Genesis 15:2-3, “But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue[a] childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”
In the New Testament, Abraham’s faith and patience are considered examples to be followed (see Rom. 4; Heb. 11:8–16). However, as we see in today’s passage, the patriarch was not always inclined to wait patiently upon his God to fulfill His promises. The Lord’s pledge to give Abram a great reward (Gen. 15:1) felt empty at first, since Abram had no child of his own.
The question Abram asks God in verse 2 portrays a man who, despite his faith, is desperately looking for further assurance. Though he has heard the Creator’s pledge three times, it is impossible for Abram to fathom how he could call God’s blessing a “reward” without an heir. Lacking a child, Abram’s inheritance will pass from his family to the kin of his servant Eliezer (v. 3).
During the patriarchal period, a man with no children often adopted a servant to provide for his burial and inherit his estate. Our Lord certainly could have used Eliezer to fulfill his promise, but Abram suspected this was not how God intended to keep His word. His question, paraphrased, “Lord, where is the son you promised?” reveals not just impatience, but also latent trust in the Almighty. If Abram lacked faith totally, he could not have reminded God of His commitment. We ought to learn from this. Though we may grow impatient and doubt God at times, it is far better to confess our struggle than to despair in silence. The stories of Abram and Job and many of the Psalms reveal One who will hear our doubts anytime they are offered with honesty and humility.
Abram really longed for a son (vv. 2–3). While Genesis 15 provides a major plank in the story of God’s redemption, the patriarch’s desire for a child shows his conviction that covenant offspring are a blessing. Against the worldview of many people today, children are not mere burdens or inconveniences but good gifts to whom the knowledge of God is to be imparted (Deut. 6:4–9; Ps. 127:3–5). Let us then raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and, even if we never bear or adopt children, look to become spiritual parents and disciple other young Christians (1 Tim. 1:2).
God knows our struggles to trust His Word, and He wants us to lean on Him when times like these arise. But we must be willing to admit it. If you have trouble believing God today, go before Him with humility and confess your doubt, asking Him to strengthen your trust in His Word. Confide in a brother or sister who can encourage you. Whether or not you are doubting, seek out opportunities in your local church that will equip you to disciple other Christians.
Abram Desires an Heir, Copyright (2022), Ligonier Ministries.