‘And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.’ Genesis 15:5–6
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Luke 19:1–9
Two things affirmed of Abraham:
(i) he believed in the Lord. The Lord had before given him the promise—of a child and a numerous seed—on which Abraham rested, not without some solicitude when the accomplishment was so long delayed. The Lord now confirmed his hope; he bid him look at the stars and said, So shall thy seed be.
(ii) it was accounted to him for righteousness. He was dealt with upon the footing of a sinner who had nothing of his own to plead and was justified by a righteousness accounted, or imputed, to him.
The question is, what was imputed to him for righteousness? Or, in what was his believing or his faith so imputed? We are assured that the seed emphatically promised to Abraham was Christ, or the Messiah, who was to be born of his family according to the flesh (Galatians 3). And we are assured that he so understood, for our Lord says, Abraham rejoiced to see my day [John 8:56]. The promise of numerous children of Abraham—compared to the stars—was not merely applicable to the posterity which should spring from his loins, but especially respected the company of believers who should partake of Abraham’s faith. Thus Zacchaeus was a son of Abraham by believing [Luke 19:9], and the woman of Canaan, though a Gentile and not a Jew by birth, proved to be one of the lost sheep of the house of Israel [Matthew 15:24]. The Jews, though they boasted that Abraham was their father [John 8:39], were strangers to the true commonwealth of Israel. And John the Baptist told them that God was able to raise up children to Abraham in their room, from the very stones [Matthew 3:9].
When a guilty sinner sees him,
Soon this sight from anguish frees him,
While he looks his soul is healed;
And imparts a pardon sealed.
SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 31 [1/2], GENESIS 15:5–6