Text – 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “You have given me no offspring, and so a slave born in my house is to be my heir.” 4 But the word of the LORD came to him, “This man shall not be your heir; no one but your very own issue shall be your heir.” 5 He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 And he believed the LORD; and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness 7 Then he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He brought him all these and cut them in two, laying each half over against the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. 12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. 17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.
Summary – This account describes the LORD making his covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 12, the LORD had promised Abraham children and the land of Canaan. But here, years later, Abraham is still without an heir, except an adopted servant. Abraham had just won a great battle against King Chedolaomer, and here the Lord comes to him and tells him not to be afraid for the LORD is his shield, his protector. The LORD had given Abraham victory over King Chedolaomer, and He is faithful to fulfill all of what he has promised to Abraham. Abraham will have many offspring, like the stars of the heaven. Abraham and the LORD then made an official covenant (the Hebrew literally says they “cut” a covenant), by cutting the animals in half and laying them next to each other. Abraham then fell into a deep sleep, and a smoking pot, and torch passed through between the animal carcasses. And thus, the LORD made a covenant with Adam, promising him descendants and the land of Canaan.
Insight – One of the most important verses of the Bible is found in this chapter. Verse six, “And he believed the LORD, and the LORD reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Abraham was about 100 years old, well beyond the age of being able to have children, and his body was “as good as dead,” as Paul tells us in Romans 4. However, despite what his body and the outside world was telling him, Abraham believed that the LORD is able to do far greater things than we can ask or even think. God is able to make life our of death. We know he did this with Abraham, as Abraham had a son, Isaac. We know that Jesus made life come out from death in his ministry on earth. We also know that this is true in our own lives. We are dead in our sins, yet God forgives us and gives us life. If we have faith in God, he allows us to stand forgiven and holds none of our sins against us. We should look to this powerful God, believe in his word, have faith in his son, and this too will be reckoned to us as righteousness.
Catechism – What did God credit to Abraham as righteousness? Abraham’s belief in God.
Discussion – What has God done in your past to show his faithfulness to you? How can this help increase your faith upon his promises today?
Almighty God, You are our protector and our shield. We know that we can rely on you. Help us to have faith in your word and in your promises. We thank you for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sins. Help us to look to him in faith, and thus be counted righteous in your sight. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
– Contributed by Jared McNabb