Gen. 15:1-6 Abram's first question

             Gen. 15:1 "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." 

            "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward."  Now Abram had just prior to this experienced the delivering power of God in the defeat of Chedorlaomer and his host.  Certain questions arise in the mind of God's children such as "Now that God has delivered me from my enemy, shall others come after me.  Abram was a stranger in a strange land.  Living in a foreign country where others are different in skin color and customs and beliefs than you can be a scary proposition.  God assured Abram that He would be Abram's shield.  A shield is for protection against the swords and arrows of the enemy.  God promised Abram that He would be that protection against the swords and arrows of those who would attempt to hurt or destroy him. 

            Abram had willing given up a proposed great bounty of material goods that the king of Sodom had offered him.  For the vast majority of people times are hard for every one of them.  Relatively few of God's children are wealthy in this world's goods.  Abram had given up a possible reward, now God has promised him that God was Abram's exceeding great reward.  There are two types of rewards in this life for God's children.  There are material rewards, which perish with the using.  There are spiritual rewards that men cannot break through and steal or moth or rust does not corrupt.  We should desire the spiritual rewards that come from God.  Abram's service would be richly rewarded with spiritual blessings from God.  Likewise our service to God is richly rewarded with spiritual blessings from God.

            God had appeared to Abram and promised him great things.  Some things were puzzling to Abram as to how these things would be accomplished.  God promised that he would multiply the seed of Abram to an innumerable host and that his seed would possess the Promised Land.  Yet, Abram was childless.  He was getting old and his wife was old.   Who would be his heir?  Thus, Abram asked God, "And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir."  If Abram had no children, then Eliezer of Damascus would be Abram's heir.  This did not seem right to Abram based on the promises that God had made unto him.  Abram was looking for assurances from God that he would have a son who would be his heir.  Up to this point God had not given Abram a child. 

            "And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir."  God assured Abram that his steward would not be his heir, but that he would have a child come forth from his own body that would be his heir.  This was of great comfort to Abram, even though, God did not tell Abram at this time how this would be brought to pass.  Abram just knew that according to the promise of God that he would have a child that would be an heir. 

            "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."  Once again, God confirms to Abram that his seed would be multiplied into a great multitude.  Previously God had told him that they would be like the dust of the earth for multitude, now God said to Abram that his seed would be multiplied to like the stars of heaven for multitude.  Upon hearing this, Abram believed God and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 

            Some have taken the statement in the 4th chapter of Romans to mean that Abraham became righteous because he believed God.  They maintain that he was born of the Spirit and washed in the blood of Christ because he believed God.  Yet, this is not the first time that Abram had believed God and certainly there were many evidences of Abram's faith before this incident.  Abram had left his country, left his father's house, left his kindred, and come to the land of Canaan because God had told him to do so.  Abram had built altars and worshiped the Lord before this incident.  Abram had acted in faith in the destruction of the army of Chedorlaomer.  Abram had received the bread and wine that Melchizedek had given him and had given tithes to Melchizedek.  Thus, Abram's belief in God which was counted to him for righteousness did not make him a child of God.  Rather, it was an indication that God was pleased that Abram believed the promise of God and God counted it as a righteous thing for Abram to believe his promise. 


Abram's second question

            Gen. 15:7 "And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. 12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

            13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. 15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. 16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. 17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."

            In the above passage of scripture God reveals to Abram through a word picture the elements of the covenant of redemption.  We really do not know how much Abram understood of this word picture, but in the associations consistently made in the scriptures the picture is that of the covenant of redemption. 

            "And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?"

            God had told Abram that he had brought Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees to the land of Canaan and that he would inherit that land.  Again, Abram wondered in what way that he would come to inherit that land, and thus he asked God for a sign whereby he would know that he would inherit that land. 

            "And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."  God had Abram to sacrifice five animals and to cut them up into eight pieces.  Throughout the Old Testament scriptures there were five animals used in sacrifice that were acceptable sacrifices unto God.  The sacrifice of cattle, goats, sheep, doves, and pigeons were acceptable sacrifices unto God and were used in the tabernacle and temple services.  Five in the scriptures is associated with death.  The animal sacrifices point us to the only sacrifice that did away with sin.  They pointed us to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.  It was through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we were justified: 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." 

            Next, the heifer, the she goat, and the ram were all three years old.  Three is associated in the scriptures with the Godhead: 1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."  God showed to Abram that the covenant was a covenant made by the Godhead.

            There were eight pieces of the animals that were laid out.  Eight is associated in the scriptures with the subject of new beginnings.  In the covenant of redemption there are at least three new beginnings. 

            "And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him."  In this Abram got a little taste of what Jesus suffered on the cross for His people.  On the cross where Jesus justified us there was darkness over all the earth for three hours and Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me."  Truly, this was an horror of great darkness.

            "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces."

            The smoking furnace is associated in the scriptures with the subject of justification.  This shows us that the smoking furnace is a picture of God the Father rendering judgment upon his people. 

            The burning lamp is associated with the work of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures.  In the covenant of redemption the Holy Spirit does the calling and the glorification of the elect family of God.

            That the burning lamp and smoking furnace passed between the pieces indicates to us that all the Godhead is involved in fulfilling the covenant of redemption.  Elsewhere in scripture when a covenant is made it was ratified by the parties to the covenant passing between the pieces: Jer. 34:18, 19 "And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof.  The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf;" The covenant revealed in word picture unto Abram was a covenant that the burning lamp (Holy Spirit) and the smoking furnace (God the Father) ratified by passing between the pieces (God the Son). 

            The covenant of redemption is set forth in Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."  In this covenant we make the following observations that are consistent with the word picture that God gave unto Abram:

                        1.  This covenant brings about justification of the elect through the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ died to justify the elect family of God.  He suffered the horror of great darkness in the room of his children in order to justify them before God.

                        2.  There are three new beginnings in this covenant brought about by the following:

                                    a.  Calling This brings God's children from a state of being dead in trespasses and sins to being born of the Spirit of God and given another spiritual nature in the new birth.

                                    b.  Justification God's children are brought from a state of condemnation to a state of righteousness through the atoning blood of Christ.

                                    c.  Glorification God's children are brought from a state of corruption in their natural bodies to a state where they will stand before God in heaven's glory world conformed to the very image of Jesus Christ.

                        3.  The parties to the covenant of redemption are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  This covenant was made and confirmed by the Godhead and all the work is accomplished by the Godhead.  Those God foreknew do not have any work that they perform to bring about the predestination, calling, justification, and glorification.  The elect are passive in this work.  It is performed upon them, but the work  is all of God.

            "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.  And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.  But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."  Here God informs Abram that he would not possess the land of Canaan in his lifetime, but that his seed would be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and they would serve in bondage in that land and be afflicted for four hundred years.  This is typical of God's children today.  We are in bondage under the elements of this world and made to serve in this world until we die.  However, there is coming a day of deliverance for us, just as there was a day for deliverance of the descendants of Abram and then they would possess the Promised Land.  We shall have a day of deliverance when the Lord comes to take us home to the glory world of heaven. 

            The children of Israel were made to come out of Egypt with great substance.  We shall come out at the appointed time with substance far greater than the children of Israel possessed when they came out of Egypt.  We shall come out of the grave as heirs of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ.  What greater substance can a person have than this?

            "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."  This confirms that the word picture God gave to Abram was a word picture of a covenant.  The covenant God made with Abram was an unconditional covenant.  God would bring his descendants unto the land of Canaan and give them an inheritance in that land.  Abram would not have to do anything for them to possess that land.  Likewise, the covenant of redemption is an unconditional covenant whereby God gives us an inheritance and does everything to bring us into that inheritance.