The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Faith Credited as Righteousness
The name Abram means “exalted father.” The irony was probably not lost on him when he was over eighty years old and still childless. Especially since many years earlier, God himself had promised to make his offspring into a great nation. And what’s more, Abram was assured that one of those future descendants would be the long-awaited Savior of mankind. Still, here he was an old man without a single child to his name.
But Abram was a man of action. (Just read in Genesis 14 how he mounted a rescue of his nephew Lot who had been captured by a coalition of four kings!) So Abram had already hatched a plan to deal with his childlessness: his servant Eliezer would be his heir.
You and I can hardly point an accusing finger at Abram. After all, our hearts have harbored many of our own doubts regarding God’s promises. We have falsely believed that our lives were in our own hands, that we controlled our own future.
What a patient God we have! Instead of abandoning us to our doubts and an uncertain destiny, he graciously repeats his promises. God assured the childless old man that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars visible in the night sky. And God assures sinners like us that all his promises of forgiveness have been kept in his Son Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus truly is our shield and very great reward. Although we are sinful, Jesus credits his own righteousness to us through faith in him. Although we have little in this world, Jesus is our eternal treasure that waits for us in heaven.
Lord God, I have no righteousness of my own to stand before you. But I believe you when you promised to forgive my sins for the sake of Jesus. Let his holiness be credited to me, as you have said. Amen.