Genesis 15

God’s covenant with Abram

1 After these events, the LORD's word came to Abram in a vision, "Don't be afraid, Abram. I am your protector. Your reward will be very great."
2 But Abram said, "LORD God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus."
3 He continued, "Since you haven't given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir."
4 The LORD's word came immediately to him, "This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child."
5 Then he brought Abram outside and said, "Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. He continued, "This is how many children you will have."
6 Abram trusted the LORD, and the LORD recognized Abram's high moral character.
7 He said to Abram, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession."
8 But Abram said, "LORD God, how do I know that I will actually possess it?"
9 He said, "Bring me a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon."
10 He took all of these animals, split them in half, and laid the halves facing each other, but he didn't split the birds.
11 When vultures swooped down on the carcasses, Abram waved them off.
12 After the sun set, Abram slept deeply. A terrifying and deep darkness settled over him.
13 Then the LORD said to Abram, "Have no doubt that your descendants will live as immigrants in a land that isn't their own, where they will be oppressed slaves for four hundred years.
14 But after I punish the nation they serve, they will leave it with great wealth.
15 As for you, you will join your ancestors in peace and be buried after a good long life.
16 The fourth generation will return here since the Amorites' wrongdoing won't have reached its peak until then."
17 After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals.
18 That day the LORD cut a covenant with Abram: "To your descendants I give this land, from Egypt's river to the great Euphrates,
19 together with the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,
20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,
21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."

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Genesis 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

God encourages Abram. (1) The Divine promise, Abraham is justified by faith. (2-6) God promises Canaan to Abraham for an inheritance. (7-11) The promise confirmed in a vision. (12-16) The promise confirmed by a sign. (17-21)

Verse 1 God assured Abram of safety and happiness; that he should for ever be safe. I am thy shield; or, I am a shield to thee, present with thee, actually caring for thee. The consideration that God himself is, and will be a shield to his people, to secure them from all evils, a shield ready to them, and a shield round about them, should silence all perplexing, tormenting fears.

Verses 2-6 Though we must never complain of God, yet we have leave to complain to him; and to state all our grievances. It is ease to a burdened spirit, to open its case to a faithful and compassionate friend. Abram's complaint is, that he had no child; that he was never likely to have any; that the want of a son was so great a trouble to him, that it took away all his comfort. If we suppose that Abram looked no further than outward comfort, this complaint was to be blamed. But if we suppose that Abram herein had reference to the promised Seed, his desire was very commendable. Till we have evidence of our interest in Christ, we should not rest satisfied; what will all avail me, if I go Christless? If we continue instant in prayer, yet pray with humble submission to the Divine will, we shall not seek in vain. God gave Abram an express promise of a son. Christians may believe in God with respect to the common concerns of this life; but the faith by which they are justified, always has respect to the person and work of Christ. Abram believed in God as promising Christ; they believe in him as having raised him from the dead, ( Romans 4:24 ) . Through faith in his blood they obtain forgiveness of sins.

Verses 7-11 Assurance was given to Abram of the land of Canaan for an inheritance. God never promises more than he is able to perform, as men often do. Abram did as God commanded him. He divided the beasts in the midst, according to the ceremony used in confirming covenants, ( jeremiah 34:18 jeremiah 34:19 ) . Having prepared according to God's appointment, he set himself to wait for the sign God might give him. A watch must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down upon our sacrifices, we must drive them away, and seek to attend on God without distraction.

Verses 12-16 A deep sleep fell upon Abram; with this sleep a horror of great darkness fell upon him: a sudden change. The children of light do not always walk in the light. Several things were then foretold. 1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a long time. They shall be strangers. The heirs of heaven are strangers on earth. They shall be servants; but Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing. They shall be suffers. Those that are blessed and beloved of God, are often sorely afflicted by wicked men. 2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram's seed. Though God may allow persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, he will certainly reckon with them at last. 3. That great event, the deliverance of Abram's seed out of Egypt, is here foretold. 4. Their happy settlement in Canaan. They shall come hither again. The measure of sin fills gradually. Some people's measure of sin fills slowly. The knowledge of future events would seldom add to our comfort. In the most favoured families, and most happy lives, there are so many afflictions, that it is merciful in God to conceal what will befall us and ours.

Verses 17-21 The smoking furnace and the burning lamp, probably represented the Israelites' severe trials and joyful deliverance, with their gracious supports in the mean time. It is probable that this furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces, burned and consumed them, and so completed the sacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it. So it intimates that God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice, ( Psalms 50:5 ) . And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles in our souls pious and devout affections. The bounds of the land granted are stated. Several nations, or tribes, are spoken of, that must be cast out to make room for the seed of Abram. In this chapter we perceive in Abram faith struggling against, and triumphing over, unbelief. Wonder not, believers, if you meet with seasons of darkness and distress. But it is not the will of God that you should be cast down: fear not; for all that he was to Abram he will be to you.

Footnotes 2

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 15

This chapter informs us of a gracious appearance of God to Abram, and of a kind promise made unto him, Ge 15:1; of Abram's request for an heir, Ge 15:2,3; of an answer to it, that he should have one, and even a numberless seed, Ge 15:4,5; which he gave credit to, Ge 15:6; upon which he has a fresh promise of the land of Canaan, Ge 15:7; of his inheriting of which he desires a sign, and this was given him, Ge 15:8-12; and at the same time it was predicted to him how long his posterity should be afflicted in a land not theirs, and afterwards come out with great substance, Ge 15:13-16; and the grant of the land of Canaan to his seed is renewed, Ge 15:17-21.

Genesis 15 Commentaries