THE LIFE OF FAITH <15:1-6> At this point in the narrative Abram was approximately eighty years old. Recalling God’s promise to him <12:2> he was rather frustrated at the fact that he had no children <15:3> and the prospect of his chief servant Eliezer inheriting his estate was very real. After the recent experiences of the encounter with the confederation of kings, and the eminent danger of the ungodly tribes among which he lived, Abram no doubt began to be fearful for his life. It is at times like this in the life of every believer that the devil tempts us to help God out by misinterpreting His will for our lives and causes us to do the things we think are what God wants for us. So it was for Abram as he began to doubt and to make his own plans for the future. Again let us learn from his experiences.
“After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” <15:1 NIV>
In every situation we face where we doubt God’s word there is the ever resounding question: “What will happen if … ?”. Although the ungodly around us, and life in general would cause us to fear, God says: “Fear not!”, and seven times in His word He encourages Abraham (and us) to “fear not”.
“DO NOT BE AFRAID”: BLESSINGS ON LIFE’S JOURNEY: <Gen.26:24> DIVINE SUPPLIES FOR OUR NEEDS: <1 Kings 17:13> DIVINE PROTECTION FROM THE ENEMY: <2 Kings 6:16> STRENGTH FOR OUR WEAKNESSES: <Isa.41:10> DIVINE COMPANIONSHIP IN OUR TRIALS: (Isa.43:1-2> DIVINE CARE FOR HIS CHILDREN: <Matt.10:29-31> AT THE END OF EVERYTHING THERE IS ETERNAL LIFE IN HIS PRESENCE: (Rev.1:17-18>
“I AM YOUR SHIELD” God is our Protector, our Sovereign, our King, and He has promised to shield us from the darts, spears, and arrows of the enemy of our souls. However, there must be some action on our part <see Psa.7:10; Eph.6:16>.
“YOUR VERY GREAT REWARD” There is a reward for our faithfulness, thus we must remain faithful to Him who has called us, we must be faithful to His commands. <see Psa.58:11; Rev.22:12>
BELIEVE: – GOD’S PRINCIPLE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.“ <15:6 NIV> Abram believed the Lord – this is “victorious faith”; a faith that has been displayed by those who have been and are being victorious in their spiritual life. Displayed by Jonathan against the Philistine army:<1 Sam.14:6> Displayed by David against Goliath: <1 Sam.17:37> Displayed by Job in spite of his suffering: <Job 19:25> Displayed by the three Hebrews in Babylonian captivity: <Dan.3:17> Displayed by great warriors of the faith: <Heb.11:33-34> Faith is the beginning and ending of our life in Christ: through faith we are “born again”, we “live” our spiritual life, and we “hope” in His glorious appearing. Through genuine and sincere faith in Christ’s finished work we are justified <see Acts 13:39; Rom5:1; Gal.3:24>.
THE IMMUTABLE COVENANT <15:7-21> Here we see the unchangeableness of God. He who is faithful to His word will never change His mind <Heb.7:21; Num.23:19; Mal.3:6; Jas.1:17>. What He has said He will do, what He has promised He will make good. “But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” <15:8 NIV>
COVENANT: – Sacred – Binding, not only on those who make them, but on those who are represented. RATIFIED: By giving the hand : Loosing the shoe : Written and sealed : By giving presents : By making a feast: By a monument : By salting : By offering a sacrifice : By oath. OF GOD WITH MEN: Confirmed with an oath: Binding: Everlasting: God faithful to. “a formal agreement between two or more persons to do or not to do something specified.“ (Webster’s dictionary). “a contract under seal.“ (Oxford dictionary)
God now prepares to seal His formal agreement with Abram, instructing Abram to prepare a sacrifice <15:9-10> which he does by obtaining the animals and birds according to God’s instructions. As he waits on God to ratify the covenant, Abram has to drive the birds of prey away from the sacrifice <15:11>. Yes, there was a part that Abram had to play in this agreement: although God had promised to Abram, Abram had to make sure that there was nothing on his part to null or void the contract. And so for us today as believers, the evil one will do everything he can to distract us from the things of God, and so we too have to drive the birds of prey away.
There is also God’s part in the covenant of which we, like Abram, have no input or understanding, because His ways are not easily understood by us He acts in the “darkness of eternity”. “As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain“ <15:12-13 NIV>. We can know for certain that what God promises He will perform, because God the Father and God the Son entered into covenant so that I a sinner could be justified and be restored to fellowship with Him. In that part of the covenant neither Abram, nor we as believers, could enter into or participate in any way. “When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.“ <15:17 NIV>
“a smoking firepot”: The firepot signifies an oven to provide the heat for cooking. It speaks of God in judgment, as we are reminded of the many references to God in the form of a fire in the Old Testament <see Ex.2:2; 14:24; 19:18; 1 Kings 18:38>. “a blazing torch”: A torch was used to light the pathway or the room in ancient times; and the Lord Jesus referred to Himself as “The light of the world”.
So here we have the Father and the Son sealing the covenant for Abram’s justification and the promise made in respect to the land of Canaan, now Abram could be sure and no one could annul the covenant. In ancient times the parties involved would solemnize or ratify a covenant by walking down an aisle flanked by the pieces of slaughtered animals, which solemnized the oath by effectively saying “May it be so done to me if I do not keep my oath and pledge”. (NIV study Bible) <cf Jer.34:18>
God the Father and God the Son entered into a New Covenant together – it is as immutable as any made before, it is as unchanging as God Himself. That covenant was signed at Calvary – there in the horror of an awful darkness the Son of God paid the ultimate penalty for my sin, so that I could go free and enjoy His fellowship <see Heb.6:17-20 NIV>
And so like Abraham, we need to live by faith in every aspect of our lives; so that when the “enemy of our souls” would seek to bring doubt and fear into our lives, would cause us to doubt our salvation, cause us to doubt God’s leading, to be fearful of people and circumstances and bring discord into our lives, let us drive away the “birds of prey” with the promises of the word of God.