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Genesis 15

15
God’s Covenant with Abram
1Afterwards, the word of Yahweh came to Abram in a vision # 15:1 The phrase “the word of Yahweh came” is found 245 times in the Old Testament. In this instance, the word of Yahweh came in a vision. It is possible that Yahweh appeared again before Abram (see Acts 7:2). and said, “Abram, don’t yield to fear, for I am your Faithful Shield # 15:1 Yahweh was assuring Abram that he would now be a Shield to protect Abram from any retaliation by the kings he had conquered. He chose to be hidden behind Yahweh’s shield rather than to take refuge in what the world could give him. See Deut. 33:29; Pss. 84:11; 91:1–4; Prov. 30:5. Each of us may claim this promise to have God himself as our Faithful Shield. and your Abundant Reward.” # 15:1 Because of what Abram had done by rescuing Lot and refusing to take financial reward for his noble acts, Yahweh himself would become Abram’s reward. This new, intimate relationship with God exceeded any financial loss Abram experienced. A new intimacy with God always emerges when we choose him over the world’s pleasures.
2But Abram replied, “Lord Yahweh, what good is your reward # 15:2 Or “What can you give me?” if I remain childless? I’m about to die without a son, and my servant, Eliezer of Damascus, will inherit all my wealth. 3A servant in my household will end up with everything because you have not given me any children.”
4Immediately, the word of Yahweh came to him: “No! Eliezer will not be your heir. # 15:4 Or “This man will not inherit you.” I will give you a son from your own body to be your heir.” # 15:4 Or “Whoever comes out of your body will inherit you.” 5Then Yahweh brought him outside his tent # 15:5 God wants to take us outside of our “tents,” our limitations and opinions of how God can do a miracle. Paul, the tentmaker, was taken outside of the natural world and shown the mysteries of God, much like his ancestor Abram. See 2 Cor. 12:2–4. and said, “Gaze into the night sky. Go ahead and try to count the stars.” He continued, “Your seed will be as numerous as the stars!” # 15:5 See Heb. 11:12. The seed of Abraham is now both earthly (as many as the grains of sand) and heavenly (as many as the stars, Dan. 12:3; Matt. 13:43; 1 Cor. 15:41; Rev. 1:20; 2:28). The heavenly stars point to the heaven-born church of Jesus; the grains of sand point to the earthly seed of Abram, the Jews who inherit Abram’s promises. See Gal. 3:28–29. 6And Abram trusted every word Yahweh had spoken! And because of his faith, Yahweh credited it to him as righteousness. # 15:6 That is, God accepted Abram and made him righteous by his faith. See Rom. 4:3, 6, 11, 18–22; Gal. 3:6; Heb. 10:38; James 2:23.
7Then he said to him, “I am Yahweh, who brought you out of the Babylonian city of Ur, to give you all this land to possess.” 8But Abram said, “Lord Yahweh, how can I be sure that I can possess this land for myself?” # 15:8 Abram was asking God for a sign to assure him that he had legal standing to stake a claim to the land and possess it.
9Yahweh said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, each three years old, # 15:9 Or possibly, “each three-fold,” that is, three of each animal. However, the verb form used here seems to indicate the years (though the term for “years” is not included), as there are other normal ways to say “three.” The number three points to the three years of Jesus’ ministry and to his resurrection on the third day. The death of the animals shows that suffering precedes inheritance. See Acts 14:22; Rom. 8:17; Phil. 1:29; Heb. 5:8–9. also a turtledove and a young pigeon.” 10So, Abram brought the animals to him and killed them. He cut them in two (except the birds) and laid each half opposite the other in two rows. 11Vultures # 15:11 Or “Birds of prey.” Some expositors see the vultures as symbolic of evil powers attempting to interfere with this covenant ritual. When we step into covenant with God, it is important to stand on the promise and to drive away our own fears and doubts that rise up in our own souls. See Matt. 13:4, 19; Eph. 6:12. swooped down upon the carcasses, but Abram stood there and drove the vultures away.
12As the heavy veil of night fell, Abram went into a deep state of sleep, # 15:12 Or “a trance-like state,” the same words used in Gen. 2:21. and suddenly a great dreadful darkness surrounded him and he was filled with fear. # 15:12 For those of us with prophetic promises yet to be fulfilled, we must contend with our doubts and wait on God with faith and patience. Even in our dreadful darkness, our Faithful God will not disappoint us. 13Then Yahweh said to Abram, “Know this: your descendants will live as strangers in a foreign country. They will be enslaved and mistreated for four hundred years. # 15:13 This was a prophecy that the Israelites would be enslaved in Egypt. See Ex. 12:40–41. 14Afterward I will punish that nation for enslaving them, # 15:14 Yahweh punished Egypt with ten plagues. See Ex. 7–12. and your descendants will come out of slavery with untold wealth. # 15:14 At the time of their exodus, God would give the Israelites the back wages for four hundred years which they deserved. As they departed, the Egyptians gave great riches to the Israelites (Ex. 12:35–36). It was an extraordinary transfer of wealth. The riches of Egypt funded the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, including the ark of the covenant and all the golden furnishings. 15You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and live a full life. # 15:15 Abraham lived one hundred and seventy-five years (see Gen. 25:7). 16And after the fourth generation, your descendants will return here; for then the sin of the Amorites will be ripe for judgment.” # 15:16 One reason why the Israelites were kept in Egypt for four hundred years was the justice of God. He had to wait until the sin of the Amorites was fully deserving of God’s judgment so that he could righteously destroy them from the land.
17When the sun had set, and it was very dark, there suddenly appeared # 15:17 Or “with a flash of fire there appeared” (LXX). a smoking firepot and a blazing torch that passed between the split carcasses. # 15:17 God’s manifest presence appeared as a smoking firepot and a blazing torch. The smoking firepot points to the Father (Ex. 19:18; Isa. 31:9) and the blazing torch speaks of the Son, the Lord Jesus (see 2 Sam. 22:9; Isa. 62:1; Nah. 2:3–4; Zech. 12:6). It was the custom in the ancient Near East to light a torch (lamp) when making a covenant, symbolizing the fire of destruction that would come if the covenant were to be broken. See Matt. 25:41–43. God’s promise to Abram, spoken that mysterious night, became the “title deed” to the land. Yahweh gave Abram the boundaries of the expanse of the land of promise. Rivers and land would be part of the inheritance—land occupied by the enemy. Powerful princes would be dethroned as the Israelites marched into the fullness of their inheritance. The God that walked between the sacrifices would walk through the promised land and conquer their foes (see Isa. 43:1–7). 18On that day, Yahweh entered into covenant # 15:18 Or “cut a covenant.” with Abram: “I have given this land to your descendants, from the Egyptian border # 15:18 Or “river of Egypt,” possibly the brook (wadi) in eastern Sinai known today as Wadi el-‘Arish. to the great river Euphrates, 19the entire land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaites, 21the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

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