Abraham (Genesis 15)
- All was not well after Abraham’s great victory over the kings.
- Abraham must have been worried because God showed up and said, “Fear not, Abram.”
- Maybe Abraham thought the kings would try to get even with him.
- God told him, “I am a shield to you; Your very great reward.”
- Abraham did not need to fear the kings; God would protect him.
- God would also reward him; he didn’t need the spoils of war.
- Instead of being grateful, Abraham shouted, “What good are your gifts as long as I’m childless?”
- With no son or heir, his estate would go to a servant in his household, Eliezar of Damascus.
- This is the first time Abraham spoke to God, and he’s sort of yelling at him.
- The law allowed Abraham to legally adopt a servant who would inherit everything and in return give him a proper burial. If Abraham had a natural son later on, this adopted son would be legally protected.
- But God said, “This man shall not be your heir. Your heir will be a son coming from your own body.”
- Then, God took him outside and told him to look up at the stars. “Can you count them all? That’s how many offspring you will have.”
- Immediately, Abraham “believed the Lord.” And God “credited it to him as righteousness.”
- “Believe” means to have faith in something or someone; it’s active trusting. “Righteousness” usually means “right conduct,” but here it probably means “right with God.” Because Abraham believed, God judged him as being “right with God.”
- God credited righteousness to Abraham for believing Him even though none of the facts had changed.
- Up to this point, Abraham had tried to solve the problem himself. Now he believed God’s promises, even though they were still unfulfilled.
- Abraham was learning that God's delays were not denials.
- Abraham had complained to God and then gave those concerns completely over to God. And God responded.
- Then God reminded Abraham that He had been his benefactor, the one who had brought him out of Ur. He renewed the promise of land.
- Abraham asked, “How will I know?”
- God responded with a sign and a symbolic ceremony.
- The form of this covenant was modeled after an ancient royal land-grant treaty. It was used when a king bestowed a gift upon a servant or vassal for some good deed.
- Specifically, God told Abraham to bring three animals, each three years old (i.e. full grown), and two birds.
- Abraham knew something about this ritual because as soon as he brought the animals, he cut them up and arranged them in pairs, one bird on each side.
- The idea was that the person starting the covenant would pass between the animals, as if to say, “Like these animals, so may I be cut up if I break the covenant.”
- God was letting him know that He was willing to enter into a covenant with him.
- To Abraham, this meant that from now on, nothing could stand in the way of God's promises.
- Abraham prepared the ritual and waited -- all day.
- When it was dark, fiery elements of smoke and fire passed through the pieces – traditional signs of God.
- Abraham did not pass through the pieces.
- The one who passed through the pieces was the one making the promise.
- Now, Abraham had solemn assurance that the promises were forever sure.