S (Scripture): Genesis 15:7 [The LORD] said to Abram, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.”
8 But Abram said, “Lord God, how do I know that I will actually possess it?”
9 He said, “Bring me a three-year-old female calf, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a dove, and a young pigeon.” 10 He took all of these animals, split them in half, and laid the halves facing each other, but he didn’t split the birds. 11 When vultures swooped down on the carcasses, Abram waved them off. 12 After the sun set, Abram slept deeply. A terrifying and deep darkness settled over him….
17 After the sun had set and darkness had deepened, a smoking vessel with a fiery flame passed between the split-open animals. 18 That day the Lord cut a covenant with Abram: “To your descendants I give this land, from Egypt’s river to the great Euphrates, 19 together with the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
O (Observation): This is one of the most intriguing covenants to explain, because of its very practical nature and because of the lengths God goes to show that God will make good on God’s promises￼.
At this point, God has already promised to Abram that he and Sarai that they would be established as the ancestors of a great kingdom and of a great many people.￼ Yet, to this point, they have no offspring and Abram questions God’s resolve.
God’s response: Take the goats and others sacrificial animals. Kill them and spilt them in two. Lay the two halves opposite one another.
At this point, if two people were making an agreement, they would both pass through between the two halves of the animals – first one person and then the other￼￼. What they are effectively saying is: “should I break my part of the covenant, may I be as these animals that have been split in two.” This is a very serious agreement.￼
In Abram’s case, notice that Abram does NOT pass between the two halves. Only this “smoky vessel and fiery flame” passes through the animal halves.
In other words, this covenant between God and Abram / Sarai is ALL ON GOD to fulfill.
The Lord alone can make this happen…and eventually, fulfilling all righteousness, does make it happen. God’s people come from the line of Abram and Sarai. Bringing to us, Jesus, Savior of the world.
A (Application): As I venture around the 4 states of our Southeastern Synod of the ELCA – GA, AL, MS, and TN – I have the blessing of engaging with our campus ministries.
Yesterday I met with the good people of Tyson House – a joint Episcopal / Lutheran campus ministry – at the University of TN – Knoxville.
I saw young people and pastors working together to BE CHURCH the most faithful way they can.
They feed those who need food. They spend time in retreat. They go out for coffee or ice cream. They gather for worship and study, which grounds them for the work ahead.
And in all of this ministry they – and in all campus ministries – strive to know that God promises to be with them.
Be blessed people of Tyson House!
P (Prayer): Lord God, please remind me this thing called Church is always supported by You, our hope and stay. Amen.