Genesis 15 Part 2: Carcasses and a Covenant

Posted: February 3, 2011 in Devotionals

Flip flop. Up and down. That’s how things seem with Abram. We’ve seen a couple instances where this man who so readily takes the LORD at his word, seems to waiver in his faith. In verse 7 of chapter 15, the LORD reminds Abe that he’s going to give him a land for he and his descendants to possess.  And if you notice, the LORD announces himself. It’s almost as if he’s reminding Abe of who he is. The LORD is reminding Abram that He is responsible for calling him out…and that he will be responsible for making sure that he gets the land he was promised.

Even after hearing this, once again Abe’s faith seems to waiver. He wants  some sort of proof that the LORD is going to make good on his word.

But he said, O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”   Genesis 15:8

And how does the LORD respond? By yelling down…”Because I said so. Nope. He has Abram grab a whole bunch of animals. (verse 9) And cut them in half (except the birds)….Nasty.  What a bloody mess. After he kills the animals…. Abe has to fight off a bunch of other birds to keep them from munchin’ on the dead animals. Two explanations have been proposed for this gory scene:

1) The LORD is saying, “may my fate be the same as these dead animals if I don’t make good on this promise”. Which is impossible. God can’t lie or die for that matter. As surely was he will ever die…..he will make good on his word. And 2) All the animals represent Abe’s descendants and the birds that come to eat the carcasses represent the other nations (who will become enemies of Abe’s people). It’s possible that a combination of both is meant. Anyway…

Abe falls asleep…or rather is put to sleep (verse 12). This verse echoes chapter 2 verse 21, where the LORD puts Adam under a deep sleep just before taking one of his ribs. So, if that first instance Is any indicator of what’s about to happen…you know it’s going to be pretty important. The text says that,

“…a dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.         v. 12

My guess is the darkness and dread are meant to communicate the intensity of the LORD’s presence. He’s close. Then the LORD speaks  these words to Abram….

Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.”                                                                                                           Genesis 15:13-14

These words are key. Try to remember these two verses and see if you can tell when they come to pass. Abe’s descendants will be slaves in a foreign land. Remember that.

Now…as if this situation wasn’t strange and intense enough already….then “a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between the pieces.(verse 17)

This is symbolic of the LORD’s presence. And so, the picture is the LORD passing through the middle of these bloody animal pieces. The next verse explains what’s happening. The LORD is making a covenant (a binding agreement) saying that Abe and his descendants will possess the land. Strange way to make a deal huh?

Anyway…in this event….we see the LORD’s commitment to keep his promises. And…we see Abraham’s faith. His faith is by no means perfect….but it’s definitely real.

Until tomorrow…


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