Genesis Chapter 15

Outline

God encourages Abram. (Verse 1.)

The Divine promise, Abraham is justified by faith. (Verse 2-6.)

God promises Canaan to Abraham for an inheritance. (Verse 7-11.)

The promise confirmed in a vision. (Verse 12-16.)

The promise confirmed by a sign. (Verse 17-21.)


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.

[Gen 46:2 Psa 58:11, Psa 84:11, Heb 11:6]

God had indeed shielded Abram and protected him in his battle with Chedorlaomer, but Abram was looking for the promise of a seed, the great reward.

God said that He was Abram’s “shield” and “exceeding great reward” the shield is a reference to the battle of the previous chapter; the reward is a reference to the fact that Abram chose to take none of the spoils of the war, settling only for what God had given him.  God was Abram’s Protector and Benefactor.

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?

[Gen 24:2]

3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

Remember the name of Abram’s servant because in a later chapter he will appear as a type of the Holy Spirit of God that goes to find a bride for Abram’s son from his own family.

Rebekah was a Gentile because she did not descend from the loins of Abram although she is related to Abram, she was a Gentile none the less.

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.

[Gen 17:16]

5 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.

[Rom 4:18]

[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about][tell – count, as in a bank teller who counts money]

as Abram got older he began to wonder more and more how God would give him the son that was promised; Abram here asks if God intended to bless the steward of his house as his son – God reaffirms that Abram will actually have a son from his own bowels

6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.

[Rom 4:3, Gal 3:6, James 2:23]

God counted or reckoned Abram to be righteous because of his faith

Notice this last verse because it will help you for all eternity with your Theology. Abram lived before the Law of Moses and was declared righteous with God by his faith.

Notice also that this is the second time that God tells Abram about his offspring, the first was in Genesis twelve where he compares his descendants with something that is earthy, but this time he compares them with something that is out of this world, the stars of heaven.

We in the body of Christ are Abram’s seed by faith and are a heavenly people with a heavenly destiny. We do not inherit Israel’s physical blessings here on earth in her kingdom. We have spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 3:1).

Let us look at what Saul of Tarsus (Paul) had to say about Abram when addressing this subject of justification or righteousness (salvation).

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarahs womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

This Saul of Tarsus is also known as the Apostle Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles Romans 11:13, the writer of thirteen books of the Bible.

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.

[Acts 7:2]

8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

[Jud 6:36, 1st Sam 14:9, 2nd Kings 20:8, Luke 1:18]

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.

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.

Abram got his answer in the form of a covenant promise in which God has Abram offer a sacrifice as a sign between him and God.

11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.

12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.

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;

[Acts 7:6]

“land that is not theirs” – the land that did belong to Israel is defined in verses 18-21; the land that is not their’s is a reference to Egypt where the Jews were afflicted for 400 years – though they were afflicted and worked as slaves for 400 years in Egypt, they actually lived there longer than that.

Study Question

From Exodus 12:40 how long altogether did the Jews live in Egypt?

14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

[Acts 7:7]

“will I judge” – part of God’s reason for allowing Israel to be in Egypt was to judge Egypt!

A hundred and twenty years before Israel’s captivity happened God foretold of it and he even gave the duration of it which must have excited the desire of the Nation as they awaited their deliverer Moses (A type of Christ).

15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.

16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

[Acts 7:7 Matt 23:32, 1st Thess 2:16]

The iniquity of the Amorites is a prophetical reference to the time when Israel would be prevented from retreating by the Amorites and taken into captivity by the Babylonians.

God was not going to allow Abram’s descendants to possess the land until the Amorites had gotten so bad in defiling the land that God would have to spur them out of the land through numerous means that he had at his disposal. Israel was one of the tools God would use to remove the Amorites from the land which they defiled with their perversions.

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.

Study Question

What did Moses call Egypt in Deut. 4:20?

18 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:

[Num 34:2, Deut 1:8, 2nd Chron 9:26, Neh 9:8]

The thing that is of most importance here is that God alone passed through the fire without Abram. In a normal covenant between two people, both people would walk between the pieces of animal but God alone walked through twice. Once for himself and once for Abram.

That meant that this Covenant was not dependent upon Abram’s keeping his end of the bargain, because he couldn’t, it was solely dependent on a perfect God who never changes and who delights in keeping his promises.

19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,

20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,

21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

These ten nations possessed the land that belonged to the descendants of Abram. God gave it to them back during the time of Noah when the descendants of Ham forfeited it by the actions of Ham the night he went in unto his father and saw his nakedness.

How many nations temporarily possess the land of Israel in the time of Jacob’s Trouble? Ten. Another coincidence I know. But the same thing happens but on a much grander scale in the Mellinial Kingdom.


Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

Verse 1 – God assured Abram of safety and happiness; that he should for ever be safe. I am thy shield; or, I am a shield to thee, present with thee, actually caring for thee. The consideration that God himself is, and will be a shield to his people, to secure them from all evils, a shield ready to them, and a shield round about them, should silence all perplexing, tormenting fears.

Verse 2-6 – Though we must never complain of God, yet we have leave to complain to him; and to state all our grievances. It is ease to a burdened spirit, to open its case to a faithful and compassionate friend. Abram’s complaint is, that he had no child; that he was never likely to have any; that the want of a son was so great a trouble to him, that it took away all his comfort. If we suppose that Abram looked no further than outward comfort, this complaint was to be blamed. But if we suppose that Abram herein had reference to the promised Seed, his desire was very commendable. Till we have evidence of our interest in Christ, we should not rest satisfied; what will all avail me, if I go Christless? If we continue instant in prayer, yet pray with humble submission to the Divine will, we shall not seek in vain. God gave Abram an express promise of a son. Christians may believe in God with respect to the common concerns of this life; but the faith by which they are justified, always has respect to the person and work of Christ. Abram believed in God as promising Christ; they believe in him as having raised him from the dead, Romans 4:24. Through faith in his blood they obtain forgiveness of sins.

Verse 7-11 – Assurance was given to Abram of the land of Canaan for an inheritance. God never promises more than he is able to perform, as men often do. Abram did as God commanded him. He divided the beasts in the midst, according to the ceremony used in confirming covenants, Jeremiah 34:18,19. Having prepared according to God’s appointment, he set himself to wait for the sign God might give him. A watch must be kept upon our spiritual sacrifices. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down upon our sacrifices, we must drive them away, and seek to attend on God without distraction.

Verse 12-16 – A deep sleep fell upon Abram; with this sleep a horror of great darkness fell upon him: a sudden change. The children of light do not always walk in the light. Several things were then foretold.
1. The suffering state of Abram’s seed for a long time. They shall be strangers. The heirs of heaven are strangers on earth. They shall be servants; but Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing. They shall be suffers. Those that are blessed and beloved of God, are often sorely afflicted by wicked men.
2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram’s seed. Though God may allow persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a great while, he will certainly reckon with them at last.
3. That great event, the deliverance of Abram’s seed out of Egypt, is here foretold.
4. Their happy settlement in Canaan. They shall come hither again. The measure of sin fills gradually. Some people’s measure of sin fills slowly. The knowledge of future events would seldom add to our comfort. In the most favoured families, and most happy lives, there are so many afflictions, that it is merciful in God to conceal what will befall us and ours.

Verse 17-21 – The smoking furnace and the burning lamp, probably represented the Israelites’ severe trials and joyful deliverance, with their gracious supports in the mean time. It is probable that this furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces, burned and consumed them, and so completed the sacrifice, and testified God’s acceptance of it. So it intimates that God’s covenants with man are made by sacrifice, Psalms 50:5. And we may know that he accepts our sacrifices, if he kindles in our souls pious and devout affections. The bounds of the land granted are stated. Several nations, or tribes, are spoken of, that must be cast out to make room for the seed of Abram. In this chapter we perceive in Abram faith struggling against, and triumphing over, unbelief. Wonder not, believers, if you meet with seasons of darkness and distress. But it is not the will of God that you should be cast down: fear not; for all that he was to Abram he will be to you.