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‘God is the ultimate promise keeper,’ president tells students

Erskine President Dr. Steve Adamson took the podium Sept. 20 during a chapel service in Lesesne Auditorium, taking as his scripture text the 15th chapter of the Book of Genesis.

Describing a common way in which people experience disappointment with themselves as well as with others, the president told the assembled students, “You’ve made promises over and over again, and you’ve broken those promises. You’ve had promises made to you over and over again, and those promises have been broken. You may feel you can’t trust anyone or anything.”

Adamson focused on an episode in the story of God’s covenant with Abram, later called Abraham, a biblical patriarch famous for trusting God. The president took his listeners through the verses of Genesis 15, showing how the text illustrates the certainty of God’s promises. “There is one and only one Person you can trust and who will never break a promise,” he said. “God is the ultimate promise keeper.”

In the scripture passage, God directs Abram’s attention to the night sky, and, in Genesis 15:5, tells him to “number the stars,” offering the promise that Abram will have numerous descendants—even though he and his wife are old and childless at the time. God promises; Abram believes; the Lord instructs him; and Abram follows the Lord’s instructions for confirming the covenant.

Some elements of the scriptural account correspond with the customs of the ancient Near East. Directed by God, Abram slaughters a heifer, a goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon. “Unless there was shed blood, a covenant was not considered binding,” the president said.

As the sun begins to set, Abram falls into what Adamson described as a “deep, dark, dreadful sleep” and is given a vision which impresses upon him “that what he is experiencing is real.”

The vision culminates in verse 17 with “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch” passing between the carcasses. “He will remember it, he will tell it, and it will be recorded,” the president said of Abram’s vision. “God Himself, the great I AM, was passing between the animals.”

According to the practices of Abram’s time and place, in a typical covenant between a king and his subjects, Abram might think that he would have to walk between the animals in order to ratify the covenant. By passing between the slaughtered animals Himself, God was saying, “If I do not keep my promise, may what happened to these animals happen to me,” Adamson explained.

Genesis 15 “points forward to Christ’s sacrifice,” and “gives a glimpse of the Gospel,” the president said. God makes the promise. It is a sure promise because “God cannot cease being God.” Adamson advised reading the account of the covenant with Abram in light of Jesus’ institution of the new covenant in Luke 22. “Think of Christ on the cross,” he said.

“Some of you have had promises broken over and over. You’re afraid to trust,” the president said. “God is the One you can turn to, the One you can rely on. His promise will never be broken.”

God’s son is the promise we all need for healing and recovery, Adamson said. “Look to Him.”

 

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