Genesis 15:1 – Because Abraham was willing to trust God for his prosperity rather than the hand of the king of Sodom, God set the stage for the confirmation of His promises to him. God begins by telling Abraham not to worry about any retaliation from the kings he just routed, for God will be his shield. Then God declares that He will be His reward since he turned down the reward offered by the king of Sodom. (Psalm 37:4-5). Many of the great claims of the Messiah begin with the words “I am”; I am the light of the world; I am the way the truth and the life; I am the door; I am the Alpha and Omega; the name of Jehovah is “I am, I am”.
Genesis 15:1-5 – The promise of reward was not as important to Abram because he was childless and so his future was not as important. He had all the wealth he needed, what he desired was a son. God had promised Abram that his seed would be as the dust of the earth, too numerous to count. Evidently Abram was wavering in his confidence of the promises of God.
Again Abram demonstrates himself to be very much like us. God confirms once again quite clearly now, lest Abram think that this promise was a spiritual and not a literal promise. God says that a son would come forth from his body. Then God brings him outside his tent and invites Abram to count the stars, for so shall his literal offspring be.
Genesis 15:6 This is the crowning reward for Abraham and it applies to all Christians as well. Because Abraham believed God he was declared righteous by God. This word translated from the Hebrew Tsadik, and means saint. In Biblical understanding we become saints not based on what a particular church declares but by believing God’s Word. The word translated “believed” is from the Hebrew aman, meaning “to confirm” or “to trust”. This is the word from which we get our Amen from. But it is most important to understand what it was that Abraham believed in.
In Genesis 15:5 God said to Abraham. “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”” Now in this place the King James version has correctly translated this verse from the Hebrew. (Genesis 15:5 KJV) . The Hebrew word for seed is singular not plural.
This is important listen to what Paul says about this (Galatians 3:16) “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” Paul is saying that when Abraham believed God for offspring it was not only that he and Sarah would have a child, but that from that child the Messiah would come.
In other words it was faith in the promised Messiah that made Abraham a saint. Listen to what Jesus says about Abraham’s faith: (John 8:56 NIV) “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”” this is reiterated in (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6) Read (James 2:23). In other words the faith that made Abraham righteous is what makes us righteous or saints, believing God concerning the Seed of Abraham, the Messiah Jesus.
Genesis 15:7-8 – Because of Abraham’s faith God once again declares the promise of the land to Abram. Abram asks God for assurance that the land would be his. “How shall I know?” God enters into a Suzerainty treaty, which was a Chaledean custom according to Biblical archaeologists. This was a covenant between a lord who owned land and a vassal who sought to work the land that he might provide for himself and his family. By dividing the animals in two a covenant was made when the Lord and the vassal walked between the pieces.
As long as the pieces were apart, and as long as the parties who passed between the pieces were alive, the covenant was in effect. But if a party died a new covenant had to be made. In this treaty Abraham was the vassal and God was the Lord, who owned the land. (Genesis 15:12) “As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him.” The “deep sleep” (tardemah, Hebrew) is the same word used to describe the state of Adam when God took a part of his side to make Eve (Genesis 2:21).
Because Abraham was asleep he did not participate in the covenant ceremony. Only God did. Now remember this covenant is in response to Abraham’s question, “How do I know that I will inherit this land?” God made this covenant with Abraham so that he might Know that the land of Israel would belong to him. (Genesis 15:17-18).
In these verses we see that the Lord passed between the pieces while Abraham was asleep. The significance of this is that this covenant does not depend upon Abraham who was asleep but rather by God. As long as the pieces were apart and the parties who passed between the pieces were alive the covenant was in force. Since Abraham did not pass with God in between the pieces it only depends on God. Some have suggested that the descendants of Abraham, the Jewish people forfeited the land because they broke the covenant that God gave on Mt. Sinai. (Exodus 19:5-8).
This and Deuteronomy 28 speak of the conditional aspects of the Mosaic or Covenant of the Law. But this covenant which Israel broke did not nullify the promise given 430 years earlier to Abraham in Genesis 15. Listen to what Paul says about this. (Galatians 3:17-18), (John 15:4-6), If we don’t abide in Jesus we will wither and die but we will not lose our promised land. Paul makes this point in (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
This concept is illustrated in the year of Jubilee when the ravages of poor decisions and God’s judgment caused and Israelite to lose his land, at the year of Jubilee all land was returned to its original owner because both the Israelites and the land belonged to the Lord. The year of Jubilee reminded Israel that God had made an unconditional covenant with them and no matter what they did God would restore them in the year of Jubilee.
This has import and meaning for the Jewish people and also for you and I. Just as God has made a promised concerning the land of Israel to Abraham and his physical descendants, so too has God given to us a promised land that is unconditional. That land is heaven. For God entered into a similar covenant with us. Just as Abraham was asleep when the Lord passed between the pieces by Himself thus effecting the covenant promise of the Land of Israel.
So too were we asleep when God entered by Himself into a covenant with us. He did it by Himself on Calvary shedding His blood dying on the cross to provide for us an eternal dwelling place in heaven. That is where our land is. It isn’t here on earth. As Abraham was asleep when God entered into this covenant so too where we. (Ephesians 2:1), (Romans 5:8). Just as the covenant that God made with Abraham was unconditional so too is the covenant God made with us is unconditional. (Ephesians 2:8-9).