“Why would God curse himself?”, Genesis 15, Malcolm Cox

A sermon for the Watford church of Christ Introduction God more a focus than Abram What’s going on?! Chapter 13/14 context: Reconnection with God after Egypt Generosity with Lot Courage to rescue Lot Melchizedek / King of Sodom Explanation v1…

"Why would God curse himself?", Genesis 15, Malcolm Cox

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A sermon for the Watford church of Christ

Introduction
God more a focus than Abram
What’s going on?!
Chapter 13/14 context:
Reconnection with God after Egypt
Generosity with Lot
Courage to rescue Lot
Melchizedek / King of Sodom

Explanation
v1
God shows his approval of how Abram handled Lot’s complaint, his need to be rescued and the demands of the king of Sodom.
Shield – You do not need to shield yourself.
Abram is a warrior for Lot, but God is a warrior for Abram.
Reward – “I am your reward”
Abram successful in business, but success with God is a greater reward
vv2-3
Typical way to solve inheritance when no heir
Is he accusatory, or expectant of God to sort it out?
vv4-6
God does not rebuke Abram for his question – nor the later one (v8)
It’s as if God is agreeing to partner with Abram to sort out the problem
“will not…but…”: Very definite, specific, almost commanding. There is no doubt what God has in mind.
From your body
Stars – uncountable, majestic, beautiful
“believed”: Faith, trust, rightness with God – credited, not earned
The ‘believed’ does not indicate flawless faith, but a trajectory of faith, an habitual faith
About faithfulness to a relationship, not morals
Picked up by Paul: Galatians 3:6–9

Don’t rely on your ancestry or circumcision
Don’t rely on church membership, baptism
Trust in God

Lays out fundamental way God relates to humankind: trusting relationship. Both parties committed. Humans to do what they can. God to do what only he can.

v7
This land, specifically
YHWH – Exodus connection (1 of only 4 times God refers to himself with this ‘name’)
v8
Not, “will you”, but “how”?
God does not rebuke Abram for his question here either, but sees it as an opportunity to affirm the covenant
The “how” not really answered by God
vv9-11
Leviticus – sacrifice
“and he said to Aaron, “Take for yourself a calf, a bull, for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defect, and offer them before the LORD. “Then to the sons of Israel you shall speak, saying, ‘Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both one year old, without defect, for a burnt offering,” (Leviticus 9:2–3 NAS95)
3 years – 3 generations in Egypt
Gentiles – birds (Ezek 17:23)
Protecting honour of God / his relationship with God

v12
Like Adam (Gen 2:21; sleep) and Sinai (Deut 4:11; fear)
Deep sleep protective of Abram
“Cut” a covenant
Sheep’s throat cut: Alalakh 18thC BC
“Abban (King) swore to YarimLim (vassal) The oath of the gods And cut the neck of a lamb (saying): “(May I be cursed) If I take back What I gave you.” If ever in the future YarimLim sins against Abban If he lets go of the hem of Abban’s garment And takes hold of the hem Of another king’s garment He shall forfeit his cities and territories.” DJ Wiseman, ‘Abban and Alalakh’ JCS 12 (1958) 124-129
vv13-16
400 years – four generations
Shalom – first appearance in scripture

v17-20
Theophany – like Exodus (Ex 14:19-20; pillar of fire), and Sinai (Deut 5:23; fire on the mountain)
God is present and personal
Covenant – “cut”; curse; made from the stronger to the weaker – very familiar and very strange
First mention of covenant in connection with Abram
God placing himself under a ‘curse’
Unique – no example of greater party taking on role of lesser party.

Discussion Section 1: God
What do we learn about the heart of God?
Willing to pay any price to reassure us
What do we learn about the way God relates to us humans?
He accommodates us

Discussion Section 2: Abram
What do we learn about the heart of Abram?
Trust builds as life goes on
Decides to trust
What do we learn about the way for us to relate to God?
Enter the mystery willingly
Might be strange, but wonderful

Conclusion
What does this mean for us?

God has a bigger vision that we can possibly conceive – and all connected to his desire for us to know him, enjoy him, by healed and live in his love
We have doubts, questions and confusions – soem God answers now, some he acts on, some he asks us to trust him for.
He accepts our habit/attitude of trust as an invitation to welcome us into his love
He will pay any price to bring about our healing – even to the extent of causing a curse to fall upon himself – Gal 3:7-14

Galatians 3:7–14
Let’s pray before we take bread and wine…….

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: [malcolm@malcolmcox.org](mailto:malcolm@malcolmcox.org).

God bless, Malcolm

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