Beating Off the Demons

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In Genesis 15, Abraham has a monumental experience with the Living God. In order to reaffirm the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12, God asks Abraham to offer a sacrifice before Him. Abraham prepares the sacrifices, cutting them in half and spreading them out on the open fields of Canaan before the Lord.

All through the day, as Abraham waits to meet with God before the sacrifice, birds of prey come down to nibble and steal the sacrifice that Abraham has prepared before God. Jewish commentators and many of the early church fathers saw the correspondence between these birds and the demonic powers of Satan coming against Abraham. They described it as a picture of a holy life attacked in the midst of the world.

This helps me. Many times in my life, troubles rise up and I feel the tearing bites of the demons gathering around my life. In Romans 12, Paul describes the life of the Christian as a living sacrifice before God. We, too, cut open by the Word of God, offer our lives to the Lord, spreading them out on the promises of God’s truth, waiting to meet with God. Part of our task is to simply beat off the demons who come to attack us, confound us, and ultimately destroy us.

As the night descends, Abraham meets with God in perhaps one of the most bizarre theophanies in all Scripture. Floating between the bisected sacrifice, God appears as a smoking fire pot and a glowing torch before Abraham. God passes in the midst of the sacrifice to convey His glorious presence and His profound commitment to Abraham, taking upon Himself all the obligations of the covenant which Abraham could not fulfill himself.

This reminds us of the grace and power of God on our behalf. In Christ, God takes upon Himself the responsibilities of the covenant, showering us with the gifts of reconciliation and justification. In Christ, God has triumphed over the principalities and powers at the Cross, extending His victory to us. We, for our part, respond to the prevenient grace and victorious power of God with faith. In part, that includes us beating off the demons who strive to defile the responsive sacrifice of our lives. In this context, Paul’s words in Ephesians 6 about the nature of our conflict and the calling to stand make even more sense. So, too, do Peter’s words in chapter five of his first epistle about being sober and alert as the devil prowls around us.

As with Abraham, may God’s grace and power strengthen us daily to beat off the demons that strive to defile the living sacrifice of our lives that we bring to Him.

The Commitment of God (discussion questions)

Faith Life Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “The Commitment of God,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was the fourth part of our series “Faith Life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you experience someone going above and beyond your expectations of how they would support, help or love you?
  2. This week’s study takes us into a deep exploration of Genesis 15 as we continue the “Faith Life” series at Eastbrook. Ask God to speak to you before reading this chapter of Genesis aloud.
  3. In Genesis 15:1, God speaks a word of reassurance to Abram. What do you think the significance would be for this reassurance after what transpired in the previous chapter?
  4. In verses 2-6, we encounter a conversation between God and Abram about how God’s promises will be fulfilled given the fact that Abram and Sarai have no children. It culminates in Abram’s belief and God’s gracious gift to him in verse 6. What stands out to you about both God and Abram in these verses?
  5. In verses 2-3 and 8, Abram asks God probing questions about what is going on in his life. Do you think it is okay to ask God questions or wrestle with His promises? Why or why not?
  6. Verses 9-20 are rich with imagery and symbolism that can easily be lost upon us as 21st century people. The act of covenant-making in the ancient near east often involved very physical symbols, here seen in the divided animals, which conveyed responsibility in the agreement. When a party would walk in the midst of these physical symbols, it conveyed their obligation to fulfill the promises at risk of being ripped apart like the physical symbols. What does this tell you about what God is taking upon himself in this covenant-making situation?
  7. God tells Abram about things that he will never see within his lifetime, such as the enslavement of future generations (15:13-14) and his eventual death in peace (15:15). What does this tell us about God? Also, what might Abram have thought or felt in response to these words from God?
  8. This chapter reveals just to what extent God will go to sustain Abraham in his life of faith. What is one thing God is speaking to you about your own life of faith? If you are on your own, write it down somewhere so you can think about that during the week. If you are with a group, take some time to discuss this with one another.

[Next week we continue our “Faith Life” series by looking at Genesis 16:1-16. To prepare, read that passage in advance.]

The Commitment of God

Faith Life Series Gfx_16x9 TitleWe have all seen or heard about dramatic commitments between people, but what happens when God commits to us as people?

This weekend at Eastbrook Church we continued our “Faith Life” series by looking at the commitment of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.  Of course, the question we have to ask is: ‘what does God’s commitment to Abraham here mean for us today?’ That led us onward to Romans 4:23-5:2, where Paul references Genesis 15 in relation to the hope found in Jesus Christ.

The outline and video file for the message are below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can access the entire series of messages from the “Faith Life” series here. You can also visit Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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