YHVH’s language of choice, Hebrew, is divine!
The word translated as “promise” in our Bible is “dabar” [דָּבָר]. Dabar means “word” or “to speak.”
Genesis 21:1-2, for example:
Now YHVH was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and YHVH did for Sarah what he had promised [dabar]. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time Elohiym had promised [dabar] him. NIV
The first time the Bible uses the phrase, “the word of YHVH,” is in Genesis 15. Let’s read verses 1-6 now.
After this, the word of the LORD [ha-dabar YHVH] came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward.”
If we study this passage in its original language, history and context, we should ask: what is meant by “After this?”
To understand what happened before the promise of YHVH appeared to Abram, we must (at a minimum) read the preceding chapter, Genesis 14.
To summarize, Abram has just rescued his nephew Lot and the people of Sodom–who were basically prisoners of war. In verse 17, King Melchizedek meets Abram, blesses him and gives glory to the God Most High [El Elyon]. Then, the king of Sodom tells Abram that he (Abram) can keep all the goods he recovered but to return the people. Abram refuses to accept anything except the food his men had eaten. Abram exclaims he swore to YHVH El Elyon, creator of heaven and earth that he would not take anything from the king of Sodom. This is how chapter 14 ends. Genesis 15 begins…
After this, ha-dabar YHVH came to Abram in a vision…
When the promise of YHVH appears to Abram, He tells him not to fear.
“Do not be afraid, Abram…”
Why is Abram afraid?
Out of context, one might suppose that Abram was afraid because the vision of YHVH was awesomely frightful. However, Abram had communicated with YHVH several times before this encounter (Genesis 12 and 13) so this is probably not the case.
In context, we remember that Abram just attacked and defeated four kingdoms. Although he was successful, he was probably concerned about retaliation and how he would protect his family and all the people in his household.
Are you dealing with fear? Listen to THE PROMISE OF YHVH.
The promise of YHVH explains why there is no reason for Abram to be afraid.
I am your shield…
The word “shield” is magen. It means guarder, defender, protector. During the battle, YHVH was Abram’s offense, helping him strategize a victory. The promise of YHVH assures Abram that there’s no need to fear his enemies because YHVH will guard, protect and defend him. This is beautiful: just as Abram was Lot’s magen, YHVH is Abram’s magen.
If you are fighting the good fight, the promise of YHVH wants to be your defender.
…your very great reward.
Abram not only feared retaliation, he was also concerned about his diminished resources. With the strength of YHVH, Abram conquered four kings with only 318 fighting men. Surely, his resources were depleted and because he swore an oath to YHVH El Elyon, he rejected compensation from the king of Sodom. (Genesis 14:21-23).
If an unexpected crisis has ever hit you hard financially, you can probably relate to Abram.
…your very great reward.
The word “reward” is rabah. It refers to an exceedingly great increase. It can refer to wealth, land, status and people. For Abram, it meant all the above.
The promise of YHVH assures Abram that despite expending much of his resources to rescue Lot’s family, he does not need to fear because YHVH will go above and beyond replenishing his resources. YHVH’s intention is to increase Abram exceedingly.
Where do you have a mindset of scarcity? Is it financial, relational, in your career, at school, your physical health, or perhaps it’s intimacy with the Creator.
Do not fear, the promise of YHVH is your rabah–your exceedingly great increase.
2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD [O Sovereign YHVH], what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.”
Notice Abram’s response. Ha-dabar YHVH has just promised to defend him and to reward him exceedingly. This is great news! Perhaps some of us would start dreaming of how we will spend this increase: buy a house, start a business, give to charity…
Abram does not doubt that the promise of YHVH is his reward. Abram is concerned about legacy because he and his wife are childless. Abram doesn’t want increase for himself. He wants to pass the promise of YHVH to his children and his children’s children. YHVH saw this in Abram’s character which is why He chose Abram to be the patriarch of His nation.
18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of YHVH by doing what is right and just, so that YHVH will bring about for Abraham what he has promised [worded; dabared] him.”
Why are you striving? What is YHVH’s reward worth to you? Are you building temporary wealth or are you building a legacy? How are you preserving the promise of YHVH in your family?
Because Abram does not want rabah for himself and because Abram values legacy, the promise of YHVH does something wonderful!
4 Then ha-dabar YHVH came to him, “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”
5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
The promise, the word, ha-dabar of YHVH addresses Abram’s concern and then takes him outside to give him a visual of His reward [rabah].
What is your concern? How may your vision of YHVH’s reward been miscalculated?
What you see inside the four walls of your mind is an extremely limited representation of the promise of YHVH. If you need a visual of His exceedingly great reward, go outside and behold the glory of the Creator. Try to count the stars in the sky and know that ha-dabar YHVH is your rabah, your exceedingly great reward!
Ha-dabar YHVH is your rabah. In Him, there is no scarcity.
Abram believed YHVH, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Abram believed YHVH. However, many years passed before Isaac was born. I wonder how many nights Abram and Sarai gazed into the sky and tried to count the stars as they waited for the promise of YHVH to come to pass.
Is anything too wonderful for YHVH? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”
There is an appointed time for the promise of YHVH to be fulfilled in your life. When that time comes, YHVH will remember His dabar and He will remember you.
“For he remembered his holy promise [word; dabar], and Abraham his servant.”
Indeed, Abram had a special relationship with YHVH. YHVH considered Abraham a friend (Isaiah 41:8; 2 Chronicles 20:7; James 2:23). Their relationship was built on a foundation of trust. Before Abram was Abraham, the ancestor of a multitude, he trusted the promise, the word, ha-dabar of YHVH.
When the promise of YHVH comes to you, how will you respond? How will you live your life in the gap of the promise and the appointed time?