Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. God said to Abram… (Genesis 15:12-13)
As much as we say we don’t, we really want God in a box. We want to understand Him. We want to fit Him into a construct that we can work with. He has to make sense and have plausible methods.
Otherwise, He might just act like, well, God.
Though He thoroughly loves humans, He’s not one. Our limitations are not His. His thoughts and ways, higher.
And to boot, He sometimes purposefully uses ways and experiences outside of the construct we’ve created for Him. He is not confined to ways He worked in the past or to any methodology we’ve developed for Him.
Abram experienced such an unwieldy God. Genesis 15 is an encounter Abram had with the Lord. In the midst of cutting a covenant with Him, terror and great darkness fell upon him. An ominous word follows foretelling of 400 years of slavery for his descendants.
Most Christians today upon experiencing the same would attribute the encounter to the enemy or their flesh. God would never cause terror or great darkness to come upon His child. And He certainly wouldn’t allow 400 years-worth of our children to suffer oppression.
But Abraham cannot explain away his encounter like we would. Abram didn’t create that terror or great darkness. It is evident that the Lord did as a context for the preparatory word He was bringing.
The nice, pat Christian mantra is that God comes with His peace, that He is light and His words are good. This is western Christianity at its softest. God is a Father. And fathers recognize they are raising and preparing a generation.
Fathers bring the hard word. Their love can be strong, bold and directive. This can be interpreted as harsh, arrogant and dictatorial. Fathers want what is best for their kids which is sometimes radically different than what the child thinks is best.
If He’s my protector, why would God allow me to experience that? If He loves me, why would He be that way? If He is good, then what I’m feeling must not be Him.
Ask Jesus how He felt in Gethsemane, on the cross, in hell on the second day.
Safety and security is not a true dad’s first priority for his child. Preparation and maturity is their mandate. He is raising a child who will not be always under his care. He is raising up an eventual partner and co-heir.
Jesus, at the right hand of God, the Father…
The terror and darkness Abraham experienced was to demonstrate a most important principle – no matter what you face, I am with you. The darkness is as light to Me. Even if you go to the depths of hell, I am there.
I believe it was God’s intent through Abraham, to remind the generations that though you will experience oppression, your God is with you. I can imagine Abraham retelling the terror he felt to Ishmael and Isaac. And as he saw the fear creep into their eyes, he would relate the strong and comforting words of a Father who would not leave him in the midst of it.
Don’t buy into the fairytale God. His son is a king who became so through bloody warfare. And He will do in us what it takes to ready us to rule with Him.
In love and preparation,