6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.
Abraham receives God’s promise of the land he is walking in whilst it is in the possession of the Canaanites. In other words, God’s promise was not in the slightest reflected in Abraham’s real-time circumstances. God’s promises do that – put us in a time-warp. God assures me of my future as if it is present, whilst I’m in a present that looks and feels nothing like God’s future. So would it have been for Abraham, so it is for us. This is the challenge of having faith in God, and gosh I find it a tension quite often in my life.
What Abraham does, though, is inspired. He makes a physical reminder to himself and his family that God really did speak His promise, right there, at the site of the great tree of Moreh at Schechem. Even the next morning, after having God visit him, Abraham (if he’s anything like me) may have had some assurance seeping out of him. But one look at the altar he’d built and an earthy assurance would have begun returning to him.
Here’s to building solid altars of remembrance to help me sustain my belief when my assurance seeps or my mind decides to play tricks on me.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh