The Lord’s Covenant With Abram
1After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,a
your very great reward.b ”
2But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inheritc my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
– Abram expresses doubt
4Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspringd be.”
– Promise of offspring
God speaks of what will be. He calls those things that are not as though they were.
6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
7He also said to him, “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” – God speaks and declares who He is
8But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
He expresses doubt again but calls God “Sovereign”. God is the supreme God, absolute, self-governing, independent, self-determining, matchless, peerless, most excellent God. –
Abram doubts the Sovereign LORD –
9So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
10Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. 11Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away
…(keeping that which is impure away from that which God is establishing as pure).
You have seen this in Genesis 22 when Abraham was told to take Isaac up to be sacrificed and again in the New Testament when Jesus is offered up on the cross. – This is the beginning of the covenant made by God and later ratified by God.
12As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.
This darkness is a place of misery and affliction for Abram. He has just come out of a war, rescued his nephew Lot and is weary from the battles with the different kings. His faith has been tested and he is tired. It is here that God shows up with the promise of a great and awesome blessing.
First, Abram is put on physical lockdown. God has put him in a trance. When you are in a trance, you can only do as you are told. There is no speaking, arguing or opportunity to express your doubt. Abram can hear but he cannot talk. He is clay in the potter’s hand now. His soul is accessible to God. His mind, will and emotions are all at the will of God.
13Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” – Provision for descendants
17When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadie of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— 19the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”
The covenant is ratified. God is the blazing torch in the smoking pot. Usually both parties involved in the covenant would walk between the sacrifices but God is the initiator and the one whose approval is necessary for the covenant to be sealed. He is the beginning and the end.
Abram was put in position to receive a blessing from God. It was a position of humility and a place where God and only God could be heard; where God was the center of attention. This is the consolation – trust God and wait for the manifestation of the promise.
When God puts us on lockdown, do we beat the air with our fist, flail our arms all around out of fear and frustration, or do we submit to God’s will? We might doubt as Abram did while all the time acknowledging God as being the Most High God, but be assured that what God has promised will come to pass. It is one of the greatest lessons revealed in this passage; when God enters into covenant with His people, He initiates the covenant which lets us know that it is His idea, not ours. Then he ratifies the covenant – He agrees with Himself that this is to be so. And He does it all out of His love for us. It is assurance for us that no matter what befalls us, God will take care of us.
He made a promise to Abram that he would be the father of many descendants even when there was no sign that Abram and Sara would have children. He assured Abram of protection and provision for his descendants; and then God closed the deal. We are descendants of Abram and it would do us good to trust the God that has set this thing called life in motion. He promised to take care of us and provide for us. It is my prayer that we would remember the promise, stop doubting, start trusting, and live in the light of the blessing.