For what would you die? Perhaps for the protection of family and home. Perhaps for freedom and country. Would you die for your faith, for the honor of your Savior? These are all difficult questions. Let’s discover a truth that underlies the commitment of the Christian as we think about Abraham’s prayer/question.
Abraham says to God, “How can I know that I will possess the land You have promised?” As we have previously written, the path forward seemed sketchy at best. “Lord, how do I know I can count on you?”
God then gives some rather strange instructions. Slaughter some animals: a cow, a goat, a ram, a turtledove and a pigeon. Cut them in half, and lay those halves parallel with a path in between. What is God doing? He is “cutting” a covenant. He is making a solemn promise in which He communicates to the beneficiary, Abraham, (and by the faith of Abraham, us) something like this: "May what has happened to these animals happen to me if I do not keep My promises to you.” God is saying, I stake my Life on it - the very existence of God. And it’s not mere words, because were God to violate His character - well - it’s impossible. If He did, then God would not be God.
We can count on God, because God stakes His life on His promise. And we know that He would, because He did. In order to fulfill His promises Abraham and to us, He in fact sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us, bearing the curse of sin for us, that we might receive the righteousness of God. God was “cut in half” for us.
And so, the question in the title is a bit mis-leading. It is a bit of a trick, because we always read ourselves first into every question, into every situation. It’s ingrained in us. For what would I be willing to die? But the foundational truth is that we as Christians may be better prepared to sacrifice our lives because One has already given Himself for us. It’s not so much what we do, as what God has already done. Or, what we do is based on what God done. We love, because God first loved us. We forgive because we have been forgiven. We serve, because we have been served.
This passage, Genesis 15, includes this phrase quoted in three places in the New Testament: “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Yes, God, having witnessed Your word and action, that “you would really rather die than live without us,” I believe, and I know I can count on You.