Genesis 15:1-6 (NRSV)
Chapter 15After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."
Verse 2But Abram said, "O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?" Verse 3And Abram said, "You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir." Verse 4But the word of the Lord came to him, "This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir." Verse 5He brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your descendants be." Verse 6And he believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
“Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield.” On first reading this week’s texts, I thought the common theme was the command “Do not be afraid.” As I worked with the texts, I found a deeper concept that flowed out of obeying this command.
“Abraham believed the Lord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Righteousness always seemed like such a difficult concept until I heard a sermon illustration when I was in seminary. Pastor Jerry Hoffman told the story about his car breaking down in Israel. When he picked it up from the mechanic he asked if it was fixed. The mechanic said that the vehicle was “sedeq,” the Hebrew word for righteous. The vehicle “worked the way it was meant to work.”
Being righteous is living the way God intends us to live. Abraham continues to trust God to fulfill God’s promise of an heir for Abraham and Sarah. Abraham remains faithful to his call to live each day in this hope.
Gracious God, help us to live each day in the relationship of faith and hope that we see in the example of Abraham and Sarah. Guide us to act as you created us to live our lives. Amen.