Bible Reading / Book By Book: Genesis to 2 Samuel

Day 5 / Genesis 15

Chapters 13 and 14 tell of Abram separating from his nephew, Lot. This was because both of them have so many animals; there isn’t enough grazing land for both of them. Abram also has to rescue Lot when he finds himself in the middle of a war between a number of cities. In this chapter, Abram seems to be having a bit of a faith crisis. After many years of struggling with infertility, he is questioning how God plans to give him the promised descendants. God reassures Abram that he will keep his promise. We are told that Abram believes God, so God considered Abram righteous. This verse is referenced in Roman 4:3, 22 and 23 and Galatians 3:6 to show us it is faith which makes us right with God, and James 2:23 tells us faith also leads to righteous living. The ceremony of God passing between the halves of the dead animals is saying that God would have to die like these animals before it would be possible for God not to keep his promise. That’s a pretty strong promise! It shouldn’t be necessary for God to confirm his promise this strongly, but God meets Abram in his weakness. 

Here, and in chapter 12, we see Abram struggling with his faith and at other times being strong. Our faith is sometimes weak and sometimes strong too, but God always remains faithful. Faith is the first step in entering into a relationship with God, but that doesn’t mean our faith never wavers. If we want to stay close to God, we need more faith.

Genesis 15 (NASB)

Abram Promised a Son

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying,

“Do not fear, Abram,
I am a shield to you;
Your reward shall be very great.”

2 Abram said, “O Lord God, what will You give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Since You have given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.” 4 Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This man will not be your heir; but one who will come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.” 5 And He took him outside and said, “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” 6 Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. 7 And He said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.” 8 He said, “O Lord God, how may I know that I will possess it?” 9 So He said to him, “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

17 It came about when the sun had set, that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying,

“To your descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates:

19 the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite 20 and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim 21 and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”