Portions of this are taken from Joel Beeke’s book Parenting By God’s Promises other portions are summaries of what he wrote.
Have you ever felt deeply discouraged about your family?
Mr. Beeke gives some insight into the covenant that God made with Abram in the book of Genesis.
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy see have I given this land. Gen. 15:17-18a
To confirm his faith, Abram asked God for a sign. Abram was not abandoning his newfound faith; he was simply confessing his weakness and the need of a confirming sign from God to strengthen that faith. Abram’s question sprang from faith, not unbelief.
Keep laboring for our children. As we do so, God teaches us that the success of happy, well adjusted spiritually minded, Christ-honoring, God-glorifying, Scripture-grounded children growing into adulthood is never because of us. Sometimes the Lord makes us realize our own insufficiency so that we learn to rest completely on the trustworthiness of His covenant and on the character of God Himself as the Author of it.
What does that mean? When Abram asked for a sign, God told him to gather some animals, cut them in two, and put the pieces on two sides so that someone could walk down the middle (Gen. 15:9-10). Abram knew what was happening; the steps God had commanded were part of a common way of making a covenant in his day. The two covenant-making parties would cut some animals through the middle and make two parallel lines with the pieces. Then both parties to the covenant would walk down the center, between the halved pieces. When they got to the end, they would shake hands, as if to say, “God do so to me, and more also, hewing me in pieces as we have done to these animals, if I break my covenant with you.”So, God was saying: “Abram, you want a sign, so I will give it to you. I will give you a wonderful sign of the covenant.
Abram did exactly what God had told him to do and then waited for the Lord to arrive. He waited all day. The only thing that came was birds of the prey.
I found it very interesting that birds of the prey are used as a metaphor for an evil conqueror in Isaiah 46 and other places in Scriptures.
As parents, we know a little about this kind of struggle as our children grow up. What is the use? Instead of God coming, what comes? Vultures!
That’s what came for Abram. In verse 11, we read, “And when the fowls come down upon the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” Doesn’t it seem that child-rearing is a lot like that – driving away vultures from our children’s lives? There are so many vultures out there, so many people, so many things, and so many enemies that want to get at our children and destroy them.
Abram’s trial of faith is often the trial of God-fearing parents. We plead God’s promises and look for His benediction, but all we see are vultures.
We must stand our ground, as Abram did, holding fast to the word of promise, obeying the word of command, looking to the God of the covenant.
Tomorrow I will share the next section called An Impossible Task Attempted.
I was encouraged and enlightened by this analogy as Mr. Beeke gave insights that I have never heard. I hope you too will be encouraged to keep standing on the Word of God and fight off the birds of the prey as they come as we await for God in the various areas of our lives.