Abram, so far, obeyed God by leaving his ancestral home in Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of the Canaanites. Then God tells Him — actually makes a covenant — a deal — a contract — a promise — to Abram that he will have many descendants. However, Abram starts getting a tad impatient and a bit doubtful. That happens to all of us. But God affirms His promise in a way that Abram understands. (Or does he?) Let’s dig in….
Genesis 15 – The Lord’s Covenant Promise to Abram
Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.”
2 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. 3 You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”
4 Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” 5 Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!”
6 And Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.
The words “righteous” and “righteousness” get thrown around a lot in religion. But, what exactly does it mean? The Hebrew word for “righteousness” literally translates to “rightly robed”. Which means dressed appropriately to stand before God. Faith is the garment we wear to stand before God unashamed. Because of our repentance and His gracious forgiveness, we belong there, with Him. When we repent and turn away from our sinful lives and surrender our lives to Jesus, we become righteous by faith, by His Grace and His Salvation.
Let’s go on…
7 Then the Lord told him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.”
8 But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord, how can I be sure that I will actually possess it?”
9 The Lord told him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 So Abram presented all these to him and killed them. Then he cut each animal down the middle and laid the halves side by side; he did not, however, cut the birds in half. 11 Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.
12 As the sun was going down, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a terrifying darkness came down over him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”
17 After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. 18 So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day and said, “I have given this land to your descendants, all the way from the border of Egypt to the great Euphrates River— 19 the land now occupied by the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20 Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21 Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, and Jebusites.”Genesis 15 NLT
Prophecies and Promises
- Abram still doubted, yet God assures Him with a traditional ceremony of the times. What God is doing is vowing that what He is promising Abram will happen. God wants to assure Abram so he will no longer doubt.
- God tells Abram that his descendants will be slaves in a foreign land. This happens not once (Egypt) but twice (Babylon).
- In verse 4, God tells him that he’ll have as many descendants as there are stars. I can understand how Abram can be doubtful. He’s old, his wife is old and barren, yet, God assures him that he will have a blood heir.
- Note in the map where the “Promised Land” is. Not just in Israel, but parts of what today are Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.
Where is Jesus in this Story?
Borrowing again from the Bible study, “Jesus in all of Genesis” by Spoken Gospel, we find that what happened in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of Jesus’ covenant with us.
Just as God promised to uphold the covenant alone, by passing through the animals by himself, Jesus keeps his own promise for us. Despite all our faults and sin, Jesus has done and will do everything to save us from what we deserve and bring us to himself (2 Cor. 1:20). All we are called to do is what Abram did – receive the promises of God with faith.
Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is an intensified version of what Abram experienced in this cultural ritual. The cross communicates that even though we broke the covenant, God has been torn apart for us (1 Peter 2:24). Therefore, no punishment remains for those who believe in Jesus. Instead, all that remains is the promise.Spoken Gospel (find it in the free YouVersion Bible app
Out of Slavery
If you are not living a new life in Christ, you are either living as a slave to sin or a slave to religion. Just as God delivered the Jews out of slavery, not once, but twice, He and only He can deliver us from our sin.
20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.
21 It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, 22 and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NLT
24 He personally carried our sins1 Peter 2:24-25 NLT
in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
and live for what is right.
By his wounds
you are healed.
25 Once you were like sheep
who wandered away.
But now you have turned to your Shepherd,
the Guardian of your souls.
It’s Time for You to Turn Back to God
Jesus didn’t suffer torture on the cross so that we could have religion! No! He carried our sins away forever! He wants to be your Shepherd. He wants a relationship with you! He wants to save you from eternity in hell. He wants to give you eternal life!
It’s Your Choice!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…
Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.
- Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
- Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180 in your life and surrender your life to Him.
- Be Baptized — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
- Receive the Holy Spirit in your heart.
Yes and Amen
Soli Deo Gloria! To God Alone Be the Glory!
Top image by YoPublishing from FreeBibleImages.org, (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).