(These are excerpts from a recent sermon from Genesis 15.)

 Part 4: “The Solution to the Covenant”

If you feel the tension in your heart like I felt when I read this text (Genesis 15, see Part 1 here and Part 2 here and Part 3 hereand tried to see things from Abraham’s perspective, this will be a great relief to you —Abraham never walked between the animals; God walked between the animals. Do you see the significance of that? It is one of the most beautiful pictures in all of Scripture: “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch (that’s God) passed between these pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmoites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’ ” (vs. 17-21)

Can you imagine the sweet, beautiful, incredible relief on Abraham’s face when he was standing there, trembling and wondering, “How will I ever make it through this covenant, knowing that it will kill me because I’d have to put my life on the line?” But in that very moment when he gave up because he did not know what to do, God — knowing that Abraham would never be able to be completely faithful to Him — went before him and showed His faithfulness to Abraham.

What a beautiful picture! God’s faithfulness is what everything is built on, not our faithfulness. God went before him and led the way. God said, “Abraham, this is not a covenant for you to sign your name to. This is a covenant for me to put my guarantee on.”

Even when I am not faithful to Him, God is always faithful to me.

When I was serving as a pastor, I was not always a faithful pastor. I have plenty of instances, more than I’d care to admit, where I neglected my people, didn’t study the Word the way I should have and did not fulfill my role and my duties the way I should have. But I read this passage and realized that, even in my unfaithfulness, my God was always faithful to my congregation. He never left them and never forsook them. Praise God, in my insufficiency, He is completely sufficient.

As a parent, I’m overwhelmed at times when I see, on a daily basis, the ways I let my little boy down — the times I’m away that I should be at home, the times I’m at home and should be completely involved in his life, but I’ll let my tiredness or busyness take precedence. And there are times that I’m just in pain because of the ways I’ve failed my son. But I read this and I know that my God will never fail my son, that when I’m not faithful as a parent, God is always faithful to be my son’s grace. He is sufficient for my son.

God’s faithfulness to us does not depend on our faithfulness to Him. Praise God! You see can sum it up even shorter than that. It’s just real basic:

I can’t — He can.

I probably won’t — He always will.

I can’t earn it and don’t deserve it — He has done it and paid it all for me. He is faithful to me.

That is the gospel. In fact, Jesus talked about the ultimate covenant saying: “And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ ” (Matt. 26:27-28)

The very next day after saying those words, Christ went to the cross and shed His blood — “Cross my heart, I chose to die.” Not because He had failed the covenant. Absolutely not! It’s because He knew we had failed the covenant, and He stood in our place, taking the penalty for our sin, paying the blood sacrifice of the covenant for us. He completely fulfilled the old covenant and inaugurated the new covenant in His blood of grace that is sufficient for all who would believe.

When we look to the cross, we see Christ saying, “The covenant has been sealed in blood and it is finished.” Every covenant is now fulfilled in Christ and the sign that goes with the covenant is the cross. That’s the fulfillment.

That’s why I love Gen. 15:6: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” That was immediately after God had showed him the stars in the sky and God had said, “Abraham, here’s a sign. I will be faithful.” In other words, Abraham believed God by responding to God’s faithfulness.

Now just put that together for a second. Consider that Abraham was responding to God’s display of faithfulness in his life. And because of God’s faithfulness, he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. I think we could come up with this: not only is God’s faithfulness the stand-in for our lack of faith, but when we look to God’s faithfulness, it fuels our desire to be faithful to Him.

When I now look to God’s ultimate display of His faithfulness on the cross, my faith is strengthened because I’m staring at God’s faithfulness — and I believe. And when I look in faith to at the cross on which my Savior died, it is credited to me as righteousness. Not because of anything I’ve done, but because of His faithfulness to me.

Maybe you’re at a place where you can relate — that dark, lonely hour of your life. Maybe you came here immediately after having a meeting with that member of your church that may not attend all the time, but when they do, they have something to say to you. Maybe you came here thinking, “I don’t even think I’m in the right place. I don’t know if I can take this anymore. God, I need a sign. I just need something. Can you just show me that I’m okay, that this is where I’m supposed to be?”

Or maybe the grand plans that you had for your church or mission seem to have just crumbled before you. You’re trying to be obedient, but you don’t know what to do next and you just want God to confirm that it’s okay and that you’re doing what He has called you to do.

Or maybe you’re heartbroken because that guy that you’ve invested five or six months into, trying to disciple him, has just made it very clear to you that he has walked away from the faith and doesn’t want any more of it. You desperately need God to tell you that it wasn’t wasted time and that you were doing exactly what He wanted you to do.

No matter the situation, be encouraged! We serve a God who goes before us! He knows you won’t always know how to handle every difficult ministry situation; so He goes before you. He already knows the plans that will crumble all around you, and He’s already gone before you in that situation. And He knows that soul that you feel like you have failed, and He goes before you ministering in ways you cannot see.

The message very simple. If you find yourself in one of those dark moments of despair, don’t look for a sign; look to the cross. Because in the cross you’ll always find the one beautiful truth that every servant of God needs to know — that our God always faithful. And He has signed that covenant in His blood.


(Check out Part 1 here , Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.)