Kraig Josiah Rice
Genesis- The Way I See It

Genesis chapter Fifteen

written by
Kraig J. Rice

(Clicking on these links will move you down this web page)
Genesis chapter fifteen
  Chapter 15- God's Covenant with Abraham
  Genesis 15:1 - 5 God pays Abram a visit
  Jehovah Adonay- one of God's title names
  The false teaching of the prosperity gospel
  God is our shield of protection
  Genesis 15:6 Abram was justified by his faith
  Genesis 15:7 - 12 Abram makes animal sacrifices
  A sign from God
  Sacrifices as a type of Christ
  Hostile fowls are a type for Satan
  Rebuke Satan when he comes around
  The spiritual darkness of apostasy
  Genesis 15:13 - 16 Abram's descendants will be slaves
  God's timing for a nation
  Genesis 15:15 Long life
  Genesis 15:17 God accepted Abram's sacrifice
  Genesis 15:18 - 21 The Abrahamic Covenant

Genesis Chapter Fifteen
God's Covenant with Abraham

God pays Abram a visit:
"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."
And Abram said: "Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said: behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir." 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."
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"
(Genesis 15:1-5).

In these verses we see that Abraham has a problem- he has no children and all of his money won't buy him his own child. But he did the right thing- he took his problem to God in prayer. That is what you and I must do when we have any kind of a problem. Always keep the perspective that we have a big God and a little problem.

God gave him the promise of an heir- a son. I believe that this is a double reference verse. Yes, God would give him Isaac as his immediate heir but God would also give him a (generational) Son (One born in his lineage) that would be the Messiah. Through this heir (the Son of God) would come spiritual children "as numerous as the stars." Abraham would be, so to speak, the grandfather of the Messiah. What an honor God bestowed upon him. In other words, Abram has 2 seeds:
1) the nation Israel, and
2) the church (Galatians 3:29).

Jehovah Adonay or Yahweh Adonay- one of God's title names:
In Genesis 15:2 and Genesis 15:8, in the original Hebrew, is used one of God's title names. Jehovah or Yahweh Adonay (`dny) is interpreted to mean "The Lord Our Master." When interpreted into the English language it can also mean "God the Divine Ruler", "God the Self-existent One", or "God the Eternal One."

Is God a Mister Moneybags?
"Fear not, Abram: I AM...thy exceeding great reward"
(Genesis 15:1).

Many folks interpret this verse to mean that God will financially reward any of His children for trusting Him. In other words, some "prosperity gospel" Christians use this scripture "I am your exceeding great reward" to justify their spiritual snobbery. They believe that if they worship God then God will make them materially rich. They wrongly measure another person's spirituality by the mansion they live in or the two cars they have in their garage. That may be a good indicator of a person's ability in business, or his or her ability to control their finances, but it is not any kind of an indicator of one's spirituality. If the amount of money they pay in tithes is greater than some others, then that 10% to God that they pay is only equal to what anyone else in the congregation gives at the 10% level. Their obedience to God may make the preacher happy because the preacher has church bills to pay but it does not mean they are in any way super Christians. If these individuals are stroked by the preacher more than others in the congregation, if they are the only ones in a church click, so to speak, that help control the church, then this may lead to spiritual pride and snobbery. If that be the case, some Christians are so earthly minded they are not of any heavenly use.

One might ask the question: I have never heard of this kind of church problem before. Can you elaborate on it? Yes. This scripture does not mean, that if you love God, God will make you materially rich. This is the error of "the prosperity gospel" teaching. What is that? It is the wrong thinking that if you are materially poor then there must be sin in your life. You are a loser and if you don't put at least a $100 dollar bill in the collection plate then we won't even shake your hand. Abram was already rich- he had a business that employed over 318 people and he was doing quite nicely. Rich believers should not be prideful over poor believers. I attended a large church for several years. I was in a Job's Trial for over 9 years and was physically injured (a broken ankle) and had lost nearly everything that I owned. My family and I were very poor. Some of the rich believers (and the pastor of that church) held to the false teaching of the prosperity gospel. Their attitudes towards us, and others like us, made us feel like inferior Christians. This behavior hurt us emotionally- and there did not seem to be as much love there (as there could have been otherwise). So, I felt the sting from the folks who believed the false teaching of the prosperity gospel and that is why I know something about it. The bible book of
James, chapter 5, teaches against such a false doctrine.

God never told anyone that if they worshipped Him, He would make them materially rich. Rather, God told Abram that He (God) was his reward. God is the greatest treasure in the universe and His love, spiritual blessings, and fellowship are without measure.

Abraham owned his wealth, he did not let his wealth own him. He had right priorities. In other words, he controlled his money, he did not let his money control him. I do not see him being a spiritually prideful person.
"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life"
(1 Timothy 6:17-19).

Do you know what the meaning of the word JOY is? Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.

God is our shield:
"Fear not, Abram: I AM thy shield"
(Genesis 15:1).

What does this mean? It simply means that God will protect you. Each believer has a hedge of protection around him or her
(Job 1:10). This simply means that God has appointed angels to protect you and I. I will give you a personal example. One time I had a demon literally coming towards me to kill me. God opened my spiritual eyes and I saw several of His angels by my side protecting me. As this demon came towards me, one of God's angels launched itself like a bullet and hit that demon in his chest with a tremendous amount of power. It knocked that demon backwards and that demon left in a hurry in pain. Another instance of angelic protection was when my father-in-law, at the time, had hip replacement surgery. A blood clot broke loose in his hip and it lodged in his lungs. His blood pressure dropped to 40 over zero. The doctors said that it was impossible for him to be alive but he was. My father-in-law saw in the spirit a lot of smaller angels (surrounding him in a circle) with their wings outstretched touching one another. He knew that it was impossible for him to die, and he lived for many more years after that. The Apostle Paul mentions the shield of faith for each believer
(Ephesians 6:16).

I have talked with many Christian individuals over the years. One of them gave me a testimony of how he was driving in a car when an approaching car swerved over the highway divider line and hit him head on but there was no collision. Rather, God's protecting angels spread the molecules of him and his car apart so that the colliding car passed harmlessly between them. And when the other car was past, his molecules were put back together again for him and his car and he continued joyfully on down the road as before. Some time later, another Christian person gave me a testimony that was nearly identical. God is our shield. He is delighted to work miracles to protect us.

Abram was justified because of his faith in God:
"And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness"
(Genesis 15:6).

Abram's faith resulted in his free justification (being made in right standing with God). Why? Because he was born again or converted to Christ in his heart. That is what is meant by his faith. You can read more about this in
Romans chapter 4. The word justification is a word that means "just as if I had never sinned." Justification is part of the Christian doctrine of salvation. In other words, the doctrine of salvation includes the fact that you and I are saved by grace through faith, you accept Christ as your savior (and are born again), and, you believe that God has provided salvation for you. As with Abram, our true faith equals being made righteous before God.

"In the same way: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him righteous because of his faith." The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God. What's more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would accept the Gentiles, too, on the basis of their faith. God promised this good news to Abraham long ago when He said: "All nations will be blessed through you." And so it is: All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith"
(Galatians 3:6-9).

If you are the pastor of a church, there is a lot of sermon material that can be preached on justification and salvation. One hint: a sermon on the word meanings of faith, believe, impute, and righteousness might prove to be very fruitful:-)

Abram makes animal sacrifices to God:
"And He (God) 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"
(Genesis 15:7-12).
"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"
(Genesis 15:17).

God patiently waits for us to reach out to Him first.

Abram asks God for a sign:
When Abram says: "Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" he is asking for a sign from God. What is a sign from God? It is a revelation of some kind from God revealing His will to a person. I believe that God is pleased to reveal His will to any of His seeking children. Did God give him a sign from Heaven? Yes. When? When God walked between the two halves of Abram's sacrificed animals.

Animal sacrifices as a type of Christ:
In those days, with each individual walking between a cow (that was cut in half), was one way to seal a covenant. In other words, both individuals had to walk between the cow. This was also a legal custom in those days to seal a contract- with the guilty party who breaks it under the penalty of perjury
(Jeremiah 34:18-20). It appears that this act prompted modern businessmen to use the expression: "to cut a deal" between the salesman and his consumer.

The cow had to be cut into 2 pieces. There were 2 halves to match the 2 individuals. Each individual that was between the two halves served as a bridge between them thus making the two halves one again. This symbolizes unity. Jesus Christ serves as a bridge of unity between a holy God and sinful humanity. In other words, He bridges the gap and He is the only One who can do it. Christ's sacrifice is a sign from God to each true believer that we are going to inherit the heavenly Canaan (eternal life).

The animals sacrificed pointed to Christ's blood atonement for the sins of mankind. In other words, the 5 animals are a type of Christ:
1) the cow (heifer) shows Christ's fruitfulness and faithful work
2) the she-goat shows Christ's meekness and surrender as a sacrifice for sins
3) the ram shows Christ's strength and power
4) the turtle dove shows Christ's love
5) the pigeon shows Christ's life of faith on this earth

Hostile fowls are a type for Satan:
Satan and his demons are hostile to God and His sacrifice. Just as the vultures, buzzards, and crows came to eat Abram's sacrifice, so Satan attacks Christ (God's sacrifice). Satan's attacks today are primarily against Christ's church (all who are saved). If you are a true Christian you will be attacked by Satan. He wants to consume and destroy you (because your love and service to Christ is an offering that he hates).

Dead flesh puts off an odor that can be smelled that attracts flesh eating fowls. In a similar way, sin is the smell of (spiritual) death. Satan, like a bird of destruction, will always come around to devour anyone who smells of (spiritual) death from sin. Contrary to this is the wonderful fragrance of (eternal) life that Christ gives:
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour (aroma) of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: to the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?"
(2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

  • Click here if you want to learn more about the devil

    Rebuke Satan- do not let him steal your sacrifice:

    "And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away"
    (Genesis 15:11).

    Abram had to drive away the hostile fowls. So also, you and I have to drive away Satan and his imps when they come around to devour our sacrifice (our life in Christ). God asks us to live a sacrificed life. But the vultures of sin will try to steal away or devour our sacrifice if we choose to let them. We have to drive away sin to keep our sacrifice (the sacrifice of our life) pure and holy. We have to do this until the sun goes down (the end of our life on this present earth). This is a sacrifice that God is pleased to accept. And how do we treat Satan when he comes around to torment us at the present time? "(Use your authority and) Rebuke Satan in the mighty name of Jesus Christ and he will flee from you"
    (James 4:7).

  • Click here if you want more information about the authority of the believer

    The raven- a Viking and Celtic war bird:
    The ravens were probably trying to eat Abram's dead animals. A little later on, in Genesis, we find that the ravens could have been in Joseph's dream interpretation of the baker
    (Genesis 40:19) in eating the baker's dead body. On a historical note, about 700 years ago or so, in Europe, some Viking and Celtic families placed the picture of a raven on their battle shields in reference to their coat of arms. Why? Probably because these birds are seen in association with death. This is what a knight in combat during the Middle Ages wanted his enemy to see on his shield- the war bird or bird of death. The message might have been- when you fight with me, you are going to die. The Rice family (my sur name) in the country of Wales has such a coat-of-arms shield with 3 ravens pictured on it. Other families have similar pictures on their shields, as well.

    Darkness fell:
    "...a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him"
    (Genesis 15:12).
    The devil is considered by many to be the Prince of Darkness and spiritual darkness is usually associated with him and his imps. In the bible book of Revelation, spiritual darkness also refers to spiritual apostasy that Satan is the father of. So, Satan may have tormented Abram in his sleep with the fear and with the lie that Abraham's descendants would turn out to be idol worshippers (apostates) and forsake God. I think that, many folks who love God today, have a horror of that same thing happening to their descendants.

    Abram's descendants were going to be temporary slaves:
    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. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full"
    (Genesis 15:13-14,16).

    God reveals His plan to Abram. Abram's descendants would have to go into the furnace of affliction. They would have to go down before they could go up. Their going down in national humility for so long, being continually afflicted as slaves, probably did not go over well with Abram. After all, how would you like to receive the information that your descendants would be slaves for 400 years? I don't think that this was welcome news to Abram but he probably accepted it on faith, trusting God to work it all out.

    Slavery is a moral darkness and living death from Satan right out of the pit of hell. This is a universal evil. It is a great moral darkness because it destroys freedom, hope, and a chance for individual happiness. It is a great oppression against the human spirit. Later on, here is what God said through Jeremiah the prophet about the human slavery that was taking place in Jeremiah's day:
    "Therefore thus saith the Lord: ye have not hearkened unto Me, in proclaiming liberty (in setting the slaves free), every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbour: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the Lord, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth. And I will give the men that have transgressed My covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before Me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof. The princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the eunuchs, and the priests, and all the people of the land, which passed between the parts of the calf; I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, and into the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead bodies shall be for meat unto the fowls of the heaven, and to the beasts of the earth"
    (Jeremiah 34:17-20).

    The anti-God leaders of Israel, at the time of Jeremiah, were not setting their slaves free. Therefore, God stated that He was going to judge them. Since they refused release their slaves, then God was going to send the Babylonians to make literal slaves of them and their families. Did God do it? Yes.

    The descendants of Abram would be in Egypt for awhile:
    How long were the Israelites in Egypt? Moses rounded off the number to 400 years in
    Genesis 15:13, but it was specifically 430 years in
    Exodus 12:40-41.

    "...but in the fourth generation they shall come hither again"
    (Genesis 15:16).

    After four generations, the Israelites would enter the Promised Land again. What were those four generations from Jacob?
    1) Levi
    2) Kohath
    3) Amram
    4) Moses.
    This prophecy from God was literally fulfilled. These individuals must have lived for, at least, one hundred years each.

    God's timing for a nation:
    "...for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete"
    (Genesis 15:16).

    What does that mean? It means that it was not the right time for God to judge the Amorites. Sometimes God looks at things differently than the way we look at things
    (Isaiah 55:8-9). He can see the beginning from the end. He can see the heart of a person and we can't. It appears that He gives a person or a group of people a certain amount of time to get right with Him. In other words it is as if God was saying: "I love each of the Amorite folk and I am giving them this amount of time as a nation to turn to Me and worship Me in spirit and in truth." A good example of this was Rahab the prostitute. She was an Amorite who turned to God and she is in the lineage or blood line of Jesus Christ
    (Joshua 6:25). God wants the same faith from you and I. Putting it very simply, God just wants you and I to believe in Him, trust Him, love Him, and worship Him.

    But what if they don't turn to God in the allotted time? What then? Then His gavel might drop in judgment on them when their iniquity is complete.

    Looking back in history, what did finally happen to the Amorites? Their iniquity became complete when they were sold out to evil in nearly every form. Then God judged them. How? He sent the Israelite army under General Joshua to exterminate them and He gave their land to the Israelites. You can read about this in the bible book of Joshua.

    What happens when the iniquity of the nation that we live in is complete? God will judge it. Let us do all we can to be light and salt to the nation that we live in to help make it more righteous to the Lord.

    We can glean some knowledge about God's timing in this verse about the Amorites. We can see that God did not judge them right away. Rather, He patiently waited for them many, many years to repent. This shows that He has a lot of patience and is deliberate in His actions. It appears that God takes into account the moral condition of a society before He judges it. He also takes into account how long it will take for a nation's iniquity to reach the point where He is forced to judge it.

    Abram was promised long life:
    "And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age"
    (Genesis 15:15).

    And God gave him long life. He did not die until many years later:
    "Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people"
    (Genesis 25:8).

    God always keeps His word of honor. If He ever promises you something, He will fulfill that promise in His own timing. Long life was considered to be a blessing from God in those days.

    God accepted Abram's sacrifice:
    "When the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces"
    (Genesis 15:17).

    God did not accept Cain's sacrifice, however, in this verse, we see that God did accept Abram's sacrifice. There are two reasons for that. One is the spiritual condition of the person offering the sacrifice. God wants an offering from a person who belongs to Him- it is an ownership issue. Abram was owned by God but Cain was not. The other reason is a sacrifice that God demands. Abel and Abram offered a blood sacrifice- the shed blood of the animals was a type for the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is that shed divine blood that washes away your sins and my sins. Cain did not offer the right sacrifice. The sacrifice he offered was not one that God demanded. Cain offered vegetables from a cursed earth. That sacrifice did not wash away sin. An offering to an idol will not wash away sin today. Prayers to Jesus Christ will be answered, however, prayers to a counterfeit religious leader will not be placed before the throne of God.

    A smoking furnace is a furnace that is on fire. Fire is a symbol for God. We can see this on top of Mount Sinai when God appeared to Moses as a burning bush
    (Exodus 3:2-4). And God appeared as a pillar of fire to the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt
    (Exodus 13:21-22).

    A burning lamp gives off light to help people see. The burning lamp is a type for Christ:
    Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, "I AM the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life"
    (John 8:12). "As long as I AM in the world, I AM the light of the world"
    (John 9:5).

    God and Abram walked between the divided carcases. God accepted Abram's sacrifice. Abram asked for a sign, and God was pleased to give him a sign. What was it a sign of? It was a sign from God that He was giving the Land of Canaan to Abram and his descendants forever.

    The Abrahamic Covenant:
    "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 15:18-21).

    It appears that God reaffirms His promise to Abram
    (in Genesis chapter 12) and now makes a covenant with him. This covenant is known as the Abrahamic Covenant. What is it? In this covenant, God promises to give him and his descendants the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession. But this was going to be, at least, four hundred years in the future. During that future time in Egypt the descendants of Abram would be slaves there and have to endure much suffering. But the plan of God would be very successful
    (Romans 8:28).

    The Israelites, descendants of Abraham, were considered to be God's chosen people due to this covenant between God and Abraham. So, the gospel went to them first. Consequently, in the early days of the church, the gospel was to be shared with the Hebrews first, and then the gentiles (non Hebrews)
    (Romans 3:29, 10:12). The Abrahamic Covenant included:
    1) Abraham's seed (physical and spiritual) and
    2) the land that was promised him (the Land of Canaan).

    Where is the river of Egypt? The Nile River seems to be this river, however, some scholars have the opinion that it was the Wady-el-arish in the southern part of Israel.

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