Genesis 15 - Outline of Genesis (Book Notes menu page)
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.
15:2 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?
15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed:
and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.
15:4 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.
15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said,
Look now toward heaven, and tell
{ie., count} the stars, if thou be able to number them:
and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
15:6 And he believed in the LORD;
and he counted
{ie., accounted, imputed} it to him for righteousness.
After these things...- (ie., 14:13-24)
Abram had rejected both a reward from, and an alliance with, the King of Sodom.
Perhaps as time passed, he was having second thoughts.
  • Had it been wise to rebuff a potential friend? might he take offense and become an enemy?
  • What if the defeated kings returned to take vengence? who would stand in his defense?
  • And, concerning the reward itself: Why should he bear the expense for an expedition benefiting someone else?
Fear not... I am thy shield...- cp. Deu 31:6; Psa 27:1
...and thy exceeding great reward -
There is nothing of greater value than right relationship with the LORD.
The Most High God, the possessor of heaven and earth, identified Himself with Abram.
cp. Gen 14:19; Psa 16:4-8; Lam 3:24; Mat 22:31,32
Lord GOD - HB= Adonai Jehovah. This is the first occurrence of this name.
In the KJV Bible, the name 'Jehovah' is printed as 'LORD' (all capital letters),
and the name, 'Adonai' is printed as 'Lord.'
When both names appear together, they are printed as 'Lord {Adonai} GOD {Jehovah}.'
  1. The meaning of 'Jehovah' ( 'the One who is' ) was discussed previously (see note at Gen 2:4).
  2. The meaning of Adonai - The HB word 'Adon' means 'master' or 'husband' and may be used of God or of man. (eg., The word is used of Abram in both senses (Gen 18:12; 24:9). Christ is also the believer's master and husband (cp. Joh 13:13; 2Cor 11:2).
         In the OT, all 439 occurrences of 'Adonai' refer only to God (cp. Psa 110:1). 'Adonai' is a plural form, meaning ''my Lords'' or ''Lord over all.'' [WEVine] The plurality of this name also hints at the tri-unity of God, as does the plurality of 'Elohim' (see note at Gen 1:26).
  3. The combined name 'Lord GOD' is emphatic of His position as 'Master' over His servants.
    The relationship of master & servant implies:
    1. The master's expectation of total obedience. Luk 6:46; Joh 13:13,14
    2. The servant's expectation of direction and provision for service. Ex 4:10-12; Isa 6:8-11
Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, since I go childless...-
As His servant, Abram was in need of direction. The LORD had promised to make of Abram a great nation (eg., 12:2), but as the years passed by, he remained childless. By the custom of the day, his chief servant would be his heir. Did God mean His blessings to pass to this man? (cp. Prov 29:21) Or, did He have something else in mind?
The Lord clarified His promise (v.4,5)-
  1. Abram's heir would be a son that would spring from his own body.
  2. Abram's offspring would be innumerable: as the stars. cp. 13:16
    Two lines may be in view here: dust & stars: the natural & the spiritual seeds.
Abram believed in the LORD, and He counted it to him for righteousness-
     Abram trusted in the LORD, that He would fulfill His promises. Because of that faith, God declared him to be righteous. When the Lord saw Abram's faith in Him, He placed 'righteousness' in Abram's heavenly bank account.
     What made Abram acceptable before God? Was it some good thing he had done?
No. Justification is by faith. When an ungodly man trusts in Him, God makes him righteous.
cp. Rom 4:1-8,23-25; Gal 3:6-9; Joh 3:16
15:7 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.
15:8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
15:9 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.
15:10 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.
15:11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
15:12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram;
and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
{cp. Ex 20:21; 1Kin 8:12}
15:13 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;
15:14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge:
and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace;
thou shalt be buried in a good old age.
15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again:
for the iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.
{cp. 2Pet 3:9}
15:17 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.
Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
This was not an expression of faithlessness, but a request for confirmation. Had he really heard what God had said, or might his own heart be deceiving him? cp. Jer 17:9; Luk 1:18,34
The LORD guaranteed His promises with a 'covenant by blood.'-
In Abram's day, the custom of 'cutting a covenant' (v.18) was used to establish a legally binding contract between two parties. An animal was slain and cut in half. The two parties walked together between the halves. Thus, each party took full responsibility for upholding the terms of the contract, and swore to keep his word at the price of his own blood. cp. Jer 34:18-20
The covenant guarantee -
  1. The Lord instructed Abram to prepare the animals for this ceremony.
  2. The Lord amplified the terms of the covenant contract.-
    1. regarding Abram's descendants (v.4,5), prophetic details are added (v.13-16)-
      At some time after Abram's death, his seed would be foreigners in another country, where they would suffer affliction for 400 years (cp. Ex 1:7-11; 12:40). But, they would return to the land of promise. {The account of Israel's sojourn in Egypt and their return to Canaan begins in the last several chapters of Genesis and continues through the five books of Moses and into the book of Joshua. That they would return 'in the fourth generation' is fulfilled in Levi, Kohath, Amram, and Moses (cp. Ex 1:1,2; 6:16-20).}
    2. regarding the promised land (v.7), boundaries are described. v.18-21
  3. The LORD alone passed between the halves (v.17).
    Abram had neither power nor responsibility to fulfill the terms of the covenant.
    The LORD bound Himself to fulfill His promises, using legal customs familiar to Abram. Yet, it was not those legal customs which bound Him. Rather, He swore by Himself (Heb 6:13).-The security of His oath is redoubled by the fact that such an One cannot lie. Heb 6:17,18
15:18 In the same day the LORD made {lit., 'cut'} 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:
15:19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
15:20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
15:21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.
Israel has never fully occupied these boundaries.
Final fulfillment awaits the Kingdom of the Messiah.
While the LORD has unconditionally given this land to Israel,
He also foretold three distinct periods when the nation would be dispersed from their land. The promise of ownership is unconditional ("Unto thy seed have I given this land..."). But the privilege of occupying the land is conditioned upon their obedience to Him.
The three periods of absence, followed by restoration to the land are foretold in:
  1. Gen 15:13-16 - The 400 years in Egypt,
    from which the nation returned in the Exodus, under the leadership of Moses and Joshua.
  2. Jer 25:11,12; 29:10 - The 70 years of captivity in Babylon (beginning in 586 BC),
    from which a remnant returned under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah.
  3. Deu 28:62-65; 30:1-3; Luk 19:41-44 - Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (in 70 AD),
    Israel was scattered "among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other." In 1948 AD, the nation was re-established in its land, but in troublous times. Most of the world's Jewish people have not yet returned to the land. But at the return of Christ, and the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom, the nation will fully possess the land that God has given them. See Jer 23:5-8; Eze 37:21-25; Luk 1:30-33; Acts 15:14-17; Mat 23:37-39
That day will come, for the Lord GOD has sworn by Himself.

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