Sunday’s Scripture ~ Genesis 15
(Yes, the whole chapter. You can do it! I believe in you!)
This week we will study the Scripture that sets everything into motion for humanity becoming God’s family. Yes, God created us and claimed us as God’s creation but in Genesis 15 we begin to see the transition in our relationship with God from Creator/creation to God the Father and Mother/sons and daughters. And it begins with Abram.
In Genesis 15 God promises two gifts to Abram.
Gift #1 – God reminds Abram that progeny is coming, which is something God foretold in Genesis 12. Abram and Sarai will have a child, an heir of their own. Not a slave, not some second cousin twice removed and then reinstalled. “No one,” says God, “but your very own issue shall be your heir” (v. 4). God then takes disbelieving Abram outside of his tent to look at the millions of stars in the heavens and confirmed for Abram that as numerous as the stars in the heavens, so shall his descendents be.
(And they are. Remember that old song Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had father Abraham (well…I wish the song were more inclusive…Abraham had sons and daughters…but that is a discussion for another day!) it is true! Abraham and Sarah became the forefather and foremother of three great religious traditions – Judaism, Islam, and Christianity – that are full of great, faithful people. We three traditions may not outnumber the stars presently, but over the numerous generations, I am sure we could give the stars a run for their money!)
Gift #2 – God promises and gives Abram land – land in Canaan – the place where God brought Abram up out of the Chaldeans. God wants Abram to possess it. And again, Abram doubts. As he doubted that an heir would come as he and his wife are well beyond child-bearing years, he asks how he will know he possesses the land?
So God shows Abram. By hosting what my husband so eloquently called “A Holy BBQ.”
Elements one needs for a BBQ – meat and flame – both of which are present in the latter half of Genesis 15.
Now, in all seriousness, what we are invited to experience as we read this text is a very old and somewhat obscure ritual act that in fact binds two parties together. As I reflect on the description of the act, I can’t help but think of birth. Blood is shed in the process of giving birth and flame or fire is an agent used to purify and cleanse.
What does fire create? Fire creates dust and ash. Remember the conclusion of Genesis 3? God tells Adam in disciplining his disobedience, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (3:19). Humanity was birthed from dust and ash; to it we will return. And here, in Genesis 15, we have another image of humanity being birthed, from blood and fire, dust and ash, but this time the intimacy in which we know God and are known by God is heightened, strengthened, extended.
We are God’s own. God is ours. It was the promise God made to Abram long ago. It is still our promise today. We are family.
Reflection: What has been your experience of being claimed by God? Not just as God’s creation, but as God’s very child? Do you relate to God as father or mother? Do you relate to God as one but not the other? How do you feel about this sort of intimate, close, personal, near relationship with God?