Chapter 15

The Abrahamic Covenant

    • After all of these events, the Lord sent His word to Abram in a vision: Abram, don’t be afraid. I am your shield and you will receive a great reward.

      • Guzik points out the significance of God’s words to Abram, “There was a good reason why God said this; Abram had just defeated a much larger army from a confederation of five kings. He had reason to be afraid because an attack of retribution was to be expected.”

    • But Abram asked the Lord, “ What can you give me? Since you have given me no children, my heir is a slave born in my house- Eliezer of Damascus.”

      – “Abram’s bold honesty before the Lord is a wonderful example. Instead of holding in his frustration, he brought it before God with an honest heart. To some degree, this question doubted God. Yet we can discern the difference between a doubt that denies God’s promise and a doubt that desires God’s promise. Abram wanted to believe and looked to God to strengthen his faith.” (Guzik)

    • Again the Lord sent his word to Abram, “ Your slave will not be your heir; your biological son will be your heir. God then took Abram outside and told him, “Look at the sky and count the stars if you are able. Your offspring will be that numerous.”

– “God often states a promise with such certainty that we believe it will be fulfilled right away, but the fulfillment of this promise was still 15 years away… No wonder the writer to the Hebrews says: And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12)” (Guzik)

    • Abram believed the Lord and He credited to him as righteousness.

      • “This is one of the clearest expressions in the Bible of the truth of salvation by grace, through faith. This is the first time believe is used in the Bible and the first time righteousness is used in the Bible. This is the gospel in the Old Testament, quoted four times in the New Testament.” Romans 4:1-3, Romans 4:9-10, Romans 4:19-24, and Galatians 3:5-7. (Guzik)

      • If you come from a legalistic ( meaning belief systems that require Saturday Sabbath, the keeping of Jewish holy days, adherence to Jewish dietary laws, etc.) religious background like I do, it is imperative that you understand the significance of the fact that the Lord credited Abram’s faith as righteousness before he was circumsised. Guzik points it out here, “Romans 4:9-10 makes much of the fact this righteousness was accounted to Abram before he was circumcised (Genesis 17). No one could say Abram was made righteous because of his obedience or fulfillment of religious law or ritual. It was faith and faith alone that caused God to account Abram as righteous.”

      • I also love how Guzik further expounds upon what is meant by “faith”, “The faith that made Abram righteous wasn’t so much believing in God (as we usually speak of believing in God), as it was believing God. Those who only believe in God (in the sense of believing He exists) are merely on the same level as demons (James 2:19).”

        • Now that’s a sobering thought.

    • God also told Abram, “ I am the Lord who brought you from your homeland (Ur of the Chaldeans) to give you this land.”

    • Abram responded, “ Lord, how can I know that this land will be mine?”

      • “Abram boldly asked God for proof of the promise…Though God had just accounted Abram as righteous, Abram could still demonstrate some degree of doubt, as indicated by his question, “How shall I know that I will inherit it?” Abram experienced what many of those who are accounted righteous do. It was as if he said, ‘I believe when I hear God say it, but five minutes later, I’m not sure – please prove it to me.’” (Guzik)

    • God then told Abram to bring him a cow, female goat, and ram- each three years old, and a turtledove and young pigeon.

    • Abram obeyed and prepared them all.

      • “Abram knew exactly what to do with these animals; he understood that according to the custom of his day, God told him to get a contract ready for signing. In those days, contracts were made by the sacrificial cutting of animals, with the split carcasses of the animals lying on the ground. Then both parties to the covenant walked through the animal parts together, repeating the terms of the covenant. The Lord made a covenant in Genesis 15:18 is literally, “the Lord cut a covenant.” (Guzik)

    • As night was beginning to fall, Abram fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly a terror and a great darkness came upon him.

    • The Lord told Abram, “ Know this: Your offspring will be enslaved and oppressed in a land that doesn’t belong to them for 400 years. But I will judge the nation of their captors and your descendants will leave with many possessions. You will die and be buried in peace at an old age. Your offspring will return here, to the Promised Land, in the fourth generation, because the wickedness of the Amorites has not yet reached its full degree.

      • “After God told him some of the hardship that would befall his descendants, Abram might have said, “If that is what is going to happen, I don’t want any children.” This was a complicated blessing.” (Guzik)

      • I know many people that struggle with the concept of the expulsion of the Canaanites (in this passage the term Amorites is used to encompass all Canaanites) in order for the Israelites to inherit the Promised Land. But I like what Barnes’ Notes has to say regarding this verse (Genesis 15:16): There are 5 lessons to be learned from this one sentence:

        • First, the Lord has foreknowledge of the moral character of people.

        • Second, the Lord administers the affairs of nations on the principle of their morality.

        • Third, nations are spared until they reach their full degree of wickedness or iniquity.

        • Fourth, once they reach this capacity, nations are cut off and subjected to justified retribution.

        • Fifth, the Amorites were the chief nation to be expelled for their iniquity when Abram’s descendants returned.

      • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges puts it like this, “The idea is that the wickedness of the people of Canaan must reach a certain degree, before the Divine penalty can be inflicted. The postponement of the penalty, which indicates Divine forbearance, means also a terrible, but gradual, accumulation of guilt. For the iniquity of the Amorites see Genesis 13:13, Leviticus 18:24-30, Deuteronomy 9:5.”

    • When the sun had gone down and it was dark, an oven of smoking fire and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the split animals Abram had prepared. The Lord made a covenant with Abram on that day and He specified the boundaries of the Promised Land.

      • “God showed this was a unilateral covenant. Abram never signed the covenant, but passively watched while God signed it for both of them in the ritual. Therefore, the certainty of the covenant God made with Abram is based on who God is, not on who Abram is or what Abram would do. This covenant could not fail, because God cannot fail.” (Guzik)

Map from: http://newsyoucanbelieve.com/bible/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Promised-Land1.jpg