In this passage, the conversation of our last post continues, this time Abraham asks God how he can be sure that God will give him the land of Canaan, an amazing question all things considered. God’s reply is even more amazing: He swears out a covenant.
So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. (15:9-11)
God’s response was to tell Abram to gather certain animals together, which Abram did and cut them in half, laying the carcasses out with the halves side by side. In doing so, Abram consented to the covenant in blood without swearing an oath which is not the Old Testament norm.
Then, God swears an oath:
Beginning in verse 13, God tells Abram that his descendants will be taken to Egypt where they will be enslaved 400 years which is a part of the Covenant we don’t often bring up in Sunday School. Abram will not be involved in that phase as he will have died at a ripe old age. Then God will save the people out of Egypt after they become enriched from the wealth of that land (15:13-16).
Next, God passed through the carcasses in the form of fire, swearing that He gives the Land to Abram’s descendants (15:17-21). Normally both parties would march through the bloody carcasses, symbolizing that if they broke their covenant, this would be their fate, but here only God passes through. Why was it done this way?
There was no way for Abraham to avoid sinning against God because there was no provision for atonement for sins in this covenant; that would come along much later. When you step back and consider these incredible events, you quickly find yourself in one of those “Wow” moments, for God had sworn and passed through the blood on Abram’s behalf. This means that God took the penalty for the sins of Abram and those who would follow upon Himself, setting the stage for our Christmas Story, for when the Lamb of God appeared as a babe in that manger, God was fulfilling His obligation to Abram to pay for his sin.
Merry Christmas indeed!
Pingback: GOD Makes a Covenant – ZENAGALLERY
Oh. My. Goodness. This is more than a WOW moment–it’s miraculous. And wonderful. And greater than I could ever imagine.
Our God is truly amazing!
If this was so, what is the need for a New Testament then?
So that the Old Testament could be fulfilled and God’s promises kept. For a complete explanation, check out the book of Hebrews…
Don Merritt, thanks for the read. If we were supposed to be concerned about the fulfillment of the Old Testament, then I might say that Jesus already fulfilled that (based on what he said; Mathew 5:17), although it’s quite clear that even Jesus did not fulfill the OT. He actually can to annul it. I discussed that here
Now, when you look from the perspective of the apostles and the early church, you would see that the Old covenant is variously discredited. It’s quite ironic that you should direct me to the book of Hebrews, because that epistle contains several instances where the old testament is discredited for its “weakness and unprofitableness”; Hebrews 7:18, and its faulty nature; Hebrews 8:7. From these, we can rightly surmise that the Old Testament has been cast aside, for what fulfillment could one expect of a faulty covenant?
I also dealt further with the apostolic perspective in this post
Do check them out, I’d love to hear from you soon.