Abraham has a dream and it is a very normal dream to have children and build on the land where he lives. God has promised Abraham that his offspring would inherit the land yet Abraham is getting older and he had no children. Abraham has done the hard work of waiting and trusting God. We are told that Abraham’s trust in God is what made Abraham righteous. One can imagine the pressure of those around Abraham fighting for a spot to inherit all that he has accumulated because obviously God had failed Abraham.
“I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” Genesis 15:7-8 ESV
God assures Abraham that he will have an inheritance and this land will belong to his children. But Abraham asks for more from God than an assurance. How will he know that God’s promise is real when he does not even have so much as a child that he can see with his own eyes? God responds with a vision of the future and this vision is described as “dreadful” for Abraham.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Genesis 15:12 ESV
Just as Christ had to endure the cross before his glory God presents to Abraham a full picture of what will happen for generations after Abraham is gone. Abraham is told about Egypt and slavery. He is told about the Exodus and then after more generations the people, Abraham’s people, would inherit the land just as God promised.
13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:13-16 ESV
It may have been a shock to Abraham if he was thinking the inheritance would be immediate. But within this vision it is clear that God is going to do all this. God is in control. History will be ugly and messy but it will be accomplished just as God desires. Abraham only needs to wait and watch.
Jesus had much of a similar situation trying to explain to the disciples that there would be darkness before glory. The disciples were excited and hopeful at the idea that Jesus would be a king. Jesus would kick Rome out of the country and bring Jerusalem back to glory. They knew God had promised to do that but they could not grasp the idea that God has a longer-term plan at play.
21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Matthew 16:21-22 ESV
Abraham waiting and watching was all that was required. Peter only needed to wait and watch to see the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. God has promised and God will deliver. When I look back at my life there has been much anxiety and desire for certain things. But truth be told much of that was wasted energy because God had already gone before me and God had already prepared a life for me in advance. After the wait and after the storm God will be glorified and we who are his children will after the wait and after the storm be eternally with our father and creator.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12 ESV