, science, and emotions as linked, and our mistake is to try to separate them. Abram asked for reasons to believe, which is honest, scientific enquiry. God did not respond with proof or philosophy but with clear revelation set in an emotional personal experience.
They performed a ceremony, like a marriage or a business contract. Abram made a path of animal sacrifices and God walk down the path between them. God said, “Know for certain…” and gave details about the future. Abram didn’t just listen and watch. He felt an experience of deep sleep and dread that must have radiated throughout his entire body. The words of God were deeply impressed upon Abram so that it became part of who he was.
Forever, this testimony is rooted in history like a foundation of concrete. We can know God personally. The God of Abram spoke with unmistakably clear words. We know what they were. The God of Abram spoke to a man. He is a personal God. Compare that to all the other nations, such as Egypt and Mesopotamia. We have it on record. Four thousand years ago, at the dawn of history, God gave faith to a man through a personal relationship.