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In the two former chapters, we find many tokens of God's gracious intention towards Abram. In this Chapter God confirms the same by the solemn treaty of a covenant. Abram had the most delightful assurances given to him by a faithful God; and all folded up within a covenant of promise. A bountiful God, not only pledged himself to give the Patriarch an extensive estate, but an extensive issue to enjoy it. And as these blessings of the promised seed and the promised land, spiritually considered, were types of better things to come, even the Lord Jesus Christ as the seed of the woman, and the heavenly possession through him which Canaan represented; they serve to teach us, under the gospel state, the greater privilege of those who are blessed with faithful Abram.
Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.
Several precious things are contained in this verse. Observe the expression how the Lord communed with Abram. Is not Jesus the uncreated word? Might not this vision be some manifestation of the Shechinah? Observe also, the Lord called Abram by name: so Jesus speaks to his sheep. John 10:3 . Observe also, the sweetness of divine communications, Fear not. God's people are peculiarly exposed to fears. And if they had no fears to encounter, many precious promises in the covenant would have no place for exercise. Observe also, what the Lord promiseth, not only to defend, but to bless; not simply to reward, but himself to be the reward, and that exceedingly great. Psalms 84:2; Psalms 84:2 .
And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
Those expressions are not the language of unbelief, but of humble enquiry. See Genesis 12:2 and Genesis 13:16 . It is sweet to spiritualize. Doth not every faithful son of Abram say the same, until Christ, the promised seed, is formed in the heart?
And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.
How instant sometimes are the divine communications! See that promise, Isaiah 65:24 .
And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
God had before promised, that his seed should be as the dust of the earth. Genesis 13:16 . Here it is promised to be as the stars of heaven; meaning, perhaps, not only that the seed should be numerous, but glorious.
And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Reader! behold how the apostle Paul extols this faith. Romans 4:19-21 . But may we not add, that this was a believing faith, on the person and righteousness of Jesus? See John 8:56 and Hebrews 11:4 . There is one thing highly observable in this account of Abram's faith, and which I beg the Reader particularly to remark; that the Patriarch's justification, on account of it, was before his circumcision. The apostle dwells at length upon this in his Epistles: see Romans 4:3 ; Galatians 3:6 . And we shall do well to dwell upon it also.
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.
It is delightful to observe, that when God engageth to bless his people, how he makes reference to his own glorious character, by way of assurance. Hebrews 6:13 , etc.
And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
See observations on Genesis 15:2-3 (See POOR on "Genesis 15:3 ")
And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
It is not altogether fanciful to trace even in the minute circumstances of sacrifice, somewhat referring to Him unto whom all the sacrifices referred? Is not the three years of age a type of the Redeemer's three years ministry? And what do those birds of prey, which came down on Abram's sacrifice, intimate, but the vain thoughts which hover over our minds in our holy seasons?
And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
The sun going down denotes the season of sacrifice, Daniel 9:21 .Concerning the sleep, see Genesis 2:21 . Solomon's Song Song of Solomon 5:1 ; Matthew 25:5 . Concerning the horror-(perhaps a cry in the soul, like that at midnight, Matthew 25:6 ) See Psalms 55:5 ; Acts 16:29-30; Acts 16:29-30 . Or may we not in both observe an emblem of the different tendencies in the law and the gospel? 2 Corinthians 3:13 ; Hebrews 12:22; Hebrews 12:22 . As it was said of the Lord Jesus, that Christ ought first to suffer, and then enter into his glory; so his people. Luke 24:26-46 .
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.
Smoking furnace. See Deuteronomy 4:20 ; Isaiah 48:10 . Burning lamp. See Isaiah 62:1 ; Exodus 3:2 . The former intimating affliction: the latter comfort. But do not both mean, in passing between the pieces of sacrifice, that Jesus is the one all-sufficient offering by which acceptance is found? See Psalms 50:5 ; Judges 13:23 .--passing between the parts of the sacrifice was an ancient form of confirming the most solemn covenants. Jeremiah 34:18-19 . The burning lamp, (or lamp of fire), was a symbol of the divine presence, and by this probably the sacrifice was consumed. Leviticus 9:24 ; 1 Kings 18:38 ; Judges 6:21
LET the visions of God with Abram have this effect upon all the true seed of Abram, earnestly to desire and as highly to prize, all the gracious manifestations of the divine love. May we esteem all the ordinances and means of grace, which tend to open a channel of communication between God and our souls. But yet more affectionately covet communion with the God of ordinances. Blessed Jesus! I would say, both for myself and for the Reader, Oh! do thou manifest thyself unto me otherwise than thou dost unto the world! May I know that thou art my portion, my shield, and my exceeding great reward.
Reader! behold the Patriarch Abram, and learn in his history the sweetness of exercised faith. Amidst all those precious promises of a faithful God, yet how long, how seemingly tedious and trying, the dispensation was appointed to be to his seed, before the fulfillment. Oh! for faith, that against hope, you and I may believe in hope; and in all our trials, may we run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. And as the patriarch considered himself as sojourning in a strange country, and was looking beyond the tabernacles which he inhabited, for a city which had foundations, so may we never lose sight of that most certain truth, that here we have no continuing city, but may we be seeking one to come. And oh! thou Almighty giver of faith, increase our faith, and enable us to walk by faith, and not by sight, until we realize the divine presence in all the glories of eternity, and receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 15". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17