The Lord’s Covenant with Abram – Genesis 15:1-21
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the Lord came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed theLord; and the Lord reckoned it to him as righteousness.
7 Then he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O LordGod, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed 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 yourself, you shall go to your ancestors 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.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lordmade a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
What does the passage say?
V. 1-6 After Abram rescued Lot from being captured by the invasion of Sodom and Gomorrah (Read Ch. 14), God appears to Abram and confirms the promise of making him a blessing to bless the world (Gen. 12:1-3). However, Abram, who did not have an offspring questions God (v.2-3). God answers Abram by saying “Look up at the sky and count the stars – if indeed you can count them. … So shall your offsprings be”(v. 5 NIV). Abram believed.
V. 7-10 Abram questions the Lord again. Abram asks for proof of the promise to take the land of Canaan. God orders Abram to prepare for a sacrifice.
V. 11-21 God shares the plan of how the promise becomes real. Even though the Israelites had to go under oppression for 400 years, it was under God’s plan and promise. As if it is a symbol, concealing God’s word, fire from heaven comes down and consumes the sacrifices cut in half.
What does this mean to me/us
There are two points I want to share.
1. Abram questioning God
After hearing God’s words, Abram talks back to God. There seems to be a significant gap between the reality his is in with the promise God is presenting. God promises numerous descendants while he had no child of his heir. God also promises the land he is living, where powerful nations are already established.
It is okay for us to question God. Abram’s questioning also reflects how close he was with God. But after Abram questioned, he immediately submitted to God’s promise. “Abram believed the Lord” (v. 6).
Can we believe even though we do not see an immediate change?
2. Attention to detail
Abram was told to prepare “a heifer, a goat, and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon” (v.9). When he prepared the sacrifices, he did not cut the birds in half (v.10).
Of course, at this time, there were no laws regarding how to prepare a sacrifice, but it was understood that cutting the sacrifice in pieces was to symbolize our humility to God. It means that we open ourselves fully to God so that God can work in our lives.
The fire from heaven does not pass between the birds. It only passes between the split carcasses.
What does it mean? We can come to God, through worship or personal interactions, but if we do not open our hearts to God’s words, God might just pass by. Waiting for us to open our hearts and truly submit.
What does this MEAN to you?
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