God is a promise keeper, and made an eternal promise to Abram.
Abram talks directly to God, and learns something new.
Not obvious at first glance, but the chapter is one of the most theologically rich in all scripture.
The chapter is full of many first mentions, here’s the list:
- Fear not
- I am
Regarding the word, the Bible is the living word (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus is the word that became flesh (John 1:14), and God honors his word and name above all else (Psalm 138:2)
Jesus is known for his great I am statements such as, I am the light of the world (John 8:12), and most famously, I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus’ I am statements are connected to Moses hearing God’s name for the first time (Exodus 3:14).
Abram talks directly to God about what looks like a failed promise, he has no heir, and no offspring.
Most astonishlingly, the Lord tells Abram your very own son will be your heir. The facts say Abram has no son.
God asked Abram to look at the stars and then said, if you are able to number them, so shall your offspring be.
Abram’s response is the foundation of true spirituality, he believed and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Paul knew Christ was in all scripture, and built an entire theological position, famously called justification by faith, from Abram to the cross. Abram acquired his favored nation status simply because God loved him, not because he earned it. Since the favor was a gift, the favor cannot be undone, so grand is the grace of God toward those who believe.
Paul’s other term for how God saves is called imputed righteousness. Once grace is released upon the sinner, the rightness of God is put into their heart, causing sin to flee, the powers of darkness, now nuetered, have no permission to stand tall against God’s blood bought saint.
Can I get an amen.
Somebody has to shout hallelujah with me.
Abram talks back to the Lord and asks a fair question, how am I to know?
God asks Abram to bring him five animals—heifer (cow for you urbanites), goat, ram, turtledove, and pigeon. Later, under the teachings of Moses, each animal plays a vital role. For now, Abram cuts the large animals in half, and places them in two rows, with a bird in each row.
Since a convenant is about to take place, God puts Abram to sleep, showing that salvation is the miracle work of God, and the self effort of man. Two forms of fire pass between the animals, a flaming torch, somewhat acting like a sword, a flaming pot or smoking oven, together they indicate God’s glory is present without restraint. The same words are found in Exodus 20:18, right after Moses received the original Ten Commandments, the mountain is on fire due to lightning, and that is the same word used here for torch.
Scripture teaches that God’s glory follows a blood sacrifice.
The idea of the ceremony, a ritual understood in ancient times, strikes to the heart difference between modern contract law, and divine covenant. Contract law assumes something will be broken, making an escape clause necessary when something goes wrong. The idea is to clarify who pays what for messing things up.
Divine covenant is the exacct opposite, the cutting in half of the animals makes a clear statement, cut me in half and kill me if I ever break the terms of agreement. God further accepts his own terms by purifying the blood through the release of his glory. Abram does nothing but accept God’s actions, knowing that it is impossible for God to break himself, so the convenant of promise can never be broken, not even by man.
Land wise, the entire Middle East is promised to Abram.
God promised Abram his people would suffer in Egypt 400 years, yet we know the number is 430. The answer is simple, Joseph was favored for 30 years and no one debates the fact of Joseph’s favor. After Joseph dies, terrible suffering begins bringing the divine number to 400.
The Amorites live in the future home of God’s people, land they will not easily relinquish. Judgment comes there way, but not yet, because their cup of judgment is not yet full.