A few days after Abram won the battle to get his nephew Lot back home he dozed in his tent.
God appeared to him in a dream. “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I will protect and reward you.”
Abram’s deepest emotion surfaced in his dream. “Lord, I’m still without a direct heir. A boy born to one of my slaves is in line to inherit all I have.”
“Eliezer will not be your heir. A son will come from your own body. Come outside.”
Abram stepped out and saw the moonless sky.
“Count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you’ll have. I brought you here from Ur to give you this land.”
Abram swallowed. “How will I know the land is mine?”
“Bring Me a heifer, a female goat and a ram each one three years old, along with a dove and a pigeon.”
After Abram woke up he took the animals and split each one down the middle and set them in rows opposite each side. The birds were killed intact.
Before long some birds swooped down on the scene. Abram spent the day driving them off.
When the birds retreated at sundown Abram forced his eyes to stay open. When he succumbed to sleep a deep darkness terrified him.
God’s voice was clear. “Your descendants will live in a foreign land for four hundred years in slavery. When they are freed they will have great wealth. You shall die in peace at an old age.”
Abram sat up and looked at the sectioned animals. A burning pot and a torch stood out in the darkness as they moved between the halves Abram prepared.
“I am giving this land to your descendants from the Nile River to the Euphrates River.”
The Abrahamic Covenant sure seems grotesque and strange to us, but to Abram it made perfect sense. Similar rituals were in practice by some armies back then. I won’t go into further details.
Abram asked for a sign of assurance the land would be his. God chose an extreme visual circumstance to offer His most sacred promise.
Why didn’t God just tell Abram in a more emphatic way? I don’t know, but I do see some parallels with the crucifixion of Jesus.
Blood was shed by innocent beings. The animals were taken in the prime of their lives. A three year old heifer and goat would be valuable commodities to build a herd from. Killing them was a “no turning back” commitment by Abram and God. Jesus’s ministry ran about three years with His life ending with so many more potentially before Him. He knew His commitment was forever.
A deep darkness was involved. In the middle of the day the sky went completely black during the crucifixion. That was the time all our sins came to rest on our Savior. The darkness symbolized God’s separation from sin. Abram experienced such an extreme darkness it frightened him. That darkness was necessary to display the light of God’s symbolic torch to Abram. Both times got people’s attention.
A promise was made by God. Abram received his promise of his descendants’ inheritance of the land he was in. Jesus’s death was a fulfillment of all the Old Testament sacrifices to cover for the penalty of our sins. “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Our promised inheritance is made by an adoption process sealed with Jesus’s blood. The land we’ll receive is the new heaven and new earth revealed to John in the book of Revelation.
In contrast the sacrifice of three animals was small for the wealthy Abram. This was a small fraction of all he had.
Jesus, on the other hand, was God’s one and only Son. No one else could fulfill all He did to be the ultimate sacrifice.
God won’t ask you to give Him something valuable in order to grant your promise. He gave you His most valued possession to verify His level of commitment to you.
I take that back, God does require something extremely valuable from you…your very life.
He didn’t save you just to save you. He wants you to share what He gave you so others will take advantage of His offer of eternal life.
Lay down your life at the cross and you’ll receive so much more in return.
God’s very Spirit will become alive in you to help you become more like his Son, Jesus.
Your priorities will change to match God’s priorities.
Your perspective will change to one of eternal instead of earthly.
Your personality will change to fill with more peace, joy, goodness and gentleness.
All this will occur because the relationship that was lost in Eden will be restored.
Abram’s relationship with God was lived in shadows on an occasional basis.
We hold the promises fulfilled in the Bible and the promise of an eternity with God with no shadows at all.
Abram’s descendants do live in that land he was in when he saw God’s covenant promise many centuries ago.
That should give us solace that all the other promises God has made will come to pass, too.
Read the Bible to discover God’s promises. Lay hold of those promises without taking them out of context.
Some of the promises made in the Bible are for the nation of Israel and/or Judah. Too many people try to claim those for themselves only to come up frustrated.
Much of the Old Testament promises were for God’s people then. Most of the New Testament promises are for us today.
That’s as general as I can be about which promises we can claim as our own.
A more thorough understanding will take too much space and time for this blog.
Scholars study the Bible in depth to understand which promises are for us and what ones aren’t.
An important part of deepening your relationship with God is studying the Bible for yourself.
Memorize important verses to use in times of need.
God’s promises are for real.
I’ll see you later. Wade