Genesis Chapter 15
The Word of the LORD then came to Abram in a vision that God is Abram’s shield and his reward will be great. Abram responds how this can’t be because he is childless. The Word of the LORD came again saying that Abram will have a son. God took him outside and told him his offspring will be as numerous as the stars. Abram then believed the LORD and the LORD counted/credited it to him as righteousness.
Abram asked how he was to believe that the LORD would give this promise to him. God told him to bring a heifer a female goat a ram a turtledove and a young pigeon, and Abram did. Abram cut them all in half and laid each of them against each other (he didn’t cut the birds in half).
As the sun was going down a deep sleep came upon Abram and a dreadful darkness fell upon him. God told him that Abam’s people will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs for 400 years (prophesying about being in Egypt from Joseph to Moses!). God promised judgment on the nation they will be in though. He told him his offspring would come back to Canaan in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete. What does this phrase mean? Well, as I noted yesterday, the Amorites are from Noah's son Ham (Gen. 10:16), and you'll remember Canaan, Ham's son, was cursed by God through Noah's prophesying. This is a foreshadow of God's judgment that will come on the nations listed in Genesis 15:19-21. He won't drive these nations out only because He has made a promise to Abram, but also as an act of judgment on them because of their sin. This is kind of like saying God is relenting from pouring out His wrath until the time is right to show Himself in perfectly just judgment/punishment. Their morality and sin would be so terrible that it merits God's just wrath. This is a foreshadow of God's final endless punishment of those who reject Him as well. This begins setting the scene for when Joshua would lead Israel into the promised land, Canaan. This passage is the beginning of establishing that Israel's conquering of Canaan would be just, not merely senseless brutality and attack.
Then after the sun had gone down a smoking fire pot and flaming torch passed between the pieces of the animals. And on this day the LORD made a covenant with Abram saying he would give Canaan to his offspring.
This is an absolutely incredible passage. God tells Abram the future, promises Abram offspring, and makes a promise in a self-maledictory fashion that if God would ever break His covenant with Abram that what has happened to these animals should then happen to Him (see Jeremiah 34:17-22 for another example of this). This is a testimony to the fact that God is making a promise that He will not break! Similar to us God is a promise maker, but unlike us God is always a promise keeper! In fact, Jesus Christ was pierced, not because God broke His end of the covenant, but because we broke our end of the covenant. This is absolutely staggering that this God would condescend to us in such a way.