Scripture Reading: Genesis 15:6-21
“When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram.” (Genesis 15:17,18a)
We have seen how Abram put his faith in God’s promises. Through faith Abram was justified before the Lord — “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness” (v. 6). God established His covenant with Abram in which He promised to give Abram a land (12:1;13:6), and a people (12:2;13:16). In our passage today, God ratified His covenant promises to Abram. God established a unique relationship with Abram which consisted of promises and privileges, which were sealed by God Himself. This is the very nature of what a covenant is.
The covenant ratification which took place with Abram was a common practice among the people of that day. When two people made a covenant with each other, they stated the terms of the covenant. Then they had a ratification ceremony, which consisted of taking animals, splitting them in halves, and laying the halves opposite to one another. The two people making the covenant walked between the carcasses of the slain animals together. The idea was — “If one of us breaks this covenant, may we be like these slain animals.” It was a serious matter when covenants were established.
Notice what happened when God made His covenant with Abram. God alone passed through the carcasses of the slain animals. He did so in the form of a theophany (a physical manifestation of God). God revealed Himself as a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch. In this theophany God’s glory was enveloped in fire and smoke, both symbols of the wrath of God whose fiery zeal consumes whatever opposes it.
God alone passed between the pieces of slain animals. This was a monolithic covenant, meaning it was one sided. God was saying to Abram, “If I do not fulfill My promises to you, may I be like these slain animals.” God demonstrated to Abram His wonderful mercy and infinite kindness in binding Himself to a weak and sinful man. The infinite God drew near to Abram and made a covenant with him.
God has done the same with us. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the Mediator of the covenant. God assures us, just as He assured Abram, of His covenant faithfulness. God will always do what He promises.
Lord God, thank You for the wonderful mercy and infinite kindness You have shown me in Your gracious covenant. You have promised to be my God and You have said that I belong to You. Thank You for sealing Your covenant with the blood of Your Son. I know that You will always do what You promise.
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