The Covenant With Abraham
The commissioners of sparsely populated Morrow County along Eastern Oregon’s Columbia River are facing a quandary: What kind of a tax-incentive package should they offer Amazon to build five new data centers there?
Amazon already operates four data centers in Morrow County, and its tax contribution covers about a third of the county’s property tax revenue. A previous deal, however, also gives Amazon a tax break, and has saved the company $161 million over the past five years.
Now, Amazon wants a new deal to build more data centers. The problem is that no one but Amazon knows what that dollar amount is. Morrow County needs to strike a balance that neither gives away too much to the corporate giant, nor pushes it away to another remote location that will give a better offer.
Some suggest that the county should hire negotiation experts and attorneys to mediate the deal, rather than leaving it in the hands of the commissioners. “Attorneys are expensive,” says Greg Sweek, Morrow County’s enterprise zone manager. “Yeah, well, so are mistakes,” Commissioner Melissa Lindsay replied, “And we’ve made some.”
It can be nerve-wracking for a tiny county government to go up against a $1.3 trillion mega-corporation during tax negotiations. It also took courage on Abram’s part to dare to challenge God for a better family situation. When God told Abram in Genesis 15, “I am your shield, your very great reward,” Abram boldly questioned God, “But what can you give me since I am childless?”
Abram’s brave negotiation with God paid off. God responded that Abram’s own flesh-and-blood son would be his heir. Then God took Abram outside and told him to count the stars. “So shall your offspring be,” promised God.
Abram, to his credit, knew when to quit pushing. According to Genesis 15:6, Abram believed the Lord, and God credited it to him as righteousness. This covenantal transaction involved very little on Abram’s part—he merely had to express his faith in God’s promise. It did, however, require everything on God’s part. Jesus died to fulfill God’s oath to cover Abraham, and us, with Christ’s righteousness.
Connecting: An old adage says that a good deal is a state of mind—i.e., if you think you got a good deal on something, then you got a good deal. How do you evaluate your purchases to determine if you got a good deal or not?
Sharing: What is the purpose of the bizarre ritual in Genesis 15:9-21 of cutting animals in half, with a smoking firepot and blazing torch passing between the parts?
- God loves to show up in a dramatic fashion
- If either party breaks the covenant, they will be in worse shape than the slaughtered animals
- That’s God’s way of revealing that this truly is a divine covenant—no human could conjure up this blazing image
- God instructed Abram to take on a great challenge—take possession of the Canaanite lands—so Abram needed an awe-inspiring illustration of God’s power to bolster his courage
- This was a typical covenant ritual in ancient society, for two parties to ratify an agreement by walking between the animal halves
Applying: What grand deal do you want to negotiate with God? What challenge would you issue to God to provide for your need? Do you know how far you can safely push God? Be bold, but respectful, in your prayer requests to God, and see how God responds.