Genesis 15, the Covenant

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jun 14, 2002.

  1. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    As short as chapter 15 is, it is key to understanding Abraham's actions and his life.

    We do not know how long after the rescue of Lot the vision from the Lord took place. The Bible only indicates that it was later.

    As with almost all visions of the Lord or of angels in the Bible, the first words are "Don't be afraid." This is a clear indication that a human being's first reaction to the presence of holiness is fear. "Fear not," the angels told the shepherds of Bethlehem. That is even what Christ had to tell John in Revelation 1:11, and John had been with Christ during his entire ministry! "Fear not", or words to that effect, are found throughout the Bible before the direct Word from God is spoken. This absolutely gives the lie to the casual 'visions' of some of the televangelists and such!

    When God then tells Abram that God Himself is Abram's shield and reward, Abram misunderstands. In line with the exact feelings of David in Psalm 127 ("Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they cntend with their enemies in the gate."), Abram considers a large group of children to be both his defense in his old age and his reward.

    So Abram asks the Lord, "What can you give me since I remain childless?"

    Little does Abram know!

    At this point God takes Abram outside and tells him to look up at the stars, for there is something about them that is being used as a promise regarding Abram's family.

    Many people think God is telling Abram to count the stars and that this means he will have a really great number of descendents. This promise has already been given in Gen. 13:16 when Abram is told that if the dust of the earth could be counted, his offspring could be counted. And this promise is given to Abram later as well. But this is NOT the promise of Genesis 15. In Galatians 3:16, Paul defines this particular prophetic utterance by God as a Messianic promise. Abraham is going to be the father, or ancestor, of the Messiah.

    So why would looking up at the stars have indicated that? Although it is widely argued, there is good evidence that the gospel message was clearly written in the zodiac itself in the beginning, and that the people on earth understood its meaning. I co-authored an article on this several years ago which is webbed here: -- Signs in the Stars

    In Genesis 15:5, the word the Lord uses to tell Abram what to do with the stars is often translated to 'count', but this is not the meaning. The word used is 'sapar' which is 'to tell, or proclaim, or declare' from the root meaning 'to score with a mark, or record'. The normal word for counting is another word. This is why the KJV uses the word that Abram is to 'tell' the stars. There was something about what Abram could see in the stars that was the promise of a Messiah. There is evidence in the Bible that Abram might have thought Isaac, his son by Sarai (Abraham and Sarah by then) was the Promised One, for when Abraham takes his son to sacrifice him, he tells his servants in Gensis 22:5: "Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. WE will worship and then WE will come back to you."

    If the zodiac as it once was understood (although it has been distorted demonically in meaning now) was clear about need for the Redeemer to be killed and then come back to life, and knowing that God had indeed promised him that the Redeemer would be from his line, this may be an indication that Abraham thought Isaac was indeed the Messiah. But, at the last moment, God stops Abraham and demonstrates to him that God Himself will provide the Lamb.

    But as of that night, in Genesis 15, after Abram had come back from battle and rescued Lot, and then insulted the king of Sodom by refusing any gifts of thanks, Abram had no way of knowing what lay in the future. He was simply hit by the impact of what the Lord had just told him. And Abram believed the Lord. He believed about the coming Messiah. And because all righteousness is in Jesus Christ, the Lord credited that faith to Abram as righteousness. Abram was, at that time, believing on Christ just as much as any of the Apostles ever did. And that is where salvation will always be -- in Christ.

    God does not stop with that, however. He goes on to make another promise to Abram. For the third time, it is the promise of the land where Abram is. And this time Abram asks how he can know he will gain possession of the land -- after all, he had just insulted a king! He was not in a terrific position to wage war!

    And so God instructs Abram to prepare the traditional blood covenant sacrifices, and Abram does. And then he stands guard over them.

    "As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thck and dreadful darkness came over him."

    And then the Lord talks to Abram again, it is to give him a specific prophecy in terms of his descendents living as slaves for four hundred years before they will be able to come back and take the land. The prophecy is interesting, but there is something just as interesting immediately after which most people ignore. God tells Abram that it will not be for a number of generations yet, "for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."

    In other words, the Amorites -- even the Amorites -- were to be given their full time. As Jesus said, it is not until the tares are grown that they are weeded out. And, for sin to reach its 'full measure', that means there is nothing else in the cup. No goodness will be left in the land. No child, growing up, will have a chance to have a good example to follow. The culture will be irredeemably evil and so ripe for wiping out.

    This is what we saw before the Flood, when only Noah was left who was found righteous. This is what we will see again with Sodom, when there are not even ten righteous men left in the city. God allows sin to reach its 'full measure' before He moves in on a culture. Personally, I think this is also one of the things Revelation is revealing to us about the end times, too, in line with Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

    But until sin reaches its full measure, evidently God allows it to continue, perhaps to show to the world the true horror of sin and its consequences.

    The chapter ends with God confirming the covenant by the movement of His Shekinah Glory between the pieces of the covenant sacrifices and stating exactly what land will be given Abram's descendants.

    One interesting note to close. I cannot find the book now (I spent about half an hour looking for it on the shelves here... I must have 'loaned' it out and never gotten it back...) but some years ago I read Moishe Rosen's "Y'Shua Means Jesus". I think that was the title. He said something in it, from a Jewish point of view, that has stayed with me. The Covenant required a blood sacrifice. It was a blood covenant. That means that there had to be blood on both sides. This was the symbol of cutting the sacrifices in half. When did the Jews bleed? The covenant of circumcision! When did God bleed? On the cross! It is points like this which have actually made an impact with a number of Jews -- points we Gentiles pass over never noticing.

    Yes, circumcision comes to be shown as a matter of the heart and not the body where the necessity of being born again is concerned, but there is also the very distinct physical side, too, rich in symbolism and meaning because of the covenant between God and Abram.

    Whereas the covenant spoken to Noah did not involve man as a partner, the covenant God makes wiht Abram involves man as an active participant, and this will be symbolized by circumcision.

    Physically, the Jewish people are from Abraham through Isaac, and thus circumcision is a holy rite for them.

    Spiritually, the believers are also considered children of Abraham, as Jesus says in the Gospels, Luke says in Acts, and Paul says through several of his letters. Thus the spiritual application of circumcision, that of being of the heart, is an integral part of being born again as a follower of Jesus Christ.

    I'll probably cut and paste these last few paragraphs for the study on Genesis 17 and then add to them, but they are also important now in the discussion of God's and Abram's covenant.

    [ June 14, 2002, 08:42 AM: Message edited by: Helen ]
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Oct 10, 2001
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