God’s Covenant with Abram
15 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 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.” And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
Genesis 15 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Abraham’s doubts were legit. He had reason to fear retaliation from the people he had just overrun with his army of men in the rescue of Lot. Although God promised him protection from the enemy as He declared He would be his shield, it rang hollow in his ears. All he ever wanted was a son. He was childless and looked toward the reality of his situation and wondered how this ‘great nation’ would ever come from him. Abraham was honest with God in his doubts, which was a good start.
We all have doubts about things that we feel called toward when we see how they could never be accomplished in our own strength. We wonder and question how these things could come to pass. Living in such doubts though can cripple us from the work we have right now. They can stunt our ability to move forward as our emotions get the best of us.
The beauty of Abraham wrestling with these doubts was God answered back to the cry of Abraham’s heart. He reaffirmed what He was about to do – even though the timing was not Abraham’s and out of his control. And at this moment, Abraham reiterated his faith in God to accomplish what He promised.
For each of us, God is leading us down paths where our faith is all we have. He has spoken to us of a hope beyond ourselves. He has given us a dream He intends to fulfill. Part of the forging of that faith of which we have is wrestling with such realistic doubts of how God can accomplish what He’s promised. In such moments of questions and doubts – our response must be to draw near and into Him – the giver of dreams and visions. We must push in toward His calling even though we sense there are no tangible answers to their fulfillment. Truly God honors our honesty and will indeed bolster our faith even for this moment. Within this chapter alone, Abraham’s doubts surface a second time and God responds again. He’s like that. He continues to affirm to us what He has in store. Abraham’s vulnerability before God did not anger Him but enabled Him to restate and show Himself in ways to answer those questions. This was part of Abraham’s spiritual journey and it’s part of ours. Bring your doubts and all your questions to Him. He will speak toward these and reaffirm what He is asking time and again.
Genesis 15 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
God spoke, Abraham believed.
Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.Genesis 15:6 NASB
I love that we see the first expression of the Gospel here between Abraham and God. Romans 4 highlights this same passage in explaining that Abraham had nothing to boast about because his righteousness was based on his faith in the Lord.
And so the promise was based on faith, in order that the promise should be guaranteed as God’s free gift to all of Abraham’s descendants—not just to those who obey the Law, but also to those who believe as Abraham did. For Abraham is the spiritual father of us all; 17 as the scripture says, “I have made you father of many nations.” So the promise is good in the sight of God, in whom Abraham believed—the God who brings the dead to life and whose command brings into being what did not exist.Romans 4:16-17 GNB
The “faith reckoned as righteousness” passage here in Genesis is actually quoted four times in the New Testament. It is a revolutionary statement. By all accounts, righteousness cannot occur without work, but that work could not be sufficiently accomplished by man… not even close. Jesus’ work on the cross is God’s seal of delivery on His promise that began with Abraham.
Abraham’s belief was not based on circumcision (because he wasn’t circumcised until Genesis 17), nor was it based on a set of rules or rituals. God acted and Abraham followed. He didn’t just believe in God, he believed God. It ultimately comes down to the difference between knowledge and trust. The irony is that seeking a complete knowledge will always contradict faith.
Faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This means we will not experience a complete knowledge but will take God at his Word. Many scholars today debate the ins and outs of Salvation as if we can fully understand how our obedience and God’s sovereignty work together. I’m sure Abraham had questions just like we do. The point to consider is that he put aside those human thoughts to trust and believe in the promise of God and then live his life accordingly.
So, which standard will guide your life? Will you continually seek a complete knowledge that can never be found, or will you submit your heart and mind by faith to the assurance of God’s promises?