Lesson from the 12 Tribes of Israel Genesis 15
God Confirms His Promise to Abram Dr. Jerry A. Collins
With this chapter there is a transition from a focus upon the Land to attention directed to the seed inheriting the Land. There are essentially two things going on in this passage.
· First, can Abram trust the Lord to deliver an heir to him and his household as promised?
· Second, can God be trusted to perform His promise of an heir to Abram?
The remainder of the Abrahamic narrative explores and addresses his faith to trust God with the promises God had made to him. These questions have direct implication to the origin of the 12 tribes of Israel. God will both confirm and verify, to Abram and by extension to the 12 tribes, that He indeed can be trusted. In other words, that Abram understand that God’s Word of promise to him was true.
· highlighting the incongruity that Abram’s heir would be an alien, and not one of his own body (cf. Jeremiah 49:1).
Application—When God does not seem to be working in ways we can understand; we may reason that something adverse may instead happen that could impugn God. That’s because we are ignorant of Gods plan to accomplish His will. Its not because God’s will won’t be performed. God specifically declared
Verses 4-5—T—So, God decisively overrules Abram’s fears directly from the word of the Lord.
· —That word made no specific reference to the servant’s name this man will not be your heir. In essence, God guaranteed that the heir would be through a ‘natural-born’ son. God clearly declared His will in the matter. Abram should not construe whether God’s will was true or not based upon circumstances.
PT—Circumstances are never an adequate means of determining the will of God. That determination must be made directly from what God has said in His word.
· God’s requirement that Abram gaze into the heavens indicated the incredible achievement that his seed would be as innumerable as the stars in the heavens so shall your descendants be. A feat that conveyed from childless Abram the need for greater faith.
PT—Notice the steps of progression of trust in the revealed Word of God. First, is the need to direct our attention toward the incredible capability of our God . For Abram that meant coming to terms with God’s capability to deliver his child of promise. Second, is to appreciate our undeniable incapability to comprehend how God may fulfill that will
Verse 6—T—This does not necessarily mean Abram came to faith as a result of the preceding section. Hebrews 11:8-10 asserts that he left Ur by faith This verse simply reports that Abram believed and so God credited him with righteousness. This could be a parenthetical statement or a summary or transitional note. What Abram believed was that God’s word about an heir was reliable.
The example of Abraham includes—
1. He acted by faith, meaning he had confidence in a desired, future, unseen destiny.
2. The specific object of that faith was the specific verbal revelation of God (not some feeling, or set of circumstances, or coincidences).
3. He wanted to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
4. He had a profit motive, to receive an inheritance.
5. He had an eternal perspective; he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
· —Since Abram accepted the Word of the Lord as true, the Lord attributed Abram as righteous and acceptable. Thus, Abram’s righteousness would now bind God to this believer by covenant. God made this covenant with a man who believed him.
PT—The fact that Abraham believed God and it was credited as righteousness is mentioned four times in the New Testament (Romans 4:9, 4:22; Galatians 3:6; and James 2:23).
· Romans 4:9—By being the first individual in the Old Testament record to have his faith credited to him as righteousness, Abraham becomes the prototype for this experience in all succeeding generations. It was faith, not circumcision, the law, or any other form of obedience, which rendered Abraham righteous before God.
· Galatians 3:6—Abraham had faith in God’s ability to perform what He promised, and God accepted that faith as a righteous response BEFORE Abram was circumcised (Gen 17:24)—and before the Law. So how can the Judaizers insist that circumcision and obeying the Law were essential to being accepted by God?
· James 2:23—James seems to have included the fact that God called Abraham His friend for the following reason. He wanted to show that continued obedient faith, not just initial saving faith, is what makes a person God’s intimate friend. Simple and uncomplicated though it was at first, Abraham’s justifying faith had potential ramifications which only his works, built on it, could disclose. He was declared righteous by God, and then by his works.
Application—Righteousness is conformity to the standard of what is right
in God’s eyes. Righteousness is the correct action and attitude before God. To
act in concert with God’s point of view is to be a righteous person. The
question we must always ask ourselves in any given situation is ‘how righteous
do I want to be?’ One implication is the eyes of
are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer (1 Peter 3:12; cf. Psalm 34:15). In Psalm 34 God honors the righteous so the wise one concludes the way of righteousness should be followed. Peter applied it to Christians and said the righteous have God’s attention and their entreaties have his listening ear!
Verses 7-8—— The is about to initiate a covenant-making ceremony along with a declaration of who He is and what He has done for Abram. “I am the Lord who brought you out.” God revealed Himself to be the great Deliverer and Benefactor of His people due to the specific promise .
· The faith that Abraham exhibited at critical junctures was always accompanied by his obedience to God’s commandments. Indeed, at the end of his life, God would commend him, saying Abraham obeyed my voice and guarded my charge: my commandments, my statutes, and my laws (Genesis 26:5).
An Application—We may stagger at the promises of God when they seem so impossible and doubt God’s faithfulness. But a devout follower will screen the doubt by taking it back to the Word of God for confirmation of God’s promises. Then, assured of God’s faithfulness will continue in obedience as appropriate to the life situation.
· party to cutting a covenant was, in essence, swearing that should he fail to keep its terms, he was to die like these animals cut into pieces. Adopting such a death position assured the other party one was going to keep the covenant at all costs.
· . This incident interjects the ominous thought of these unclean birds approaching and devouring this offering to Abram’s God. Thus, Abram drove them away. Its interesting that the Bible gives us this level of detail.
Verses 12-14—The darkness that overcame Abram may have been the objectifying of his trepidation at the prospect of dying without an heir. In this state, Abram himself could not walk through the pieces. The terror and great darkness he experienced may have been God’s way of preventing Abram’s participation in the covenant ritual so that God alone would be the guarantor of the promise to Abram, and his posterity would possess the Land.
· will stay in a land as resident foreigners without rights of citizenship. Here God is confirming the promise he made with Abram in Genesis 12.
PT—Why was this necessary? What is it that God is confirming when he said Wasn’t this the land God promised to give Abram when he left? The 12 tribes will be strangers in a land that is not theirs. God is giving divine revelation to Abram. This was information that was not included in the original promise—at least we do not have a record of Abram being informed about this previously. The Word of God which contains the revealed will of God is a supernatural revelation recorded in the words of Scripture. It is also progressively revealed to us. Not everything all at once, but eventually over 1600 years, it was all of it.
then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete The justice of God is apparent. He will wait until the Amorites (Canaanite cities) are fully deserving of judgment before he annihilates them and gives the land to Israel.
· thus they plundered the Egyptians). on that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram
We can be confident in the Word of the Lord never to be altered in its fulfillment even though the timing of fulfillment, the path of fulfillment, and the circumstances of fulfillment may not be conventional or convenient or explainable, but could even be paradoxical, seemingly contradictory. Accepting Gods revealed will, while at the same time accepting any paradoxes at work in its accomplishment is a recognition of (1) our limited knowledge, (2) the authority of Scripture, and (3) the sovereignty of God (Psalm 139).