Genesis Chapter 15
Chapter 15 of Genesis is arguably the most quoted and most important chapter in the Old Testament canon, not only for Christianity and Judaism but Islam as well. In chapter 15 Abram enters into a covenant relationship with God.
1 The events of chapter 14 are an interesting read. Abram does battle with the four kings who had taken Abram’s nephew Lot prisoner. Abram worships and tithes to Melchizedek and, most to the point here in chapter 15, Abram refuses to take his share of the spoils from the Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord came to Abram in a vision and told Abram that He would be Abram’s shield and that Abram would be prosperous.
2-3 Abram complains that he remains without a child and that he will, therefore, have to leave his estate to a servant.
4-5 The Lord renews his promise to Abram that he will conceive a son. In the Hebrew the passage reads “what will come out of your loins.” As an illustration, He shows Abram the stars in the sky and suggests that the number of his offspring will be beyond one’s ability to count.
6 This great statement is quoted twice by St Paul (Romans 4.3 and Galatians 3.6) and once by St James (James 2.23) Faith here is shown to be a readiness to accept what God promises. Abram both trusts the Lord as a person and the promises that Lord makes)
7-11 The remaining verses formalize the covenant God is making with Abram. Animals are slaughtered, and halved in preparation for the ritual that will formalize the covenant (see verses 17-21)
12-15 Abram falls into a deep darkness and a deep sleep and in the presence of the Lord Abram is told the future of his heirs, that they will wander for a time, will go into bondage in Egypt for four hundred years, will be set free and will finally inherit the promised land. Abram shall die in peace but his heirs will return to the promised land.
16 An interesting verse because what it says is that the reason that it will take 400 years for the promise to be fulfilled is because the current inhabitants of the land have not proven themselves worthy of God’s judgment yet.
17-21 An ancient ritual, parties to a covenant walked between the halves of slaughtered animals as a portent of what would happen to them if they violated the agreement. But in this covenant only the Lord walks between the halves, as Abram sleeps. It reminds me of Jesus sweating blood in Gethsemane while his disciples lie sleeping.
Prize Question for Sunday, December 19th: List two of the three places in the new Testament where Genesis 15.6 is mentioned. (See verse 6 above for the answer)