God’s Covenant with Abram 15 1 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: c “Fear not, Abram, I am d your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord God , what will you give me, for I continue 1 childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and e a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; f your very own son 1 shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and g number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, h “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And i he believed the Lord , and j he counted it to him as righteousness. 7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who k brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans l to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord God , m 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 And he brought him all these, n cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But o he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a p deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain q that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and r they will be afflicted for s four hundred years. 14 But t I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward u they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; v you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for w the iniquity of the Amorites x is not yet complete.” 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, y “To your offspring I give 1 this land, from z 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.”
15 1 אַחַ֣ר ׀ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה הָיָ֤ה דְבַר ־ יְהוָה֙ אֶל ־ אַבְרָ֔ם בַּֽמַּחֲזֶ֖ה לֵאמֹ֑ר אַל ־ תִּירָ֣א אַבְרָ֗ם אָנֹכִי֙ מָגֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ שְׂכָרְךָ֖ הַרְבֵּ֥ה מְאֹֽד ׃ 2 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַבְרָ֗ם אֲדֹנָ֤י יֱהוִה֙ מַה ־ תִּתֶּן ־ לִ֔י וְאָנֹכִ֖י הוֹלֵ֣ךְ עֲרִירִ֑י וּבֶן ־ מֶ֣שֶׁק בֵּיתִ֔י ה֖וּא דַּמֶּ֥שֶׂק אֱלִיעֶֽזֶר ׃ 3 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אַבְרָ֔ם הֵ֣ן לִ֔י לֹ֥א נָתַ֖תָּה זָ֑רַע וְהִנֵּ֥ה בֶן ־ בֵּיתִ֖י יוֹרֵ֥שׁ אֹתִֽי ׃ 4 וְהִנֵּ֨ה דְבַר ־ יְהוָ֤ה אֵלָיו֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹ֥א יִֽירָשְׁךָ֖ זֶ֑ה כִּי ־ אִם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יֵצֵ֣א מִמֵּעֶ֔יךָ ה֖וּא יִֽירָשֶֽׁךָ ׃ 5 וַיּוֹצֵ֨א אֹת֜וֹ הַח֗וּצָה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ הַבֶּט ־ נָ֣א הַשָּׁמַ֗יְמָה וּסְפֹר֙ הַכּ֣וֹכָבִ֔ים אִם ־ תּוּכַ֖ל לִסְפֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֔וֹ כֹּ֥ה יִהְיֶ֖ה זַרְעֶֽךָ ׃ 6 וְהֶאֱמִ֖ן בַּֽיהוָ֑ה וַיַּחְשְׁבֶ֥הָ לּ֖וֹ צְדָקָֽה ׃ 7 וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֵלָ֑יו אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֤ר הוֹצֵאתִ֙יךָ֙ מֵא֣וּר כַּשְׂדִּ֔ים לָ֧תֶת לְךָ֛ אֶת ־ הָאָ֥רֶץ הַזֹּ֖את לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ ׃ 8 וַיֹּאמַ֑ר אֲדֹנָ֣י יֱהוִ֔ה בַּמָּ֥ה אֵדַ֖ע כִּ֥י אִֽירָשֶֽׁנָּה ׃ 9 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֗יו קְחָ֥ה לִי֙ עֶגְלָ֣ה מְשֻׁלֶּ֔שֶׁת וְעֵ֥ז מְשֻׁלֶּ֖שֶׁת וְאַ֣יִל מְשֻׁלָּ֑שׁ וְתֹ֖ר וְגוֹזָֽל ׃ 10 וַיִּֽקַּֽח ־ ל֣וֹ אֶת ־ כָּל ־ אֵ֗לֶּה וַיְבַתֵּ֤ר אֹתָם֙ בַּתָּ֔וֶךְ וַיִּתֵּ֥ן אִישׁ ־ בִּתְר֖וֹ לִקְרַ֣את רֵעֵ֑הוּ וְאֶת ־ הַצִפֹּ֖ר 1 לֹ֥א בָתָֽר ׃ 11 וַיֵּ֥רֶד הָעַ֖יִט עַל ־ הַפְּגָרִ֑ים וַיַּשֵּׁ֥ב אֹתָ֖ם אַבְרָֽם ׃ 12 וַיְהִ֤י הַשֶּׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ לָב֔וֹא וְתַרְדֵּמָ֖ה נָפְלָ֣ה עַל ־ אַבְרָ֑ם וְהִנֵּ֥ה אֵימָ֛ה חֲשֵׁכָ֥ה גְדֹלָ֖ה נֹפֶ֥לֶת עָלָֽיו ׃ 13 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְאַבְרָ֗ם יָדֹ֨עַ תֵּדַ֜ע כִּי ־ גֵ֣ר ׀ יִהְיֶ֣ה זַרְעֲךָ֗ בְּאֶ֙רֶץ֙ לֹ֣א לָהֶ֔ם וַעֲבָד֖וּם וְעִנּ֣וּ אֹתָ֑ם אַרְבַּ֥ע מֵא֖וֹת שָׁנָֽה ׃ 14 וְגַ֧ם אֶת ־ הַגּ֛וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַעֲבֹ֖דוּ דָּ֣ן אָנֹ֑כִי וְאַחֲרֵי ־ כֵ֥ן יֵצְא֖וּ בִּרְכֻ֥שׁ גָּדֽוֹל ׃ 15 וְאַתָּ֛ה תָּב֥וֹא אֶל ־ אֲבֹתֶ֖יךָ בְּשָׁל֑וֹם תִּקָּבֵ֖ר בְּשֵׂיבָ֥ה טוֹבָֽה ׃ 16 וְד֥וֹר רְבִיעִ֖י יָשׁ֣וּבוּ הֵ֑נָּה כִּ֧י לֹא ־ שָׁלֵ֛ם עֲוֺ֥ן הָאֱמֹרִ֖י עַד ־ הֵֽנָּה ׃ 17 וַיְהִ֤י הַשֶּׁ֙מֶשׁ֙ בָּ֔אָה וַעֲלָטָ֖ה הָיָ֑ה וְהִנֵּ֨ה תַנּ֤וּר עָשָׁן֙ וְלַפִּ֣יד אֵ֔שׁ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָבַ֔ר בֵּ֖ין הַגְּזָרִ֥ים הָאֵֽלֶּה ׃ 18 בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא כָּרַ֧ת יְהוָ֛ה אֶת ־ אַבְרָ֖ם בְּרִ֣ית לֵאמֹ֑ר לְזַרְעֲךָ֗ נָתַ֙תִּי֙ אֶת ־ הָאָ֣רֶץ הַזֹּ֔את מִנְּהַ֣ר מִצְרַ֔יִם עַד ־ הַנָּהָ֥ר הַגָּדֹ֖ל נְהַר ־ פְּרָֽת ׃ 19 אֶת ־ הַקֵּינִי֙ וְאֶת ־ הַקְּנִזִּ֔י וְאֵ֖ת הַקַּדְמֹנִֽי ׃ 20 וְאֶת ־ הַחִתִּ֥י וְאֶת ־ הַפְּרִזִּ֖י וְאֶת ־ הָרְפָאִֽים ׃ 21 וְאֶת ־ הָֽאֱמֹרִי֙ וְאֶת ־ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י וְאֶת ־ הַגִּרְגָּשִׁ֖י וְאֶת ־ הַיְבוּסִֽי ׃ ס
God guarantees his promises to Abram Introduction This is the central part of the Abraham narrative Our passage begins with fear, a terrible darkness which recurs. Hence God says, 'fear not'. Can you identify with this 'fear'? It is the normal experience of living by faith in promise. Two sections, mirror each other. 'Seed'/dynasty and 'land'/dominion. Huge seams of the OT, which lead us to Jesus. The true seed with an eternal dynasty, who inherits the nations and the cosmos. 1. Abraham's descendants will be countless I am your very great reward. The goal of all redemption is that God gives us himself. Union, in order to have communion. v2-4 A big open loop: where will the offspring come from? God will do the impossible in keeping his promise. Reassurance to Abraham (yet he will still wobble on this). v5 - countless descendants. Known by God, but too many for us to number (cf in Revelation, words used to express this) v6 is the heart of it - shows how we are Abraham's offspring if we share in his faith. Our faith alone shows God to be glorious Application directions: What it means to have 'faith like Abraham'. To be 'righteous by faith'. 'Reckoned/counted/credited to him as righteousness'. NB we can trust him to do the impossible things he has said he will do, not merely impossible things we ask for. God himself is our very great reward. cf our subtle, awful, brittle religious idolatries. He brings us into union in order that we might have communion 2. Abraham's offspring will inherit the land v7 covenant initiation language; a prologue (cf how Exodus 20 starts). v8-11 a covenant establishment ritual. Except that God puts Abram to sleep in the middle. v12 deep sleep (like Adam); darkness. When God makes his new creations. v13-16 links back to the curse on Canaan. Big and painful surprise is that Abraham's descendants will be servants to them. But this highlights the justice of God; their 'iniquity is not yet complete' v17-20 the pre-incarnate Jesus passes through. Note all the cumulative fore-shadowings of the Exodus in this passage. A unilateral covenant. The LORD himself takes responsibility for its fulfillment. Father, Son, and Spirit. Application directions: Even in the OT it is clear that this looks further ahead, e.g., it is the 'meek' who will inherit the land (not simply, all those ethnically descended from Abraham) (Psalm 37). How are we to understand the 'land' promises as Gentiles gathered into Christ? It's not simply that God makes it possible for us to be saved, it is that he saves us . He puts Abram to sleep and guarantees by himself that he will keep his promises through covenant loyalty. He himself will undergo the 'curse' of death for covenant-breaking (which the dead animals represent). This is how he will redeem a great multitude for himself; by the loving will of the Father, accomplished by the blood of the Son, and gathered in by the wind of the Spirit. Jesus is the 'true man', the true 'covenant keeper', so that we 'covenant breakers' can be fully welcomed into relationship with God forever; Jesus 'always lives to intercede for us'. God has provided, in himself, all that we needed for life. In Jesus all of God's promises are 'yes and amen.' Wrap-up: God meets us in our fear and assures us, 'fear not; I am the God who saves and who keeps my promise always.'