151 After these events, YHWH’s word came to Abram in a vision, saying: “Be not afraid, Abram, I will shield you. You will be greatly rewarded.”
2 Abram said: “My Master, YHWH, what can you give when I am going to die bare-of-children, and my chief domestic is Eliezer, a Damascan?” 3 And Abram continued, “Look! To me you have given no seed, so the head of my household will be my heir!”
4 The word of YHWH came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; the one who comes from your own loins will be your heir.” 5 Then YHWH took Abram outside and said, “Look to the heavens and count the stars—if you can. So shall your seed be.”
6 Abram trusted in YHWH, and was recognized as “Set-Right-with YHWH.”
After not claiming the spoils of war as his, Abram is reminded that his “reward” is of more significance than a moment of surplus. The promise Abram is working on was last described as dustier than dust. The image moves from beneath his feet to the sky above. The promised seed is more than the stars that can be seen with eye alone and even more than the next seeing with a bigger-than-Hubble telescope or an earth-wide array of radio receivers.
When introduced to Abram, G*D “said” to Abram, “Go!” The phrase, “G*D came to Abram in a vision,” is a formula later used of the prophets, not these stories of the patriarchs. Additionally, Abram will be called a prophet in Chapter 20. A prophetic engagement with the future intruding right here and now marks a change in Abram from a passive obeyer of G*D’s directions. We are now in the presence of a dialogue, which is a step toward partnership.
As often with the sudden appearance of an unexpected tomorrow showing up in the middle of everyday life, our startle-response is indistinguishable from fear. This knee-jerk response needs to be addressed at the top. This is still the case today. Until fear is addressed, we will not find a healthy way through a next surprise, or change in general, either small or large. This points to the importance of lived assurance and the needed tools to walk a path both based on it and toward it.
The echoes of Abram’s first encounter with G*D in Haran are strong. We revisit it to see it afresh. It is time to hear again about being fruitful (a basis for becoming a nation) and greatness (beyond military prowess just demonstrated).
What is not echoed here is the issue of blessedness, either a blessing of Abram or a blessing flowing forth from him.
It is usually problematic to have an implied blessing for it is so easily covered over by the least of the processes generated by the Seven Deadlies. A result is that our sense of entitlement turns blessing into a one-way street where blessing flows to us, and we store it as a limited commodity. Somehow, it never flows as freely from us, and we don’t recognize its manna-nature has spoiled (more about this detail if we get to Exodus).
After this cool-of-the-evening conversation, Abram returns to his prior response of acceptance, of deciding to place trust in this “Other!”