It's in Genesis 15 where God makes a covenant with Abram. Here's the highlights:
verse 1: The Lord comes to Abram and assures him that He is with him. "I am your shield, your very great reward"
verses 2-3: Abram gently (maybe not so gently) reminds God he still doesn't have a child and asks what he can have instead.
verses 4-5: The Lord makes a promise to Abram. Not only does he promise an heir from his own body (as opposed to the current heir from a servant) but he promises that Abram's offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Also this passage is one of the passages that makes me feel better about my sarcasm. The Lord says "Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them" Okay so maybe the Lord isn't being sarcastic, he's just reminding Abram who's boss but still...
verse 6: "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited to him as righteousness"
verses 7: The Lord promises to give Abram land
verse 8: Abram is a fraidy cat and asks the Lord to assure him that he'll take possession of the land
verses 9-21: The most awesome part! The Lord and Abram partake in a "cutting covenant" This is where the dead birds and weird oven come in. So what the heck is it?I'm fascinated by the types of covenants that are made in biblical times. This probably goes along with my love of the Old Testament stories. So finding this new (to me) covenant was super exciting!
"Cutting a covenant" was a ritual between two parties where the parties cut animals in half and then lay the halves on the ground facing each other with a space in between them. I was going to put up a picture to help you visualize it but then my better judgement got to me. Be thankful ;) The parties would then walk through the space together. Should either one of the parties break the covenant it was said they would get the same fate as the animal. Um ouch.
Okay so Abram slices up some animals and then defends them against some birds of prey. Not birds of pray:
Sorry that wasn't funny. Moving on.
Here's where it gets weird. Abram falls into a deep sleep and sees a vision. The Lord assures him of his possession of the land. "Know for certain..." the Lord says.
And then "when the sun had set and a darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces" (Gen 15:17)
|A Tannoor- an ancient earthenware oven|
Only God sealed the covenant. God promised on himself to honor his promise to Abram. The promise that was sealed was from God to Abram, not from Abram to God.
God gave Abram a no-strings-attached promise and swore to uphold it by passing through the pieces of dead animals. The covenant was a covenant of grace. Abram didn't have to do anything, including pass through the animals, to ensure that God would keep his promise. God will (and did) honor his promise to Abram simply because it is in his character.
Oh Lord you are so gracious to us! Thank you for the promises that you give us- promises of eternal life and redemption and forgiveness. And thank you that you fulfill them because you are true. You do not lie. Thank you for the grace you continually show us and give us.
Linking up with these amazing women:We are THAT family, Women Living Well, Internet Cafe Devotions, Good Morning Girls