Lent Devotional: Genesis 22:15-18
by Jonathan Haefs
These are designed to accompany the SVCC Lenten reading guide which may be found here: 2019 Lenten Reading Guide
In these devotionals, I will give a link that will take you to the entire reading for the day if you would like to read it. I will actually include a few of the verses upon which I will focus my reflections. In the reflection section, I will make a few brief comments which I hope will spur your own thinking and prayers.
Lent is meant to be a season of repentance and fasting that prepares our hearts for the coming celebration of Easter (fuller explanation here). Repentance is a reminder that we need to be saved from our sin…we need a Savior. Fasting reminds us that we are not in need of the things this world offers, but in desperate need of Jesus. So, the point of Lent is that we need Jesus…we need Easter. It is my prayer that these daily devotionals will simply help remind us of our daily need for Christ.
Genesis 22:15-18 (click here)
And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (Genesis 22:15-18)
“By myself I have sworn…”
As a kid, I can remember “swearing” by different things. I would do this whenever I was trying to convince my friends that I was serious about something, and the more I wanted to convince them, the more exaggerated my “swear” became.
“I pinkie swear” was a typical starting point, but things could escalate all the way up to “swearing” on family members graves… some not yet dead… sorry mom.
Obviously, these were the words of children who didn’t understand what it meant to “swear by” something. But, we did understand that the greatness of the “swear” was elevated by the greatness of the thing “sworn by.”
What is interesting is that “to swear” literally means to take an oath… the greatest of promises. So, when we “swear by” something, we are trying to make the greatest of promises even greater. It is this reality that makes the words of God to Abraham in Genesis 22 absolutely mind-blowing!
God swears… he takes an oath… he makes the greatest of promises. But not only that, he swears by something… he makes the greatest of promises even greater. And what… or more accurately… who does he swear by?
“By myself I have sworn…” There is nothing higher by which to swear! There is nothing above God! There is nothing greater, grander, or more glorious than God himself! So, in Genesis 22 we have the greatest of promises made even greater by being raised to the greatest of all levels possible!
But still, it gets better… for this greatest of all possible promises is being made by the greatest one himself! This promise is not an exaggerated statement made by a kid (or adult) who cannot possibly keep it! No! It is actually made by the only one great enough to see it through!
And glory beyond glories… this promise is actually made to you!
The promise is to Abraham AND his offspring! And guess what Galatians 3:7 says… “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.”
All who trust in God alone (we know that this is through Christ alone) share the faith of Abraham and are a part of his faith family! Therefore, the greatest of all possible promises made by the greatest one of all is yours through Christ! And what is that promise?
It is the promise of salvation through Christ!
It is the promises that God will bless us by the true offspring of Abraham, Jesus, defeating our true enemy, Satan, in order to bless all the nations of the world (verses 17-18)!
That’s the Gospel… the greatest of all possible promises given to us with the greatest guarantee by the greatest God!
Glory in this good news… “By myself I have sworn…”