After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. ~ Genesis 15:1
If we briefly return to the previous chapter we will see the meaning of “After these things” in context with this verse and everything proceeding it. The 14th chapter of Genesis deals with a rebellion that broke out leading to war in the Valley of Siddim. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled to the hill country and the enemy took their possessions and their women captive. Among them was Lot the nephew of Abram. When Abram heard that his kinsman were taken captive, he led his men and divided his forces by night to defeat Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. The goods, the captives, and Lot were all recovered. The king of Sodom offered Abram great riches but he would not take anything. Immediately we find ourselves in Genesis 15 where God comes to Abram in a vision. Three things are spoken.
At the time this event, Abram would have been around 80 years old. His wife was barren and he without any children to take his heir. A heavenly vision always comes with reverent, godly fear followed by the foretelling of a future event, a promise, or a radical call to obedience. This is the pattern seen consistently throughout scripture. Perhaps we can attempt to understand what is meant by “Fear not, Abram” in what the proceeding verses say. He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them, so shall your offspring be.” God had made a way. His promises would come to pass without the need of human intervention. We are now faced with the most important part of this text. “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him as righteousness.” God had already established the convent with Abram. The promises were already laid out. Now Abram believes the promises of God. This belief would later be put to the test. Belief is not only intellectual understanding or agreement. Belief equates to trust which always deals with the issues of the heart.
I am thy shield.
God is a shield. A shield’s primary purpose is to deflect attacks from the enemy. Remember, God had just delivered Abram in an intense battle. More importantly, there is an unseen spiritual battle happening now. Ephesians 6:12 says,“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places.” A shield also protects and intercepts. A soldier who goes into battle without a shield subjects himself to imminent danger. He has no defense. A spear can pierce through a shield and destroy it but the one holding it upright is saved. In a similar way, Jesus took our blame and bore God’s wrath at the cross to atone for sin. God’s wrath is like a spear targeting sin. Christ paid the penalty. He is the shield. He absorbed the wrath. Romans 2:5 tells us that everyone who refuses to repent is “storing up wrath for themselves on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” God is guaranteed to strike the target on point. Does the shield of Christ’s righteousness reign over you?
I am thy exceeding great reward.
Now we see the reward. Abram was given the opportunity to receive a king’s ransom and refused to take any of it. God told him that He alone is the exceeding great reward. Hebrews 11:6 speaks to this account. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.” Jeremiah 29:13 gives us a wonderful promise. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” True rewards never deal with earthly things. Things are temporal and will all pass away with the age. Heavenly rewards by their very nature, relate to a person. Christ is the exceeding great reward.