Thy Exceeding Great Reward

04-25-98 Barrett Holloway

Genesis 15:1

Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward. What things were there that brought the Lord to Abram in a vision? What was there in Abram’s heart that so needed the manifestation of God’s presence which only could give him the strength to persevere? 1. He had just returned from a battle where he had recovered the goods taken from Sodom and gained the freedom of his brother’s son. With 318 of his own trained servants, he had attacked Chedorlaomer and three other kings and obtained a great victory which in the eyes of men was impossible. Why would he now need the Lord to come and encourage his heart? Was not the battle over and had he not accomplished that which he had set out to do? Surely, he could now return to his home and peaceful life in following his God for this was behind him. It was usually the Lord’s visit prior to a battle which strengthen and encouraged the hearts of His people and prepared them for the work He had called them to do. When the Lord told Jacob to return to his home, He met him at Mahanaim and this was just before he was to meet the brother whose birthright he had taken. He had fled from his home and country because Esau had sworn to take his life and now he was about to face his brother. To provide encouragement and strength, God’s host (two bands of angels) met him. Still Jacob found himself “greatly afraid and distressed” when he received the news that Esau was headed to meet him with 400 men. Gen. 32:7. In the ninth verse of this chapter God met him and said, “return unto thy country, and to thy kindred and I will deal well with thee.” Here his heart was encouraged before he had to face his brother and if there was any faith active in his heart, then it had to be quieted to some degree. Before Israel entered the land God had promised them, He told them in Deut. 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee; He will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Another seemingly, impossible task lay ahead for the people of God to destroy all those nations before Israel could obtain possession; yet God met with them and assured them that He would be with them and not forsake nor fail them. Before the conflict, God spoke to them. Joshua received the same comforting words from the Lord after the death of Moses and before he set out to carry God’s people into the promised land. Joshua 1. When Paul was being transported across the sea and a storm came up from which all lives would be lost, an angel of the Lord stood by him that night and comforted his heart with words that no life would be lost. You will find this the norm throughout the Scripture as you find men and women in a great strait. The Lord would not permit their hearts to be completely downcast but would visit with reassuring words which would strengthen them to pass through the conflicts. Would not this be your testimony of the faithfulness of your Lord as you look back over your Christian pilgrimage? Then why did the Lord appear to Abram after he had defeated those kings? Was there something in his heart that troubled him as he journeyed home? Could he have been hit with some of Satan’s fiery darts that wounded his spirits and left him with a troubled heart and mind? Sometimes after one experiences a great manifestation of the Lord’s presence or realizes His divine help to get through the fires or deep water that you thought would destroy you, the Lord steps back and lets us realize just how weak and helpless we really were without Him. He would have us experimentally realize the words of our Savior when He said, “without me ye can do nothing.” Elijah found it to be so when he stood before all the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel and call fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice. Soon after he found himself running for his very life because he was afraid of the words of one woman. The Lord teaches us, often bitter experiences, that we do not conquer by might or power or any strength within us but by His Spirit. We must come to realize that we have not nor could run the race in our own strength. We conquer by faith and explicit obedience only as the Lord enables us. Man has an extraordinary strength which enables him physically to get through some life-threating situations by the body producing adrenaline. I read once of a woman who picked up the side of her car to remove it from her child. In everyday circumstances she probably had not enough strength to lift one tire off the ground, not including the automobile attached to it. It is this power except from the Lord which enables a Christian to face some of the adverse trials which the Lord puts one through. Abram had courage enough to take on four kings, all to save the life of his kin. Maybe it was after the conflict as he headed home that he realized what he had just done. Now he begins to reflect upon some disturbing issues. ‘What if those kings mount a counter-attack and come after me. They have force enough and man power to wipe out my name and family from the face of the earth. What if my neighbors now begin to look upon me as a ruthless warrior, will it destroy me of the peace that I have enjoyed and the quietness I have had? I may never be able to retire to that solitary life that I had before this. Have I started something that will last me all the rest of my life?’ Knowing a little of the wicked devices of Satan, one can surmise that these and many other thoughts entered his head as he returned home. Samson gives us another example of the very point trying to be made here. When he fought with the power of God upon him, he could slay hundreds of Philistines and walk away undaunted. Let the power of God which comes through His manifest presence be lost and you hear him saying one day after going without water for just a little while, “I will die of thirst because I have no water to drink.” Surely, dear ones, you have experienced something of that in your life. When faith is operative, you feel you could conquer the world for Christ. When you are carrying out the commands of God and feel His presence, you are quite certain that nothing can stop you. Step out of the pulpit or finished with that choir for the Lord, and the strength that has been exerted seems to turn to weakness. It was in that condition that the Lord graciously came to His servant and said, “fear not Abram.” Don’t let your mind run wild with vain imaginations and speculations about what might happen. Look at Ps 94:19. “In the multitude of my thoughts within me…” my thoughts, those troubling, perplexing ones that spring in my head from seemingly nowhere: “Thy comforts delight my soul.” 2. After he was blessed by Melchizedek, the king of Salem and also the priest of the Most High God. To refresh his weary body, the king brought bread and wine and he blessed Abram. The “less is blessed of the better.” Heb 7:7. Abram was honored by the king coming to meet him and to bring him refreshments. Could there be something in Melchizedek’s meeting him that troubled him? Yes, the Lord honored me this time, but will it always be the case? Am I heaping this honor on myself as if I did it and not the Lord? Will my God back away from me because men have heaped these honors upon me? I am certain that our heavenly Father looks at our motive in doing what we do more than at what we do and how many of our works will be burned because we have not labored for His honor? Our old proud, corrupt heart would treasure to itself the praise of men and if we are not careful we will find that the smiles or frowns of men determine our actions. Was the father of our faith afraid that the honored which had been bestowed upon him would also be that which would destroy him? Again there are so many mingled and intertwined thoughts that can run through one’s head, that it would destroy our faith and make us full of doubts of God ever helping us again. I know not what Abram’s heart was troubled about but only suggest these that you might see yourself and how your great enemy can cast such doubts upon the person and character of God that it would leave you fearful and running from your duties. 3. After he refused the riches and reward offered to him by the King of Sodom. Satan appeared as a bitter enemy to him in his first encounter by stealing his nephew and taking the goods, but now he comes dressed in friendly wardrobe. As a wolf in sheep’ clothing, he now makes his attack on Abram. Many people have fallen in this trap before they ever gave a second thought to what was taking place. Most of our country’s politicians and law makers can not judge or pass laws that are equal to all people because of the campaign funds they have received from large corporations and individuals. The old saying, “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” must have originated from our wicked enemy. The Lord’s people do what they do because they love Christ and His people and never would they do good deeds looking for a person to do them good. At least we could make that statement if their heart is right with God they do what they do only out of love and never looking for a payback. One then wonders what might have been some of the fiery darts hurled at Abram after he rejected the King’s offer and reward. “Well, Abram you have turned down that which the Lord sent your way and now because of your careless and rash decision you will end up needing those things. Abram, had your heart been right with God when the gifts were offered to you there would have been no problem with you accepting them.” Again, we have no way of knowing all that was hurled at this weary pilgrim, but not being ignorant of Satan’s devices, we probably have felt some of those same darts. It was after these three events had taken place that the Word of the Lord came unto Abram and you can rest assured that it came in a time when he needed it. That which makes this so precious to the people of God is that which He told Abram. There were only two, but if the weight of those two statements can lay hold of your heart, I am certain that there will be much encouragement to any soul that might be somewhat cast down because of present day circumstances. 1. “Abram, I am thy shield.” If this truth was fixed on our minds, it would disperse many a dark cloud. “‘Abram don’t worry about what Chedorlaomer or any of the other kings might or might not do unto you. They can only get to you by me removing the shield that I have around you. They can’t touch a hair on your head without my permission and there is no need of this fear in your heart.” Beloved, has that truth reached the innermost being of your soul so that you can say in anything that the Lord sends your way, He has done it only for my good and His glory. Can you rest in the darkest of clouds with that truth? Has God made you to know that the “steps of a good man are ordered and that He holdeth him up so that none of His steps slide?” Blessed thing to have that confidence in our God when hell is moving all around you and you have no one to talk with because there is none who would understand. What need is thee for a fall-out shelter to sustain you in case of a nuclear war? What need is there to treasure up things in this old world to sustain you for that rainy day? If God be for you, who is there that can be against you? Why let the fiery darts from the wicked one so trouble and perplex your soul that you have no rest? Why are you looking for and imagining that the worst will happen tomorrow? Does not the God of Scripture rule in heaven and upon earth and no matter how low you might sink, is not His almighty hand beneath to undergird you? Isaiah told us to consider the works of God’s hand in creation when such perplexities were upon us. What power did your Lord exert to make all these things? Did this exhaust Him and He is not the same today as He was in creation? Has the years taken from His strength as it does ours? A thousand times over, dear one, our God is the same today as He was when Abram walked on this old planet and the years have not failed Him. Have not you and I the same God as Joshua? Then listen to His words when Joshua was weak, timid, and afraid to take such a task as lay ahead for him in leading the children of Israel into the promised land. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee.” Can you hear Him speaking these things to your heart in that distressing state that you are in? Listen carefully and that still small voice will whisper peace to your heart that cannot be shaken. 2. “Abram, I am thy EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD.” “I alone am sufficient for a happy life.” Again, if this truth was fixed in our hearts and minds it would drive away all things that trouble your soul. If God is my God, what more do I need? If you really believed this, it would drive away any wicked, worldly, or vain desires that might hold your head. We, the people of God must come to that place where we are satisfied with Him alone. He who gave His only Son for us, how shall He not by Him, also freely give us all things that are needed for a healthy, spiritual life? David knew this as he penned the 16th Psalm. In verse eight, he said, “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. 9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” Have you found God through Christ to be your exceeding great reward? What a glorious thought. If this paper has found you in trying circumstances, then may our gracious Lord be pleased to help you through this by turning your eye towards Him and the possessions that are yours in Christ Jesus our Lord. MY EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD If God my exceeding great reward be, what can the world offer me? Shall its pomp, splendor, or gaiety move and sway the heart in me? Can I betray my Father’s best, by pulling this world to my breast? A thousand times over let my tongue repeat, nothing here must pull me from the Savior’s feet. If all things here must be burned, then heart, tis wise if your would learn. It’s no great sacrifice for you to make, to give up that which you should hate. God my exceeding great reward will not be, if there are things dearer than He. While turned towards Calvary with a fastened eye, I must see my reward in the sky and count the reproach of Christ greater wealth, than all the riches this world might have dealt. Who could ever feel any loss, while beholding Christ and that great cost? How could you, dear one lose by giving up that which can never be kept? All must bid this life adieu and only those whose hearts were true; shall be the gainer in the world to come. If God my exceeding great reward is, then good-bye old world with all your lure. Christ is my all, and of that I am sure. JBH