God Covenants with Himself
“And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away. And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.
And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.” Genesis 15:7-21 (KJV)
This is a rather lengthy passage of Scripture, but I hated to separate, because they are on one great event in the life of Abram. God here reassures Abram that this land of Canaan would be his heir’s possession. His question was “How shall I know that I shall inherit it?” The LORD tells Abram a way to receive a sign from Him in order that he may be assured of the promise.
A three year old heifer, a three year old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon were to be brought before the LORD with the heifer and the ram cut in half, and the birds not divided. This was a sacrifice with which God was going to do something special.
After Abram gets these animals divided and the birds laid out as per the LORD’s requirements, then, some birds descend down on the sacrifices. In my thinking it would seem to be vultures which are always after an easy meal, and in fact, are designed by God to be the clean up birds of nature’s dead. It could have also been ravens or eagles of some kind. It does not matter what kind it was. Abram knew that these sacrificial animals was not for the birds, they were for an offering to the LORD. Abram drove them away.
There are all kinds of vile and evil “birds” who flock around to steal away the sacrifice of God. The sacrifice of a devoted heart and life can be ruined by the bird of distraction. It is the vile and evil birds who like to nest in the kingdom of our Lord, and blow up the numbers of the membership of the local church. It is the evil birds who will try and take the devoted hearts with comfort and good works and steal away the true worship of the Creator (Matthew 13:31-32). It is the man of Gods’ position to stand guard over the sacrifice of God to keep the vile and unclean birds away.
Evidently, after the birds had all left, and the sun was going down, Abram went to sleep. It was different kind of sleep than just normal sleep. This sleep is likened to the sleep the LORD put on Adam as Eve was made from his rib. It is also likened to the sleep which Jonah took when he fled from the LORD on board the ship to Tarshish. The Scripture says, “A deep sleep fell upon Abram”, and an “Horror of great darkness fell upon him”. We are not told what this great horror is, but it could be what he saw in the vision. In the vision Abram learned what was going to happen to his posterity in the following few hundred years. Abram’s heirs would be strangers in a foreign land, and would be the servants of this foreign land; and would be afflicted in servitude for 400 years. Would any of us like it if the LORD were to show us what was going to happen to our posterity over the next few hundred years?
In giving Abram this vision, God was assuring him that they would possess this land of Promise. It would not be without affliction though. Abram was also assured that the land of their captivity would also be judged, and the people who came from Abram would leave that land of servitude with much wealth. Abram is given assurace that he will die in peace in a good old age. In the fourth generation of his people in the land of captivity they would come out as God has said. God is the God of grace and mercy. With the Amorites; the one’s who are at this time present in this land; God gives them several hundred years to change their ways, repent and turn to Him. When they do not their time has been filled, then, the descendants of Abraham will come and, cleanse and possess the land.
The present condition of the land of Canaan with Abram is vile, and wicked, and awaits the day when holiness shall come in. This land also represents the hearts of mankind. The land of our hearts need redeemed, cleansed, and possessed by pure hearts, right with God. Hearts made right and pure only by the grace of Almighty God.
There was a “smoking furnace”, and a “burning lamp” which passed between these pieces. This in a substantive picture is the very presence of God walking in the midst of these pieces making covenant with Himself concerning His promises to Abram. It is possible that the “smoking furnace” and “burning lamp” are symbols of the affliction of the children of Israel in bondage. Though it is not mentioned in this text it is quite possible that these two fiery items burned up the sacrifices, and sealed the covenant with God and Himself. In this promise of the land there is nothing required of Abram. Though this covenant is made on Abram’s behalf the covenant is with God, and certainly God will not go back on a promise He has covenanted with Himself; nor will He with us. ” For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,” Hebrews 6:13 (KJV). You can trust the LORD, His Son and His Word. There was another covenant made between the Father and the Son; and that was the covenant of the cross. The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is our guarantee of Heaven. The eternal reward for all who believe His Son.