Summary of Genesis 15:7-21:
God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land. Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise. God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon. Abram cut these in half (except the birds). As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.
Abram fell asleep, and the Lord revealed that Abram’s descendants will be strangers and enslaved for 400 years. However, God would punish this nation, and they will emerge with great possessions. Abram will die in peace and at an old age.
Then the Lord appeared (many believe) in the smoke and united the pieces, making a covenant with Abram, giving his descendants this land.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 10, Day 3: Genesis 15:7-21
7) God answers Abram’s request of reassurance of God’s promises of an heir and land. He unilaterally passes through the pieces of the sacrifice, presumably consuming them most Bible scholars think, and makes a covenant with Abram to give his descendants the Promised Land. However, in Ezekiel 37:1-28, God puts parts together, including dry bones, so God may have united the pieces as well.
8 ) Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years. (Exodus 12:31-40 tells of Pharaoh freeing the Israelites and they were prisoners for 430 years.)
He will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. (Genesis 25:7-8 tells us Abram died at the age of 175, and he died at a good old age)
In the fourth generation, your descendants will return, for the sin of the Amorites will not yet have reached its full measure. (Exodus 6:11 records God setting the Israelites free from Pharaoh).
9) Personal Question. My answer: Abram believes but asks for confirmation and reassurance. We do this in our lives too. We know in our hearts the truth, but are so fearful of the wrong decision that we ask for confirmation. Here, Abram does the same thing.
10) 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14 tells us God uses the Holy Spirit to reassure us of what is to come.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 10, Day 3: Genesis 15:7-21
It’s like Abram keeps asking, “Are you sure, God? I mean, are you ABSOLUTELY sure?” We do this today, too. We believe God, but we need to have peace with it because we are weak and need God’s support. As this example shows us, this is okay and normal, and God will meet you where you are at in your need to be comforted and reassured.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 10, Day 3: Genesis 15:7-21
Cutting animals in half and putting them back together again makes no sense to us. But in Abram’s day, this was the way covenants/promises were made. The two people would walk through the animal parts, repeating the promise. In fact Genesis 15:18 translates as “the LORD cut a covenant.”
Jeremiah 34:18-20 we see this ritual as well.
The covenant is sealed with blood (according to custom in those days). If you break the covenant, the blood is on you.
God was probably tired of this doubt, so He made the covenant final.
Note that Abram waited, long enough for vultures to find the carcasses. This is often the case. God’s timing is not ours.
God causes Abram to sleep so He can appear to him in a dream. God says Abram will have all this land, but at a cost — his descendants will be slaves. (Exodus 1:1-14). Yet, in the end, his descendants would inherit the land.
God walks between the pieces Himself as a smoking firepot and a blazing torch, signifying that this was a unilataral covenant having nothing to do with man. This covenant is unconditional on anything man could ever do.
God as Smoke in the Bible
- As a cloud when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, seeking the Promised Land (Exodus 13:21-22).
- On Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:18).
- Cloud of glory (1 Kings 8:10-12).
God as Fire in the Bible
- A pillar of fire in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21-22).
- The infamous burning bush (Exodus 3:4).
- Fire from heave that consumed sacrifices (1 Kings 18:38, 1 Chronicles 21:26, 2 Chronicles 7:1).
Note that Abram had no part in the covenant; it is all God by His grace alone. This is the same for Jesus. Jesus died for us; we had nothing to do with it.
God is in control, always.
The smoking oven represents God’s holiness and how He must judge sin. The blazing torch represents God’s guidance.