For Abram, everything came down to having a child. Without an heir, the promises of God were worthless. He needed flesh and blood. The promise had to become something that could be seen and touched. It was not simply a matter of words.
And God kept making the promise bigger. “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. … So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5).
Abram believed God, and God counted Abram’s belief as righteousness.
This is an encouragement for us to continue to believe, even in the waiting. The whole of the God’s plan for humanity involves waiting. Noah waited in the boat. Abram waited for a child. Joseph waited in prison. The Israelites waited in slavery – and then in the wilderness – and then in exile.
It was one long wait for the Messiah – the one who finally emerged and then lived, died, and rose again.
And now God’s people are waiting for the last time. We pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
And there is waiting within the waiting.
We wait for God’s work to be completed in us. Like Abram, we wait for God to do something new with our flesh, with our bodies. Abram’s body wasn’t producing. Sometimes our bodies don’t produce, either. They don’t produce good works.
And we wait for those good works to emerge, for the things of God to begin to become natural to us. We are called to live like Christ, and we so rarely do. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:20).
Like Abram, there’s nothing we can do on our own to become the sons of God – to live like Christ. On our own, we just sin. We might muster a few good deeds here or there. But the whole of our lives is lived in sin. In our flesh and blood, we are sinners. And we want to be like Christ – in our flesh and blood.
And so we wait for God to fulfill his promises in us. And sometimes it can be frustrating – because we know faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
Abram was as good as dead (Hebrews 11:12). But that turned out to be OK. God can work miracles even then.
For years, Abram had to live with only the promise. He had to trust. And then God did something in Abram’s flesh and blood.
So as we struggle with sin, we ought to remember Abram. We ought to continue to believe God is able to do in us what he has promised. And we ought to watch for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.